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Heard This Week - 05/18/2006

Heard in Iran This Week
on Radio Farda

(Prague, Czech Republic -- May 18, 2006) Radio Farda's major stories this week were an interview with a pro-reform religious intellectual from inside Iran; eyewitness reporting of the investigation into a mass murder by a hitherto-unknown Islamic group, and a discussion comparing wiretapping in Iran and in the United States.

>> Radio Farda's weekly "Viewpoints" program on May 16 featured as its main guest Hasan Yousefi Eshkevari, a reformist religious intellectual and critic of the current theocracy in Iran who spoke about the strategy for advancing democracy in Iran. Eshkevari, a former member of parliament, founder of the now closed Ali Shariati Research Center and prisoner of conscience who was released from prison in February 2005, said a reform movement would be most effective if it could unite activists inside Iran with Iranian opposition in diaspora, pushing for nonviolent reform. Eshkevari emphasized that continuing the reform process is the only viable way to move toward democracy in Iran. But he called for a new discourse and a new leadership, saying executive power has the capacity to overcome a clerical anti-reform backlash.

>> Several reports on Radio Farda this week examined developments concerning a crime that has outraged residents in and around the southern cities of Kerman and Bam. Radio Farda learned from local journalists that a large crowd gathered at the provincial governor's office in Kerman on May 14 to demand an investigation and protest the lack of security in the region. Roads are now blocked and inspection posts have been set up to find gunmen who posed as policemen May 13 and pulled over four cars on the desert road between Kerman and Bam. The gunmen executed eleven of the passengers and dumped their bodies into a ditch. In a particularly shocking aspect of the crime, the attackers hung a wounded 12-year-old boy from a roadside electricity pole. Radio Farda reported that an unknown group, calling itself "Followers of Islam," claimed responsibility and declared solidarity with Jundullah (God's Soldiers) militants, a Sunni group that has taken hostage several Iranian border guards along the Iran-Pakistan border, beheading one of them. Jundullah condemned the killing of civilians and denied involvement in the incident.

>> On May 15, Radio Farda aired interviews with two people holding divergent views on both the Iranian government's recent decision to revoke legislation that would have banned widespread official eavesdropping on Iranians and the current wiretapping debate in the U.S. Mohammadreza Faqihi, the secretary of the Tehran-based Association for Defending Political Prisoners told Radio Farda that there was no difference between U.S. and Iranian government attempts to tap phone conversations and that such acts in principle violate personal freedom and privacy rights. Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi, the founder and president of the American Iranian Council, said that "the difference is that the U.S. government is seeking to protect its citizens against potential foreign threats, whereas in Iran the government is concerned about controlling dissent within the society."

For more on these and other stories about Iran, please visit: -- Radio Farda's Persian-language website -- "Focus on Farda" bi-weekly review -- "RFE/RL Iran Report" weekly analysis -- RFE/RL English-language coverage of Iran

Radio Farda, a joint project of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and
Voice of America (VOA), is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week service.
Produced in Washington, D.C. and Prague, Czech Republic and
transmitted to listeners via AM, shortwave and satellite,
Radio Farda features fresh news and information at least twice an hour,
with longer news programming in the morning and the evening.
Radio Farda also broadcasts popular Persian and Western music.

Radio Farda programming is also available via the Internet,
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