28 Apr 2010 03:11
Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Iranian press, and excerpts where the source is in English. The link to the news organization or blog is provided at the top of each item. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the story in perspective. You can follow our news feeds on Twitter.
Suntanned women to be arrested under Islamic dress code
Telegraph | April 27, 2010
Brigadier Hossien Sajedinia, Tehran's police chief, said a national crackdown on opposition sympathisers would be extended to women who have been deemed to be violating the spirit of Islamic laws. He said: "The public expects us to act firmly and swiftly if we see any social misbehaviour by women, and men, who defy our Islamic values. In some areas of north Tehran we can see many suntanned women and young girls who look like walking mannequins.
"We are not going to tolerate this situation and will first warn those found in this manner and then arrest and imprison them."
Iran Drops Bid for Human Rights Council Seat, Eyes Women's Rights Body Instead
CNS News | April 27, 2010
Iran has confirmed it will no longer run for a seat on the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council. Instead, it aims to become a member of an international women's rights body.
Iran's bid to win one of four HRC seats earmarked for Asia had drawn strong opposition from rights campaigners already critical of the presence of countries with poor rights records -- including China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia -- on the 47-member body.
Iran's withdrawal means that the remaining candidates for the four Asia seats -- Qatar, Malaysia, Thailand and the Maldives -- are all but assured of success when the full 192-member U.N. General Assembly on May 13 elects 14 HRC members.
Iran made the decision to end its candidature after discussions with other members of the U.N.'s Asia group, Tehran's foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Sunday.
Hinting at a quid pro quo, he said that Iran would instead be a candidate for an international women's rights body -- "and all Asian countries will support our membership."
It was not immediately clear which body he meant. Iran's ILNA news agency quoted Mehmanparast as saying the "Women's Human Rights Council" while IRNA quoted him as saying the "International Commission for Protection of Women's Rights."
Iran's opposition leader assails ruling clerics
WaPo | April 26, 2010
Iran's opposition leader has said that a corrupt power structure is running the country in the name of Islam -- his harshest words to date against the hard-line clerical leadership.
Mir Hossein Mousavi, who has often spoken up against the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has also lately stepped up his criticism of Iran's ruling clerics.
In remarks carried late Sunday on his website Kaleme.com, Mousavi said the country's rulers "arrest and beat people in the name of Islam, prevent activities of political parties in the name of Islam, and shut down media in the name of Islam."
The clerical leaders have called pro-opposition protesters enemies of God, or mohareb in Farsi -- a crime punishable by death under Iranian law -- and have increasingly used the concept as a weapon against opponents.
Iran's judiciary has put more than 100 people on a mass trial on similar charges since August. About a dozen people have been sentenced to death, and more than 80 others have received prison terms ranging from six months to 15 years.
"You call anybody who speaks against you a ... mohareb or overthrower. This is not beneficial to you or the country. This is not compatible with Islam," Mousavi was quoted as saying. "Islam doesn't allow beating, libel, keeping people in prison and imposing restrictions."
Iran Increases Pressure On Teachers Ahead of Teachers Day
Radio Liberty | April 28, 2010
Iran has increased pressure on teachers over their union and social activities ahead of Teachers Day on May 2, apparently in an effort to prevent protests.
Two senior members of Iran's teachers union are reported to have been arrested on April 28. The head of the union, Ali Akbar Baghani, and spokesman Mohammad Beheshti Langarudi were reportedly jailed after being summoned to the Intelligence Ministry.
Ruzbeh Bolhari, who covers labor issues for RFE/RL's Radio Farda, says teachers' rights activists in several cities, including Tehran and Tabriz, have told him that they've come under pressure in recent days from the authorities, who have warned them not to take part in any protests.
In recent days, two teachers were fined for holding protests in Kermanshah and three are reported to have been arrested in Hamedan.
An activist in Tehran told me that several blogs and websites focused on teachers' issues have been blocked.
Earlier this week, the Coordinating Council of the Teachers Trade Unions called for a hunger strike on Teachers' Week (May 2-8) to protest the prison sentences and death penalties handed out to teachers.
Iranian reformist parties defy charges against them
Radio Zamaneh | April 28, 2010
The two major Iranian reformist organizations, Islamic Iran Participation Front and Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution announced that they will continue their activities according to the law and demanded a public hearing in order to defend all their activities.
The Article 10 Commission of political parties has called for the dissolution of the two reformist organizations through the judiciary.
Leaders of the two organizations have independently written to the Commission maintaining that the actions against their organizations lack "legal justification."
The Commission accuses the said organizations of "libel and spreading of rumours", "violating national unity", "activities to create and exacerbate differences amongst the people" and "violation of the Islamic principles of the Islamic Republic."
Secretary General of Islamic Iran Participation Front expressed his disappointment that the Commission did not call on any party representative to defend the organization against the said accusations, and called for a public and official court to process the case.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seeks US visa ahead of nuclear meet
BBC | April 28, 2010
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has applied for a visa to visit the United States next week, the US says.
The application is apparently motivated by his wish to be at the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference next Monday.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be among more than 30 foreign ministers attending the opening day of discussions in New York.
The US says Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon, but Tehran denies this.
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said: "My understanding is that as of today he (Mr Ahmadinejad) has filed an application for a visa."
Zimbabwe: Govt and Iran Strike Secret Nuclear Mining Deal
SW Radio Africa | April 28, 2010
While the rest of the world was focused on the controversy of the MDC-T objecting to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visiting Zimbabwe to open the Trade Fair in Bulawayo, behind closed doors deals were allegedly being made to allow Iran to mine Zimbabwe's untapped uranium deposits.
According to a report in the UK Daily Telegraph, Iran is desperate to secure raw material for its expanding and controversial nuclear programme, while Zimbabwe wants oil in return.
On Monday Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman Ncube dismissed the report as 'not true.'
He was keen to stress, 'no such agreement was signed. There is no certainty that Zimbabwe has uranium deposits. You first have to prove that there are uranium deposits and that has not been done.'
Ncube, a Minister from the smaller Mutambara MDC, added that the two countries had only signed general cooperation agreements in the fields of energy, science and technology and agriculture.
But the Daily Telegraph report suggests that former state security minister Didymus Mutasa, now the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, traveled to Iran last month to seal the deal.
A source who spoke to the paper said 'that is when the formal signing of the deal was made, away from the glare of the media.' Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba added fuel to the speculation when he said although the issue of Zimbabwe's mining rights had not yet been finalized, Iran had a right to apply for them.
What is happening this May Day in Iran?
Iran Labor Report | April 28, 2010
While May Day, the International Workers Day, has never been an officially-sanctioned holiday in Iran, workers have nevertheless celebrated it throughout the years, often against heavy police repression. This year, the authorities have banned all gatherings by the independent labor organizations and threatened them with severe punishment. However, the old government-affiliated labor groups have announced a "labor week", the Green supporters of labor have called for rallies and marches in Tehran and other cities, and, in what promises to be a highly eventful day, more and more labor and pro-labor groups are coming forward with new statements and plans of action for the occasion.
Last May Day, in 2009, independent labor organizations staged a joint gathering at the Park Laleh in Tehran. The gathering was violently broken up by the police and at least 120 people were arrested. The same day, five members of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Workers Syndicate were arrested and sentenced to prison terms while a number of cases were built against Vahed Bus Drivers Syndicate. Aside from these, several labor activists were called in to the intelligence and judiciary centers and were served notifications
This year, the experience of last May Day's brutal clampdown--along with the unfortunate infighting that ensued from it--plus the admittedly heavy police presence in the country--has prompted most independent labor organizations to call off May Day gatherings. Instead, they are encouraging workers to celebrate the occasion in small numbers at factories and shop-floors. The Ministry of Intelligence, the regular Law Enforcement Agency and the workplace-based Basij militia have all been ordered to stay vigilant and at full alert for any unusual activity.
The government-sanctioned labor groups, meanwhile, have announced a week of ceremonies starting with a gathering at the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini and ending with a staged meeting with Ahmadinejad. Early reports on the first day of the "labor week" indicate that about three thousand workers did gather at the tomb but staged a silent protest with the signs they were carrying. The issues raised ranged from lack of unemployment insurance to the cutting of pensions to the lack of job security.