Heard in Iran This Week
on Radio Farda
(Washington, DC -- July 26, 2007) This past week, Radio Farda broadcast an exclusive interview with the lawyer for Radio Farda broadcaster Parnaz Azima, currently strapped in Iran; provided continuing coverage of the arrests of labor union leader Mansour Osanlou and of student-journalists at Tehran's Amir Kabir University, and aired an interview with the Foreign Editor of the prominent British newspaper "The Economist".
� Radio Farda broadcast and posted to its website on July 25 an exclusive interview with lawyer Mohammad Hossein Aghasi, concerning the latest developments in the case of his client, Radio Farda journalist Parnaz Azima. Azima is currently trapped in Iran, having been stripped of her passport in January 2007 and since charged by Iranian authorities with "spreading counter-revolutionary propaganda." Aghasi told Radio Farda that, following the announcement of her indictment by the Tehran Prosecutor's office, her case was sent to the Revolutionary Court for further action. In most cases, Aghasi said, as soon as a case is received by the chief of the court, he will set the date for a court hearing within 24 hours. In this case, more than 40 days have passed since her case was sent forward, Aghasi said, and no date has been set. Aghasi also told Radio Farda it seems that the court has issued another order -- "that I am not allowed to mention, due to an amendment to Article 188 of the Penal Procedure." Aghasi added that seven months have passed since Parnaz Azima was prevented from leaving Iran, merely on the basis of an allegation (http://www.radiofarda.com/Article/2007/07/25/o1_azima_iv_aghasi.html).
� Continuing its coverage of the arrest of Mansour Osanlou, the president of the Syndicate (Union) of Tehran Bus Company Workers, Radio Farda aired on July 24 an interview with his wife, Parvaneh. Osanlou told Radio Farda she has not heard from her husband for 12 days, expressed concern about Osanlou's health and said he might be suffering from physical and psychological pressure while in detention.
Worker activist Sadegh Kargar told Radio Farda that he believes there is a possibility that authorities could stage a "fake interview with Osanlou --like that of Haleh Esfandiari." Kargar said the recent airing of forced confessions by Iranian-American scholars is an effort by Iranian authorities to blame the problems that have arisen because of their own policies on foreigners and activists. The regime, Kargar said, is trying to put an end to all syndicate (union) activities in Iran.
For his part, lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani criticized the charge of "acting against national security" brought against Osanlou, saying that such a charge makes no sense on its own. Soltani told Radio Farda it should be clarified what exactly the arrested is alleged to have done or what crime he has allegedly committed. According to Article 168 of the Constitution, Soltani said, the Judiciary must define what a political charge is -- something that has not been accomplished in the nearly thirty years since the Islamic Republic was created. "And now political defendants must pay the price for this negligence," Soltani said (http://www.radiofarda.com/Article/2007/07/24/f7_Iran_Osanlou_Family.html).
� The families of three detained Amir Kabir University students have written an open letter to Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, describing the "physical and psychological persecution" their sons have suffered while in prison, Radio Farda reported on July 24, citing Iranian media. The families of students Majid Tavakoli, Ahmad Ghasaban and Ehsan Mansouri -- all arrested after the publication of materials in student journals deemed insulting to Islam -- elaborated on how authorities abused the students in order to coerce confessions from them. The families wrote they had been informed of the abuse by their sons, as well as by other imprisoned students who were recently released. Radio Farda reported that the letter claims the abuse included 24-hour interrogations by a group of seven officials, beatings with a cable, deprivation of sleep and food for up to 48 hours, detention in a cramped cell, threats to kill members of the students' families, and detention in cells with dangerous criminals. "How much torture and pressure can a twenty-two year old tolerate?", the families ask in their letter to Hashemi Shahrudi (http://www.radiofarda.com/Article/2007/07/24/f5_harassment-students.html).
� Radio Farda aired an interview on July 24 with Peter David, Foreign Editor of "The Economist", who said that he was not optimistic about the U.S.-Iran negotiations in Iraq. "One has to take seriously -- in theory at least -- that there are people in the Iranian regime who are afraid of normal, open relations with the U.S. and the rest of the world", David told Radio Farda. David said he believed some in the ruling system fear the days of the revolutionary government that has monopolized political power in Iran since 1979 will come to an end if Iran gains full acceptance into the international community and, especially, if it opens political and economic relations with the U.S.. David added that the current government is not popular and those who hold power, particularly those in the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself, need to have a foreign enemy in order to remain in power (http://tinyurl.com/22nsuh).
CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, the report in the July 12 issue of "Heard This Week In Iran..." contained errors and reflected the circumstances of union leader Mansour Osanlou's arrest in November 2006. The item should have read as follows:
� Radio Farda reported that eyewitnesses saw the president of the Syndicate (Union) of Workers of the Tehran Bus Company, Mansour Osanlou be pulled from a bus and abducted on July 10 after he was assaulted and called a "thug" by men in civilian clothes. Syndicate Deputy Director Ebrahim Madadi told Radio Farda shortly after the incident that, "In the continuation of our search we -- Osanlou's wife, brother, and I -- went to the Narmak police station and from there we went to the public safety police and to a revolutionary court on Moalem Street. Unfortunately we didn't obtain any news [about Osanlou]." Osanlou's lawyer Yusef Molaei told Radio Farda his client's arrest was illegal. Radio Farda also reported that the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) have called for Osanlou's unconditional and immediate release (http://www.radiofarda.com/Article/2007/07/11/f1_osanlou.html).
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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