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Iranian Alert -- January 11, 2004 -- IRAN LIVE THREAD --Americans for Regime Change in Iran
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^ | 1.11.2004 | DoctorZin

Posted on 01/11/2004 12:07:57 AM PST by DoctorZIn

The US media almost entirely ignores news regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran. As Tony Snow of the Fox News Network has put it, “this is probably the most under-reported news story of the year.” But most American’s are unaware that the Islamic Republic of Iran is NOT supported by the masses of Iranians today. Modern Iranians are among the most pro-American in the Middle East.

There is a popular revolt against the Iranian regime brewing in Iran today. Starting June 10th of this year, Iranians have begun taking to the streets to express their desire for a regime change. Most want to replace the regime with a secular democracy. Many even want the US to over throw their government.

The regime is working hard to keep the news about the protest movement in Iran from being reported. Unfortunately, the regime has successfully prohibited western news reporters from covering the demonstrations. The voices of discontent within Iran are sometime murdered, more often imprisoned. Still the people continue to take to the streets to demonstrate against the regime.

In support of this revolt, Iranians in America have been broadcasting news stories by satellite into Iran. This 21st century news link has greatly encouraged these protests. The regime has been attempting to jam the signals, and locate the satellite dishes. Still the people violate the law and listen to these broadcasts. Iranians also use the Internet and the regime attempts to block their access to news against the regime. In spite of this, many Iranians inside of Iran read these posts daily to keep informed of the events in their own country.

This daily thread contains nearly all of the English news reports on Iran. It is thorough. If you follow this thread you will witness, I believe, the transformation of a nation. This daily thread provides a central place where those interested in the events in Iran can find the best news and commentary. The news stories and commentary will from time to time include material from the regime itself. But if you read the post you will discover for yourself, the real story of what is occurring in Iran and its effects on the war on terror.

I am not of Iranian heritage. I am an American committed to supporting the efforts of those in Iran seeking to replace their government with a secular democracy. I am in contact with leaders of the Iranian community here in the United States and in Iran itself.

If you read the daily posts you will gain a better understanding of the US war on terrorism, the Middle East and why we need to support a change of regime in Iran. Feel free to ask your questions and post news stories you discover in the weeks to come.

If all goes well Iran will be free soon and I am convinced become a major ally in the war on terrorism. The regime will fall. Iran will be free. It is just a matter of time.


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: iaea; iran; iranianalert; iranquake; protests; southasia; studentmovement; studentprotest
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Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail DoctorZin”

1 posted on 01/11/2004 12:07:58 AM PST by DoctorZIn
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To: All
Hey, I don't mean to be nosey...
... but I'd really like some bacon,
or some help for FR.

2 posted on 01/11/2004 12:09:34 AM PST by Support Free Republic (Freepers post from sun to sun, but a fundraiser bot's work is never done.)
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail DoctorZin”

3 posted on 01/11/2004 12:11:52 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn

PARIS, 10 Jan. (IPS)

The International press watchdog Reporters Sans Frontieres (Reporters Without Borders) expressed Saturday its indignation at the prison conditions of 11 Iranian journalists, most of them ill and in a very physically and psychologically weakened state.

In a statement released from Paris, the international press freedom organisation renews its objections to the often-arbitrary detention of the journalists and calls for their immediate and unconditional release.

"It is completely unacceptable for journalists like Siamak Pourzand, who is sick and 74-years old, to still be held in solitary confinement", said RSF’s Secretary general Robert Ménard.

"The same goes for Alireza Jabari, 60, who is suffering from heart problems and has even received 253 lashes. The journalists' families are not even allowed to bring warm clothing to the sick prisoners", Ménard said, adding that Reporters Without Borders remained "very concerned" by the cases of Taghi Rahmani, Reza Alijani and Hoda Saber, whose legal position was unclear at the least and for whom the legal period of being held in custody had long ago passed.

Ordered by Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i, the leader of the Islamic Republic, the Judiciary started a massive crackdown on Iranian independent and reform seeking journalists in 1998, resulting in the closure of more than one hundred publications and the imprisonment of a dozen of leading and influential journalists and editors, while others were either silenced or forced to leave the country, like Mr. Mas’ood Behnood, a veteran journalist and commentator who now lives in Britain.

Released on the eve of a visit to Iran by Mr. Xavier Solana, the 15-25 members European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Relations and Security Affaires, RSF intends to remind the international community, particularly the Europeans of the appalling situation of Iranian journalists, a spokeswoman for the RSF said.

"Though Solana’s visit, to start on Sunday, is primarily connected with political issues, chief among them Iran’s nuclear programmes, but we want him to put on the table the case of Iranian journalists who are in prison illegally, most of them detained for years without trial and access to lawyers and communication with their relatives", the spokeswoman told the Persian service of the BBC.

Information about the 11 jailed journalists:

- Siamak Pourzand, freelance journalist for several independent newspapers and in charge of an artistic and cultural centre, sentenced to eight years in prison, has been jailed since November 2000. This 74-year-old veteran journalist has been put under heavy psychological pressure and has been tortured during interrogation. In an open letter his wife Mehrangiz Kaar, a human rights activist and lawyer receiving medical treatment in the United States, he said he was held in solitary confinement in the basement of Evin Jail. According to a diagnosis given on 30 July 2003 at the Imam Khomeini Hospital in Teheran, he is suffering from an arthritic neck and worrying disc problems that will require an operation. He is unable to walk and to attend to his daily needs".

- Alireza Jabbari, journalist with the monthly "Adineh", jailed since 17 March 2003, was sentenced to three years in prison and 253 lashes. At over 60 years old, Mr. Jabari has heart problems. Held in a cell with common-law prisoners, he has been treated even worse since a letter detailing his prison conditions was published on an Internet site. Prison authorities refuse to allow his wife to bring him warm clothing.

- Hassan Youssefi Eshkevari, a cleric journalist writing for the "Iran Farda" bi-monthly, sentenced to seven years in prison, has been jailed since 5 August 2000. Diabetic and insulin-dependent and suffering from bleeding from his eyes, he was given a temporary release to seek medical treatment but his doctors say he urgently needs intensive care outside of prison.

- Akbar Ganji, journalist and writer working with the daily "Sobh Emouz", sentenced to six years in prison, has been jailed since 2 April 2000. Suffering from an acute throat disorder, he was allowed a 10-day pass for treatment but doctors believe he needs an urgent operation.

- Iraj Jamshidi, editor in chief of the financial daily "Asia", held in detention since 6 July 2003, has still not been tried. On the eve of a visit from the UN special rapporteur, Ambeyi Ligabo, he was transferred from his isolation cell to a dormitory. Since then he has been returned to the basement of Evin Jail. He has been allowed only one visit, coinciding with Ligabo's trip.

- Alireza Ahmadi, also of "Asia", jailed since 29 July 2003, and still remanded in custody.
- Hoseyn Ghazian, journalist and researcher with the daily "Norouz", sentenced to four and a half years in prison and jailed since 31 October 2002.

- Abbas Abdi, of the daily "Salam", sentenced to four and a half years in prison and held since 4 November 2002.

- Taghi Rahmani, of "Omid Zandjan", daily imprisoned since 14 June 2003, for no official reason, has been held in solitary confinement for nearly two months and has not been allowed to receive any visitors since 6 December. He was reportedly sentenced on appeal, in another case, to 13 years in jail.

- Reza Alijani, editor in chief of "Iran Farda" and laureate of the Reporters Without Borders-Fondation de France press freedom prize, imprisoned since 14 June 2003, for no official reason, held in solitary confinement for nearly two months and not allowed any visitors since 6 December. He was reportedly sentenced on appeal in another case to six years in prison.

Hoda Saber, managing editor of "Iran Farda", also held since 14 June 2003. He was reportedly sentence on appeal in another case to ten years in prison.

It must be stated that all the above-mentioned newspapers and publications are closed down.

The Association for the Defence of Prisoners' Rights, set up at the end of December by the journalist and writer Emadeddin Baqi (given a one-year suspended jail sentence on 4 December) and human rights activist, on 6 December 2003 released a statement in Teheran condemning the situation of Iran's jailed journalists.

A petition signed by more than 1,000 university students and professors was published and addressed to the "Iranian people" on 5 January 2004 denounced the "arbitrary and illegal detention" of Taghi Rahmani, Reza Alijani and Hoda Saber, all three associated with the Nationalist-religious groups, and called for their immediate release of all political prisoners from jail.

Mr. Masha’allah Shamsolva’ezin, a well-known commentator and editor of several popular newspapers shut by the Judiciary who is the spokesman of the Centre for the Defence of Journalists also condemned the arrests and imprisonment of fellow pressmen.

4 posted on 01/11/2004 12:15:52 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: All
RSF urges Iran to release 11 newsmen

Hi Pakistan
11 Jan 2004

TEHRAN, Jan 11: Global press rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has urged Iranian authorities to release 11 journalists, arguing that most of them are in appalling health.

"It is completely unacceptable for journalists like Siamak Pourzand, who is sick and 74-years-old, to be still held in solitary confinement," RSF's secretary general, Robert Menard, said in a statement.

"The same goes for Ali-Reza Jabari, 60, who suffers from heart problems and has even received 253 lashes. The journalists' families are not even allowed to bring warm clothing to the sick prisoners."

The statement said Siamak Pourzand, a freelance journalist who was jailed in 2000 for eight years, had even been tortured and was being held in a basement cell in Tehran's notorious Evin prison.
5 posted on 01/11/2004 12:22:48 AM PST by F14 Pilot (Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.)
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To: DoctorZIn
Smuggling shows Iran still thirsty
Cross-border trade defies alcohol ban

Jan. 10, 2004, 12:49AM
Associated Press

Just east of here, where the Zagros mountains mark the border with Iran, a single product dominates the Iraqi exports hauled across the frontier by pack mule and tractor-trailer: liquor.

Iraq's booming liquor trade with Iran is a consequence of the divergence between the two countries' laws. Alcohol is banned inside the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is perfectly legal in secular Iraq, even if most Iraqis avoid it for religious reasons.

Not only is liquor legal here, it is untaxed and cheap. Stores sell liter bottles of Johnny Walker Red Label for just $10. In Iran, the same bottle commands at least five times the price.

"A tractor-trailer load of Jack Daniels is worth a few million dollars on the other side," said Staff Sgt. David Spence-Sales, 34, of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division. "It's illegal to bring alcohol into Iran but it's not illegal to ship it out of Iraq."

The penalty for sale or consumption of alcohol in Iran is a fine or flogging, or both.

Iranian citizens who are Armenian Christians are legally allowed to make their own wine for church services.

Despite being outlawed, foreign alcoholic beverages, from well-known U.S. labels to harsher contraband from nearby parts of the former Soviet Union, have been found in Iran since the 1979 revolution. The arbitrage keeps afloat a plethora of liquor stores in Sulaimaniyah, a center of trade with Iran.

Spence-Sales, whose surveillance unit has trained some Iraqi border police, says Iraqi customs officers simply wave the trucks through the main border post, despite knowing the trucks ferry prohibited goods.

A few of the 100 to 200 trucks that cross daily into Iran at Penjwin carry liquor, said Sgt. Louis Gitlin, a member of the same Army unit. Across the border, truckers pay bribes to see the loads through Iranian customs.

"They'll pick a small border site and pay the Iranians $20, and they'll leave it open all day," said Spence-Sales. "It's big money over there."

Spence-Sales said he had no moral qualms allowing Iranians access to banned liquor. "They call us infidels for our loose moral standards," he said. "But they live just like everyone else. You have to balance the rhetoric with what really happens."
6 posted on 01/11/2004 12:25:36 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran not ready to open dialogue with US

By Ali Akbar Dareini,
Associated Press, 1/11/2004

TEHRAN -- Iran rejected a US overture for talks between the estranged nations, saying yesterday that Washington must first end its hostile policy toward the Islamic state.

The Bush administration indicated Friday that it wants to talk with Iran about its nuclear program, human rights, and terrorism. But Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said the Iranians weren't swayed by what they view as a lopsided proposal.

"Right now there are no plans to commence a dialogue," Kharrazi said at a news conference yesterday.

President Bush branded Iran as part of an "axis of evil," along with North Korea and Iraq under the Saddam Hussein regime, but Washington sent aid to Iran after a deadly earthquake last month and has expressed hopes for a diplomatic opening.

Iran accepted the help following the quake that killed more than 30,000 people in the ancient city of Bam, but it turned down a US proposal for more aid to be brought in by a high-profile team led by Senator Elizabeth Dole, Republican of North Carolina and former president of the American Red Cross.

Iran has accused Washington of grandstanding on the aid with no change of heart over the differences between the two sides. The two countries broke ties after radical students seized the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held Americans hostage.

"What is important is mutual respect and the principle of equality, in a healthy atmosphere without violence," Kharrazi said. "For this to happen, the United States must change its policy toward Iran."

On Friday, US Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said Iran's acceptance of US aid after the Bam earthquake had opened up opportunities for dialogue between the foes, although there was no reason to expect a quick rapprochement.

But that same day, Iran's influential former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, said Bush's repeated accusations against Iran had undermined a possible thaw.

"Our initial analysis [after the earthquake] was that they wanted to pave the way for negotiations and resolving the problems," Rafsanjani said on state radio. "Their main mistake was that Mr. Bush started to repeat the old allegations about Iran and weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, human rights, and the Middle East conflict."

Meanwhile, Turkey's foreign minister met with Kharrazi yesterday over mutual concerns that Iraqi Kurds could exploit the evolving situation in Iraq to establish an independent Kurdish state.

Earlier this week, Syria's president visited Turkey and also backed the Turkish position.
7 posted on 01/11/2004 12:26:52 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Key reformists barred from Iran polls

Sunday 11 January 2004, 10:28 Makka Time, 7:28 GMT

A large number of top Iranian reformists, including the brother of President Mohammad Khatami, have been barred from standing in next month's parliamentary elections by a conservative-run vetting body.

According to the student news agency ISNA, the Guardians Council rejected 877 of the 1700 prospective candidates who had registered in the capital to stand for a seat in the Majlis, or parliament on 20 February.

The agency also listed a number of key pro-reform figures it said had also failed to get past the highly contested vetting procedure, including Muhammad Reza Khatami.

He is a brother of the reformist president, an incumbent MP and the head of the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), Iran's largest reform party.

Two other top IIPF members, Behzad Nabavi and Fatimah Haqiqatjou, were also barred from standing by the electoral vetting arm of the Guardians Council - an unelected senate-like body that has also blocked most Majlis legislation since reformers took control of parliament in 2000.

In addition, Muhammad Reza Khatami and Behzad Nabavi are both the current deputy speakers in the Majlis. However, the report said the candidacy of the present Majlis president, Mahdi Karubi, was approved.

Also reportedly rejected was Muhsin Mirdamadi, an outspoken reformer and current head of the Majlis foreign policy and national security commission.

Outspoken leftist Muhsen Armin and top women's rights activist Elaheh Koulaiee - both also incumbent deputies - were also barred from standing again.

ISNA said members of the liberal Iran Freedom Movement (IFM) and so-called religious-nationalists were also barred from being candidates.

Approval awaited

"I regret and I am saddened by this massive rejection of the forces inside the parliament and personalities from outside parliament," Karubi said during Sunday's Majlis session carried live on state radio.

"I am in contact with President Khatami, and for several days we have worked together and held discussions. We have spoken to the Guide (supreme leader Ayat Allah Ali Khamenei) and the Guardians Council, and we will continue," he added, calling on those rejected to "lodge a formal complaint".

"We will defend the rights of all those whose candidacies have been rejected," he asserted, adding that the Guardians Council's move had yet to receive the formal approval of the supreme leader.
8 posted on 01/11/2004 12:28:46 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Persian hospitality
Two New Zealanders, one motorcycle, seven days in Iran

Written and photographed by Rick Coleman
January 8, 2004

Nothing can prepare you for the nagging anxiety that pervades your body as you approach the Iranian border for the first time. Images of persecuted women, American hostages, and an old 'Ayatollah is a meanie' badge from my school days, swirled around in my mind in an endless stream of negativity towards the people of Persia. The reality was something else.

Two months earlier, as a leatherclad dispatch rider, I pushed open the heavy wooden door of the Iranian Consulate in London, under the watchful eye of the man in the bullet proof glass enclosure, with the video monitors.

I stood nervously in the subdued hush, clutching a handful of papers and passports, to lodge a visa application. I approached the counter, painfully aware of my appearance, and handed over the forms to the upright and bearded gentleman behind the counter. Flicking sternly through the papers, he came to my New Zealand passport.

"Kiwi!" he exclaimed. "Anchor Butter, good butter. And your lamb, very fine lamb sir. Where you from? Wellington? Auckland?"

I couldn't believe my ears, and was soon discussing beautiful mountains and lush green grass, rather than religious preferences or politics.

However, my English partner was not so joyfully received. Salman Rushdie (an unfortunate last name I felt) had had lunch with the then Prime Minister John Major. A 5 day transit/tourist visa for British citizens had immediately risen from £25, to £500. A grim development when attempting to co-ordinate an overland journey from England to India on a shoestring. Three weeks later, and a week before our scheduled departure, the fee was dropped back to £25 again, a little closer to the £4 charged to a 'kiwi'.
9 posted on 01/11/2004 12:29:39 AM PST by freedom44
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To: DoctorZIn
Nearly one-third Iran poll hopefuls barred: report

An Iranian conservative watchdog has barred almost 30 per cent of aspiring candidates for February elections despite a poll boycott threat by reformists if they are ruled out, local newspapers have reported on Saturday.

Official candidate lists for the February 20 parliamentary poll have not yet been posted but some parliamentarians said they had already heard top reformist firebrands had been banned.

Any bans on candidates are issued by the 12-member Guardian Council, a hardline supervisory body that can veto legislation from parliament, where reformists hold a majority.

Reformist President Mohammad Khatami, who has tried and failed in the past to curb the Council's power to bar candidates, had recently urged the body not to veto too many. The Sharq and Resalat newspapers quoted Mohammad Jahromi, a spokesman for the Guardian Council's electoral oversight body, as saying 2,380 out of 8,200 candidates had been disqualified so far from the race for seats in Iran's 290-seat parliament.

"Those disqualified will have 24 hours to raise objections either through the Guardian Council or supervisory bodies," he was quoted as saying.

Mr Jahromi said the reasons for the bans ranged from drug addiction and sympathies with fringe groups.

He explained that the Intelligence Ministry, Judiciary and Police had provided the information that caused the candidates to be blacklisted.
10 posted on 01/11/2004 12:30:28 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Top 55 Islamic Republic Iran Most Wanted!

11 posted on 01/11/2004 12:42:00 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
As 'Fog' Lifts, an Iranian Actress to Watch Emerges

By Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel

AVENTURA, Fla. -- Shohreh Aghdashloo leans forward, wide-eyed and smiling, and envelops the listener with the sexiest voice this side of Garbo.

"Sho-RAY OCK-dosh-loo," she says, guiding the pronunciation of her Persian name.

"My husband just said, 'Stop dreaming.' But in the dream land, the United States, dreams do come true, if you are ready to devote yourself to them. If you love it enough to stick to it," she said.

Her adoptive country was very welcoming, she says, when she fled here after the shah was deposed in 1979.

"I knew I was going to have to live in the West for quite a long time," she says. "You could sense where Iran was going, the Islamic republic to come. The clerics were everywhere. When I left, I studied not the arts but international relations, politics. I wanted to be able to help my people, even from outside Iran."

As the years passed, she acted mostly for her fellow Iranians. She found that, eventually, most Americans forgot where her country was. Until Sept. 11, 2001.

Sadly, now Americans know much more about the Middle East," she says. "Still, they do not know the difference between Persian and Arab."

12 posted on 01/11/2004 1:04:33 AM PST by freedom44
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To: DoctorZIn
Is it not an irony that the word alcohol has its roots in Arabic?

alcohol originally, was a powder, not a liquid. The word comes from Arabic al-kuhul, litterally 'the kohl' - that is, powdered antimony used as a cosmetic for darkening the eyelids. This was borrowed into English via French or medieval Latin, and retained this 'powder meaning' for some centuries. But a change was rapidly taking place: from specifically 'antimony', alcohol came to mean any substance obtained by sublimation, and hence 'quintessence'. 'Alcohol of wine' was thus the 'quintessence of wine', produced by distillation or rectification, and by the middle of the 18th century alcohol was being used on its own for the intoxicating ingredient in strong liquor.
13 posted on 01/11/2004 2:36:06 AM PST by AdmSmith
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To: DoctorZIn; McGavin999; freedom44; nuconvert; Eala; AdmSmith; dixiechick2000; onyx; Pro-Bush; ...
Iran protest as reformists blocked

January 11, 2004

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iranian reformists walked out of parliament while others staged a sit-in to protest over the conservatives' rejection of election candidates.

Exactly how many of the 8,200 hopefuls for February's legislative elections have been barred was unclear on Sunday. However, initial results from several provinces carried by the official IRNA news agency indicated it was between 50 and 60 percent, Reuters said.

Among those disqualified by a conservative watchdog group was a brother of President Mohammad Khatami and head of the Islamic Iran Participation Front -- the Islamic republic's largest pro-reform party.

Parliament members say about 900 of the 1,700 hopefuls for seats in Tehran have also been disqualified from running.

"We are holding a sit-in inside the parliament building to protest the illegal decision of the Guardian Council to disqualify prominent reformers who have resisted hard-line dictatorship," reformist lawmaker Reza Yousefian, one of those disqualified, told The Associated Press.

Also disqualified were reformist lawmakers Fatemeh Haqiqatjou and Elaheh Koulaee, who fought for women's rights.

"It's meaningless that qualification of prominent figures who have worked for the nation for years is not approved," AP quoted President Khatami as saying. "I'm against such disqualifications. There are legal ways to fight."

He vowed a "harsh reaction" if legal channels failed to change the council's decision.
14 posted on 01/11/2004 6:34:49 AM PST by F14 Pilot (Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.)
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To: F14 Pilot; All
I think it's time for world media to get involved in defending their peers and colleagues. They haven't made this a public issue, and they should be embarrassed by their silence. It's time for them to speak out against the regime and demand the release of fellow journalists.

I'd like to encourage people to write to news media and encourage them to make the freeing of Iranian journalists a priority. Someone in American media needs to take up the cause, and make it known to the public. It's another means of revealing the truth about Iranian regime, and supporting the democratic movement.
Let the world know how ruthless and suffocating the regime is, and that it's time for them to leave and allow the people of Iran to live in the free society they desire.
15 posted on 01/11/2004 7:13:19 AM PST by nuconvert ("This wasn't just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible. This was terrible with raisins in it. ")
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To: All
Regarding posts #4,5 and 15.... Please see DoctorZIn's homepage and click "Want to tell the media about Iran? Click Here!" for list of media contacts.
They need to tell the world about the cruel mistreatment of journalists in Iran and demand their freedom.

16 posted on 01/11/2004 7:22:45 AM PST by nuconvert ("This wasn't just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible. This was terrible with raisins in it. ")
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To: DoctorZIn
One Earthquake Won't Seal a U.S.-Iran Bond

January 11, 2004
Ilan Kelman

Since the United States responded in late December to the devastating earthquake in southeast Iran with aid workers and temporary suspension of some economic sanctions, relations between Iran's "Great Satan" and the member of George W. Bush's "axis of evil" appear to be friendlier than at any time during the past quarter century.

Secretary of State Colin Powell's remark on Dec. 30 - "We should keep open the possibility of dialogue at an appropriate point in the future" - has led some to believe that the U.S. government's hard line is softening because of the earthquake.

If that happened, it would be a classic case of "disaster diplomacy," where tragedy brings enemy countries together. But Iran's rejection of the Bush administration's offer to send a delegation including Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) to the region suggests that, while the earthquake could be directly linked to future rapprochement, it is dangerous to assume that it inevitably will.

Historically, disaster has been a catalyst, but not a creator, of diplomacy. Disasters have opened doors but failed to achieve long-term results. Earthquakes especially illustrate this point.

In 1999, a rapid thaw in Greek-Turkish relations followed deadly earthquakes in both countries. But diplomatic initiatives had been in place already. The tragedies thrust this slow process into the spotlight, and suddenly the media and the public were demanding faster results than the governments were ready to provide. In the long term, Greek-Turkish diplomacy might have been damaged by the disasters. Certainly the earthquakes did not resolve Greek-Turkish differences in the Aegean or Cyprus.

Positively, though, the rapprochement has held up. When an earthquake killed at least 100 people in southeast Turkey last May, Greece offered help. Little commentary resulted, implying that such aid is now an expected and standard practice with little influence on diplomacy.

India and Pakistan have had similar experience. In January 2001, an earthquake devastated Gujarat, killing approximately 25,000. Pakistan offered assistance, and this culminated in a summit between the countries' two leaders in July. But over the next year, the two men exchanged bitter insults and the countries nearly went to war.

Ever since, in the absence of earthquakes, relations have gone through various freeze-thaw cycles. It took no disaster, but political pressures, for the two nations to announce last week that they would begin formal peace talks in February.

Events, changes and attitudes can easily eclipse the political impact of an earthquake. The same has occurred in a number of other disasters, including famine in North Korea and drought in southern Africa.

In the case of America and Iran, precedents exist for disaster diplomacy that failed to produce lasting consequences. After an earthquake in Iran in 1990, a private American relief airplane landed there. In June 2002, an earthquake killed several hundred in northern Iran, and American aid was delivered through the United Nations. President Bush stated that "human suffering knows no political boundaries" and Tehran responded that the aid had "no political character."

With the recent earthquake, Powell has placed potential rapprochement in the context of other events. He has welcomed Iran's agreement to permit UN inspections of nuclear energy facilities along with moves toward reconciliation with Egypt and Jordan, both of whom contributed earthquake relief.

In October, two months before the earthquake, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, "We are prepared to engage in limited discussions with the government of Iran . . . as appropriate." He emphasized Bush's and Powell's mid-October statements downplaying the possibility of using force against Iran. U.S. earthquake aid was likely made possible by the prior diplomacy rather than the shock of the tragedy.

Iran has a similar view. President Mohammad Khatami commented, "Humanitarian issues should not be intertwined with deep and chronic political problems."

With a U.S. presidential election coming in November, and parliamentary elections in Iran next month, considerations far beyond an earthquake are at work.

Ilan Kelman is deputy director of the Cambridge University Centre for Risk in the Built Environment.,0,2082121.story?coll=ny-viewpoints-headlines
17 posted on 01/11/2004 9:03:07 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Political Crisis Looms in Iran

January 11, 2004
ABC News

Most reformist MPs have walked out of the Iranian Parliament in protest at the high number of candidates barred from standing in planned elections next month.

They say 80 of the current 290 members of Parliament have been disqualified by Iran's conservative 12 member Guardian Council.

The walk out was preceded by angry protests in Parliament, broadcast live on state radio.

The reformers say they will continue their protest with an all night sit in at the National Parliament.

The Parliamentary Speaker says President Mohammad Khatami has promised to take up the issue with the Guardian Council, but he holds little hope the talks will pay dividends.
18 posted on 01/11/2004 9:04:33 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Khatami Appeals for Calm after Reformists Barred from Elections

January 11, 2004
Radio Free Europe

Tehran -- Iranian President Mohammed Khatami has urged his supporters to react calmly to a move by conservatives to bar large numbers of reformists from standing in next month's parliamentary elections.

Khatami made the appeal today after a cabinet meeting, saying he did not agree with the actions of the Guardians Council, which vets the suitability of candidates for public office.

Iranian reformist deputies say they plan to stage an all-night sit-in at the national parliament tonight to protest the action of the Guardians Council. One reformist deputy, Elaheh Koulaiee, said that of the 210 reformists in the 290-seat parliament, 80 had seen their candidacies rejected by the Guardians Council.
19 posted on 01/11/2004 9:17:54 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iranian Reformist Blasts "Coup d'etat" by Hardliners

January 11, 2004

Prominent Iranian reformist MP Mohsen Mirdamadi accused Tehran's powerful hardliners of staging a "coup d'etat" by disqualifying large numbers of reformers from standing in next month's parliamentary elections.

"I consider this rejection of candidates to be an illegal coup d'etat and an act of regime change by non-military means," said Mirdamadi, head of the parliament's foreign policy and national security commission.

"If this decision is upheld, there will not be elections but designations," he told reporters outside the parliament, or Majlis.

Mirdamadi was one of around 80 incumbent reformist MPs who have been barred from standing in the February 20 elections by the Guardians' Council, an unelected and conservative-controlled political watchdog.

A brother of President Mohammad Khatami and head of the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF) -- the Islamic republic's largest pro-reform party -- said the move by the Guardians' Council was a mockery of democratic values.

"This is the biggest rejection of candidates in Iranian parliamentary history. If this decision is upheld, it will show that religious democracy is nothing but a mere slogan," said Mohammad Reza Khatami, another MP whose candidacy was also barred.

The Majlis building, where reformist MPs were gathering for a sit-in, would be transformed into "a centre of resistance against this illegal action," he said.

According to Mirdamadi, the bulk of disqualified MPs were found by the Guardians' Council to have been in violation of an article in the electoral law which stipulates candidates for public office must show their commitment to Islam and respect the revolutionary principle that gives Ayatollah Ali Khamenei his position of supreme leader of the Islamic republic.

Another rejected candidate and MP, the outspoken leftist Mohsen Armin, called on the Supreme National Security Council -- Iran's top decision-making body on national security issues -- to urgently address the crisis.

And Jafar Kambouzia, a reformist MP from the southeastern city of Zahedan who was also on the blacklist, branded the Guardians' Council move as "against democracy".

"They have rejected all those candidates who could win votes," he told reporters, adding that the "quasi-total of IIPF candidates across the country" had been barred from standing.
20 posted on 01/11/2004 9:23:37 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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