the middle east

Women Demand Rights in Iran

TEHRAN -- Hundreds of Iranian women marked International Women's Day yesterday with a demonstration demanding equal social and political rights, a first in this country since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The women, wearing the head scarves and long coats required by law, and a small group of men held a rally at a central Tehran park. They were watched by a large contingent of police -- including about 400 women who in January became the first women to undergo training to be police officers since 1979.

"Half of the votes cast in favor of lawmakers were by women. How can you fail to recognize and support the rights of your wives, mothers and sisters? Why aren't women given top managerial or ministerial posts?" activist Zohreh Arzani asked the gathering.

In the crowd, some women held up signs against violence by men -- and against a U.S.-led war on Iraq.

Associated Press


Fox Criticizes Unsolved Murders

MEXICO CITY -- President Vicente Fox criticized officials in Chihuahua state for not solving a string of brutal rapes and murders in the border town of Ciudad Juarez.

Speaking at an event marking International Women's Day, Fox said investigators in Chihuahua, where Juarez is located, have not focused on solving the murders of dozens of women there.

"The killings of women in Ciudad Juarez are acts of violence that are unpardonable," Fox said.

Police believe that the rape and slayings of more than 75 women in Juarez over the past decade may be connected. Last month, police discovered the bodies of three women in the desert near Juarez, a city of 1.3 million people across the border from El Paso, Tex.

While it is unclear if a serial killer is involved, the crimes have been similar. Young women were kidnapped, usually on their way to work or school, raped, strangled and left in the desert outside Juarez.

Last month, a court upheld the conviction of an Egyptian man for one of the first of the Juarez murders, which began in 1993.

Associated Press

Warrant Reissued for Fujimori

LIMA, Peru -- Interpol reissued an international arrest warrant charging Peru's former president, Alberto Fujimori, with murder after receiving additional information from the government, officials said.

Interpol suspended the original warrant Feb. 27 and gave Peruvian officials 14 days to provide evidence tying Fujimori to a paramilitary death squad and to demonstrate that the charges were not politically motivated.

Prosecutors have accused Fujimori of authorizing the 1991 massacre of 15 people at a party in a poor Lima neighborhood, and the 1992 killings of nine university students and a professor.

The former president has lived in Japan since fleeing a corruption scandal that toppled him in November 2000. He denies the charges.

Associated Press


Serbia Denies Mladic's Presence

BELGRADE -- Ratko Mladic, a Bosnian Serb general indicted on genocide charges stemming from Bosnia's 1992-1995 war, is not in Serbia and his whereabouts have not been known for a year, Serbia's interior minister said.

Belgrade officials have denied allegations by Carla Del Ponte, the chief prosecutor of the U.N. tribunal in The Hague, that Mladic was living in Serbia under army protection.

Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic acknowledged that Mladic had received support in the past, but said he was no longer being protected.

Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, the political leader of Bosnia's Serbs during the war, top the list of suspects still wanted by the U.N. war crimes tribunal. They have been indicted for genocide and other war crimes allegedly committed during the Bosnian war.

Associated Press


Separatist rebels bombed a gas pipeline and blew up a gasoline storage tank in India's oil-rich Assam state in pre-dawn raids and said they would stage more attacks in coming days. . . . Tiny and fiercely independent Malta voted on whether to join the European Union, the first such referendum among 10 nations invited to join the bloc next year; results are expected today.