Archive for June, 2008
Wednesday, June 25th, 2008
Badrossadat Mofidi in Interview with Rooz
The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs ignored six letters from the Association of Iranian Journalists (Anjoman-e Senfi-ye Ruzname Negaran) to hold a general meeting and abruptly deemed the association eligible for dissolution. In an interview with Rooz, Badrossadat Mofidi, Secretary of the Association of Iranian Journalists, discusses the details of and motives behind the issue.
Rooz (R): Ms. Mofidi, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs has deemed the Association of Iranian Journalists eligible for dissolution. First tell us what is at the root of the disagreement between the Ministry of Labor and the Association of Iranian Journalists?
Badrossadat Mofidi (BM): Our disagreements with the Ministry of Labor date back to the coming to power of the ninth administration. With the view that this administration held regarding independent labor organizations, and the Association of Iranian Journalists in particular, it has been striving to dissolve the association ever since. Previous governmentson the other hand, meaning Mr. Khatami’s administration, worked mostly to strengthen the guilds. But the events that have taken place in connection with the Association of Iranian Journalists are that, in 2006, the Association went through an election process following which it intended to hold a third general meeting of its members when it suddenly faced a plethora of excuses and hindrances from the Ministry of Labor, none of which had any legal basis.
R: Can you cite more specific instances of the Ministry of Labor’s hindrances? BM: With only three days left for the third general meeting of its members which aimed at appointing a new board of directors, the Ministry of Labor announced that because the association’s by-laws did not mention a third general meeting but only a first and second such meeting, the association was not permitted to hold a third round of elections.
R: What was the reaction of the Association of Iranian Journalists to the Ministry of Labor? BM: The association immediately backed its claims by forwarding a letter written in 2001 by the Ministry of Labor’s deputy of labor organizations’ affairs at the time which permitted the association to hold a third general meeting in the presence of fifty members. In addition, because the Ministry of Labor’s newly appointed officials in 2006 had taken such a hardline position with respect to a third general meeting and the association had already started the elections process, we held elections pursuant to instructions set forth in the letter from 2001.
R: Do you think political motivations are behind the Ministry of Labor’s letter regarding the Association’s dissolution?BM: Their letter has two fundamental problems. First, it lacks legal basis and, secondly, it is driven by political motivations. Apparently the gentlemen at the ministry expected the 1385  elections to change the composition of the board of directors. But the results were not to their liking. Therefore, we now face actions such as this.
R: Can the Ministry of Labor legally dissolve the association?BM: From a legal standpoint, the Ministry of Labor does not have the power to do this. According to regulations governing labor organizations, the Ministry of Labor does not have the power to dissolve the association and the issue must be pursued in the appropriate court.
R: Given these conditions, would the Association of Iranian Journalists, which has more than 4,000 members, be shut down or would it continue its existence? BM: Look, when laws are inadequate, they do not dissolve organizations that are set up in accordance with those laws, but reform the laws! The answer is to reform the laws so that the 4,000 members know where they stand. Dissolving the association is not the solution. Therefore, the association will continue its lawful activities unless it is confronted with ways beyond legal possibilities.
R: What is the Association’s next move?BM: We will first inform our members about what has taken place. Unfortunately, we have heard reports from independent media outlets that they are placed under pressure by the Ministry of Labor not to publish the viewpoints of the association. For instance, ISNA conducted an interview with me in this regard which it was forced to retract half an hour later. The report about the letter of the president of the association to the labor minister, which contained comprehensive and exhaustive legal arguments, was never published.
The association’s next move is to hold a press conference and respond to questions from domestic and foreign media networks. In the meantime, we will continue to communicate with officials and would even ask Majlis representative, as representatives of the people, to pursue the association’s violated rights by posing questions to and even summon the labor minister. We would definitely file a complaint with the judiciary against the Ministry of Labor as well.
Finally, we would file complaints with international organizations such as those affiliated with the International Federation of Journalists, and even independent civil society organizations, such as the United Nation’s International Labor Organization (ILO). This is because the Association of Iranian Journalists has been recognized by and holds a seat at the ILO.
Source : Roozonline
Tuesday, June 24th, 2008
Ahmadinejad’s New Claim:
Even though a number of days have already passed since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed at a gathering of clerics in Qom that he had been the victim of a “failed kidnap and assassination plot” during a trip to Iraq, no source has come forward to authenticate the president’s story.
In its initial reaction, E’temad daily sought to verify Ahmadinejad’s claim by asking the Iraqi ambassador to Iran. At a higher level, Iraqi officials have been told of the claim but they have denied it. Yesterday, Farda website reported that the Iraqi presidential council had denied the existence of any attempts to kidnap or assassinate Ahmadinejad when he was in Baghdad, and one of its members corroborated that position by saying, “I was one of the people who accompanied Ahmadinejad from the moment he entered Baghdad until the end of his visit, and throughout his visit no changes were implemented in the security plan of the Iraqi guards charged with his protection, and Ahmadinejad was not threatened by any group.”
The denials include Iranian officials. The head of the National Security Committee of the Majlis, Boroujerdi, is among them. He announced his ignorance regarding the plot to kidnap and assassinate Ahmadinejad in Iraq, and told reporters, “The National Security Committee has not received any reports about the plot to kidnap Ahmadinejad in Iraq.” Government spokesperson Gholamhossein Elham too refused to answer questions dealing with the president’s controversial claim in his latest meeting with reporters.
Ahmadinejad’s latest remarks in Qom were made at a meeting where only reporters from the administration’s official news agency – and not any others – were allowed to be present. Farda website had previously reported that Ahmadinejad had asked the meeting’s organizers not to allow any reporters other than those affiliated with the administration’s official news agency to be present at the meeting during his speech. Nevertheless, Tabnak website quoted “a cleric who was present in the meeting” as having said, “At the meeting of members of the [Qom Seminary School] Teachers’ Association, Ahmadinejad said, ‘Coinciding with my trip to Iraq, the Americans were planning to kidnap me in a well-planned plot and transfer me to the United States, in order to seek concessions from the Islamic Republic for my return, using terrorism as excuse.”
Iran daily, the administration’s official newspaper, was the only newspaper that confirmed the ”conspiracy plot to kidnap Ahmadinejad” and concluded that the plot was foiled because of the ”God’s merciful will and prayers of the people.”
In return, newspapers critical of the Administration confronted the president’s remarks with sarcasm and disbelief, posing several questions; for example, if the Americans wanted to kidnap the president, why has the Iranian government not made any international complains? Why did the Americans not arrest the president in New York, rather deciding to kidnap him in Iraq? Or, why did the president decide to visit Italy, if he was facing kidnap threats outside Iran?
In response to these questions posed by newspapers in Tehran, one of Ahmadinejad’s close allies revealed on Tuesday that Ahmadinejad was the target of an assassination plot at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s summit earlier this month in Rome.
Fars News Agency published parts of a speech by the president’s advisor for human resources affairs. Ali Zabihi, who was speaking at a mosque in Tabriz to commemorate the third anniversary of Ahmadinejad’s election, while revering Ahmadinejad’s “persistence in face of threats,” revealed the foiling of Ahmadinejad’s assassination plot in Rome, adding, “The actions of the president over the three previous years have endangered the illegitimate interests of many people in Iran and outside. That is why some people have thought of eliminating or assassinating the president, but the plots to assassinate the president in Iraq and at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) conference failed, thanks to God.”
Such claims come at a time when even hardline Keyhan daily called Ahmadinejad’s claims as ”hurried” or “premature.” Keyhan wrote, “It seems as if some of the administration’s remarks – including the American attempt to kidnap the president in Iraq – are not appropriately measured and this issue has at times inflicted serious harm on the administration and society in general.”
Source : Roozonline
Sunday, June 22nd, 2008
A former minister in Ahmadinejad’s administration – that of the ministry of the interior – broke his silence to show that the administration’s critics are not confined just to those outside the administration.
The recent interview of the ex-interior minister who was in charge of the ministry until 29 days ago, has fueled the rise of what some call “a new front of administration critics from inside the cabinet.” Fararu website, which dubbed the term, noted, “Breaking the silence by Pourmohammadi and the recollection of part of the untold story from his tenure at the ministry was enough to signal a new message for President Ahmadinejad. The new message contained news of the rise of a new front of administration critics from inside the cabinet.”
Former interior minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi, who carries years of experience serving in the ministry of intelligence had previously said, “I would never be wiling to say something that is harmful to the people and I never was or am willing to say such things to make myself feel better.” Less than a month from that promise, however, Pourmohammadi broke his silence and in an interview with Hamshahri daily which is affiliated with Tehran’s municipality, retold some of the untold stories from his days as an insider in the ninth administration.
The minister confirmed that disagreements with Ahmadinejad played a role in his departure from his department, adding, “Among the ministers, no one could take a stance against the President. He [Ahmadinejad] cannot tolerate criticism.”
Meanwhile, pro-reform E’temad daily noted that Tahmaseb Mazaheri, the governor of the Central Bank of Iran remains the most serious critic of the administration’s economic policies, standing up to Ahmadinejad. Although he does not voice his opposition in confrontational or overtly explicit terms, his refusal to enforce the presidential order to reduce the banking interest rates is an implicit warning to the President that internal criticism of those inside the cabinet has finally surfaced to the public. Such criticism in the past has resulted in the removal of the most prominent cabinet ministers and has pushed those who are still in the cabinet to the edge of dismissal.
The former interior minister is the thirteenth cabinet or senior ranking member of Ahmadinejad’s administration to have parted ways with the administration during its three years. The most important ministers and officials that have either resigned or been dismissed during Ahmadinejad’s tenure are as follows: Davoud Danesh-Jafari (minister of finance and economy), Ali Larijani (head of National Security Council, Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh (oil minister), Mahmoud Farshidi (minister of education), Farhad Rahbar (president of Management and Planning Organization), Mohammad Bagher Zolghadr (deputy interior minister in security affairs), Rahman Fazli (deputy head of National Security Council), Alireza Tahmasbi (minister of industry), Ebrahim Sheibani (governor of Central Bank), Mohammad Nazemi Ardekani (minister of cooperatives), Parviz Kazemi (minister of welfare), and Jamal Karimi Rad (minister of justice).
As such, half of Ahmadinejad’s original cabinet members are now outside the administration. One can hear the echoes of what Saeed Hajjarian once said, that Ahmadinejad’s administration was “disintegrating” because “Iran has been thrown into anarchy.”
Prior to Saeed Hajjarian’s comments, the website of Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper posted the comments of the former minister of culture and Islamic guidance during Khatami’s administration, in which Ataollah Mohajerani wrote that Ahmadinejad’s star was finally tumbling down.
Source : Roozonline
Thursday, June 12th, 2008
Etemad Newspaper Forced to Retract its Headline
After Etemad newspaper published a report on the “failed” trip of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Rome to attend an international meeting of the Food and Agricultural Organization, the President’s office officially asked the newspaper to announce Ahmadinejad’s trip to FAO as “successful” in its headline the next morning, while also publishing the response of the office to the newspaper’s original story.
Etemad newspaper is owned by prominent ayatollah Mehdi Karubi, a senior cleric, politician and Speaker of the Majlis (Iran’s parliament) who was also a candidate during the last presidential elections in 2005, with a record of criticizing policies of the current administration.
Editorializing that the President was given a cold welcome by Italian officials, it wrote, “While Ahmadinejad’s visit, and that of his accompanying team, was initially planned for a 3-day stay, lack of proper coordination cut the visit short to a single day. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ended his 16 hour visit of Rome without meeting with any senior Italian officials.”
Just a few hours after the distribution of the newspaper, the office of Iran’s President sent a response to Etemad and emphatically requested that it be published in the next issue of the daily. Because of this, Etemad had no choice but to change its headline on Monday to the requested words of “The information Published in Yesterday’s Issue of Etemad was Incorrect”, and replaced it with “Ahmadinejad’s Successful Presence at the FAO session.”
The President’s response to Etemad’s story said that the daily’s report was a kind of psychological warfare and in line with what Zionist media outside the country engaged in”.