Reaching Millionsof Television Viewers in Iran Each Week
Washington, DC – July 20, 2008… Live reports from Geneva on the deadlock at the much anticipated meeting between the European Union Foreign Secretary and Iranian nuclear negotiator; the presence of a high-ranking American official at the Geneva meeting; human rights violations continue with the arrests of two prominent AIDS researchers and two student leaders in Tehran, and a live interview with Christine Levinson, wife of the former FBI agent who disappeared in Iran last year top this week’s PNN coverage.
News and Views July 19 – PNN reported live from Geneva via telephone that despite a “positive with high expectations” atmosphere, Iran did not agree to cease its enrichment of uranium. Off-camera,EuropeanUnion chief negotiator Javier Solana told PNN that the answer the 5+1 (U.S., Great Britain, France, China, Russia plus Germany) wanted to hear from Tehran was a response to the “freeze for freeze” formula. The incentive package calls upon Iran to freeze its enrichment in exchange for a “freeze” on further sanctions against the Islamic Republic. The incentive was offered to Tehran in June. Mr. Solana said Iran should expect more sanctions if it doesn’t respond to the 5+1’s offer within two weeks and he called upon Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili to convey this message to Iran’s leaders. Mr. Solana also commented that U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns played an important role in the negotiations. In another off-camera interview, Mr. Jalili told PNN that the negotiations are “like a Persian carpet. It takes time to weave it but the outcome will be beautiful.” He called the meeting “positive” and said Iran’s response to the 5+1 incentive package outlines the Islamic Republic’s demands. He added that Iran’s stance throughout the negotiations was strategic and not tactical. Keyvan Imani, a member of the Iranian delegation, indicated that the “suspension for suspension” formula is not an option for Tehran. Political Analyst Bahman Aghai Diba told News and Views on July 19 that the Geneva talks were not designed to discuss Iran’s nuclear program, but to find ways for both sides to talk to each other and the presence of undersecretary Burns underscores how important the discussion is to the U.S.
48 Hours July 20 – The show began with the State Department’s statement that “The P5+1 made clear to the Iranians that our proposal was serious and an opportunity for them to engage with the international community on our concerns.” Mr. Solana did not get a straight "yes" or "no" answer. He stressed that Iran needs to give a clear answer within two weeks.” PNN reported live from Geneva that the 5+1 countries asked the Iranian envoy to respond clearly to the incentive package, which they did not do. PNN Contributer Dr. Alireza Nourizadeh, a columnist with the Arabic daily Shaq-al-Awsat, said that it seems Iranian officials are buying time and hoping to sit out the remaining months of the Bush administration. "On the other hand, Europeans and Americans want to have this resolved sooner than later," he added. "Mr. Burns' presence simply meant that Iranians cannot play Europeans against Americans as they have done in the past," he said. Mr. Nourizadeh pointed out that there have been four rogue nations during the era of the Bush Administration – Libya, North Korean, Syrian and Iran. "Libya and North Korea have been dealt with, and France is now trying to befriend Syria to moderate its policies in the Middle East. So we have only Iran left and I can assure you that the West will not allow a nuclear power with the capability to strike Europe. In fact, the prospect of an Iran with nuclear capability is more scary to France than to the United States because of its closer proximity," said Dr. Nourizadeh.
News and Views July 17 – PNN reported that Undersecretary for Political Affairs William Burns will attend the Solana-led meeting with Iranian nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, in Geneva. State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said Burns’ presence underscores the commitment of the U.S. to working out the Iranian nuclear dossier in a diplomatic fashion. Mr. McCormack clarified that the attendance of the number three U.S. diplomat at the Geneva meeting is mainly symbolic because the U.S. position on the issue has not changed. He clarified that Undersecretary Burns will not have any separate meetings with Mr. Jalili. White House spokesperson Dana Perino emphasized that the timing was right to send the undersecretary. “Undersecretary Burns will be there as part of the international community showing our unison,” she said. Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khameini said on Thursday that, provided Iran is not threatened, it is ready to talk.
Immediately after the Burns announcement, Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued this statement to PNN: “Stopping Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons is our most urgent strategic challenge, and it is encouraging that the Administration is sending a high-level envoy to join these talks. I hope this will evolve into a new approach to dealing with Iran, one that emphasizes direct, unconditional engagement with Tehran on the entire range of issues that divide us – but one that is also based on rock solid assurances from Russia, China, members of the EU, and other key states that they will support crippling multilateral sanctions if Iran refuses to negotiate in good faith and to suspend its nuclear enrichment program, as the UN Security Council has demanded, within a specified time period.” In addition, PNN reported on the reaction from Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, who has been criticized by Republicans for suggesting talks with Iran. He said, "Now that the United States is involved, it should stay involved with the full strength of our diplomacy." Republican presidential presumptive nominee John McCain said, "I have no problem with this whatsoever," though he made plainhe opposed Obama's stated position that he would be open to talks with the Iranians without preconditions. "It's very clear to sit down without any preconditions with a state sponsor of terror would be a mistake," said McCain. Senator Christopher Dodd told PNN, "I was pleased to see that the Administration has decided to send Under Secretary Burns to accompany Javier Solana. I hope our measures complement these efforts.”
News and Views July 16 – U.S. lawmakers welcomed participation of the U.S. in talks with Iran but are still considering stronger sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Republican Senator Richard Lugar and Democratic Senator Joe Biden, who have been pressing for the direct engagement and participation of Undersecretary William Burns in nuclear talks in Geneva, have welcomed the news that Undersecretary Burns will join the meeting. Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) in a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives urged Congress to send a message to the government of Iran by supporting House Concurrent Resolution 362, which calls for sanctions against Iran as long as Iran harbors nuclear ambitions. Pence said, "In what’s being reported today as ‘the closest contact between the two countries since the Iranian revolution of 1979,’ this weekend U.S. Ambassador William Burns will meet with top arms negotiators from Tehran. It will be more of a listening session and should not be overstated. However, I would offer that this glimmer of hope in these negotiations is precisely because of the resolve of the United States and the European community to economically and diplomatically isolate Iran over its nuclear ambitions."
News and Views July 17 – Iran’s written response to the incentive package sent to the European Union dated July 4 was released on a French weekly’s website and later confirmed by inside diplomats. The letter does not address the suspension issue directly, but says Iran will not change its path. The 3-page letter signed by Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki cites Non-Aligned Movement (an international organization of states that consider themselves unaligned with any major power bloc) support for its activities and IAEA reports that the country’s nuclear program is peaceful. However, all IAEA reports have said the agency has not seen any sign of diversion, but is unable to verify its peaceful nature. U.S. Ambassador to the IAEA Gregory Schulte says NAM’s spokes country is Cuba and everyone knows about that country’s stand.
News and Views July 16 – Former Al-Hayat Washington Bureau Chief Salameh Nematt appeared live on PNN and emphasized that the U.S. presence in the Geneva talks represents a major development but it's important to keep in mind that Iran and the United States will not be talking directly in this forum. "We are also witnessing increased cooperation between the two countries with regard to Iraq's security," he said. "I don't think either side (U.S. or Iran) finds military conflict desirable or inevitable," he added. "But sides are content in engaging in some sort of psychological warfare to achieve their goals," said Mr. Nematt. Mr. Nematt surmised that Saudi Arabia played a key role in persuading Washington to join the Geneva talks. "Saudi Arabia has been the mediator between Washington and Tehran," he added.
News and Views July 17 – PNN’s Paris Stringer discussed the importance of the Geneva meeting and pointed out that Mr. Jalili is part of the Ayatollah Ali Khameini faction and not the faction of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
ARREST OF ALAEI BROTHERS
Newstalk July 14 – PNN reported that two brothers – both prominent AIDS researchers in Iran – were arrested. Drs. Kamiar and Arash Alaei, internationally recognized for their work in the development of HIV/AIDS programs and services in Iran, are being held in prison by the Iranian government. According to reports received from Tehran, Drs. Kamiar and Arash Alaei were taken to an undisclosed location sometime in late June. The reason for their detention is unknown.
News and Views July 17 – PNN conducted an interview with the mother of the two doctors, who are known for their non-government medical organization, the “Pars Institute” which conducts AIDS research. Mrs. Aalei said she was never given a reason for their arrest and that it is confirmed that they are in prison. She said she believes they are being held in Evin Prison. She indicated that her family did contact a lawyer but she is still unaware of the charges. Dr. Mohammad Seif- Zadeh, an attorney and a member of the “Defenders of Human Right Organization” in Iran said, “It is unlawful not to tell the reason of one’s arrest. And one should have an attorney as soon as one is arrested.”
NEW STUDENT ARRESTS
The State Department issued a statement on July 15 that the United States is concerned by reports that Iranian authorities have stepped up their repression of student activists in the wake of the ninth anniversary of the July 9, 1999, student uprising. Two prominent student activists, Mohammad Hashemi and Bahareh Hedayet, were arrested on July 13, the latest in a series of arrests of members of the Office for Consolidating Unity. On News and Views July 17, PNN interviewed the mother of Ms. Hedayat via telephone. Ms. Hedayat’s mother told PNN that her daughter had contacted her family three days after her arrest. Ms. Hedayat’s mother said her own home had been searched by authorities and was given no reason for her daughter’s arrest. During their phone conversation, Ms. Hedayat told her mother that she was okay. IRNA reported that the reason of their arrest is not in relation to their student activities, but it was due to a breach of National Security.
Today’s Woman July 16 – Though she was referring to another case, Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi told PNN, “The Islamic Regime uses national security as the justification for arresting and prosecuting innocent people.”
Late Edition July 20 – As part of the Youth Factor segment, PNN reported that four student activists – Sajjad Radmehr, Aydin Khajeie, Faraz Zehtabi and Dariush Hatami – were arrested in Tabriz on July 17. Intelligence service agents inspected their house after arresting them. Iranian officials have arrested more than 20 students in different cities over the past three weeks. PNN also reported that Behrouz Javid Tehrani, a student activist who was arrested in July 1999 at student demonstrations in Tehran, was sentenced to six years and six months of prison for the second time. He is spending his jail sentence in Rajaee Shahr prison in Karaj. PNN is reporting that Iranian officials are accusing these students of having contact with western media and the Iranian opposition abroad.
HUMAN RIGHTS REPORTING
News and Views July 14 – “The international human rights organizations and activists should keep the pressure on the Islamic regime in order to stop public execution, child execution and execution of human rights and social activists," Human Rights Watch researcher Mr. Hadi Ghaemi told PNN. Mr. Ghaemi was responding to reports that six people were hanged on July 13 in Sabzevar’s main square. Five more people were reportedly hanged the week before in Borazjan in the Bushehr province. Mr. Ghaemi said that Iran is intensifying the executions in the small cities. He added that the head of the Iranian Judiciary had banned public executions in a March 2008 order, but presently executions are being carried out on the streets again. Mr. Ghaemi raised deep concerns on the part of international human rights organizations that worry about the current plan in the Iranian parliament that calls for the execution of rapists, pornographers, bandits, blasphemers and bloggers. He said this plan is too vague and emphasized that Iranian law has no concrete definition of the crime of blaspheming or public psychological manipulation.
News and Views July 15 – Amnesty International’s Drewery Dyke told PNN that the international human rights organizations are deeply concerned about the new wave of public executions in small Iranian cities. He called upon every government in the world to establish laws that are in accordance with international standards. "The current executions are being carried out in order to spread fear among the society," said Mr. Dyke.
Today’s Woman July 16 – PNN conducted a live interview via telephone with the attorney for Soghra Molaii Najafour – who has spent 18 years in prison after she was arrested at age 13 for the murder of a young boy. Ms. Najafour is due to be hanged. Her attorney Ms. Nasrin Sotudeh told PNN that she and fellow human rights lawyer Ms. Mansoureh Shojaei were prohibited from attending a meeting in Dubai where they had been invited by a women’s non-governmental organization. Iranian authorities claimed that the meeting was supported by the U.S. and forbade them to attend. Ms. Soutedeh and Ms. Shojaei were summoned to the Iranian court on the charges of threatening national security. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi told PNN via telephone the Islamic regime uses national security as the justification for arresting and prosecuting innocent people. Human rights lawyer Ms. Mansoureh Shojaie told PNN that her participation in the Dubai meeting was not illegal. Both Ms. Najafour and Ms. Shojaei praised VOA for drawing attention to the issue.
News and Views July 17 – Appearing at Washington’s National Press Club, student activist Manouchehr Mohammadi – who spent seven years in Evin prison – announced he will walk across America to raise awareness about Iran’s human rights violations. Mr. Mohammadi is a prominent pro-democracy activist who has been at the forefront of the student movement in Iran for more than a decade. "It is time for the Western countries to stop negotiating with Iran and put Iranian nation's interest [human rights] above their own national interest," he said.
News and Views July 20 – Prominent human rights activist Mehrangiz Kar told PNN about a new plan in Iran that will give men the right to have more than one spouse if they have the financial means. Ms. Kar explained that the first wife would not need to grant permission to the husband to take on a second wife. "This would eventually lead to more financial and psychological insecurity for women," Ms. Kar told PNN. She added that the Ministry of Finance would set a limit on "mehrye" (money given by the groom to the bride at the beginning of the marriage).
News and Views July 14 – PNN interviewed Christine Levinson, wife of former FBI agent Bob Levinson who disappeared from Kish Island in March 2007. In a live appearance on News and Views, Mrs. Levinson called upon anyone to come forward with any information that could help locate her husband.She particularly called upon health care professionals who may have cared for her husband (Mr.Levinson suffers from hypertension and diabetes). She reiterated that during her visit to Iran in December, authorities were helpful and she planned a trip back within a month. She announced that a Farsi website is in production and she sent a message to her husband that his family will never stop searching for him. Immediately after Mrs. Levinson’s appearance, PNN’s website posted a State Department statement regarding Mr. Levinson and the link to the Levinson family website which is offering a $5,000 reward for any information leading to the whereabouts of Mr. Levinson. The website is entitled helpboblevinson.com. “We once again urge Tehran to share any and all information the Iranian authorities have uncovered about the Levinson case, and we ask anyone else who may have information about the case to contact us or the Levinson family,” according to the State Department.
News and Views July 14 – As reported in News and Views Washington Report, Gazprom, the Russian state energy company, agreed to help Iran further develop its oil and natural gas field. The two sides signed the agreement Sunday during a visit to Tehran by a Gazprom delegation, led by chief executive Alexei Miller. In the agreement, Gazprom expressed interest in further developing Iran's South Pars gas field and in cooperating on oil projects in Iran's Azadegan region and the Caspian Sea. Gazprom also said it may help build a pipeline to deliver Iranian gas to India and Pakistan. Tehran has been seeking Russian energy investment to compensate for Western companies pulling out of Iran under pressure from Western governments. French energy giant Total said last week that it is scrapping plans to develop the South Pars gas field because it is too politically risky to invest in Iran. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday that Iran wants to expand ties with Russia in oil and gas as much as possible. At a press conference at the end of Sunday’s cabinet meeting, he responded to a question about the idea of the U.S. opening an interest section in Tehran. He said his government would consider an official request. James Rubin, former assistant secretary of state for public affairs, in an article in the New York Times said a high-level U.S. official has told him that Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is seeking President Bush's approval to establish such an office in Tehran.
News and Views July 16 – PNN’s Rome stringer reported that Assistant Treasury Secretary Stuart Levy visited the authorities of Italy’s Central Bank and various Italian ministers. Secretary Levy said his trip was positive and commended Italy in its efforts to oppose Iran’s nuclear program. He said studies have shown that Iran has been taking advantage of the international banking system, but commended European governments and the private sector for halting business with Iran. He added that doing trade and business with Iran is risky today and encouraged companies and governments to cease any deals with Iran.
News and Views July 18 – PNN interviewed Davood Noroozi, a member of the Union of Tehran United Bus Company, who discussed the imprisonment of Mansour Osanlou, the president of the Tehran United Bus Company’s union. Mr. Noroozi told PNN that Mr. Oslanloo was accused of committing “activities against national security” – accusations Mr. Oslanloo denies. He added that Mr. Osanlou had been taken to the hospital for an eye issue and continues to suffer from heart problems. Mr. Noroozi told PNN that several bus company workers who had been arrested have been freed from prison. A few workers have returned to work but about 30 remain unemployed.
REPORTING FROM IRAQ
News and Views July 14 – PNN’s Irbil stringer provided a live news-roundup from Iraq. He reported that three German citizens were captured by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Kurdish area of Turkey. The governments of Iraq and Turkey condemned the capture and asked PKK to free them. Meanwhile, PNN reported that Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Iraq would not sign the Strategic Security Treaty with the U.S., but the governments have agreed to hold negotiations on a short-term memo of understanding. However, he added that a member of the Iraqi Parliament says that the U.S. and Iraq have reached an agreement on the treaty. But one of the members of the Iraqi parliament stressed that the U.S. and his government have reached an agreement on the Strategic Security Treaty.
News and Views July 15 – PNN’s Irbil stringer reported that Iraqi Kurds say Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have attacked their territories. According to the mayor of the Iraqi city of Halabache, U.S. forces will build an airport in the vicinity of that region.
CONGRESSIONAL ACTION ON IRAN
News and Views July 15 – PNN’s Capitol Hill correspondent reported that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said a "single-minded" focus on Iraq was distracting the United States from other threats, and he promised to end the war and shift resources to fighting al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Republican Presidential Candidate Sen. John McCain said he knows "how to win wars" and that the strategy of increasing troop levels in Iraq should also be applied to Afghanistan. President George Bush in response to a question about Sen. Obama's trip to Iraq said "I would ask him to listen carefully to Ryan Crocker and General Petraeus." PNN’s Capitol Hill correspondent also reported on a senate panel considering legislation this week that would expand economic and trade sanctions against Iran after Tehran test-fired missiles it said could reach U.S. assets in the region. "This bipartisan bill strengthens economic sanctions against Iran, and authorizes divestment from companies that do business with Iran's key oil sector to increase pressure on its government to meet the demands of the international community," said Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd, chairman of the senate panel.
News and Views July 17 – PNN reported that the Senate Committee on Banking passed “The Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2008” by a vote of 19 to 2. "This bipartisan legislation will strengthen America’s leadership in the effort to bring peace and stability to the Middle East," said Senator Chris Dodd, Senate Banking Committee Chairman. "Targeted and strategic, the bill is designed to maximize the economic leverage on Iran’s leaders to bring them to the negotiating table by tightening economic sanctions and authorizing divestment from companies that do business with Iran’s key oil sector,” he added.
News and Views July 15 – PNN reports that Israel has given a final approval for a prisoner swap with the Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah. The prisoners were captured during a Hezbollah-Israel cross-border raid in 2006. Israel began preparing for the prisoner exchange by moving four Lebanese fighters to a detention center where they were joined by convicted Lebanese killer Samir Kantar. In return, Hezbollah has promised to return two Israeli soldiers, believed to be dead according to Israeli officials.
News and Views July 16 – On the day of the swap former Washington Bureau Chief of Al-Hayat Salameh Nematt told PNN, “This is hardly a victory for Hezbollah, as a third of Lebanon was reduced to ruins during their 2006 war with Israel and the conflict broke the back of the Lebanese economy." He added, "During the Lebanon-Israel war of 2006, the Israeli public went about its daily business, but that was hardly the case with the Lebanese. Their lives were severely disrupted by this war."
ALSO ON PNN . . .
News and Views July 14 – PNN reported on an event that commemorated the 19th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Abdul-Rahman Ghassemlou, the general secretary of the Iranian Kurdish Party. Dr. Ghassemlou’s wife, Nasrin Ghassemlou told an assembled group that within 48 hours of her husband’s assassination in Vienna two men who had been arrested at the scene of the assassination were released. She said these two men were taken by Austrian police and the airport and deported to Iran. Mrs. Ghassemlou said she had filed a legal complaint against the Austrian justice ministry and four years later the Austrian high court threw the case out. She explained that the reason the government threw the case out was because Austrian police presented a document that shows that the Iranian government had requested the deportation of the accused men. She concluded that Iran was in fact blackmailing Austria into deporting the two Iranians, threatening to reveal that Austria had sold weapons to both Iran and Iraq if Austria didn’t comply with the deportation. In addition to an interview with Mrs. Ghassemlou, PNN conducted an interview with political activist Hassan Masali who said that the Islamic Republic assassinated Dr. Ghassemlou because he was the most prominent figure in opposition to the Iranian government and that Kurdistan at the time was the main base of opposition.
News and Views July 15 – Newly named Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs James Glassman told reporters that he believes other societies are intelligent and do not need to be told what to do. That is why the U.S. is not lecturing them. He described his responsibility as engaging other nations in achieving U.S. goals even if it means not being popular. The goals are reduction of threats of terrorism and the use of WMD, which is dependent on freedom in other countries. He enumerated the tools of public diplomacy as American media (naming VOA and Radio Farda); cultural/sports exchanges; and direct dissemination of information on the U.S. system. He stressed that freedom is not imposed – it is a choice. He said the U.S. uses words, performance and images to expose terrorists and their ideology and uproot its influence. He declined to comment when asked about the latest on opening an interest section in Tehran, but said the exchange program has been very successful.
News and Views July 14 – Charles Vick, Senior Fellow at GlobalSecurity.org, told PNN that the world has a great deal to worry about especially when it comes to strategic ballistic missiles and the potential for nuclear weapons. He said that Iran is demonstrating the technology required to build long-range missiles. He asked, “Why do they build long-range strategic missiles even if they are disguising it as a space booster – but to carry weapons of mass destruction.”
News and Views July 15 – PNN broadcast the Presidential news conference live with simultaneous translation. In his news conference, President Bush said the American economy is demonstrating remarkable resilience during the recent credit crises and other economic downturns. He also reiterated his appeals to Congress to lift a ban on offshore drilling for oil. President Bush also told reporters that the U.S. military effort in Iraq is going better than in Afghanistan, where he said coalition troops face a tough and brutal enemy.
News and Views July 15 – Prof. Reza Taghizadeh, an Iranian analyst and international relations professor at Glasgow University, said that Israel’s and Syria's peace talks through Turkey, if successful, will isolate Iran in the long run. He pointed out that Syria and Iran are allies by necessity, but their goals in the region are different. If Syria agrees on the Golan Heights with Israel, the balance of powers will change in the Middle East.
News and Views July 17 – As part of a continuing series on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, “Sepah”, Sepah founder Dr. Mohsen Sazegara told PNN, "Sepah is playing a destructive role in Iran's economy by destroying the private section and using its power to get rid of anyone who would oppose them." Political Analyst Hassan Daee said, "Even the form of corruption in this country is uniquely different from other totalitarian regimes and Sepah is making it worse by taking over Iran's economy." The PNN report explains that 80 percent of the civic and engineering contracts in Iran are awarded to Sepah, resulting in many multi-billion dollar contracts. The complication is that Sepah has been added to the U.S. State Department terrorist list, and western companies have the issue of needing to do business with Sepah (since they control the contracts) but being forbidden to do so because of Sepah’s presence on the terrorism list. This is particularly true in Iran’s oil industry.
Late Edition July 14 – PNN interviewed award winning director Soheil Parsa who in 1989 established the Modern Times Theater Company, known as one of the most culturally diverse theater companies in Canada. Educated in Iran and Toronto, Mr. Parsa has won two Dora Awards (a Canadian award that honors theatre and dance) for Outstanding Direction and two for Outstanding New Play. In many of his plays, Mr. Parsa is inspired by mythological legends because he believes that myth has universal roots and everybody from every culture understands mythological tales and can relate to the notions of humanity and existence.
Late Edition July 15 - Late Edition reported on the Lincoln Center Festival's presentation of Damon Albarn's Honest Jon’s Revue at the Avery Fisher Hall. The concert, featuring British rock star Damon Albarn on keyboards, brought together a diverse group of musicians from Africa, Europe and the U.S.
Late Edition July 16 – PNN interviewed Human Rights Activist Roya Kashefi live from Paris to discuss the “Women’s Movement in Iran” United Nations 2008 Human Rights Prize. A member of the Association des Chercheurs Iranien (ACI), Ms. Kashefi said that the women's movement in Iran deserves more international recognition. She said that the achievement of many civil and political rights is a credit to women's unwavering struggle for equality in the face of grave danger and oppression, particularly over the last 30 years.
Late Edition July 17 – Late Edition interviewed AIDS researcher Dr. Marjan Hezareh who talked about new treatment options for HIV that are presently available.
Late Edition July 18 – Appearing live on PNN from Los Angeles, poet and writer Mirza Agha Asgari, editor of the German-based Iranian Literature and Culture, said he is committed to the people of Iran and that he has a mission to fight for their freedom of speech and expression. Mr.Asgari said he is in the U.S. to complete a tour and publish new works in Los Angeles.
Late Edition July 19 – In the latest installment of the Late Edition Book Club, the novel “Atmospheric Disturbances" was reviewed. This is the first novel written by Rivka Galchen, a psychiatrist with an MFA from Columbia University. In this unusual novel, Dr. Galchen tells the story of a 51-year old man who thinks his wife has been replaced by someone who looks exactly like her – giving him a strange feeling. He tries to find a logical answer to this feeling by delving into the scientific world of meteorology. The New York Times compares her style to that of Kafka, Levi and Borges.
Late Edition July 19 – Radio personality and sports analyst Manook Khodabakhshian appeared live from Los Angeles and reported on the cancellation of the friendly football match between Egypt and Iran in August. He said the match was canceled for political reasons, namely the emergence of a new Iranian documentary about the assassination of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. He added that other countries have canceled their games with Iran, namely Bosnia, Croatia, Japan, Australia and Bahrain. Mr. Khodabakhshian blamed the Iranian government and called upon its political leaders to change their foreign policy toward the international community and respect other countries.
Late Edition July 20 – PNN reported live from Salt Lake City, Utah on the Iranian national basketball team that was invited by the NBA to play in four games. In cooperation with the State Department, the Iranian team was invited to play in preparation for its participation in the 2008 Olympic Games next month in Beijing. In addition to playing in games and scrimmages with NBA teams, the Iranian team will also observe NBA team practice sessions. In addition, the Iranian team will have the opportunity tovisit American cultural sites.
Late Edition July 20 – Late Edition reported on the death of prominent Iranian actor, Khosrow Shakibaie, who was well known in Iran for his accomplishments in theater, television and cinema. Mr. Shakibaei’s son Poua told PNN that he was overwhelmed by the response of his father’s fans to his death. He noted that his dad always wanted to know how people remember him and the amount of responses that they received regarding his death was tremendous and overwhelming.
Today’s Woman July 16 – Ms. Solmaz Sharif, founder of ShirZanan the online publication dedicated to Iranian women athletics, spoke about the possibility of Iranian women participating in the upcoming Olympic games in three sports – tae-kwon do, shot put, and archery.
Today’s Woman July 17 – Mr. Shahram Seyf, a prominent artist based in Iran, was live via telephone and discussed the use of women as the subject of his artwork. Mr. Seyf explained how in each person there is a feminine and masculine side. The creative part of an individual comes from the feminine side; therefore he focuses on women, however, the paintings are also self-reflective. He explained, “The reason women want to study art is because it gives them a sense of power and they get to work in a field that has mainly been dominated by men.”
Today’s Woman July 18 – Dr. Mehrangiz Kar, human rights lawyer and activist, appeared live to discuss the death penalty given to mothers and fathers who have killed their child or children. The following segment discussed the gender discriminatory laws regarding this penalty. Dr. Kar explained that after the Islamic Revolution, the law went into effect that mandated the death penalty for mothers who killed their child; however, fathers who committed the same crime could bail themselves out with blood money. Only the judge can acquit women who are sentenced to death for the murder of their child. However, men are lawfully protected from receiving the death penalty and need only pay a fee. This issue is of major concern for the women’s rights activists in Iran especially because executions in Iran are so widespread. In the past four years a discriminatory law in Iran regarding blood money given to religious minorities was overturned. Therefore there is a strong possibility that this gender discriminatory law can be changed with persistent pressure and protest.
Roundtable with You July 16 - Former Miss Canada Nazenin Afshin Jam told PNN that she was trying to mobilize second generation Iranians living abroad to actively protest human rights violations in Iran and to participate in peaceful protests against inhumanity, torture, abuse and anti-democratic behavior. In particular, Ms. Afshin Jam is calling attention to the issue of child executions and has launched a website, www.stopchildexecutions.com.
Newstalk July 15 – Mr. Touraj Negahban, one of the leading experts in Iranian music and lyric, discussed the current system of censorship in writing lyrics in Iran. He explained that current day censorship of lyrics is a destruction of culture and a systematic abolishment of Iranian poetry and lyricism. The lyrics in Iran that are approved by the government must have a ‘religious’ component. He added that Iran has an enormous wealth of talent, but censorship is preventing this gift from thriving and is therefore a violation of human rights.
This week’s On the Record – The Persian News Network’s program featuring Executive Editor Kambiz Mahmoudi as ombudsman reported on a proposed bill being considered by Iran’s Parliament. The bill entitled “Penalty for Internet crimes” calls for bloggers and websites’ writers promoting corruption and prostitution to be sentenced to the death penalty. Dr. Mahmoudi explains that bloggers are journalists in the new wave of media. “It is unfortunate that dictatorial regimes regard journalists as their enemies,” he said. He points out that the Internet is now the most popular medium for youth in Iran and many other parts of the world. “Freedom of speech, this fundamental right of human beings, no matter what form or fashion, is one of our basic rights and must be respected,” Dr. Mahmoudi said. Dr. Mahmoudi also addressed some emails he received that ask if PNN is promoting separatism with its reports of the activities of Kurdish political parties. He explained that as a news organization we are compelled to cover and report the news. “The dissemination of information does not promote anything but information. Broadcasting balanced news and information are the duty of the free press,” he said.
PNN’s Question of the Week was “Could the opening of a U.S. interest section office in Iran help improve relations between the 2 countries?” Out of 8,877 respondents, 56% said yes; 40% said no; while 4% did not have an opinion.
This week’s History Channel featured “Mega Movers – Moving History” which chronicles the amazing feats of men, methods and machines that have moved mega-structures over the past 5,000 years. Also on the History Channel – the life of General Omar Bradley, the military brain behind World War II whom General George Marshall called, "The finest Group Commander in any nation's ground forces.” “Bridge” takes viewers along the building of the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge that connects Virginia to Maryland across the Potomac River. This mega-bridge accommodates 300,000 vehicles a day with 12 lanes of traffic covering a total surface area as big as 25 football fields. This episode of the History Channel gave a tool’s-eye view of just how a mega-bridge like this gets built. Finally, PNN presented part one ofthe History Channel’s look at the life of President Richard Nixon, whose presidential triumphs were overshadowed by a scandal that forced his resignation.
The Persian News Network’s television programming complements its radio broadcasts. VOA has the largest combined radio and television audience of all international broadcasters in Iran, with one in four Iranian households tuning into a VOA show at least once a week. Programs also are streamed on www.voapnn.com.
PNN’s 7-hour program block opens with Today in Washington, a brief look at the latest news developments in Washington, as well as the content of PNN’s upcoming programs. Then we present cultural programming translated into Farsi from A&E Television Network’s The History Channel. We intersperse 30-minutes of news breaks throughout our original programming, which includes the following shows: Today’s Woman, PNN’s newest program, had its debut September 27, 2007. The one-hour program features influential women from around the world discussing a full spectrum of topics, including social, medical, human rights, legal, sports and business. News and Views, PNN’s existing flagship, is now 2 hours in length, and features live news coverage of the latest headlines from Washington, Iran and across the globe. Roundtable with You is a talk show with expert guests, featuring discussion of current events, politics, popular culture and global health. Viewers and listeners from Iran and around the world participate in the show via phone calls and e-mails.
Late Edition begins with a wrap up of the day’s news and a close look at the day’s top story. Targeted to a younger demographic, the show also features segments on health, technology, sports, entertainment and culture. NewsTalk is a new journalists’ roundtable discussion program that features a news update followed by an examination of the day’s top stories and an in-depth look at issues relating to Iran.
Davood from Gorgan writes, “Thanks for your shows which are always good. What happens in my home-town is unbelievable; and I wonder who has originally made the arrangement to bring to power the most wicked persons to govern the noblest people.”
From Babak in Tehran, “I just wanted to encourage you to keep up your great Today’s Women program. Hope to see you all here in Iran in the near future. Please let me know that you got my email on the air; I am looking forward to hearing from you A.S.A.P.”
A Today’s Woman viewer writes, “I watch Today’s Women everyday and I enjoy it. Regarding today’s discussion about parents and their relation to their children. I am my parents’ first child and I was allowed to be independent. I choose to study in Tabriz and they allowed me to do it. They live in Shiraz. I am an independent girl. I choose whom to marry and I moved to Tehran to continue my education. Now I’m doing my PHD in Germany, while my husband and my child are in Tehran, waiting for me to get back. However my parents do not allow my younger sister to study in abroad. What I want to say is that I was independent and they trusted me. But they do not trust my younger sister, because she needs more support. Thank you again for your great program.”
From Hassan in Tehran, “I regret to say that, because of the government propaganda, many Iranians have come to the belief that having nuclear weapons is in the interest of Iran. But I believe that U.S. Government should try to clarify the facts for Iranians, in order to prevent a disaster.”
A teacher from Isfahan writes, “I don’t know why the Islamic Republic is so weak that whenever someone sneezes or coughs they say she or he is acting against Iran’s national security. For instance, Ms Setodeh talked to VOA and they arrested her. In my point of view all of the Iranians working at VOA are the true voice of the Iranian people. Believe me, I think more than 90 percent of people here say the same. They say Voice of America broadcasts unbiased and accurate news while the regime’s media is not trustable and they broadcast lies. I hope one day you all come back to Iran and we see you through our free media in Iran.”
A Today’s Woman viewer writes, “I am happy I got the opportunity to write to you. I want to tell you now that your programs [Today’s Women] have started a new wave in Iran. Your views are positive and hopeful. I have a bachelor’s degree in Physics. Even though I do not have a job right now and I have two on-related jobs to my study, I do not regret it. I have decided to move from Iran and live my life abroad. I do not like it here. People are so corrupt here.”
Narin from Kurdistan writes, “Although it is a shame, but it was not unexpected. Now the "passionate" government of Ahmadinejad is making decision about our bedrooms! One of his ministers has recently said that, according to the Qur'an and the Prophet's sayings, if people can have sexual intercourse during certain hours, there would be no disabled children. So, from now on, Iranians should not surprise if they see the government moral agents in their bedrooms!”
From Saeid in Urumieh, “Under the aegis of Islamic regime we have two, sometimes three, times power outage, each time for 2 hours. Recently the Power Authority has given us a “ Scheduled Power Outage”! This is really a “ right way” for running a country!
Mahyar from Tehran writes, “The “Economic Development Project” of Ahmadinejad not only failed to improve economic situation, but this unprofessional plan increased the high cost of living and the class difference, and lowered the purchase price of the people.
From Arya in Malaysia writes, “Ahmadinejad, who came to power with passionate mottos, soon turned out to be a deceitful person. One example is the story of assassination attempt against him in Iraq, which he fabricated, but later he corrected it. What a comedian is governing our poor nation!