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Heard This Week - 09/27/2007

Heard in Iran This Week
on Radio Farda

(Washington, DC -- September 27, 2007) This past week, Radio Farda kept listeners and website visitors informed about:
* Iranian President Ahmadinejad's controversial visit to New York
* The release of the last two Iranian-American "soft hostages"
* Police brutality at a labor rally in southwestern Iran
* Continued harassment of Iranian university students, academics and teachers' activists

Bush, Ahmadinejad At The UN
* U.S. President George W. Bush and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were among the many world leaders to speak at the opening of this year's United Nations General Assembly on September 25. Radio Farda broadcast extensive excerpts from President Bush's speech (audio at; a report in English on the two speeches can be found at

* Radio Farda also provided comprehensive coverage of Ahmadinejad's controversial September 24 speech at New York's Columbia University and the protests that accompanied his appearance there (audio at; photo gallery at; an analysis in English of reaction in Iran to the speech is at

* Ahmadinejad's Columbia University speech was analyzed on Radio Farda by both Iranian and U.S.-based academics. Former Tehran University Chancellor Mohammad Maleki said if Ahmadinejad really means what he said about the need for a referendum in to determine the destiny of Palestinians, he should first hold a referendum to learn whether his own people want to maintain Iran's current regime and constitution. Dissident and former university professor Mohsen Sazegara rejected Ahmadinejad's claims of freedom of expression on Iranian campuses, noting that he had been barred from speaking at universities both before his arrest in 2003 and after his release later that year (audio at Columbia University researcher Gary Sick told Radio Farda listeners he found Ahmadinejad's words repetitious and that the Iranian leader said little that hadn't been heard from him before (audio at

Tehran Releases Last Two "Soft Hostages" From Prison
Radio Farda reported the release from Evin Prison of two more detained Iranian-Americans: social scientist and urban planner Kian Tajbakhsh on September 20 (in English at and peace activist and businessman Ali Shakeri on September 25 (in English at In an interview with Radio Farda, Amnesty International spokesperson Nicole Choueiry welcomed Shakeri's release, adding that Amnesty expects "the Iranian authorities to offer a detailed explanation of why he was arrested including the charges that was brought against him" (

Labor Rally Raided in Restive Southwestern Iran
On September 25, police broke up a peaceful assembly of 150 workers at a factory in Shushtar, Khuzestan province, using tear gas and batons. Journalist Abolfazl Abedini told Radio Farda that five workers were severely injured and taken to hospital. He also said that workers at the Karun paper mill gathered in front of the factory president's office three times, but were attacked each time by security forces. Abedini told Radio Farda that most of the mill workers face numerous difficulties because they have not been paid in seven months; eleven have been admitted to mental hospitals for treatment. Abedini continued: "Mr. Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday [in New York -- ed.] that the Iranian nation is not worried about sanctions; he should first consider workers' problems before making such statements. His words contradict the reality of workers' lives" (

Radio Farda Covers Continued Harassment of Students, Teachers, Professors
On September 23, the new academic year began in Iran. Radio Farda reported that the new year has brought no change, however, to the Iranian government's policy of harassing university students, professors ( and teacher rights activists (

RFE/RL Analysis

Former Inmates Shed Light On Secret Prison Ward
September 27, 2007 (Radio Farda) -- Three Iranian-Americans who were released from Iranian detention in September were reportedly all held in section 209 of Tehran's Evin prison. Radio Farda broadcaster Mohammad Zarghami spoke to several people who had been detained in that same ward of the notorious prison to learn more about the conditions there.

Bloggers Criticize President's New York Visit
September 26, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- The Iranian "blogosphere" is full of criticism of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's activities and remarks during his visit to New York City this week. RFE/RL correspondents Ron Synovitz and Arash Alborzi find that, from both inside and outside Iran, the criticism has been strong. By comparison, conservative Islamist bloggers in Iran who usually support Ahmadinejad have been relatively quiet.

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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