Reaching Millions of Television Viewers in Iran Each Week
Washington, DC – July 28, 2008… No answer from Iran on the “freeze for freeze” incentive package, Iranian basketball team prepares for Beijing with a visit to the NBA in Salt Lake City, Senator Obama’s shuttle diplomacy defines his Mid-East policy. PNN exclusive interviews: U.S. Ambassador to the IAEA Gregory Schulte and space tourist Anousheh Ansari.
NUCLEAR STALEMATE CONTINUES
News and Views July 26 and 27 – VOA interviewed U.S. Ambassador to the IAEA Gregory Schulte about the stalemate over Iran’s nuclear ambition. Ambassador Schulte told PNN that Russia has been and will continue to be an important member of the 5+1 (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany). Schulte said Russia is very much committed to the so-called Two-Pronged Strategy; the political and economic incentives for Iran if it complies with the conditions proposed by the international community and the expansion of sanctions should Tehran not comply. Ambassador Schulte explained that while Russia has been helping Iran to build the BNuclear Reactor, Russians are especially concerned aIranian nuclear activities in Natanz. Ambassador Schucautioned those comparing the nuclear deal with India to thatof Iran. He said that India is the most populous democracy in the world and has abided by the regulations set forth by the Non-Proliferation treaty, even though India is a non-signatory. He added that trust building and cooperation continues between India and the U.S. This is a “lesson and a signal” that Iran can learn from.
News and Views July 24 – Iran’s atomic energy chief Gholam Reza Aghazadeh said he is “very hopeful” that the two sides in the Iran nuclear dispute will come to an agreement based on proposals made by Iran and the six major world powers. Mr. Aghazadeh, who is also the vice president of Iran, made these comments after meeting with the IAEA Director General Mohamed El Baradei in Vienna on Thursday. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has given the Islamic Republic two weeks to make a decision on the incentive package, making the deadline August 2nd. PNN asked IAEA spokesperson Melissa Fleming how is it that Mr. Aghazadeh was able to travel to Vienna since sanctions prohibit anyone who directly deals in the Iran nuclear program from traveling to Europe. Ms. Fleming responded that an exception was made for Mr. Aghazadeh because he was coming to Vienna to discuss the very issues that caused the sanctions in the first place.
News and Views July 21 – Secretary Rice said that Iran could face additional sanctions if it defies a two-week deadline to respond to the incentive package offered by the P5+1 (U.S., France, Great Britain, Russia, China plus Germany). She said that Iran did not give a serious response to the package during the Geneva talks on July 19, but it was made clear to Iran it would have to make a decision by August 2nd. She warned that world powers are in a very strong position to return to sanctions if Iran does not act and that the U.S. will not participate in any more talks until Iran suspends its uranium enrichment. Secretary Rice also emphasized that she is going to make clear to North Korea that it must meet its obligations and answer questions about its nuclear program.
News and Views July 21 -- Omid Memarian, a visiting scholar at the University of California Berkeley School of Journalism told PNN that he is optimistic that Iran will come up with a response to the offer made by the P5 + 1. Otherwise, he said Iran would face tougher sanctions and possible military action. Mr. Memarian pointed out that there is no unity among the factions in the Iranian regime, which is why there has not been a clear response. In remarks critical of the U.S., Memarian said he believes the U.S. has not been honest with the Islamic Republic. Mr. Memarian criticized the U.S. by calling its behavior toward Iran unethical and hostile. When asked if Iran’s behavior was hostile and unethical, Mr. Memarian refused to comment. He even accused the U.S. of using terrorist groups to interfere in Iran’s affairs and said his source is a journalist who had been in Iraq.
Roundtable July 23—Journalist Hossein Mohri said that Iran has sidestepped a golden opportunity to get valuable concessions from the 5+1 group, as the Geneva Conference of July 19 ended with no real progress, and yet another promise from Iran. He continued that observers and journalists alike are realizing that this must be the last hope for Iranians to avoid a confrontation. Mohri gave an overview of the effect of Iranian nuclear ambitions and the fact that there is a vacuum of leadership in Iran regarding the nuclear strategy. “If planned correctly, adhering to the wishes of the world will not be considered backing down from principles. Instead, it would be lauded as a great milestone for a system that puts its people ahead of its own survival. The Islamic Republic of Iran will ultimately concede and will agree to halt uranium enrichment, not only for the sake of buying time, but also for the perspective of affecting public opinion,” Mr. Mohri predicted.
News and Views July 22 – Presumptive Republican Presidential Candidate Sen. John McCain told Israeli television, “I have to look you in the eye and tell you that the United States of America can never allow a second Holocaust.” He said that if elected he would consider low-level contacts with Iranian officials although he was adamant that he would not meet with Pres. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad without preconditions.
News and Views July 23 – PNN reported that Secretary of State Rice warned that Iran could face further sanctions and accused Iran of not being serious during the weekend talks in Geneva. According to PNN’s State Department correspondent, the Canadian news website “Globe and Mail” reports that the United States is considering increased sanctions on Iranian gasoline supplies and banks that finance oil transactions. The website also cited research from the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics which concluded that two thirds of the sanctions imposed upon Iran have failed and the remaining third are only partially successful. The study did point out that sanctions could be successful if applied effectively with carrots for good behavior and with allied cooperation in the application of multilateral penalties.
News and Views July 24 – Nuclear Waste Management Expert Hadi Tahanian Ardestani explained details of his comprehensive report on Iran’s nuclear program. He said that the end of the Cold War did not put an end to nuclear war. In fact, nuclear weapons have ended up in the “wrong hands”—posing the greatest global security challenge. He added that Iran’s nuclear program constitutes a test case for global non-proliferation. "The Iranian nuclear program should sound alarm bells all over the world. Iran should not be allowed to continue playing these high-stakes games with the international community," said Mr. Ardestani. "In this report we have tried to shed light on the ambiguous and oblique aspects of the Iranian nuclear program by getting intelligence from within Iran," adding that Iran is capable of building a dirty bomb, which is just as destructive as a garden-variety nuclear bomb, but wouldn't require enriched uranium. He argued that Iran should not only cease enriching uranium, but cease all nuclear activity.
OBAMA’S SHUTTLE DIPLOMACY
News and Views July 23 – Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama pledged support to Israel during his overseas media blitz. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu each expressed concerns to Obama on Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Sen. Obama responded that “A nuclear Iran would be a game-changing situation not just in the Middle East but around the world," calling Israel a "miracle that has blossomed”. Obama also said "Iranians need to understand that, whether it's the Bush administration or an Obama administration, that this is a paramount concern to the United States.” Senator Obama additionally met with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
News and Views July 24 –Senator Obama concluded his visit to the Middle East with a visit to Jerusalem’s Western Wall. He said he hopes to bring about a more lasting peace whether he is the president or remains a senator. He also told reporters that a nuclear Iran would be a “game-changing situation” for the Middle East and the world.
REPORTING FROM IRBIL
News and Views July 22 – PNN’s Irbil stringer reported that Iraqi and British forces attacked militants in Southern Iraq and discovered weapons and documents indicating Iran’s interference in bringing peace to Iraq. PNN also reported that the Iraqi parliament has passed key US-backed provincial election laws despite opposition from Kurdish members of parliament. Iraqi president Jalal Talibani promised to reject the draft law, saying it would worsen sectarian gaps among Iraqis. The Iraqi provincial elections are scheduled for October 1st.
News and Views July 23 – U.S. and Iraqi forces attacked militants in Dialeh and Babel, making hundreds of arrests. PNN also reported two divergent views on the U.S. military presence in Iraq. The first is that of the Shi’ite coalition led by Iraqi President Nouri Al-Maleki, who agrees with Senator Obama’s timetable for the withdrawl of all U.S. forces by 2010. On the other hand, according to PNN’s stringer in Irbil, Sunnis and Kurds want US forces to stay in Iraq until the Iraqi army can control and run the country. They also want the U.S. to concentrate on rebuilding parts of Iraq. In political news, PNN’s Irbil stringer, Ali Javanmardi, reports one of the key issues with the new election law is the division of parliamentary seats in Karkuk province. He explained that the seats have been divided equally among the Kurds, Sunnis and Turkmen, drawing protests from Kurdish members of parliament.
News and Views July 24 – The Iraqi Foreign Minister demanded that Iran stop communicating directly with Iraqi organizations. PNN’s Irbil stringer explained that Iran had threatened some Iraqi newspapers, demanding they not report on Islamic Republic intervention in Iraq. PNN reported that Iran has not responded. Meanwhile, PNN reported Turkish warplanes bombed 13 facilities, belonging to PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) rebels.
News and Views July 27 -- Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of the Provincial Government of Kurdistan, Dr. Jamal Kirkuki, appeared live on PNN to discuss the provincial election laws passed by the Iraqi Parliament. Dr. Kirkuki said the laws violate the Iraqi Constitution, which is why the Iraqi president vetoed the measures. It was sent back to Parliament for modification. He said the approval of the provincial laws has increased the existing discrepancies amongst the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds in Iraq.
OUTCRY OVER STONING SENTENCE
News and Views July 21 -- Iranian human rights attorney Dr. Mohammad Ali Dadkhah told PNN that despite a direct order from the Chief of the Iranian Judiciary, nine people were again sentenced to death by stoning. The nine include eight women accused of prostitution, incest and adultery. "This is a duty for activists and people to pursue this matter, send mails and complaints to the judiciary and follow up before these sentences are carried out. The media is responsible to reflect these facts so that in the future we do not hear about such verdicts," said Dr. Dadkhah. PNN has learned that the accused did not have lawyers at the time of their trials. "The head of the judiciary should at least suspend these verdicts and send the cases to the appeals court even if they are found guilty of the charge. They should find a substitute sentence to be carried out,” continued Dr. Dadkhah.
Newstalk July 21 -- International human rights organizations are expressing outrage at the sentencing of nine people to death by stoning for anti-Islamic behavior. PNN Human Rights Stringer Elahe Hicks told PNN that the High Commission on Human Rights and an array of human rights advocacy groups has repeatedly condemned the ‘stoning’ sentences in Iran. The government, however, has been thumbing its nose at those requests, continuing the barbaric practice. Mrs. Hicks said the purpose of the stoning convictions is to make a political statement as opposed to being a form of punishment. She added that western governments have been turning their heads from this “atrocity” and not paying attention to it for political reasons. Human rights attorney Lily Mazaheri brought up the case of the young girl sentenced to death for allegedly killing her employer’s son. "The outrage is that why a 13 year old, who was being abused, could be sentenced to death, for a crime that she has not committed?" asked Ms. Mazaheri.
News and Views July 22 – Human rights Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi told PNN, "Iran's laws need to be reviewed in order to adapt them to international standards." Ms. Ebadi was interviewed about the nine people who have been sentenced to death by stoning. She said that human rights organizations are trying to put a stop to the death sentences. Ms. Ebadi also commented on the law being discussed in the Iranian parliament that calls for bloggers to be put to death. "I am against any law which treats writers as if they are terrorists," Ms. Ebadi told PNN.
HUMAN RIGHTS UPDATES
News and Views July 23 – PNN’s Human Rights stringer Elahe Hicks told PNN that various human rights organizations—including Human Rights Watch have issued statements expressing deep concern over the arrest and imprisonment of two prominent AIDS researchers. Drs. Arash Alaei and Kamyar Alaei were well known for tackling the AIDS problem in Iran. “The institute that the brothers ran in Iran had a successful track record in treating AIDS patients and giving them hope for the future," Mrs. Hicks said. She added that the brother’s basic rights were violated when they were arrested because they were denied due process. She added that any group in Iran that makes progress in a given field and receives international acclaim falls victim to the punishment of the Iranian government. "The repression of NGOs involved in civic society has now reached those who are involved in medicine and science, and this is really alarming," said Mrs. Hicks. "A day doesn't go by without some international body condemning Iran's systematic violation of human rights and this has become a daily occurrence unfortunately. International human rights organizations will not turn a blind eye to these continuing abuses even if the nuclear crisis is resolved between Iran and the world," she concluded.
PNN July 24 – PNN broke with regularly scheduled programming to broadcast President Bush’s live remarks on his “Freedom Agenda”. PNN provided simultaneous interpretation in Farsi. President Bush outlined the steps needed to promote freedom around the world when he reviewed his “Freedom Agenda” and outlined steps needed to promote freedom around the world. "The challenge for America in the years ahead is to continue to help people in struggling nations achieve freedom from corruption, freedom from disease, freedom from poverty, freedom from hunger and freedom from tyranny," said President Bush said. In his speech, Pesident Bush mentioned that he had recently met with the former Iranian political prisoner Manouchehr Mohammadi.
Today’s Woman July 21 – Former Iranian political prisoner Manouchehr Mohammadi discussed the arrest of more than 20 student activists in the past few weeks. He said that 16 are currently in jail and that student activist and frequent PNN guest Bahareh Hedayat was accused of having contact with the western media and Iranian opposition groups. Mr. Mohammadi said that Iranian authorities often use the charge of communicating with the West to repress student activists. He reiterated his desire to bring attention to these human rights violations by walking across the U.S.
News and Views July 24 – Reza Moini, who heads the Iran desk at Reporters without Borders, told PNN that Iran’s expulsion of Agence France Press Deputy Bureau Chief Stuart Williams fits the pattern of Iran retaliating against Western news agencies that report the realities of the situation inside Iran. "Iran has never felt it is obligated to give an explanation about previous expulsions of Western reporters. It simply refuses to renew their visas," Moini said. British newspapers The Independent and The Guardian have had their reporters expelled from Iran in the last year. According to Mr. Moini, Iran's treatment of the foreign media is the mirror image of how it treats its domestic press. “This will no doubt have a chilling effect on other news agencies reporting on Iran,” he warned.
ALSO ON PNN...
48 Hours July 26 – Anousheh Ansari appeared live on PNN to talk about her upcoming book and an educational program she hopes will inspire youth interest in learning and careers in math and science. She went on to say that she is thrilled that her space travel has inspired women in all corners of the world. She said that she goes around the country giving lectures in schools and community centers and telling young people, especially girls, that they can pursue their dreams and should not feel constricted by any boundaries.
News and Views July 22 – Dr. Kamran Dadkhah, Professor of Economics at Northeastern University, told PNN that the Iranian government is not capable of improving its economic situation and changing its behavior. Dr. Dadkhah said that United Nations sanctions have not been effective and that those enforced by the United States have had little impact on getting the Islamic Republic to cooperate with the international community. Dr. Dadkhah added that Iran’s behavior might ultimately bring a military attack against Iran.
News and Views July 23 – PNN reported on a panel discussion entitled, “Opening Steps for a Diplomatic Path Between the U.S. and Iran” featuring former U.S.National Security advisers Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft. Mr. Scowcroft believes that Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns’ presence in Geneva was a positive statement but expressed his disappointment in Iranian’s response to the incentive package. Mr. Brzezinski agreed that Undersecretary Burns’ presence was positive but argued the basic issue remains the same: The United States is insisting that Iran make a fundamental concession as a precondition for negotiations and Iranians do not accept that. He added that he thinks Iranian leaders want to pursue the nuclear program aimed at giving Iran a capability similar to what Japan possesses today—a peace-oriented nuclear power with a capacity for rapid acquisition of nuclear weapons. Mr. Scowcroft believes Iranian leaders want something a little broader than that— recognition that they have real security problems. Mr. Brzezinski stressed he believes that if the United States attacks Iran, it will be a disaster with the United States involved in four-front war. Scowcroft agreed that a military confrontation with Iran would have grave consequences but added that he thinks the problem is not just Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, but the reality that an atomic Iran would result in a surge in proliferation in the region.
News and Views July 24 – In a continuing series on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (Sepah), PNN reported that international investors and companies are leaving Iran because of sanctions imposed by the international community. As a result, the Islamic Republic is trying to use Sepah to boost the Iranian economy. According to Sepah founder Dr. Mohsen Sazegara, Sepah’s involvement in the Iranian economy eliminates competition and criminalizes anyone who stands in opposition to them. He called Sepah’s involvement in Iran’s economy a “cancer”, charging that they not only criminalize competition but also get involved in illegal business practices such as drug trafficking, prostitution and oil smuggling.
Late Edition July 22 – A report on American choreographer William Forsythe's landmark creation "Impressing the Czar," was featured on PNN. Staged by the Royal Ballet of Flanders, “Impressing the Czar” was part of New York's Lincoln Center Festival.
Late Edition July 22 – PNN’s sports correspondent reported live from Salt Lake City where Iran’s national basketball team played four friendly matches with the NBA in preparation for the upcoming 2008 OlympicGames in Beijing. Iranian Coach Rajko Toroman, a Serb,hopes that this pre-Olympic visit to the Rocky Mountain Revue will give his team the added boost they need. Iran lost to the Utah Jazz on Monday evening, 82 to 57.
Late Edition July 23 – Dr. Mostafa Dorbayani, President of International Further Studies Institute (IFSI), appeared live on PNN to promote IFSI’s goal of raising awareness of Persian culture through education. Dr, Dorbayani said he been named Ambassador and International Educator for the Youth for Human Rights International, a non-profit organization that educates young people about human rights. Dr. Dorbayani said that this August the YHRI will organize a drawing contest, which he hopes will encourage youth to raise human rights awareness through art
Late Edition July 24 – Writer Mehrnoosh Mazareie, editor of the first Iranian magazine dedicated to women’s literature, told PNN that she has always faced cultural and social taboos as a Iranian female writer, but emphasized the importance of writing about women’s needs, feelings, emotions and sexuality. Calling herself a “writer without borders”, Ms. Mazareie has had her works translated into English, German and Dutch.
Late Edition July 25 – International opera singer Bahram Tajabad discussed reknown Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami’s rendition of the Mozart opera, “Cosi Fan Tutte”. Tajabadi, who has performed all over the world, said that Mr. Kiarostami’s rendition, which was performed as part of the 60th International Festival of Lyrical Art in Aix-en-Provence, was not critically acclaimed.
Late Edition July 26 -- Iranian pop star Rastin appeared live on PNN to talk about his new album, “Simorgh”. Rastin teamed up with Farid Zoland, a music producer in Los Angeles. He explained that he named his first album “Simorgh” because it is a modern Persian word for a fabulous, benevolent, mythical flying creature. He said this album is the result of two years worth of work and the support of great lyricists in Los Angeles.
Late Edition Book Club July 26 –In Week 13 of the Late Edition Book Club, “My Guantanamo Diary” was reviewed. Written by Mahvish Khan, an American lawyer of Afghan descent, the book looks at her experience when she served as an interpreter and legal advisor at Guantanamo Bay. She explains in the book that as an American she is pained by the atrocities of Sept 11th and understood the need to invade Afghanistan and destroy the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. However, she felt the pain and suffering of her people in Afghanistan, especially those who were rounded up and detained, many of whom she claims were innocent. She said she wanted to speak for those who were detained in Guanatamo, because each has a story to tell. She said her experience there was both a validation of her Afghan heritage and a way to express her American freedoms.
Roundtable July 22 – 1968 Iranian Olympic Gold Medalist Abdollah Movahed discussed the impact of sports on society. A world champion wrestler, Mr. Movahed spoke of his own experience as a competitive athlete., about Iranian athletes in the spotlight and how sports make Iranians feel proud. Mr. Movahed said wrestling has unfortunately lost the support of the government and the public lately because of the lack of training facilities and supportive coaches. He added that Iran’s success at the Olympics depends on the government supporting them with adequate resources.
Roundtable July 24 -- Mehdi Kouhestani, Director of Middle East and Asian Affairs of the Congress of Canadian Workers, appeared live on PNN to discuss the strikes, protests, and dissent that are rampant among workers and union members in Iran. Mr. Kouhestani reiterated that the government of Iran uses “undermining the security of the Islamic Republic” as justification for arrests of striking workers and trade union leaders. Mr. Kouhestani noted that whenever oppression or abuse occurs in the world, the government brings the oppressor and abuser to justice, whereas in Iran there has been a reversal of roles: the government is the oppressor, and the public is not allowed to voice their dissent. There is the fear of being arrested, jailed, or even sentenced to death. Mr. Kouhestani went on to say that workers are not able to buy food for their families, simply because they haven’t gotten paid, and the government’s response is, “The country is under sanctions from the United States and we cannot afford to pay everything at once, and that the people must be able to support their government.” He accused the Islamic Republic of creating a “scene” to divert attention from its own corruption, using a propaganda machine to rally the public around a foreign “enemy”.
Roundtable July 25 – Former Empress of Iran Farah Palavi spoke live on PNN via telephone from Cairo, where she was attending events commemorating her late husband, Shah Reza Palavi. She thanked those who continue to struggle for freedom, democracy and the rule of law in Iran, calling upon them to continue to strive for growth, opportunity and self-reliance. Also appearing on PNN, Dr. Elizabeth Prodromou, Assistant Professor of International Relations at Boston University, who also serves as the Vice-Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. She explained that the Commission has looked into the issue of religious hatred displayed at the Saudi Academy in Northern Virginia and reported that in fourth grade textbooks there is an austere and intolerant view of Christians and Jews. She said that the Commission raised the issue to the Saudi government through the State Department and the White House, and has been assured by the Saudis as well as Academy officials that such language will be removed from the textbooks. Dr. Prodromou added that religious hardships in Iran have escalated since the inauguration of current President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The commission has repeatedly requested an invitation from the government of Iran to visit, but has been denied. She stated that the Commission is monitoring the Iranian government’s actions towards religious minorities and is aware of the severe hardship faced by the Baha’i in Iran. Prodromou says Iran has been designated a “country of particular attention” by the Commission.
Newstalk July 22 -- "Governmental misappropriation, abuse of the environment, and allocation of farm land for housing has caused Iran to fall into the trap of a shortage of goods," Political Analyst Nasser Mohammadi said on PNN. Mr. Mohammadi was discussing the shortage of rice and wheat, commodities that were once in abundance. He pointed to the irony of the Islamic Republic declaring 2008 the year of independence from imports. Dr. Sohrab Sobhani pointed out that Iran is importing between $5 billion to $7 billion per year in agricultural products, furthering the suspicion that someone is making a large amount of money on import commissions. This gives further credence to the fact that agricultural independence is not a reality and is solely a governmental propaganda tool to divert the public’s attention away from this problem.
Newstalk July 23 – PNN contributer Dr. Alireza Nourizadeh said that the arrests of journalists, writers and poets in Iran is another reflection of the fact that the government is extremely worried about losing control of freedom of expression. This was in reference to police making arrests at a gathering that celebrated the life and death of the poet Ahmad Shamlou. Dr. Mohsen Sazegara said that the arrests are something that threatens the core of the government of Iran. The participants also discussed Iran’s refusal to cease uranium enrichment. Dr. Nourizadeh said that in Iran, there is a real vacuum of power, and the fact that Mahmoudi Ahmadinejad’s administration is continuing their policy of delay, delay, and further delay in responding, makes them the laughing stock of the world.
Newstalk July 24 – PNN journalists discussed this week’s headlines on Newstalk’s weekly roundtable. PNN’s State Department correspondent discussed President Bush’s freedom speech where he noted that Iranians who seek democracy and freedom have been abused, tortured, even killed by the government of Iran. As in previous remarks, The President noted that the US administration believes in the people of Iran, considering them a nation with a rich heritage, culture, and history, but added that they are currently being tormented by an oppressive regime. PNN’s Irbil stringer discussed Sen. Barack Obama’s trip to Iraq noting that the Iraqi view on his visit has not been widely covered. The Irbil stringer reported that Iraqis credit their new freedom and relief from Saddam Hussein’s oppressive regime to President Bush. As a result, Iraquis in various sects were less supportive of Sen. Obama’s visit because of his opposition to the war, while sections of the Shiite majority (especially those supported by the Islamic Republic) were enthusiastic. PNN’s Rome stringer reported that the Italian Foreign Minister stated that the European Union has been asked to initiate further inquests into the Iranian nuclear standoff and noted that Iran ought to know that Europe is united in its demands that Iran cease its nuclear program. PNN’s Paris stringer reported on Sen. Obama’s trip and the reaction in the French press.
Today’s Woman July 23 – A recent women’s conference in Afghanistan focused on the major obstacles women in that country are facing today, according to Shaista Mangal, the anchor of the Pastho edition of VOA’s TV Ashna. Ms. Mangal said that Afghan women are facing restraints in four areas: family, society, government and law. The best solution for the progress and liberation of Afghan women is economic independence and education. Ms. Mangal explained that the Taliban is not the sole reason for the oppression of Afghan women. Culture and tradition have also made a major contribution.
Today’s Woman July 25 – Journalist Shahla Shafiq appeared on PNN to discuss a recent French court ruling denying citizenship to a woman because of her religious beliefs. A Moroccan woman was denied citizenship after she immigrated to France in 2000. She had married a French national and had three children, all born in France. The reason the court denied her citizenship was because of her “radical” observation of Islam and “insufficient assimilation”. The woman wears a black burqa. “Critics of the court’s decision argue that a woman should have the right to choose to cover and prohibiting her citizenship on the basis of her religious practice violates her human rights.” On the other hand, according to Ms. Shafiq, supporters of the court decision suggest that in a secular society anything that provokes or implies religion in an official space should be prohibited. The show also looked at the veil as a political statement. Ms. Shafiq concluded, "The choice to cover should be left solely to the woman. A woman’s body should not become a subject that provokes a political power struggle."
This week’s On the Record – The Persian News Network’s program featuring Executive Editor Kambiz Mahoudi as ombudsman discussed two viewer emails sent to PNN. The first email asked what PNN can do in response to the “tyrannies of the Islamic Republic Government.” Dr. Mahmoudi explained that despite the legitimacy of such a question he responded that it is PNN’s responsibility to give its audience a true account of events with balanced information. He acknowledged the lack of a free press in Iran and sees PNN as a window to free expression of thoughts, ideas and information, but emphasized that PNN is not an agent of any political organization. The second email asked how PNN can implement the ideals put forth by President Bush’s freedom speech. Dr. Mahmoudi said that VOA’s charter and journalistic code is based on the democratic values of a free society. He explained this is why PNN broadcasts varying views through interviews, debates and analysis. He also pointed out that PNN—by allowing viewers to phone in and send emails—allows its audience to express its thoughts. Dr. Mahmoudi said that this free flow of ideas and information are manifestations of free expression.
This week's PNN Question of the Week was, "Do you believe Tehran's claims that Iranian authorities have no information regarding the disappearance of American citizen Bob Levinson? Of the 6,586 respondents, 15% said yes and 79% said no while 6% didn't have an opinion.
This week’s History Channel featured the life of President Richard Nixon, whose presidential triumphs were overshadowed by a scandal that forced his resignation. Also on the History Channel, an inside look at one of the world’s most top-secret fortresses: Fort Knox, the home to an estimated $73 billion dollars in gold. “Skyscraper” spotlighted the construction of the 30-story tall hotel tower for the Palms Casino in Las Vegas, Manhattan’s 52-story tall new headquarters of “The New York Times”; and Chicago’s 92-story Trump International Hotel and Tower. Finally, “Ship” took a look at the construction of the George H.W. Bush, the latest
Nimitz-class aircraft carrier and the state-of-the-art technology it’s taking to put the largest warship in the world on the high seas.
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 newsbreaks 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.
From a viewer in Iran, “If you go outside your home at 6 o’clock in Gohar Dasht area in Kraj you would think that this small city is occupied by security forces, or it is marshal law. You will see more than 20 security vehicles and all of them are there to arrest women without the proper Islamic dress code. You will see people are afraid. I do not understand why the regime has put so much energy into this matter. Thank you for your great programs, people in Iran love you and you give them hope.”
From Farhad in Iran, “Regarding the National Security Promotion Plan, one should ask: If the national security of a country relies upon a few strands of hairs of ladies, and upon the logos on the boys' T-shirts, then that country is a loser. People now know these hypocrites and do not give a damn.”
From a viewer in Iran, “Greetings. I guess ignorance and illiteracy of our people have brought the calamity of theocracy government for us. The clerics took advantage of our modesty, and have been able to continue their dominance for the last thirty years.”
Parisa from Tehran writes, “Mr. Jamshidi, spokesman of the Judiciary Branch, has said that Mr. Palizdar, (member of the Iranian parliament’s judicial inquiry and review committee who exposed corruption amongst the mullahs) the recent whistle-blower, has been a member of a sinister group, with intention to divide the nation. If Palizdar, who was Secretary of Judiciary Power, has been corrupt and wicked, then may God save the Iranian people who are governed by a bunch of immoral and corrupt officials, who only think about helping Palestinians and Hezbollah.”
From Mohammad from Iran, “Interesting! The authorities do not think about the wrongdoings of officials revealed by Palizdar while presenting documents and evidence; but they are probing about how Palizdar has been able to have access to such documents and evidence!”
From a female viewer, “In Islamic Republic of Iran schools, the previously chanted patriotism slogans have been replaced by “Death to … or Down with….” In our textbooks now instead of the love poetry of Hafez and Sa’di, which we used to read in the past, we now have unemotional poem which lack love and kindness. I think that the Iranian parents should develop love and passion in the hearts of their children, so the world may know that Iranians are not terrorists.”
A Late Edition viewer writes, “Thank you for your wonderful show. My friends and me gather to watch your show every night and thank you for what you are doing in Late Edition. With the window that you are opening to Iranian families we feel that we are not alone in this world and there are people on other side of Atlantic Ocean who care about us. Thank you for entertaining Iranian families and introducing the world culture through your show.”
A Today’s Woman viewer writes, “Please continue your sexual education program with Dr. Sayan. Please produce programs about subjects that are taboo here. These programs will be helpful for our society in Iran and it also will help you gain more viewers here.”
A viewer in Iran writes, “Hello to you all at Today’s Women. I’m a graduate student in Political Science. I am ready to start working with student movement in Iran. Due to unemployment and bad economy I do not have time but if you can advise how I can get involved in these movements or how I can cooperate with you. I’ll be happy, thank you.
From a viewer in Iran, “The Port and Navigation Organization of Iran, has renamed all the ships and has assigned some ships to foreign companies. They did this only to escape from sanctions. This is waste and theft of the nation’s wealth. What the Government calls a “flourishing year” should be named a “miserable year” for Iranians.
A Today’s Woman viewer writes, “With regards to the violation of human rights and specifically women’s right in Afghanistan and in Iran, please also pay attention to violation of homosexual rights in both countries. We are an organization, which defends human rights for homosexuals. Here is our website: www.ilgbto.com.”
A female viewer writes, “Thank you for thinking about Iranian women from an ideal place. But if you were here in Iran and experienced problems and difficulties women face here then I would believe in what you say. Your talks about self-confidence, education or employment for women in the middle or lower class in our society make no sense.”
From a Late Edition viewer, “Thank you. Thank you for a great job covering Khosrow Shakibaie’s funeral. Your show did everything to give this man a coverage that he deserved. But my question is that why as soon as somebody dies we happen to give him or her airtime? Please do a bio segment on other Iranian veteran actors before something happens to them. Let’s appreciate artists while they are alive. “
A viewer from Isfahan writes, “I watch your show every night. I love your logo! Please send me a bracelet with VOA logo on it.”
From a 48 Hours viewer, “Thank you for creating such a sense of excitement in our homes by inviting Anousheh Ansari. We felt so much pride after hearing her responses to your questions, especially her response to the question on how she felt when she crossed over Iran while in space. She was the talk of the town today and everyone was contrasting her answer to Khomeini's repsonse (Khomeni responded "none whatsover" when asked by a reporter if he had any feelings while returning to Iran after 15 years of exile) If one day freedom returns to Iran, you will see that we have many women like Anousheh Ansari who are now victims of this repressive Islamic government and have to be covered head-to-tow.”