Heard in Iran This Week
on Radio Farda
(Washington, DC -- February 22, 2007) Radio Farda provided listeners and website visitors in Iran insight into international reaction to Iran's refusal to shut down its nuclear program by the UN-imposed deadline of February 22; health concerns involving jailed student activist Ahmad Batebi; more bombings in Iran's restive Sistan va Baluchistan province; and intensified Internet filtering that affected a prominent conservative website.
>> On February 21, the Radio Farda website (www.radiofarda.com) offered visitors reaction from around the world to the imminent expiration of the UN deadline for Iran to stop its uranium enrichment activities. Radio Farda quoted U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who said the entire purpose of putting pressure on the Iranian regime was to encourage it to make better choices about how to engage with the international community. French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy was also quoted as saying a tougher UN resolution should be drafted on Iran, while visitors were informed that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia and France agree that the international community "must be guided by the single goal of not allowing the proliferation of nuclear weapons." The report also offered reactions from German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (http://tinyurl.com/3686sl).
>> Radio Farda's broadcasts and website reported on February 20, citing the Fars News Agency, that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran will not come to the negotiating table with Western nations if the suspension of Tehran's nuclear program is a precondition. Ahmadinejad added, "We're willing to negotiate under just circumstances; that is, if you want us to close our nuclear factories, you should close your nuclear factories too" (http://tinyurl.com/39bav8).
That same day, Radio Farda informed listeners and website visitors that the U.S. government, in a statement from White House spokesman Tony Snow, had rejected Ahmadinejad's offer. Snow added that the U.S. has no problem with Iran acquiring a civilian nuclear power program; "...the international community has made it clear that Iran should not be in a position to develop or possess nuclear weapons. So that is a false offer because the position of the international community is clear" (http://tinyurl.com/2q6rcv).
>> Radio Farda's broadcasts and website reported on February 18, citing a student newsletter published at Tehran's Amir Kabir University, that student activist Ahmad Batebi had suffered convulsions and been unconscious for three hours while in detention in Evin prison on February 16. Batebi's lawyer, Khalil Bahramian told Radio Farda that the Judiciary has been warned repeatedly to avoid a repetition of what happened to Akbar Mohammadi, who died while in Evin Prison in June 2006, reportedly after what fellow inmates termed a "savage beating" by prison guards. According to the report, the Amir Kabir student newsletter said Batebi has been dealing with several forms of psychological pressure, including being threatened with a transfer to Evin prison's Section 8, alongside murderers and drug addicts (http://tinyurl.com/35janc).
>> Following up on its coverage of the February 14 bombing in Zahedan that killed 13 people, Radio Farda's broadcasts and website reported on February 17, citing ISNA, that another bomb had exploded in Zahedan, the capital of Sistan va Baluchistan province on February 16. No casualties were reported in this latest bombing. Paris-based human Rights activist Ali Keshtgar told Radio Farda listeners that such violent measures are worrisome for Iran's future. Keshtgar told Radio Farda that Iran's role in terrorist attacks in southern Iran is "obvious". One of the reasons for such events, Keshtgar said, is the way Iran treats religious minorities; in this case, showing preference to Shia Muslims over all other religions, including the Sunnis (http://tinyurl.com/36fgjd).
>> Radio Farda's broadcasts and website reported on February 20 that the media rights organization Reporters Without Borders had issued a statement protesting the increase in Internet filtering by Iran. The statement says filtering has become so pervasive that even the news website of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is affected. In this regard, Radio Farda interviewed Reporters Without Borders spokesman Reza Moini, who said that the filtering of content posted to the Baztab website--closely aligned with former Chief Commander of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Mohsen Rezaie--is part of a power struggle within Iran's conservative political circles. Radio Farda told listeners the Baztab website had recently publicized a financial corruption case involving members of President Ahmadinejad's entourage (http://tinyurl.com/32g6kp).
For more on these and other stories about Iran, please visit:
http://www.radiofarda.com -- Radio Farda's Persian-language website
http://www.rferl.org/reviews/farda.aspx -- "Focus on Farda" bi-weekly review
http://www.rferl.org/reports/iran-report/default.asp -- "RFE/RL Iran Report" weekly analysis
http://www.rferl.org/featuresarchive/country/iran.html -- RFE/RL English-language coverage of Iran
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