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01 May 2010 06:40No Comments

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.

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national

Iran opposition leaders are not regime 'topplers': Karroubi

AFP | May 1, 2010

Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi said on Saturday that he and fellow opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi were not "topplers" of the country's Islamic regime, an opposition website reported.

"We are neither topplers (of the regime) or lackeys of foreigners," said Karroubi who has continued to launch his tirades against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his government.

"I and Mr. Mousavi have held positions within the regime, but do not consider ourselves as the owners (of the regime), but soldiers of the revolution and the Islamic republic," he was quoted as saying on Rahesabz website.

Karroubi, warned that the regime had been distanced from the masses and its promises made 30 years ago.

"What we are saying today is that we have distanced a lot from the slogans and promises that were made to the people in the early stages of the revolution," the reformist cleric who had lost to Ahmadinejad in June 2009 presidential poll told a group of reformists, the website said.

He reiterated that the opposition movement planned to hold a demonstration on June 12, the anniversary of last year's poll, where "a demand to hold a free election will be made."

Iran Reformist Tries to Enlist Labor and Teachers

NYT> | April 29, 2010

The Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi released a video statement on Thursday calling on workers and teachers to join the reformist cause, in a bold new attempt to broaden and energize the country's flagging protest movement.

The statement came as groups representing laborers and teachers called for demonstrations, and a labor coalition issued its own list of economic grievances to mark International Labor Day, on May 1, opposition Web sites reported.

Mr. Moussavi and other opposition leaders have previously urged workers and teachers to join them, but not as directly or as urgently. Now the possibility of laborers taking to the streets -- as they did during the 1979 Islamic Revolution -- has rattled the hard-line establishment.

On Wednesday, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, issued a veiled warning to workers not to allow themselves to be politicized, saying "the enemy has tried to use the workers as a leverage against the Islamic regime" in the past, but had always failed, according to the semiofficial ILNA news agency.

In his video appeal, Mr. Moussavi said the challenges workers faced -- low wages, inflation, economic mismanagement and the inability to create independent organizations -- were also essential grievances of the Green movement, as the opposition calls itself.

He urged the creation of a united front against government malfeasance and injustice, and even linked President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's foreign policy to workers' circumstances. "The government's illogical actions have a direct effect on what the people of Iran can put on their table," Mr. Moussavi said.

Clampdown on Teachers and Labor Activists

Iran Human Rights | April 30, 2010

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran today urged Iranian authorities to respect the rights of trade union activists and teachers to participate in International Workers Day (1 May) and National Teachers Day (2 May) observations, and expressed deep concern about recent arrests of members of teachers groups in an apparent attempt to intimidate others from demonstrating.

In February 2010, in the course of a review of its human rights record under the United Nations Universal Periodic Review process, Iran agreed to respect the social and economic rights of its citizens and their right to freedom of expression as recommended by Brazil, Mexico, Zimbabwe, Bolivia, Vietnam, and Kuwait.

"We call upon the Islamic Republic to abide by its commitment to respect economic and social rights and the right to freedom of expression, to halt the persecution of peaceful labor and teacher activists, and to permit groups to express their solidarity and demands on the first and second of May," stated Aaron Rhodes, a spokesperson for the Campaign.

"If the authorities go on harassing labor activists and crush the May observances, as they have in past years, it will demonstrate the total hypocrisy of the pledges Iran made," he said.

Iran: Journalists Under Siege

AI | April 30, 2010

"Around 70 journalists are now in the prisons of the Islamic Republic and many others, like me, are free on bail, lacking any security. We are afraid that anything that we write may be used as evidence of "propaganda against the system" or "conspiracy against national security". My colleagues and I try to write as little as possible." Open letter from journalist Zhila Bani Ya'qoub to the Head of Iranian Judiciary

Iranian journalists and bloggers are increasingly under siege in one of the biggest crackdowns on independent voices and dissent in Iran's modern history.

Since last year's disputed presidential election, which brought millions of protesters onto the streets, the authorities have intensified their long-standing suppression of both the traditional Iranian media and the rising number of "citizen journalists" who use new technology to expose human rights violations.

Iran has been described by press freedom organizations as the biggest jailer of journalists in the world.

nuclear

Executive linked to Iran probe is sentenced in NYC

AP | April 29, 2010

The former president of a foundation prosecutors say has provided services to the Iranian government has been sentenced in New York City to three months in prison for obstructing justice.

Farshid Jahedi was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Manhattan. He was fined $3,000.

He pleaded guilty in December to an obstruction charge. He admitted throwing away documents he knew would be subject to a subpoena issued in connection with a grand jury investigation of a bank accused of helping fund Iran's nuclear program.

Jahedi is the former president of the Alavi Foundation.

Turkey, Brazil brokering Iran nuclear deal

Reuters | April 30, 2010

Turkey and Brazil are trying to revive a stalled atomic fuel deal with Iran in an attempt to help the Islamic Republic avoid new U.N. sanctions over its nuclear program, Western diplomats said on Friday.

China and Russia -- which reluctantly joined the United States, Britain, France and Germany in negotiating a draft resolution that would impose a fourth round of U.N. sanctions on Tehran -- are ready to give the Brazilians and Turks the time they need to broker a deal, U.N. diplomats said.

Western diplomats made clear they were not happy about a development that will likely delay a U.N. sanctions vote in New York. Washington had hoped to have a final draft ready ahead of a May 3-28 meeting on the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but diplomats say negotiations could run into June at least.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the diplomats said that nonpermanent Security Council members Brazil and Turkey had helped broker an Iranian counteroffer to a U.N. proposal to enable Iran to refuel an aging research reactor in Tehran that makes isotopes for cancer treatment.

economy

Iranian Economy's Biggest Vulnerability: Iran

FP | April 30, 2010

"When your adversary is making a fool of himself, get out of the way." So said Pat Buchannan last year in response to conservative hawks pushing for U.S. intervention in the wake of Iran's controversial Presidential election. At the time, those words made a lot of sense. Better for the U.S. to not give the Iranian government a handhold as it descended into infamy by making itself the focus of attention. Buchanan's advice could just as easily apply to the now-urgent question of U.S. economic sanctions. As a congressional conference committee begins to put the finishing touches on an Iran sanctions package, it's worth considering the evidence that the biggest threat to the Iranian economy is actually the regime itself. Economic sanctions might actually rescue the regime from its own failings, and produce the opposite of what their backers expect.

Iran's economy may not be on life-support, but it is in pretty terrible shape. While the statistics reported by the Iranian government paint a rosy picture, the reality is quite different. Iran's real per capita growth rate was 3.5 percent per annum from 2002-2009, but this period of growth coincided with a period of a steady rise in oil prices, suggesting the "government has not been very successful in achieving diversification of the economy." Inflation is also on the rise, reaching 10.4 percent in April. Though that's much lower than the annual rate of 30 percent from last year, the current government has consistently struggled to contain rising inflation (which is often attributed to President Ahmadinejad's redistribution of oil revenues). Actual inflation may be much higher. Looking at prices in downtown Tehran, the real number might be hovering around 20 percent.

international

Italy frees Iranians 'jailed over arms trafficking'

AFP | April 30, 2010

Italy has freed two Iranian men jailed since March on suspicion of trafficking arms to the Islamic republic but is keeping them under house arrest, Tehran's ambassador to Rome said on Friday.

Ali Damirchi-Lou and state television reporter Hamid Masoumi-Nejad were released from jail on Thursday and "placed under house arrest," Ambassador Mohammad Ali Hosseini told Fars news agency.

Masoumi-Nejad's release was announced Thursday on state television by Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh, who is charge of expatriate affairs, but there had been no immediate word on Damirchi-Lou's fate.

Masoumi-Nejad was freed "after efforts by the expatriate Iranian's council, the presidential office and the foreign ministry," Malekzadeh said.

Iran's ambassador to Italy also said that a Milan deputy prosecutor told him that "Masoumi-Nejad will be able to resume his reporting job although he is under house arrest." He did not elaborate.

The Italian news agency Ansa on Thursday confirmed that Masoumi-Nejad had been released and placed under house arrest, adding however he would be allowed to go to work.

Masoumi-Nejad -- who worked as a reporter for state television in Rome -- was arrested along with Damirchi-Lou and five Italian businessmen in Turin in March on suspicion of trafficking arms to Iran in violation of UN sanctions.

Tehran insists that the Iranian men are innocent and has repeatedly called for their release.

"We will keep our efforts until we secure their innocence verdict and complete freedom," ambassador Hosseini told Fars news agency.

Italian anti-terrorist prosecutor Armando Spataro said in March that the pair worked for Iran's secret services and that two other Iranians, believed to be in the Islamic republic, were sought in the same operation.

Week in Green

Episode 21: Interview with Robert Dreyfuss

Week in Green | April 30, 2010

In the 21st episode of The Week in Green, journalist Robert Dreyfuss discusses the impact of the Green Movement on Iran and the surrounding region and the possible outcomes of nuclear negotiations and economic sanctions against Iran.

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