Iran Focus: Tehran, Dec. 29 - More than half of Irans hospitals have declared bankruptcy in the past four years according to the head of Medical Department of University of Gilan (northern Iranian province). Dr. Fariborz Ghanaati stated that since the government introduced a scheme four years ago to privatise the majority of Irans hospitals, 350 out of the 550 hospitals throughout Iran have declared bankruptcy.
The Christian Science Monitor: With the US and Europe fixated on Iraq, where insurgents are trying to stop the masses from adopting democracy, next door in Iran a parallel struggle for democracy remains largely unnoticed. It shouldn't, especially given the West's concern over Iran's nuclear ambitions. Young Iranians, who make up more than half the population and are restless from massive unemployment, have been pushing for Western-style political and social reforms for nearly a decade.
Iran Focus: Berlin, Dec. 29 - Three members of the European Parliament took part in a demonstration outside the Iranian embassy in Berlin in protest to the Iranian regimes practice of stoning people to death. A large number of Iranian exiles yesterday afternoon joined the three The MEPs, Alexander Alvaro, Holger Krahmer, and Alexander Lambsdorff, from the German Free Democratic Party.
Iran Focus: Tehran, Dec. 28 - A young man who was accused of killing a member of Irans security forces when he was a minor is to be executed within the next few days, according to a Tehran judge who sentenced him.
Iman Farrokhi who was 17 at the time of the offence is currently on death row in the Tehran Centre for Reform and Education (Juvenile Prison).
Iran Focus: Tehran, Dec. 28 - Two young men were hanged in public in the Iranian city of Mashad (northeastern province of Khorrasan) yesterday and on Sunday after authorities accused them of rape. One of the young men identified only by his first name, Mohammad-Reza, was publicly hanged in Hedayat blvd. in the city-center.
Iran Focus: Tehran, Dec. 28 A teenager who is currently in one of Irans Centers for Reform and Education (Juvenile Prison) is to be hanged to death within three weeks for a crime allegedly committed when he was fourteen. The boy only identified as Mohammad T. was accused of fatally stabbing another boy who was involved in a scuffle with his brother. Mohammad M. died from his wounds in hospital on October 17, 2000.
The Independent: As the coalition bombs hit the flat salt plains on the north-eastern border of Iraq, members of a little known, female-led Iranian army huddled in a bunker. While the earth shook, showering dust on their neatly pressed khaki headscarves, 25-year old Laleh Tarighi and her fellow combatants tried to protect themselves.
Iran Focus: Tehran, Dec. 27 A 60-year-old mother of six set herself on fire in Iran, with her family blaming it on stress and her social surroundings.
The elderly woman only identified by her first name, Zahra, lived in the western Iranian city of Ilam with her husband for the past 40 years.
Iran Focus: Tehran, Dec. 27 - Fourteen people were reportedly killed after heavy rainfall caused severe flooding in southeastern Iranian provinces of Sistan-Balouchestan and Hormozgan. Ten people were found dead near Sarbaz region in Sistan-Balouchestan after rains there caused rivers to flood.
UPI: Landmines left over from the Iran-Iraq war exploded in western Iran killing three people over the weekend, official reports said Monday. The Iranian News Agency said the incidents took place in the city of Dahlaran, on the Iran-Iraq border, also wounding two people.
Iran Focus: Tehran, Dec. 27 - The head of the Iranian Nurses Union said Irans nurses would stage nationwide protests on January 18, 2005, if the authorities continue to ignore their demands. Mohammad Sharafi Moghadam reiterated that the authorities have thus far refused to issue permission for a rally and therefore a protest had been organised instead.
Iran Focus: Tehran, Dec. 27 More than 200 workers from Iran Pars Garment plan to hold a rally over back pay in Tehran this week. They will begin a march from the city of Rasht (northern Gilan province) to the Iranian capital, the state-run news agency ILNA said. The workers have not received their salaries for the past seven months and Gilan Workers Union demands for government action have proven fruitless.
Financial Times: Trade talks between Iran and the European Union are set to begin on January 12 as the EU drive to improve ties with Tehran gathers pace. France, Germany and the UK have been keen to offer Iran incentives to restrict its nuclear programme, which the US suspects is intended to develop atomic weapons.
AFP: Iraq will tell its neighbours to "stop meddling" in its affairs when they meet in Amman next month, interim Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said in an interview with Chinese state media Monday. "We will definitely raise the issue and tell the world to stop meddling," the foreign minister told Xinhua news agency after a four-trip visit to China.
BBC: Iran's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has said the death sentence on writer Salman Rushdie for alleged blasphemy will remain in force. He rejected the author's repentance and recent decision not to publish a paperback edition of the novel The Satanic Verses which was deemed offensive to the Islamic faith.
Iran Focus: Tehran, Dec. 26 Iranian press have reported the public execution of at least four women in the past year, with at least 14 more to be publicly hanged or stoned to death.
Iran Focus has obtained the names and particulars of the four executed women, among them a 16-year-old girl. They were:
AFP: Iran reiterated on Sunday that it was not interested in direct talks with arch-foe the United States over its nuclear activities and said a US role in negotiations with Europe would not be "beneficial." "There is no such thing on the agenda of the Islamic republic," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters. "Iran is not interested in an American role in its discussions with Europe and we do not consider a US presence in the talks to be beneficial," he added.