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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 July, 2003, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK
Iranian press bids sad farewell
Friend of Ladan and Laleh Bijani
Tehran friends mourn the twins

Iran's papers on Saturday carry extensive coverage in their social affairs pages of the last days of conjoined twins Laleh and Ladan. Many writers pay tribute to the women's courage, even as they bid them an "eternal farewell".

The reformist daily Aftab-e Yazd highlights the proposal by presidential adviser Rahim Ebadi to commemorate the twins' birthday as a "Day of Hope".

"Laleh and Ladan belong to all Iranians," the paper says, quoting their parents. "Their memory will bring to mind their spirit of perseverance and tirelessness, which will remain alive forever. "

Another daily Yas-e Now endorses Mr Ebadi's proposal.

"Awarding a statue of bravery and a medal of hope each year on this day in memory of Laleh and Ladan will be worthy of all the young people who are not afraid of the hardship and unkindnesses of destiny," it writes.

Lonely reception

But amid the solemnity of the occasion the papers also find space to criticise the arrangements ahead of the funeral.

The daily Entekhab says the people who were supposed to receive the bodies at Tehran airport were not present. Those people who did come to welcome them home were prevented from doing so and "these two sisters arrived in utter loneliness", it says.

"Laleh and Ladan will go to sleep today in the arms of the earth so that they can forget their loneliness and so that we can forget how desolately they returned to the country," the paper laments.

The reformist Etemaad points to the exclusion of domestic and foreign reporters "despite the advance coordination" with airport security, so that only Iran's state media, which has been following the story with great interest all week, had access to cover the arrival.

Discord over twins' fate

Hambastegi carries comments from some top Iranian officials illustrating how the twins' operation divided opinion.

"We were certain that Laleh and Ladan would not survive the operation and we did not agree that they should take this journey," the paper writes, quoting the head of Iran's Welfare Organization Mohammad Reza Rahchamani.

"Laleh and Ladan's journey to Singapore was based on their own personal wishes and, in view of the high risk of death, the Health Ministry and the Welfare Organization did not support the decision".

But the paper also quotes reformist MP Shahrbanu Amani who says "the Singapore team of doctors deserved praise and their efforts should not be brought into question."

It also quotes comments from the MP to the Iranian Students News Agency.

"Human science did all that it could to make them better, but, unfortunately, fate decreed that they should not survive," she says.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

The BBC's Fergal Parkinson
"The twins have left a lasting impression"

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