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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 01/20/2004 12:03:26 AM PST by DoctorZIn
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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”

2 posted on 01/20/2004 12:06:29 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Editorial: Iran's stacked vote

January 20, 2004

Iran's hard-line clerics know that their rule is illegitimate. They continue in power only because of their control of the security services, courts and the media. They also know the Iranian people would vote them out of office in a Tehran minute.

The Iranian people can't dismiss the clerics because the final say over every function of government is concentrated in the handpicked, self-perpetuating Council of Guardians.

Iran does have a parliament, a relatively powerless one, but in the closest thing Iran has ever had to a referendum, liberals and moderates swamped the clerics' conservative allies in the 2000 parliamentary elections. The Guardians are determined it won't happen again in new elections Feb. 20.

The Council has the final say over who can run for the 290 seats at stake. More than 8,200 would-be candidates have registered to run, but the council has disqualified hundreds of liberal and moderate candidates, including dozens of sitting lawmakers. And the purge continues.

There isn't much the United States can do to unrig this election, but, for the first time, the council is hearing mutterings of active resistance. Now, Iran's supreme ruler, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, says he will review the candidate disqualifications.

If Iran's clerics press ahead with dictating the outcome of the election by truncating the ballot, the world should denounce this election for what it is — a fraud.,1651,TCP_1125_2581974,00.html
4 posted on 01/20/2004 12:12:44 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Retreat in Iran


IN THE latest round of the tussle for power in Iran, the Guardians' Council, a conservative-dominated body, has barred nearly half of 8,000 hopefuls from standing for election on political and theological grounds. Among them are about 80 sitting members in a parliament where reformers have put conservatives on the defensive. In a sense, the council's move to alter the political landscape ahead of the parliamentary elections, which are due to take place on Feb 20, is a sign of desperation. Conservatives are already in charge of the main levers of power: the courts, the armed forces, the broadcast media and the council, which can reject Bills it considers unIslamic or unconstitutional and veto election candidates. The scale on which the council has used its veto power this time - only 8 per cent of candidates were blocked out before the 2000 vote - suggests hardliners are more nervous about their prospects than they would like to confess.

However, whatever the conservatives' problems, the reformers are faring worse, the very shrillness of their protests betraying their desperation. Many legislators staged a daily sit-in in the lobby of the Majlis, reformist President Mohammad Khatami warned that he might resign if the disqualifications were not reversed, and his political party has threatened to boycott the elections. It appeared for a moment that the political disquiet was having some effect when supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told the Guardians' Council to reconsider the disqualifications. But on Sunday, council spokesman Ebrahim Azizi showed that very little had changed. Calling on candidates to prove their 'practical commitment' to Islam and the Islamic Republic, he said that those who, among other things, question the religious government are not qualified to run.

The criteria are so broad it is almost impossible for the council not to net those it wants to - and make overtures to those it wishes to. This Mr Azizi did when he said that certain candidates, notably incumbents, could still run given that their 'aptitude' had been approved in the past.

But even here, he hedged his words in a way that suggests the council is trying to drive a wedge in the reformist camp between those it considers deserving of rehabilitation, and those whose criticism of unelected hardliners in open parliamentary sessions has crossed the line.

Although barometers of the public mood show that 70 per cent of Iranians want reform, citizens do not seem to care much about the current impasse. They have grown accustomed to the reformists' failure to contend with conservatives and translate political promises into reality. Indeed, even those who care do so with a healthy dose of scepticism. For example, a student leader pointed out that MPs did not object to the widespread vetoing of candidates until their own turn arrived. Such is the degree of resignation that Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel peace prize recipient, has said that President Khatami should keep his word and resign if hardliners keep stalling his agenda. That dramatic denouement - which would end Teheran's pretence of a flirtation with democracy - does not look likely. What does appear possible is a tactical manoeuvre by the council. If it publishes a final list only a week or so before the elections, the reformists will have little time to campaign. For the time being, there is a stalemate between reformers and hardliners. To many Iranians, that is another way of saying conservatives are winning without reformists being forced to concede they are on the losing side.,4386,231009,00.html
5 posted on 01/20/2004 12:15:37 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Austrian President due in Iran

Jan 19, 2004, 23:53

President Thomas Klestil will pay a four-day state visit to Iran starting this Saturday for political and economic talks with his host, President Mohammed Khatami, according to Klestil's office in Vienna.

Accompanied by a large economic and business delegation, Klestil would discuss possibilities of building up economic relations with the Islamic Republic, the announcement said.

There would also be talks on world political issues.

Klestil's visit comes at a difficult time in Iran, observers say.
6 posted on 01/20/2004 12:16:45 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Amnesty urges Switzerland to back Iran rights

Tuesday, January 20, 2004 - ©2003

GENEVA, Jan 19 (AFP) -- Human rights group Amnesty International urged the Swiss government to use the visit of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami this week to back human rights reform in the Islamic republic.

Accompanied by Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, Khatami is due to make a one-day official visit to Switzerland on Tuesday, before participating in the World Economic Forum beginning beginning a day later in Davos.

Amnesty spokesman Juerg Keler, speaking to Swiss press agency ATS, argued that the human rights situation in Iran had not improved in the past few years under Khatami's reformist government.

According to the rights watchdog, Keler said, 113 people were executed in Iran in 2002. Other rights organizations have said as many as 420 people were executed by the regime.

Keler also condemned practices still in Iran like death by stoning and lashing.

Iran is embroiled in a crisis pitting Khatami's political allies against the powerful Guardians Council, a conservative-dominated body which has barred a large number of reformist candidates from standing in February election.
7 posted on 01/20/2004 12:18:12 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
'Hero' suspected in nuke transfer

By Anwar Iqbal

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Abdul Qadeer Khan, the man revered as a national hero as the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb, might have been involved in the transfer of nuclear-weapons technology to Iran, Pakistani authorities say.

Yesterday, officials in Islamabad confirmed that they had detained some of Mr. Khan's senior aides for questioning.

"So far, our investigations indicate that only one man is behind this alleged transfer. It is wrong to blame an entire nation for the mistakes of an individual," a senior Pakistani official told United Press International after the detentions.

Without naming Mr. Khan, the official said, "We gave him the status of a national hero when he did something for the country, but now if he makes a mistake, he will have to pay for his mistake as well."

Mr. Khan and some of his associates already have been questioned about suspected involvement in selling bomb-making know-how to Iran.

Pakistan denies detaining its nuclear scientists for questioning, but says several have been "debriefed."

Masud Khan, a spokesman for the Pakistan Foreign Office, who is not related to the scientist, said it was wrong to "presume" that those being debriefed were guilty.

"Some of them could also be cleared," he said.

The investigations, he said, were being conducted under Pakistani laws and "those who have not violated these should have no fears whatsoever."

Pakistan has been investigating the export of nuclear technology and equipment to Iran since early last month, when U.S. news organizations first reported the proliferation.

Quoting officials at the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, several U.S. newspapers reported that Iran clandestinely had received centrifuges and other nuclear know-how from its Islamic neighbor Pakistan.

Tehran has acknowledged having centrifuge designs similar to those used in Pakistan but denied receiving them from Islamabad.

Pakistan denied the government in Islamabad might have been involved in the transfer, but said some scientists might have handed over nuclear equipment to Iran "out of personal ambition or greed."

Those detained yesterday included Islam-ul Haq, a retired major of the Pakistan army who has been Mr. Khan's senior aide since at least May 1998 when Pakistan exploded nuclear devices after similar tests by arch rival India.
8 posted on 01/20/2004 12:20:05 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
RSF Calls for the Immediate Release of Independent Journalist

January 19, 2004
Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Without Borders has called for the immediate release of independent journalist Ensafali Hedayat, employed by a number of reformist dailies, who was arrested at his home by order of the Tabriz revolutionary court in north-western Iran on 16 January.

"We call for the immediate and unconditional release of Ensafali Hedayat, arrested without reason. We note that, with ten other journalists imprisoned, Iran is the Middle East's largest jail for journalists. We call on the Iranian authorities to free all of them, " said Robert Ménard, secretary general of Reporters Without Borders.

Hedayat had just returned from Germany where he attended the first conference of the union of Iranian Republicans in Berlin from 8-10 January. He had been accredited and covered the meeting as a journalist. The authorities, who searched his home, seized personal documents included data CDs and the hard disk of his computer.

Hedayat was previously arrested on 16 June 2003, at the University of Tabriz, where he was covering student demonstrations. Accused of inciting the students to revolt, he spent more than 20 days in solitary confinement. After his release on 14 July, he wrote a letter to President Khatami in which he spoke out against his prison conditions and against torture practised by the security forces.
15 posted on 01/20/2004 10:06:11 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Study the Koran?

January 20, 2004
Daniel Pipes

“Anyone concerned with what's happening in our world ought to spend some time reading the Koran.” Andy Rooney, the famed CBS commentator, gave this advice shortly after 9/11, as did plenty of others.

His suggestion makes intuitive sense, given that the terrorists themselves say they are acting on the basis of the holy scripture of Islam. Accused 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta had a Koran (sometimes spelled Qur’an) in the suitcase he had checked for his flight. His five-page document of advice for fellow hijackers instructed them to pray, ask God for guidance, and “continue to recite the Koran.” Osama bin Laden often quotes the Koran to motivate and convince followers.

Witnesses report that at least one of the suicide bombers who tried to assassinate Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf last month was reading the Koran before blowing himself up. Hamas suicide videotapes routinely feature the Koran.

And lots of non-Muslims in fact have been reading the Koran. In the weeks after Sept. 11, the book’s largest publisher in the United States reported that sales had quintupled; it had to airlift copies from Great Britain to meet the demand. American bookstores reported selling more Korans than Bibles.

All this, incidentally, was music to Islamist ears. Hossam Gabri of the Islamic Society of Boston, a group tied to a terrorism funder, considers non-Muslims trying to understand the Koran “a very good development.”

But reading the Koran is precisely the wrong way to go about understanding “what's happening in our world.” That’s because the Koran is:

- Profound. One cannot pick it up and understand its meaning when nearly every sentence is the subject of annotations, commentaries, glosses, and superglosses. Such a document requires intensive study of its context, development, and rival interpretations. The U.S. Constitution offers a good analogy; its 2nd Amendment consists of a just twenty-seven words (“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”) but it is the subject of numerous book-length studies. No one coming fresh to this sentence has any idea of its implications.

- Complex and contradictory. Contradictions in the text have been studied and reconciled over the centuries through extensive scholarly study. Some verses have been abrogated and replaced by others with contrary meanings. For example, verse 9:5 commands Muslims not to slay pagans until the sacred months have passed and verse 9:36 tells Muslims to fight pagans during those same months. The casual reader has no idea which of these is operational. (In fact, the latter is.)

- Static: An unchanging holy scripture cannot account for change over time. If the Koran causes terrorism, then how does one explain the 1960s, when militant Islamic violence barely existed? The Koran was the same text then as now. More broadly, over a period of fourteen centuries, Muslims have been inspired by the Koran to act in ways aggressive and passive, pious and not, tolerant and not. Logic demands that one look elsewhere than an immutable text to account for such shifts.

- Partial: Holy books have vast importance but do not create the immediate context of action. Reading the Bible in isolation gives limited insight into the range of Jewish and Christian experiences over the millennia; likewise, Muslims have read the Koran differently over time. The admonishment for female modesty meant one thing to Egyptian feminists in the 1920s and another to their descendants today. Then, head coverings represented oppression and exclusion from public life. Today, in the words of a British newspaper headline, “Veiled is beautiful.” Then, the head-covering signaled a woman not being a full human being; now, in the words of an editor at a fashion magazine, head-covering “tells you, you’re a woman. … You have to be treated as an independent mind.” Reading the Koran in isolation misses this unpredictable evolution. In brief, the Koran is not a history book.

A history book, however, is a history book. Instead of the Koran, I urge anyone wanting to study militant Islam and the violence it inspires to understand such phenomena as the Wahhabi movement, the Khomeini revolution, and Al-Qaeda. Muslim history, not Islamic theology, explains how we got here and hints at what might come next.

Daniel Pipes ( is a historian, director of the Middle East Forum, and author of Miniatures (Transaction Publishers).
16 posted on 01/20/2004 10:11:56 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
A US Couple Learn the Koran in Iran's Holy City

January 20, 2004
Christian Science Monitor
Michael Theodoulou

QOM, IRAN -- People back home simply cannot understand why Wally and Evelyn Shellenberger have chosen to spend nearly three years in the Iranian holy city of Qom.

They are the only American Christians living in the 1,000-year old desert city, which is perched on the edge of a great salt lake 90 miles south of Tehran. It is a world apart from the green hills of their home in Indiana.

The couple are Mennonite Christians who are in Qom on an exchange program with an Islamic institute aimed at building understanding and friendship between the two faiths.

Between the turquoise-and gold-domed mosques and walled seminaries, they share the dusty streets of this austere city - Iran's foremost Shiite Muslim center of clerical learning and a prime destination for pilgrims - with bearded clerics and women swathed in black chadors. There are no bars, fast-food outlets, or video stores in Qom. And Westerners are conspicuous by their absence in the city that was the ideological epicenter of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, a cornerstone of which was anti-Americanism.

"Ordinary people back home think it's a dangerous place to be, but actually it's probably as safe a place as any in the world," says Dr. Shellenberger, a soft-spoken retired psychiatrist who wears a trim white beard without a mustache. "We're treated very well as guests."

It was human tragedy on a massive scale that led to the first contacts between Iran and the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), an organization of the Mennonite Church of the US and Canada, that is involved in relief and reconciliation work. The MCC sent humanitarian assistance to the Iranian Red Crescent in 1990, after an earthquake measuring a magnitude of 7.7 struck northwest Iran, killing 35,000 people. The relationship has continued, with aid sent to help in later earthquakes and to assist Iraqi refugees in Iran.

The MCC's student exchanges with Iran, aimed at building people-to-people contacts and encouraging dialogue between American and Iranian citizens, began in 1998 and was modeled after a similar program that existed in Eastern European countries during the cold war.

Seldom has there been a time when dialogue between ordinary Americans and Iranians been more vital. The Shellenbergers' stay in Iran has encompassed not only the Sept. 11 attacks on America, but the US-led wars against two of Iran's immediate Muslim neighbors, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Despite perceptions to the contrary in the West, Iranians are far less anti-American than many of their counterparts in Arab countries whose governments are allied to the US, say some familiar with the Middle East. Surveys show more than 70 percent of Iranians favor restoring diplomatic ties with Washington, which were severed more than two decades ago.

But this is no surprise for the Shellenbergers. "The [Iranian] people are wonderful. They are hospitable, friendly, and helpful. They are sincere in their faith and I feel like they are brothers of mine," says Wally Shellenberger.

The simple life favored by Mennonites, has made Qom less of a culture shock for exchange students such as the Shellenbergers. That alcohol is forbidden in Iran, for instance, is no problem for Mennonites, who do not drink either.

Not that the Shellenbergers lead Spartan lives in Qom. Like other MCC volunteers working abroad, they intended to live like people in their host country, but the Iranian institute where they study was responsible for their accommodation and provided it in style. Home has been a spacious apartment with ornate ceilings.

The couple spent most of their first year and a half learning Farsi. This was followed by reading through the Koran with a professor at the Imam Khomeini Institute of Education and Research, where they attend some four sessions a week. Their learning is reinforced by much reading on their own. Wally Shellenberger is currently devouring the works of Hafiz, a 14th-century Sufi mystic and Iran's great medieval lyric poet.

Evelyn Shellenberger does not mind wearing the mandatory head scarf and long coat but has never become comfortable in the chador, an all-encompassing garment worn by devout or conservative Iranian women, that she is required to wear on visits to the institute. The word chador literally means tent. "It's more of a cumbersome thing to wear and it doesn't have any buttons," her husband explains.

Qom was not their first experience of a culture strikingly different from that of the Midwest. In the late 1960s, the Shellenbergers spent four years as medical volunteers in a hospital in Biafra, the short-lived secessionist state in Nigeria where at least 1 million people died of famine during civil warfare. The couple believe Christians could learn from the Islam they have come to know in Iran. There is more family stability in the Islamic Republic and less personal selfishness, he says.

Ordinary Iranians are surprised when they discover the Shellenbergers have chosen to learn about Islam in Qom in order to foster a better understanding of the faith back home.

Some Iranians ask if they intend to convert to Islam. "No," Mr. Shellenberger tells them politely, adding: "In understanding Islam better, it helps me be a better Christian."
17 posted on 01/20/2004 10:13:47 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Oil to Constitute 97 % Of Iran's Income from Nat'l Wealth Sale

January 20, 2004
Asia Pulse

TEHRAN -- Oil and related products are expected to constitute 97 per cent of the state revenues from the sale of national wealth and assets, according to the budget drafted for the next Iranian fiscal year (to start on March 21).

The Plan and Budget Studies Department at the Majlis Research Center in an analytical report on next year`s budget bill said that oil and related products will bring in a revenue of about rls 147 trillion (US$18.6 billion) next year.

The report said the figure will reach rls 250.008 trillion if the revenue, earned from domestic oil sale, is also included in the portion -- an amount which exceeds general budget income. It said government`s income from the sale of financial assets, namely cash drawing from the Forex Reserve Fund, privatization of state-run institutions and firms, borrowing, and sale of participation bonds, is expected to stand at about rls 77.594 trillion, showing a growth of 20.9 per cent compared to the figure for this year.

The draft budget stipulates a cash drawing to the tune of rls 43.612 trillion out of the Forex Reserve Fund, a revenue of rls 2 trillion from the privatization of the state-run institutions and firms, rls 1.888 trillion foreign borrowing and an asset of rls 8.5 trillion from the sale of participation bonds next year. President Mohammad Khatami presented the draft budget for the Iranian year starting March 2004 to the Majlis last month.

The roughly US$127 billion budget was based on minimum economic growth of 7.3 per cent in a bid to reduce unemployment, which stood at 12.8 per cent in the first six months of 2003. The draft budget envisages oil revenues of about US$16 billion, calculated at the rate of US$19.5 per barrel.
18 posted on 01/20/2004 10:15:26 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
General Grilled in Pakistan Nuclear Secrets Scandal

January 20, 2004
Irish Independent
Zahid Hussainin

A maverick Pakistani general who allegedly tried to sell nuclear technology to Iran for $12bn was being questioned last night.

General Aslam Beg was held after Abdul Qadeer Khan, the architect of the Pakistaninuclear programme, told investigators during a debriefing that nuclear co-operation with Iran was authorised by the senior army officer.

General Beg, one of a number of senior officers with Islamist sympathies, was the Chief of Army Staff from 1988-1991, the period during which the country's nuclear secrets were allegedly passed on to Iran. He is reported to have tried to persuade the civilian governments in power during that period to transfer nuclear technology in return for the money that Iran was allegedly prepared to pay and which would have underwritten the Pakistani military budget. The government rejected the offer.

Pakistani authorities have also detained eight other officials linked with its nuclearweapons laboratory. Major Islamul Haq, a close aide and principal staff officer to Dr Khan, was detained by two intelligence officials while dining at Dr Khan's house. The authorities are also questioning two more senior scientists in the latest sweep. Pakistani intelligence officials last month questioned Dr Khan and at least three other scientists, who had keyroles in the Pakistan nuclear test of 1998. Seven scientists have now been detained.

Masood Khan, a Foreign Ministry official, said: "There is no presumption of guilt; it is probable that some of these people would be cleared."

Pakistani authorities deny any involvement in the proliferation of nuclear technology but admit that some scientists "motivated by greed" might have sold nuclear secrets.
19 posted on 01/20/2004 10:16:36 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Straw Discusses Iran with France and Germany

January 20, 2004

LONDON -- Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has met his French and German counterparts to discuss Iran and other issues. Straw hosted Dominique de Villepin and Joschka Fischer at Chevening, his official country residence outside London late on Monday, officials said.

"The foreign ministers had a private, informal meeting at Chevening to discuss Iran" and other topics on which they have been "actively engaged", a Foreign Office spokesman said on Tuesday.

"They will continue to keep in touch on a regular basis as they will with other EU colleagues," he said.

Rumours of the meeting had circulated on Monday night but none of the three governments would confirm it, fuelling speculation of a new diplomatic initiative.

The three foreign ministers travelled to Tehran late last year to persuade Iran to comply fully with international demands over its nuclear programme.

Diplomats said that intervention signalled a willingness to try and bury sharp differences between London, Paris and Berlin over the war in Iraq.

Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder are due to hold a summit next month.
20 posted on 01/20/2004 10:17:49 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Protesting Workers Say Ready to Sell Body Parts to Supplement Income

January 20, 2004
ILNA News Agency
BBC Monitoring Middle East

Text of report by Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA) web site

Tehran, 20 January: Workers in Hamedan's Samico Industrial Company have staged a protest gathering inside Amir al-Mo'memin Mosque of the city to demand repayment of thousands of millions of rials owed to them.

According to a report by an ILNA correspondent, the protesters' gathering was attended by the representatives from the State Mines and Industries Organization, Labour Ministry, the State Welfare Organization, the Law Enforcement-Force and the head of the Islamic Labour Council as well as the management of the company.

Addressing the protesters, Head of Islamic Labour Council Changiz Aslani said: The workers are facing immense economic pressure because they have not received wages for several months; in fact some of them are peddling their household articles and some are ready to sell their body parts to supplement their income.

Aslani added: We respect the industrial investors because we need them to create jobs, but on condition that they pay their workers.

In response the managing director of the company, Ebrahimi, blamed the Labour Commission and the governor-general of Hamedan for making plans despite knowing the financial circumstances of the company.

He said: The governor-general has not visited the company even once; and the Mines and Industries Organization has not taken any steps to supply the raw material needed by the company; but despite knowing the facts, has voted to increase the workers' wages.

Ebrahimi added: I have paid the wages of my workers and will not allocate even a single company share to anyone; we have proposed restructuring and if it were to go ahead, there will be redundancies and only 59 workers will be kept to run the assembly line; should the workers agree with restructuring, our problems will be resolved by next spring.

The workers rejected Ebrahimi's remarks as some sort of deception and called on the state authorities to deal with the problems through legal means. However, Ebrahimi left the mosque in protest.

There are 300 people working for Samico Industrial Company. The company faced a crisis last year and the managing director of the company was detained for several months. As a result, in view of a huge debt accumulated by the company, the Labour Commission of the province offered insurance cover to the workers [presumably, to repay the workers by liquidating the company and selling its shares or assets].

Source: Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA), Tehran, in Persian 0831 gmt 20 Jan 04
21 posted on 01/20/2004 10:25:02 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Dear President George W. Bush: From the IRANIAN PEOPLE! ^ | January 20, 2004 |
Posted on 01/20/2004 5:39:29 AM PST by faludeh_shirazi
22 posted on 01/20/2004 10:32:14 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Watchdog Keeps Most Poll Bans Despite Protest

January 20, 2004

TEHRAN - Iran's Guardian Council revealed on Tuesday it had so far reversed only a tiny fraction of its bans on candidates for parliamentary elections despite a poll boycott threat by reformist President Mohammad Khatami's party.

The 12-man unelected conservative watchdog has barred nearly half the 8,200 candidates from running for the February 20 elections. Allies of Khatami, including 80 of the standing 290 MPs, have been most affected.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last word on all state matters, has urged the Council to review its decisions, but it has been in no apparent rush to lift bans and has until the end of the month to review 3,100 appeals.

"So far...200 [disqualified] candidates have been approved," said a statement on the hardline Council's Web site. The figure represents about five percent of the bans.

The disqualifications sparked a bitter political dispute. Apart from the poll boycott threat by Khatami's party, government ministers considered resignation and liberal MPs have reached the 10th day of a parliamentary sit-in.

Firebrand MP Fatemeh Haqiqatjou said the attritional row between reformists and conservatives had reached breaking point and the outcome would determine whether the country's Islamic constitution could survive.

"This is the climax of a confrontation between the elected and the appointed...on how to run the country," she was quoted as saying on the official IRNA news agency.

"The elected bodies are the representatives of the people and their will is the will of the people. They must be the true defenders of the people's rights," she added.

Who should rule?

At stake is the idea of how Iran should be governed.

The Guardian Council, composed of six clerics and six Islamic jurists, wields a power of veto over the elected parliament and has blocked dozens of its reformist bills.

Hardliners believe concessions to a Western-style democracy could destroy Islamic rule. Reformists believe the system needs to be overhauled to keep up with the demands of a youthful population.

Haqiqatjou observed the key question would be whether the people threw their weight behind the protesting MPs.

The parliamentary sit-in has so far elicited little sympathy from students, the vanguard of Iran's reform protests, or the public, frustrated by the reformists' fudged compromises with hardliners and sluggish social and economic reform.

"The people will either back us, or the epidemic mistrust that has spread in the minds of various classes will prevail and the nation will not back the strikers," said Haqiqatjou, herself one of MPs blocked from standing again.

Political analyst Mahmoud Alinejad said the students could get involved if the dispute dragged on.

"If it goes on, more groups may get involved," he said.

But the secretary of the country's largest student activist group said the students would express their anger by not voting.

"Parliament lacks the real power for decision-making...our participation in elections would increase the power of undemocratic structures," said Abdollah Momeni of the Office to Consolidate Unity.
23 posted on 01/20/2004 10:45:01 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Suspect States Got Dutch Nuke Data

January 20, 2004
Los Angeles Times
Douglas Frantz

Istanbul, Turkey -- Two government ministers in the Netherlands acknowledged yesterday that highly sensitive nuclear technology developed by a Dutch company may have been transferred to Libya and North Korea along with Iran and Pakistan.

The disclosure in Parliament in Amsterdam marked the first public confirmation of assertions that centrifuge technology for enriching uranium apparently found its way to Libya and North Korea. It was already known that Pakistan and Iran had the technology.

The Dutch officials, Foreign Minister Bernard Bot and Economic Affairs Minister Laurens-Jan Brinkhorst, said it was not clear how the potentially arms-related technology had been transferred. But diplomats elsewhere said the public comments were likely to increase pressure on Pakistan, which has already been linked to Iran's capability and is suspected of providing the technology to North Korea and Libya.

U.S. officials have long suspected that Abdul Qadeer Khan, who led the development of Pakistan's atomic bomb, stole the centrifuge secrets in the 1970s while working for the Dutch company Urenco. He was convicted of the theft, but the verdict was overturned.

Urenco is a British-Dutch-German consortium, and officials said it has not been implicated in the spread of the centrifuge technology.

A Urenco spokesman told the Reuters news agency that the company did not do business with Iran, Libya or North Korea and that the technology may have been passed to those countries by means outside its control.

Centrifuges are used to process uranium into fuel for reactors or fissile material for bombs.

Most experts regard obtaining fissile material as the most difficult step in building an atomic bomb.

Evidence of Pakistan's possible role in transferring centrifuge technology emerged last summer when inspectors from the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency uncovered an extensive enrichment program in Iran based on Urenco's designs.

After several inspections and protracted negotiations with the agency, Iran conceded in November that it had received centrifuge drawings and components from several middlemen, including Pakistanis, according to diplomats. Pakistan drew suspicion again last month after Libya announced that it was abandoning its development of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and opened its doors to inspectors from the United States, Britain and the IAEA.

Diplomats said in recent interviews that IAEA inspectors had been shown two types of centrifuge equipment in Libya. They said the equipment was clearly based on the designs of the Dutch unit of Urenco and its German affiliate.

The designs appeared to have come from Pakistan, although other sources may have helped. The Libyan centrifuge program, the diplomats said, was in its early stages.

Centrifuge cylinders similar to those developed and manufactured by Urenco were visible in photographs taken inside one of the Libyan warehouses and shown to the Los Angeles Times.

U.S. officials have said that Pakistan traded centrifuge enrichment technology to North Korea for missiles and missile technology in the late 1990s. Little is known about the extent of Pyongyang's uranium enrichment program, which is an alternative to its production of weapons material from plutonium.

Pakistani authorities have denied transferring nuclear technology to Libya. They also have said that any transfers to North Korea stopped before Gen. Pervez Musharraf came to power in a military coup in October 1999.

But Pakistani officials have conceded that people who were trying to make money might have sold nuclear technology to Iran in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Pakistani intelligence officials have questioned several senior scientists about the Iran transfers, including Khan. Several people remain in custody, including Khan's personal secretary, Islam ul Haq.
24 posted on 01/20/2004 1:17:39 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
RSF Voices Concern to Canada and EU About Stalled Justice in Iran

January 20, 2004
Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Without Borders expressed its concern to Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham and his 15 EU counterparts on 20 January over the stalled Zahra Kazemi case in which, it said, Iranian authorities appeared to be in no hurry to see justice done.

"Since the trial of the alleged killer was adjourned, there do not appear to have been any further developments in the case. The lawyers for the victim's family have not been allowed to look at the legal file so that they can properly prepare their case," said Robert Ménard, secretary general of Reporters Without Borders. "The authorities have not fixed any date for the adjourned hearing and we do not even know if the lawyers will have an opportunity to examine the complete file," he added.

The international press freedom organisation called on the foreign ministers to do all within their power to see that this case was thoroughly investigated and justice was done and to obtain the repatriation of Kazemi's body to Canada.

The journalist's body was buried in Shiraz in the south of the country on 22 July 2003, contrary to the wishes of her son, Stéphan Hashemi, a French-Canadian living permanently in Canada. As you know Zahra Kazemi's mother who lives in Iran, had asked for the body to be repatriated to Canada and had signed a request to that effect at the Canadian embassy in Teheran. The Canadian authorities moreover supported the request.

Despite this there was a hurried burial in Iran and since then, calls for the body to be exhumed and repatriated to Canada have fallen on deaf ears. The journalist's mother has said publicly that she had been put under pressure to allow the burial in Iran.

Reporters Without Borders appreciates Canada's initiative that led to a resolution in the UN General Assembly on 12 December 2003 condemning human rights violations that continue in Iran. In accordance with the European Parliament's invitation to the Council on 15 January 2004, our organisation strongly supports and encourages the European Union to present a similar draft resolution at the next session of the Human Rights Commission in particular to vigorously condemn unfair detention, which is still current practice in this country

The Iranian-Canadian journalist, who was living in Canada, was arrested on 23 June 2003 while photographing families of prisoners in front of Evin jail in the north of Teheran. She was beaten during her detention and died of her injuries on 10 July. After first trying to hide the cause of the journalist's death, the Iranian authorities recognised on 16 July 2003 that she had been "beaten".

Following a struggle between reformists and conservatives who mutually accused each other over the death of the journalist, an Iranian intelligence services agent, Mohammad Reza Aghdam Ahmadi, was named as the suspected killer and arrested. His trial was adjourned on 4 November 2003. Lawyer Shirin Ebadi, who won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize has said that she will defend the interests of Kazemi's family.
25 posted on 01/20/2004 1:18:58 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iranians Fear for Relatives

January 20, 2004
Hendon and Finchley Times
Tom Spender

Barnet-based Iranians have won the support of 220 MPs in their fight to prevent their relatives in Iraq being expelled from a resistance base back to Iran, where they face persecution.

Five thousand Iranian members of the People's Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI) - which is listed as a terrorist organisation by the US - were due to be sent back to Iran from Iraq by the end of last year, according to the Iraqi Governing Council.

The move worried Iranians in Barnet such as Azadeh Hosseini, 19, of Mill Hill, who said their relatives in the PMOI would almost certainly face imprisonment, and even torture and execution, if sent back to Iran.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has confirmed that such a move would break the Geneva Convention, which considers the PMOI members to be civilians, because they did not take part in the US-led war in Iraq.

It states that they cannot be deported against their will, particularly to a country where they may be persecuted.

Now the MPs, alongside 85 members of the House of Lords, have called for the PMOI members' safety to be guaranteed and for the PMOI to be removed from the terrorist list.

Dr Rudi Vis, MP for Finchley and Golders Green, added his support, saying he would be extremely concerned for the welfare of the PMOI members if they were sent back to Iran.

Ms Hosseini said she and other UK-based Iranians were trying to send news to their relatives via the Red Cross organisation.

"Over 300 MPs and lords are supporting us," she said.
26 posted on 01/20/2004 1:20:01 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
The Troublesome, Vote-loving Ayatollah

January 20, 2004
The Economist
The Economist Global Agenda

America is getting more international help in its quest to build a peaceful, democratic Iraq but, ironically, its plans are under threat because the spiritual leader of the country’s Shia majority, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, is demanding fully democratic elections

AMERICA’S proconsul in Iraq, Paul Bremer, met the United Nations' secretary-general, Kofi Annan, on Monday January 19th, to plead for the UN's help in salvaging America's plan to give Iraqis their sovereignty back by the end of June. The plan is in danger of collapse because Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq’s most senior Shia Muslim cleric, insists there should be proper elections to choose the members of an interim national assembly that will select a new, provisional government. America insists it would be impossible to organise such a nationwide vote without delaying the handover of power. Instead it proposes that assembly members be chosen by local “caucuses”, in each Iraqi province. The caucuses’ members would in turn largely be selected by the Governing Council, a group of Iraqis appointed by America, who have already been given some restricted powers.

The Coalition Provisional Authority gives Mr Bremer's statements and outlines plans for governing Iraq. See also the US State Department's information on Iraq and the UN's Iraq section. The US Defence Department and US Central Command report on the security situation.

Mr Bremer, accompanied by members of the Governing Council, pressed Mr Annan to send a mission to Baghdad to assess whether or not direct elections would be feasible in the next few months. A Governing Council member allied to Mr Sistani said that if such a team of UN advisers were sent and decided that elections were not feasible, then the ayatollah would accept this. Mr Annan said further talks were needed before he could decide whether to send the mission, but diplomats said they expected a positive response.

Considering President George Bush’s avowed desire to build a strong democracy in Iraq that would set a positive example for the rest of the Middle East, he ought to have been heart-warmed at the sight of tens of thousands of Shias chanting “Yes, yes to elections!” as they protested in the southern Iraqi city of Basra on Thursday and again in the capital, Baghdad, on Monday. But the demonstrations were manifestations of Mr Sistani’s power to whip up strong opposition among Shias—who are an estimated 60% of Iraq’s 25m population. Though he is Iranian-born and speaks Arabic with a heavy Persian accent, Mr Sistani commands strong support from Iraqi Shias and could cause serious trouble if his demands are not met.

Mr Sistani and his people fear that the caucuses will be rigged to try to exclude the Shias from power, as they were under Saddam Hussein’s Sunni Muslim regime. Last week, the ayatollah issued a fatwa (religious decree) that “every Iraqi must have the right to vote”. His aides say that unless direct elections are held, he may issue another, tougher decree which would turn the Shias—hitherto largely supporters of the American-led invasion—into opponents, resisting America's presence alongside the remnants of Saddam’s forces. If so, hopes for an orderly handover of power would be shattered. The ayatollah has refused to meet Mr Bremer so he has been relying on the Governing Council to try to talk the cleric into a compromise.

America believes there is not enough time to produce the new electoral register that would be needed for direct elections. Mr Sistani argues, however, that the ration cards used for the UN's oil-for-food programme (which have just been reissued, without many hitches) could be used as voters’ registration cards. In a last-ditch bid to persuade the ayatollah to accept the caucuses, Mr Bremer is looking at ways to make them more open. But time is short: he has only until the end of February to pass a law on how the transitional assembly should be chosen.

Until Sunday's huge suicide-bombing outside America's main base in Baghdad—which killed more than 20 people, mostly Iraqis—things had begun to look more promising for America’s Iraqi adventure. The level of deadly attacks against coalition forces seemed to have fallen slightly since Saddam was captured in December. Polls have shown that a majority of Americans continue to support the war but, over the weekend, the number of American deaths in Iraq rose to above 500—a fact that may provide a focus for opponents of the war. While America is still providing the overwhelming majority of the 152,000 foreign troops in Iraq, the number of other countries sending their forces to help in peacekeeping and reconstruction has grown to more than 30. On Monday, the first contingent of Japanese troops arrived in Iraq. Eventually, about 600 Japanese soldiers will be stationed in the country, in Japan’s largest military deployment since the second world war.

The reinforcements being sent by allies mean that America can start to bring home some of its battle-weary troops. On Thursday, a planeload of troops from the 101st Airborne Division arrived home in Kentucky. In the next few months, all 20,000 members of the division will return home. The prospect of waves of GIs marching home after a successful mission to build a democratic Iraq would do no harm to Mr Bush’s campaign to get re-elected in November’s presidential vote. But achieving this outcome, rather than a renewed upsurge of violence, depends on persuading Mr Sistani to compromise.

The Americans have already given in to the cleric’s demands that Iraq’s new constitution be written by directly elected representatives—these will be chosen in a national poll by March 2005; and later that year, once the constitution is written, elections for a new parliament will be held. But if the Americans give in to him again they are likely to enrage Iraq’s other religious and ethnic groups, such as the Sunni Arabs—around 15-20% of Iraqis—who are used to running the country and thus reluctant to see the Shia majority dominating. To complicate things further, Iraq’s Kurds are demanding a “federal” Iraq in which their homeland in the north of the country has strong autonomy. This has put them into conflict with the small Turkomen minority in the north, which fears being dominated by the Kurds.

Persuading the rival religious and ethnic groups to compromise, and keeping the handover plan on course, would be easier if the UN returned to Iraq to oversee the political transition (they were withdrawn last October after two bomb attacks on the UN headquarters in Baghdad caused heavy casualties). Mr Annan has said they will only return if they are given a significant role that makes it worth risking their personal safety. After meeting Mr Annan, Mr Bremer said he hoped the UN would return to play a role in Iraq soon. There was, however, no indication from the UN chief of when his staff might be sent back.

In the meantime, it remains unclear if Iraq can hold together and become a peaceful, liberal democracy in which no group subjugates any other. Long the outpost of one empire or another, the country had little chance to develop a sense of nationhood before Saddam came along. During his long and brutal dictatorship the Shias were suppressed and the Kurds brutalised, and the country’s nascent political institutions were destroyed.

This is the wreckage upon which America now proposes to erect a beacon of hope for the Arab world. It will be a very tough, though not impossible, task.
27 posted on 01/20/2004 1:21:17 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Said to Renege on Nuclear Promises

The Washington Times ^ | Jan 20, 2004 | GEORGE JAHN
Posted on 01/20/2004 3:29:13 PM PST by neverdem
30 posted on 01/20/2004 3:35:04 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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