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Iran Vows to Combat Terrorism, Fundamentalism

25 Jun 2011 23:53Comments

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Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic press and excerpts where the source is in English. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

Our columnist Muhammad Sahimi compiled the following news items and commentary:

The presidents of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and the Sudan are among the dignitaries in Tehran to attend an international conference on combating terrorism (photos above).

In a joint communiqué, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan stated that terrorism and fundamentalism must be confronted and that they would work together toward this goal. In a message to the conference, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei criticized the United States, accusing it of committing terrorism, citing the U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the shooting down of an IranAir passenger plane in 1988, as examples.

In response to new U.S. sanctions imposed on IranAir, Farhad Parvaresh, its CEO, said that sanctions were nothing new to the airline and that sanctions have been in existence against the industry for the past 30 years. Because of the sanctions, he added, Iran's capabilities for repairing its aircraft have increased. The number of flights and the network of destinations to which IranAir flies have also expanded, he said.

Dr. Ardeshir Amir Arjomand, spokesman for the Coordination Council for the Green Path of Hope, the temporary leadership council while Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi are under house arrest, has written a letter to Ahmed Shaheed, the U.N. special rapporteur for human rights to Iran, asking him to immediately turn his attention to the condition of the political prisoners on hunger strike in Evin and Rajaei Shahr prisons. Amir Arjomand stated the council's readiness to work with Shaheed in this regard, including providing documentation. But he stressed the condition of the prisoners on hunger strike as a priority.

The same urgent request was made separately by 61 Iranian journalists in exile. In a letter to Shaheed, the journalists offered their services to the U.N. special rapporteur in his research of the political situation and state of human rights in Iran. A group of families of the political prisoners also wrote a letter to Shaheed, expressing their concerns. "The lives of our loved ones are in danger," they said. "Please travel to Iran as soon as possible and try to meet with them."

Five of the prisoners on hunger strike -- Abdollah Momeni, Mohsen Aminzadeh, Abolfazl Ghadiani, Mehdi Karimian Eghbal and Bahman Ahmadi Amooei -- have been moved to the medical center of Evin Prison because of deteriorating health. Their families have told Tehran Prosecutor-General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi that he is directly responsible for their well-being.

The hunger strikers were hauled to the judiciary office in Evin against their will, but refused to answer any questions. This happened both on Thursday and Friday. While there, they were reportedly threatened by judiciary officials and fought off attempts by security officials to blindfold them. Instead of responding to the questions, the strikers held Friday Prayers together. They told the interrogators, "We all witnessed the beating of [journalist] Hoda Saber in prison, but, instead of investigating the incident and the death of Haleh Sahabi, you are interrogating us?"

Calls for the political prisoners to end their hunger strike have continued. Among those who have added their voices to this campaign are Grand Ayatollah Asadollah Bayat Zanjani, the popular cleric and supporter of the Green Movement; Ashraf Montazeri, daughter of the late Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri; and her husband, cleric Seyyed Hadi Hashemi; Dr. Mostafa Moein, former minister of sciences, research and technology during the Khatami administration and a presidential candidate in 2005; and a group of female reformists.

Former President Mohammad Khatami met with Mrs. Maryam Sharbatdar Ghods, wife of Feyzollah Arabsorkhi, one of the strikers, and asked her to tell her husband and the rest to end their strike. In a letter signed by 118 journalists in Iran, the prisoners were asked the same thing. "While respecting your decision to go on hunger strike," they wrote, "we persist in requesting that you end your strike. Our concerns for your health and well-being are not something that we can remain silent about."

Majles Speaker Ali Larijani strongly criticized the performance of the Ahmadinejad administration, including uncontrolled imports into the country. He said that the law for eliminating subsidies, which is referred to in Iran as the law for targeted subsidies, was not implemented correctly. The law, he said, stipulated that 30 percent of the savings must be spent in the agricultural sector to help farmers, but that was never implemented. He added that in the current Iranian year, $850 million has been devoted to the manufacturing and production industries. "We intend to do the same for the agriculture sector," he said. "Why should we import French apples and pineapples when we produce good apples and even export them, and when there is not much need for pineapples [in the first place]?"

After Hamid Sajjadi was rejected by the Majles as the chief of the newly founded Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, Ahmadinejad appointed Mohammad Abbasi, the current minister of cooperatives, as the acting minister. However, the appointment of an acting minister has been opposed by some MPs. Cleric Hossein Sobhaninia, a member of the Majles leadership, said that the appointment was illegal. The reason, he said, was that Ahmadinejad should have nominated another person to receive the Majles vote of confidence, but he has not done so yet, something that must have been done at the same time that he appointed an acting minister.

Ahmadinejad has introduced a plan to the Majles to merge the Ministry of Commerce with the Minustry of Industry and Mines into a Ministry of Industry and Commerce. He had proposed to merge the ministries of Oil and Power into a Ministry of Energy, but the Majles opposed it. Ahmadinejad's plan to merge three other ministries (Communications and Information Technology, Roads and Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development) into a single Ministry of Infrastructure was also opposed by the Majles.

A fire set three days ago to the offices of the Expediency Discernment Council, headed by Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, may have been deliberate. In the council's meeting on Saturday, a film of the damaged areas, in particular where Rafsanjani's secretaries worked, was shown to the members. Rafsanjani strongly condemned the unknown culprits.

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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