Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Association of Iranian Journalists Stays

Badrossadat Mofidi in Interview with Rooz

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs ignored six letters from the Association of Iranian ‎Journalists (Anjoman-e Senfi-ye Ruzname Negaran) to hold a general meeting and abruptly ‎deemed the association eligible for dissolution. In an interview with Rooz, Badrossadat Mofidi, ‎Secretary of the Association of Iranian Journalists, discusses the details of and motives behind ‎the issue. ‎
Rooz (R): Ms. Mofidi, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs has deemed the Association of ‎Iranian Journalists eligible for dissolution. First tell us what is at the root of the disagreement ‎between the Ministry of Labor and the Association of Iranian Journalists? ‎
Badrossadat Mofidi (BM): Our disagreements with the Ministry of Labor date back to the ‎coming to power of the ninth administration. With the view that this administration held ‎regarding independent labor organizations, and the Association of Iranian Journalists in ‎particular, it has been striving to dissolve the association ever since. Previous governmentson the ‎other hand, meaning Mr. Khatami's administration, worked mostly to strengthen the guilds. But ‎the events that have taken place in connection with the Association of Iranian Journalists are that, ‎in 2006, the Association went through an election process following which it intended to hold a ‎third general meeting of its members when it suddenly faced a plethora of excuses and ‎hindrances from the Ministry of Labor, none of which had any legal basis. ‎
R: Can you cite more specific instances of the Ministry of Labor's hindrances? ‎BM: With only three days left for the third general meeting of its members which aimed at ‎appointing a new board of directors, the Ministry of Labor announced that because the ‎association's by-laws did not mention a third general meeting but only a first and second such ‎meeting, the association was not permitted to hold a third round of elections. ‎
R: What was the reaction of the Association of Iranian Journalists to the Ministry of Labor? ‎BM: The association immediately backed its claims by forwarding a letter written in 2001 by the ‎Ministry of Labor's deputy of labor organizations' affairs at the time which permitted the ‎association to hold a third general meeting in the presence of fifty members. In addition, because ‎the Ministry of Labor's newly appointed officials in 2006 had taken such a hardline position with ‎respect to a third general meeting and the association had already started the elections process, ‎we held elections pursuant to instructions set forth in the letter from 2001. ‎
R: Do you think political motivations are behind the Ministry of Labor's letter regarding the ‎Association's dissolution?‎BM: Their letter has two fundamental problems. First, it lacks legal basis and, secondly, it is ‎driven by political motivations. Apparently the gentlemen at the ministry expected the 1385 ‎‎[2007] elections to change the composition of the board of directors. But the results were not to ‎their liking. Therefore, we now face actions such as this. ‎
R: Can the Ministry of Labor legally dissolve the association?‎BM: From a legal standpoint, the Ministry of Labor does not have the power to do this. ‎According to regulations governing labor organizations, the Ministry of Labor does not have the ‎power to dissolve the association and the issue must be pursued in the appropriate court. ‎
R: Given these conditions, would the Association of Iranian Journalists, which has more than ‎‎4,000 members, be shut down or would it continue its existence? ‎BM: Look, when laws are inadequate, they do not dissolve organizations that are set up in ‎accordance with those laws, but reform the laws! The answer is to reform the laws so that the ‎‎4,000 members know where they stand. Dissolving the association is not the solution. Therefore, ‎the association will continue its lawful activities unless it is confronted with ways beyond legal ‎possibilities. ‎
R: What is the Association's next move?‎BM: We will first inform our members about what has taken place. Unfortunately, we have ‎heard reports from independent media outlets that they are placed under pressure by the Ministry ‎of Labor not to publish the viewpoints of the association. For instance, ISNA conducted an ‎interview with me in this regard which it was forced to retract half an hour later. The report ‎about the letter of the president of the association to the labor minister, which contained ‎comprehensive and exhaustive legal arguments, was never published.

The association's next ‎move is to hold a press conference and respond to questions from domestic and foreign media ‎networks. In the meantime, we will continue to communicate with officials and would even ask ‎Majlis representative, as representatives of the people, to pursue the association's violated rights ‎by posing questions to and even summon the labor minister. We would definitely file a ‎complaint with the judiciary against the Ministry of Labor as well.

Finally, we would file ‎complaints with international organizations such as those affiliated with the International ‎Federation of Journalists, and even independent civil society organizations, such as the United ‎Nation's International Labor Organization (ILO). This is because the Association of Iranian ‎Journalists has been recognized by and holds a seat at the ILO.

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