Saturday, January 15, 2005

Iran hits back at US over rights abuse charges

Iran Mania News: "Iran hits back at US over rights abuse charges

Saturday, January 15, 2005 - ©2004
LONDON, Jan 15 (IranMania) - Iranian President Mohammad Khatami rejected US charges of human rights violations in Iran, denouncing Washington's own record in abusing prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Cuba.

"Of all the people entitled to speak about human rights, we don`t let the Americans talk about the respect for human rights in Iran," he said before leaving the Senegalese capital for Sierra Leone on the third stage of a seven-leg African tour, according to IRNA.

"I believe the American claim of human rights violations in Iran are lies and they had better stand accountable for their own crimes in Iraq`s Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo prisons," he said, touching on a scandal which shocked the world when it was revealed last year.

"The Americans had better answer for a ruthless killing which they are routinely perpetrating in the name of democracy and freedom in the world," Khatami added. The Iranian president stressed the need for `all-out efforts` to observe human rights in the world `without any discrimination`, citing US-backed violation of the Palestinians` rights by Israel.

"As regards (respect) for human rights, cultural characteristics of each country must be taken into account; the complete observance of human rights is a process which has to evolve patiently." Khatami, however stressed that Iran `respects all the benevolent people who are righteously worried about human rights`."

Iran Mania News

Iran Mania News: "Azeri PM trying to expand ties with Iran

Saturday, January 15, 2005 - ©2004

LONDON, Jan 15 (IranMania) - Azerbaijani Prime Minister Artur Rasizade said on Friday that Baku is doing its utmost to expand ties with Iran. During a meeting with Iranian Ambassador to Baku Afshar Soleymani, Rasizade expressed gratitude over the progress in strengthening of bilateral cooperation, IRNA reported.

He said that the agreements signed by and between the two states would contribute to the strengthening of peace and stability in the region.

The prime minister welcomed the memoranda of understanding (MoUs) signed during the 6th Iran-Azerbaijan Economic Cooperation Commission session and those which would most likely be signed during the upcoming state visit of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to Tehran.

Rasizade said that Baku will continue to pursue implementation of agreements already signed by the two sides in the fields of energy, transportation, industries and trade. He said the visit of President Ilham Aliyev would no doubt be a turning point in furthering relations between the two countries` nations and governments.

Soleymani, for his part, said that the expansion of Tehran-Baku cooperation is in the interest of the two sides. The Iranian envoy submitted a report on preparations made by Iranian officials in anticipation of the firest-ever visit of Ilham Aliyev to Tehran."

More than 200 tons of narcotics discovered in Iran in past 9 months From US Held Afghanistan

Iran Focus-News - Special Wire - More than 200 tons of narcotics discovered in Iran in past 9 months: "More than 200 tons of narcotics discovered in Iran in past 9 months Sat. 15 Jan 2005

Iran Focus
Tehran, Jan. 15 – More than 200 tons of narcotics have been discovered in Iran over the past nine months, according to a senior Iranian security official.

Speaking to a gathering of reporters, the State Security Forces commander, Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, hinted today that such a large quantity of drugs in circulation might raise questions that drug smuggling has become institutionalized.

Qalibaf's announcement came at a time when certain departments and officials within the Iranian regime are suspected of involvement in narcotics trafficking.

In the interview, Major Ghodratollah Mahmoudi, the head of the Office to Combat Narcotics in Greater Tehran, said on Wednesday that in the past nine months alone more than 700 kg of narcotics had been confiscated from addicts in the capital, adding that this figure did not include the much larger amounts of narcotics "discovered in the hands of drug lords".

The total number of illegal-drug users in Iran is estimated to be more than seven million."

UNHCR's Lubbers Tries to Force Iran to Keep Afghans who "not so patriotic"

News: "UNHCR threatens Iran with suspension of aid for Afghan refugees
01-15-2005, 15h13

Atta Kenare - (AFP/File)
KABUL (AFP) - The UN refugee agency threatened to suspend aid for Afghan refugees in Iran unless Tehran stopped their forced repatriation.

"We think that the Iranian authorities have gone too far... we are not going to be instrumental in forced repatriation," United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Ruud Lubbers told AFP on Saturday.

Speaking on a visit to Afghanistan, Lubbers said a tripartite agreement between the UNHCR, Iran and Afghanistan would not be renewed when it expires in three months' time if Iranian authorities "don't improve their behaviour."

Some 375,000 Afghan refugees returned from Iran in 2004, with the UN agency assisting many of them with packages of house-building materials including doors, beams and windows, a small cash stipend and transportation across Afghanistan.

But in recent months fears have mounted that Iranian authorities are exerting undue pressure on Afghan refugees to return home, suspending education and medical care for them and revoking their residence permits so that police who stop them on the street can threaten them with deportation.

Afghan refugees returning home in September told AFP that there was a government-run radio campaign in Iran urging them to return home and threatening them with arrest and legal action if they failed to do so.

"I think that the Iranian authorities sometimes go beyond what they should do in the propaganda as if everybody is obliged to go. It is not good," Lubbers told AFP.

More than two million Afghans fled to Iran as refugees in the years of conflict which followed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, but many have begun returning home since the fall of the hardline Islamic Taliban regime in late 2001.

However, with living conditions in Afghanistan so basic after 23 years of conflict, many refugees based in Iran are reluctant to return to the war-shattered country fearing to rebuild their lives from scratch.

Lubbers said the first returnees were very patriotic and had returned volutarily, adding: "Why do we hear these stories now? It is because we are entering these people who had good lives there and are not so patriotic and feel more obliged to go."

Since 2002, more than 1,100,000 Afghans have returned from Iran, including some 330,000 Afghans who returned under their own steam without help from the UN.

According to UNHCR, there are still 950,000 Afghans living in the neighbouring country.

However, the Iranian consul in Kabul, Muslim Salatani, told AFP in an interview last year that it was the right time for Afghans to return home.

"The war is over in Afghanistan. The country is at peace. Iran was a second home for the Afghans during the war, but now they should go home to participate in the country's reconstruction," he said."

OMV discovers new oilfield in Iran

OMV discovers new oilfield in Iran: "OMV discovers new oilfield in Iran
TEHRAN, Jan. 15 (MNA) – Austria’s biggest oil and gas company OMV, announced on Saturday it has discovered a new oilfield in Iran.

The company finally discovered a new oilfield in Iran after four years of exploration, OMV spokesman Thomas Huemer told reporters in Vienna.

Huemer added that the company would start extraction activities this year.

The spokesman expressed pleasure over the expansion of Iran-Austria ties saying the OMV would also increase participation in Iran’s oil and gas sector.

He added that the OMV is attempting to attract new customers in Europe as well as expanding cooperation with Tehran.

OMV is one the biggest oil and gas companies in Europe and its total oil and gas reserves amount to 1 billion 400,000 barrels."

Iranian Police nab 418kg of opium from US Held Afghanistan

Iran Mania News: " Police nab 418kg of opium in northeast Iran

Saturday, January 15, 2005 - ©2004

LONDON, Jan 15 (IranMania) - Provincial police seized 418 kilograms of opium in this northeastern city, a provincial police official announced on Friday.

Colonel Nasser Ahmadi Senobari said that the drugs were found concealed in an automobile and confiscated during a mop-up operation.

Ahmadi Senobari, moreover, said that 4.8 tons of various kinds of narcotics were seized in Birjand since the start of the current Iranian calendar year 1383 (started March 20, 2004).

Despite its unceasing anti-drug efforts, Iran has remained a key route for southwest Asian drugs on their way to lucrative markets in Europe and Persian Gulf countries. Domestic narcotics consumption continues to be a persistent problem with at least two million drugs addicts in the country."

VP Hossein Mar’ashi Announces Conditions for the Persian Gulf Museum Competition

"Conditions for the Persian Gulf Museum Competition Announced in February

Tehran, Jan. 15 (CHN)—Hossein Mar’ashi, director of Iranian cultural heritage & tourism organization, said the conditions for the Persian Gulf museum competition would be announced in Feb. 19, 2005.

Counting the principles of Iranian architecture as the most important element in building the Persian Gulf museum, Mar’ashi told CHN, “Right now, a CHTO team is studying the necessary conditions the Iranian and foreign competitors should pay attention to, and the results of the CHTO experts’ study will be announced in February. For the time being, the institutes interested in this project can report their readiness to the deputy of culture & relations in CHTO.”

The design and building of the Persian Gulf museum in the form of 10 big museums in the cities on the banks of the Persian Gulf is on the agenda of Iran’s CHTO under Hossein Mar’ashi, and the museums are going to be built with the aid of Iranian governmental bodies and NGO’s.

Iran’s CHTO believes that an international competition for building a museum makes it significant on a global level, so the world will be informed of the importance of the Persian Gulf museum for Iran."