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Heard This Week - 12/14/2006

Heard in Iran This Week
on Radio Farda

(Washington, DC -- December 14, 2006) In addition to its coverage of breaking news in Iran--such as the student protest during a December 11 speech by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Tehran's Amir Kabir University--Radio Farda provided listeners insight into the elections later this week for the Assembly of Experts and municipal councils; aired special programming in honor of International Human Rights Day; and covered a controversial conference organized by the Iranian government in Tehran on the Holocaust.

Hecklers Disrupt Ahmadinejad's Speech
>> Within minutes of receiving word of a December 11 student protest at Tehran's Amir Kabir University, Radio Farda reported to listeners and website visitors ( the actions of a group of students who heckled President Ahmadinejad during a speech he was giving at the school. The students shouted slogans such as "death to the dictator" and "death to tyranny", and reportedly burned photos of Ahmadinejad. Radio Farda also aired a live interview with one of the protesting students, who confirmed the details of the protest, which also led to clashes between protesting students with the university's Islamic Society and members of the pro-government Basij militia.

Iran's December 15 Elections
>> Radio Farda interviewed Ahvaz-based journalist Mojtaba Gahestuni on December 11 about the Assembly of Experts and municipal council elections due on December 15. Gahestuni told Radio Farda listeners that the reformists in Ahvaz have presented a unified list of candidates, while the conservatives have presented two different lists of candidates. Gahestuni added that the divisions that exist between conservatives is considerable and may have a negative impact on their ability to win. He also said that, because of last year's security concerns and ethnic unrest, no ethnic minority candidate has been qualified to run in Khuzestan province's municipal council elections (

>> On December 5, Radio Farda told listeners that the Militant Cleric Association, often considered "the mother of reformist groups", had issued a statement announcing that they will not participate in the elections. The statement asserts that the current vetting system and procedures for electing members to the Assembly of Experts make no sense. The statement also criticizes the disqualification of many Militant Cleric Association members by the Guardian Council from standing in the election (

Holocaust Denial Conference in Tehran
>> On December 11, Radio Farda interviewed Stefan Wilkanowicz, Chairman of the Program Board of the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust (ICE) at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland. Wilkanowicz told Radio Farda listeners that, in light of the various investigations by American, Polish and Jewish researchers about the number of Holocaust victims, it can be said that--at Auschwitz-Birkenau alone--between one and one and a half million people were killed. Wilkanowicz also told listeners that several gas chambers operated continuously at Auschwitz-Birkenau during World War II: "This was a 'death factory', well-designed with highly-developed technology" (

>> A December 10 Radio Farda report on the "Islamic Republic and Rereading the Holocaust", focused on the condemnations expressed by many countries concerning Tehran's Holocaust conference (

>> A Radio Farda report aired on December 12 looked into the situation faced by Israeli Arab attorney Khaled Kassab Mahamid, who was denied a visa to attend the conference by the Iranian Foreign Ministry (

International Human Rights Day
>> German European Parliament (EP) member Michael Gahler was interviewed by Radio Farda on December 9 about the importance of Iran's human rights record to the EP. Gahler told Radio Farda listeners that even if Iran's nuclear issue is resolved; there no economic or commercial agreements with Iran will be approved by the EP unless the human rights situation improves in that country. Gahler said that he believes President Ahmadinejad uses the nuclear issue to avoid dealing with Iran's domestic problems, Radio Farda reported (

>> On December 10, Radio Farda broadcast special coverage of International Human Rights Day, featuring interviews with poet Shokuh Mirzadegi, writer and poet Esmaeel Khoie and film director Parviz Kardan (

>> In an interview aired on December 11, International Federation of Human Rights Leagues Vice President Abdolkarim Lahiji discussed the history and significance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed 58 years ago on December 10 (

Radio Farda Interviews Senior U.S. Diplomat
>> Radio Farda listeners heard a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with Ambassador James F. Jeffrey, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, during which Amb. Jeffrey called on the Iranian government to cooperate with the international community and give up its uranium enrichment activities. During the interview, Amb. Jeffrey also noted that Iran would benefit from stability in Iraq, given both countries' eight-year long war in the 1980's (

Radio Farda Launches Expanded, Revamped Website for Iran
>> Radio Farda has introduced an expanded, completely redesigned website, packed with features to bring more information more quickly and more easily to Internet users in Iran. The new website is updated around the clock with an average of more than 60 Persian-language news items and features in a 24-hour period. Visitors to the website can read, listen and interact with Radio Farda through moderated discussions and blogs found in the "Farda Club" section of the website, as well as by making use of the site's "Most Popular" and "Most Emailed" story lists. The site also provides several options to visitors trying to circumvent the Iranian government's aggressive efforts to block access to Radio Farda's site, including eight RSS channels and four daily podcasts that allow users to automatically receive the latest updates from Radio Farda to their desktops. The website's online subscription service has also expanded to offer topic-driven daily emails and daily news feeds, as well as information to help the audience get around the censors (

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

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