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Heard This Week - 10/04/2007

Heard in Iran This Week
On Radio Farda

(Washington, DC -- October 4, 2007) This past week, Radio Farda kept listeners and website visitors informed about:

* Workers' demonstrations and jailing in Khuzestan and Kurdistan
* The State Department's Iran Democracy Program
* Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps riot control role
* Increasing pressure on activists in Iranian Azerbaijan

Labor Protests Over Unpaid Wages
* Radio Farda reported on September 29 that more than 1,000 employees of the Haftapeh sugar cane factory in the southwestern Iranian province of Khuzestan gathered in front of the governor's office in the city of Shush to protest their unpaid wages. (

* On October 1, Radio Farda reported that anti-riot police forces from throughout Khuzestan province had been dispatched to Shush. Ahvaz-based journalist Abolfazl Abedini told Radio Farda the governor in Shush threatened to deploy anti-riot police against further worker assemblies. An unnamed activist told Radio Farda that workers understand the governor's words to mean demanding one's fair wages is considered disruptive and whoever demands his rights should be beaten up: "Are workers slaves who should work without pay?" (; report in English at

Workers Face New Sentences
On September 28, the Penal Court in the city of Saqqez, Kurdistan province sentenced five labor activists to 91 days in prison and 40 lashes, Radio Farda reported. The activists had protested the continued imprisonment of fellow labor activist Mahmoud Salehi. One of the worker activists sentenced to prison and lashes--Kaveh Hakimi--told Radio Farda that the government seeks to intimidate workers with such punishments and force them to give up their rights (

State Department Advisor Describes U.S.-Sponsored Iran Democracy Program
On October 1, Radio Farda aired an interview with David Denehy, senior adviser to the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs about the Iran Democracy Program he directs. Denehy told listeners the program "focuses on supporting indigenous voices inside Iran that are calling for the expansion of personal liberty and freedom." Denehy emphasized that the program enjoys the support of a wide coalition within the international community (

Islamic Revolutionary Guards Prepare to Confront "Internal Threats"
The Commander of Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Mohammad Ali Jafari said on September 29 that the main objective of the IRGC is "to confront internal threats." Radio Farda asked Germany-based activist Mehdi Fatapur of the "United Republicans of Iran" political federation to comment on Jafari's statement, during an interview broadcast on September 30.
Fatapur said the commander's words imply that, from now on, the IRGC's main task will be to take large-scale action against any rioting that may break out because of increased economic pressure on the Iranian people resulting from the possible strengthening of international sanctions. Fatapur added the IRGC's growing role in politics and economics is unprecedented in the era since the Islamic Revolution, calling it a danger to Iranian society (

Radio Farda Addresses Pressure on Activists in Azerbaijan
The spokesman for the Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners of Azerbaijan, Ali-Reza Javanbakht described increased pressure on journalists and political and human rights activists in Iranian Azerbaijan, during an interview broadcast exclusively by Radio Farda on October 3 (

RFE/RL Analysis

Greater Role By Revolutionary Guard In Suppressing Critics
October 5, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Mohammad Ali Jafari, the�commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said on September 29 that the "main responsibility" of the corps now is to counter "internal threats." He added that the IRGC will confront any threat that might undermine the achievements of the Islamic republic. Jafari's comments are regarded by some analysts as a warning to domestic critics of the Iranian regime.

Alarm Over Persian Gulf Pollution
October 3, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- High levels of pollution and an oil spill in July are being blamed for the recent deaths of dolphins and whales off Iran's Hormozgan Province, on the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea. The incidents have spawned a broader debate over pollution levels in the seas around Iran.

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,
at the service's website
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