A Study in Contrasts
News Brief – November 29, 2009
Note how the Associated Press report implies that the money earmarked by Iran's parliament could be used to fund "militant groups". Add to that references to "allegations that security forces had tortured opposition activists" and a picture emerges that is in distinct contrast to the Press TV report on the same item.
I'm not going to say which report is the more balanced and objective, but given the amount of news space that was devoted to Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction – before it was discovered that he didn’t have any – we should be asking if media coverage of Iran is quite what it seems. Ed.
Iran earmarks $20 million to support militants
Associated Press – November 29, 2009
Iran's parliament passed a law on Sunday earmarking $20 million to support militant groups opposing the West and investigate alleged U.S. and British plots against the Islamic Republic.
The legislation is widely seen as a response to Western criticism of Iran's violent crackdown against protesters following the disputed June presidential election. Lawmakers started debating the outline of the bill in August when Iran's hardline leaders were fending off allegations that security forces had tortured opposition activists detained during the demonstrations.
The text of the legislation says the money is to "support progressive currents that resist illegal activities by by the governments of the U.S. and Britain." Iranian officials often use such terms to describe militant groups.
It was not immediately clear which groups would receive funding from Iran, but Tehran already backs the Islamic militants Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The bill also taps funds to "confront plots and unjust restrictions" by the Washington and London against Tehran and to disclose "human rights abuses by the two countries."
A committee with representatives from Iran's intelligence services, the elite Revolutionary Guards, as well as the Foreign Ministry and the communication and culture ministries will mangage the funds.
Iran's constitutional watchdog must still approve the bill before it takes effect.
The move comes as Iran also faces increasing international pressure over its disputed nuclear program.
On Thursday, the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, passed a resolution demanding that Tehran immediately stop building its newly revealed nuclear facility and freeze uranium enrichment. The IAEA resolution criticized Iran for defying a U.N. Security Council ban on uranium enrichment — the source of both nuclear fuel and the fissile core of warheads.
Iran's parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, warned on Sunday that Tehran could scale back its cooperation with the IAEA if the West continues to pressure Tehran over its nuclear program. That follows similar threats from other Iranian officials in recent days.
To that end, lawmakers asked the government on Sunday to begin drawing up a bill to reduce cooperation with U.N. nuclear agency.
Majlis passes budget to fight US, UK HR abuse
Press TV – November 29, 2009
Iranian Parliamentarians earmark millions of dollars to confront what they call "gross violations of human rights" by Britain and the US.
In a newly-passed resolution on Sunday, the Iranian Parliament (Majlis) allocated around 20 million dollars from the Iranian Oil Stabilization Fund to investigate human rights abuses committed by the US and British government around the world.
"The resolution aims to counter the rising tide of US and British plots against Iran and also to raise world awareness about the numerous cases of human rights abuses by Downing Street and the White House," said a statement released on Sunday.
According to the statement, the money will also be used to finance the efforts of human rights organizations and other groups investigating US and British violations of international humanitarian law.
A committee that includes representatives from the Intelligence and Foreign ministries has been set up accordingly to decide how to divide and spend the budget.
The bill comes one day after two Afghan teenagers held in US detention north of Kabul told The Washington Post that they were beaten to the pulp by American guards, photographed naked, deprived of sleep, forced to look at pornography and held in solitary confinement in concrete cells for at least two weeks.
The revelation, which is in stark contrast to the Obama administration's claims of defending human rights and improving detention conditions, is cause for serious concern.
“Holding people in what appears to be incommunicado detention runs against the grain of the administration's commitment to greater transparency, accountability, and respect for the dignity of Afghans,” Jonathan Horowitz, a human rights researcher with the Open Society Institute, told The New York Times.
Last updated 01/12/2009