12 May 2010 16:00
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.
Tehran Bus Workers Union Condemns Execution of Farzad Kamangar
Iran Labor Report | May 12, 2010
Tehran and Municipality Vahed Bus Workers Syndicate issued an statement on the execution of Farzad Kamangar. The text of the statement is as follows:
We are mourning a teacher whose gear were those of chalks and pens. One who taught kids who many put their heads hungry on the pillows at nights. His crime was standing for human rights. A crime that, for the last one hundred years, has sent many into their graves and put many families in sorrow. In the last four years, many national and international organizations had condemned the imprisonment of Farzad Kamangar and more importantly had called for impartial and legal examination of his case. Representatives from international organizations had asked several times to be able to send delegations in order to visit him in prison; the requests which never were accepted.
His family, sadly, did not have the right and the chance to see him in his last moments. These executions are happening at a time when our people have always and every where denounced violence in any of its manifestations.
Iranian and world labor movement have lost a teacher who did not even stop in prison to learn and to teach. We convey our condolences in loosing Farzad to the Kamangar family and his class counterparts all over the world.
Relatives of Kurds Executed in Iran Are Denied the Remains, and 2 Are Arrested
NYT | May 12, 2010
The authorities in Iran have refused to allow the families of five Kurdish activists hanged on Sunday to bury them, and have arrested the sister and mother of the only woman among the executed, one of the activists' lawyers said Tuesday.
The sister and mother of the woman, Shirin Alamhooee, 28, were arrested at their home in the city of Makoo, in northwestern Iran, said the lawyer, Khalil Bahramian, in a telephone interview from Tehran. He also said the family was not even aware of the execution until Monday afternoon.
The government's refusal to hand over the bodies to the families appears to stem from a fear of antigovernment demonstrations during burial ceremonies in Kurdish areas. Ethnic Kurds have come under increasing pressure since the large-scale protests last summer against the nation's disputed elections, and at least two other Kurdish activists were executed late last year. At least 16 other Kurdish activists remain on death row, according to human rights groups.
"Not allowing families to bury the bodies of their loved ones is against the law, Islam and Shariah," Mr. Bahramian said.
He said the authorities had told him they would bury the bodies and tell the families the location later. "They even turned down my request to allow the families to be present while they are burying them," he said.
Forced Confessions From a War Veteran
Rooz Online | May 12, 2010
Mohammad Davari, the editor-in-chief of Saham News, the official newspaper of Etemad Melli (National Trust) Party, was arrested on September 26, 2009, after security agents raided the National Trust Party's headquarters. He has spent the past eight months behind bars.
Official charges against Davari include "disseminating propaganda against the regime and conspiracy to disrupt national security and public order." According to Saham News, however, "The Saham News editor-in-chief was arrested for collecting documents related to rape."
On April 5 Saham News reported that Davari's physical and psychological health was deteriorating. "By exerting this pressure, the ruling faction seeks to force him to take part in a controversial interview dismissing Mehdi Karoubi's rape claims," the paper said.
Mohammad Davari has since confirmed the report. His lawyer, Mina Jafari, told Rooz that he is under pressure to confess against Mehdi Karoubi, something the teacher has not yet agreed to do.
Karroubi expresses regret over unjust executions
GVF | May 12, 2010
Opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi has expressed regret over the unjust and sudden execution of five political activists by Iranian authorities.
According to the official website of the National Trust Party, in a meeting with the family of imprisoned journalist Ali Malihi, party chairman Mehdi Karroubi said "we never thought that we would reach a point where such conduct would be considered normal in the country."
During the meeting, which was reported on Saham News website, Ali Malihi's father explained how following the election, one of his sons had initially been beaten up and arrested instead of Ali.
Regarding the sudden execution of Kurdish teacher Farzad Kamangar, Karroubi said "the execution of this person took place while no one was aware of the details of the case and [his] crime had not been demonstrated to anyone as [he] did not enjoy a public court hearing. Judicial and legal norms were not respected either."
The former parliament speaker criticized the fact that the individuals were hanged without having their lawyers or families notified. He said that this was a sign that there was no justice and that "the proceedings were not at all in accordance with religious and judicial standards."
"Has human life become so cheap that it can be taken away with such ease and without the slightest amount of legal care while the public is kept in the dark?" he said.
Seven foreign firms in Iran energy got US contracts
Reuters | May 12, 2010
The U.S. government has obligated almost $880 million in recent years to seven foreign firms that had commercial activity in Iran's energy sector, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said on Wednesday.
U.S. lawmakers upset by what they see as companies continuing to help Iran's economy, which they say indirectly aids its nuclear program, held a hearing in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
Foreign companies that invest in Iran's energy sector can be sanctioned under U.S. law. Washington suspects Iran's nuclear program is aimed at making a bomb, but Tehran says it is for energy needs.
The GAO statement was a follow-on to a report it did in March, in which it identified 41 foreign firms that have commercial activity in Iran's energy sector. The new report identified which of those firms had U.S. government contracts from fiscal years 2005-2009.
Almost 90 percent of the U.S. funds in these contracts were obligated for purchases of fuel and petroleum products overseas, Joseph Christoff, director of International Affairs and Trade at the GAO, said in testimony prepared for a Senate committee.
Republican Senator Susan Collins said she was "deeply troubled" that the U.S. government still does business with companies that are "at least indirectly, aiding and abetting Iran's nuclear program by investing in the Iranian economy."
Collins said that current law needed to be enforced; but in light of the new information, Congress also needed to strengthen its sanctions against Iran.
Iran border guards arrest Iraqi fishermen: report
AFP | May 12, 2010
Iranian border guards arrested nine Iraqi fishermen in Iranian waters in the strategic Shatt al-Arab waterway in recent days, the Fars news agency reported on Tuesday.
"Six vessels were boarded for investigation in recent days for illegally entering Iranian territorial waters," Yadollah Sharafi, the head of the Abadan naval base, was quoted as saying by Fars.
"Twelve Iraqi fishermen were detained and brought to justice. Following investigations, three were released, but nine others are still detained," he added.
Sharafi said Iranian forces would not allow "any violation of Iranian territorial waters."
"The security established in the waters of the Aravand-Roud is unprecedented in recent years thanks to the efforts of naval forces charged with protecting the borders," he said, using the Iranian name for the Shatt al-Arab.
U.N. resolutions vs Iran "not worth penny": Ahmadinejad
Reuters | May 12, 2010
U.N. resolutions aimed at increasing sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program "are not worth a penny" and Tehran will give no ground to pressure, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday.
He was addressing six world powers that are discussing imposing more far-reaching sanctions on the major oil producer.
Iran says its nuclear energy program is a peaceful bid to generate electricity, whereas Western powers see it as a camouflaged effort to develop the means to make atom bombs.
The Islamic Republic has repeatedly rejected international demands to halt its escalating uranium enrichment program.
"You should know that your resolutions are not worth a penny," Ahmadinejad said in a message to the big powers.
"If you think that by making fuss and propaganda you can force us to withdraw, you are wrong. The Iranian nation will not withdraw even one inch from its stance," he said in a speech to a crowd in southwestern Iran.
Ahmadinejad's remarks came as the six powers -- the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany -- continued to work on a new draft sanctions resolution, meeting in New York and talking by telephone.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke on the phone for an hour on Tuesday evening with Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo, discussing both North Korea and Iran, the State Department said on Wednesday.
"They talked about the status of discussions on Iran sanctions," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told a briefing.
Arrested US hikers seen as Iranian bargaining chips
The National | May 12, 2010
Iran has promised to allow the distraught mothers of three American hikers arrested along the Iraqi border nine months ago to visit them in a Tehran prison.
Iran insists the belated gesture is solely humanitarian. But its timing has generated informed speculation that the move is intended to convince a sceptical Washington that Iran is committed to resuscitating a uranium fuel swap deal designed to defuse rising tensions over its nuclear programme.
Tehran's renewed interest in the stalled deal, first brokered by the United Nations last October, comes as the US is pressing for a fourth set of UN Security Council sanctions against the Islamic republic.
Iran said yesterday that it had been discussing with Turkey and Brazil a "new formula" for the fuel exchange that "could pave the ground for a new understanding".
Both the countries - non-permanent members of the UN Security Council - have good relations with Washington, but oppose fresh sanctions against Iran.
Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Brazil's president, Luiz Ignácio Lula da Silva, will be in Tehran at the same time next week for talks on the fuel deal, Iran said yesterday.
"The Iranians are pushing very hard on possible Turkish and Brazilian mediation, which makes you wonder if there are indirect discussions going on with the Americans," said Scott Lucas, a professor of American studies and Iran expert at Birmingham University in England.