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Iranian Alert -- May 5, 2004 [EST]-- IRAN LIVE THREAD -- "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^ | 5.5.2004 | DoctorZin

Posted on 05/04/2004 9:00:17 PM PDT 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.” 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. I began these daily threads June 10th 2003. On that date Iranians once again began taking to the streets to express their desire for a regime change. Today in Iran, most want to replace the regime with a secular democracy.

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: alsadr; armyofmahdi; ayatollah; cleric; humanrights; iaea; insurgency; iran; iranianalert; iranquake; iraq; jayshalmahdi; journalist; kazemi; khamenei; khatami; khatemi; moqtadaalsadr; persecution; politicalprisoners; protests; rafsanjani; revolutionaryguard; rumsfeld; satellitetelephones; shiite; southasia; southwestasia; studentmovement; studentprotest; terrorism; terrorists; wot
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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 05/04/2004 9:00:19 PM PDT by DoctorZIn
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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”

2 posted on 05/04/2004 9:01:58 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Looking for an Iranian reformer? Try a Tehran prison.

Dissident Graveyard
Khatami’s “vision.”

By Nir Boms & Erick Stakelbeck
May 04, 2004, 8:26 a.m.
National Review

“I never said that we have no political prisoners. We have them, and that is incontestable. They have been jailed for what they believe in."

With this admission, made during an April 27 event marking Iran's "National Youth Day," Iranian President Mohammed Khatami merely acknowledged what the rest of the world has known for the past 25 years: The Islamic Republic is a graveyard for political dissidents.

Of course, that was supposed to change with Khatami's ascension to the presidency in 1997, as Iran's young people embraced him as a visionary who could break the iron grip wielded by fundamentalist mullahs over every aspect of Iranian society. Sadly, though, the opposite has occurred, as beheadings, floggings, and stonings have continued and the imprisonment and torture of Iran's democratic activists has grown even more frequent during Khatami's seven-year reign.

The latest indicator of just how ineffectual Khatami's tenure has been to the cause of democratic change came on April 28, as Iran's hard-line judiciary, in a transparent move designed to pacify critics of the country's abysmal human-rights record, ordered a ban on the use of torture "to extract confession." This practice — the mullahs' preferred weapon of choice in dealing with dissenters — had already been outlawed in the 1979 Iranian constitution. The supposed ban, however, apparently did not apply for Zahra Kazemi.

In June 2003, Kazemi, an Iranian-born Canadian photographer, was arrested in front of Tehran's notorious Evin Prison while taking pictures of the families of political prisoners. Branded a spy by the Iranian government, Kazemi was detained at Evin and reportedly brutalized. According to Iranian sources, several days after Kazemi's arrest, she began bleeding from her mouth and nose and was sent to a nearby hospital.

Prison guards who accompanied Kazemi to the hospital allegedly prevented medical staff from treating her properly or carrying out brain scans ordered by doctors. Kazemi, just 54 years old, subsequently died of a massive brain hemorrhage. Iranian authorities maintain that Kazemi died of a stroke while under interrogation, and have supposedly launched a full-scale investigation into her death.

However, given that Kazemi was interrogated by both the Tehran prosecutor's office and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence, it's highly unlikely that the investigation will progress beyond a few empty public proclamations by the Iranian government.

An incident similar to the one that apparently claimed Kazemi's life occurred last summer, when Iran's morality police broke up a party being held in the Tehran apartment of 35-year-old Moshen Mofidi. Two of Mofidi's sisters attended the party in the presence of several unmarried men, a situation forbidden by Islamic law.

Mofidi was jailed and sentenced to 80 lashes for the crimes of corrupting his sisters, owning an illegal satellite dish, and possessing medicines that contained alcohol. Mofidi's sisters were also taken into custody and claim to have been beaten so severely during their imprisonment that several of their teeth were broken.

Mofidi, who had been suffering from severe lung and sinus infections at the time of his flogging, died a few days after being released from prison. Iranian officials refused to send his body to Canada, where several of his family members live.

While Mofidi's case drew the attention of human-rights organizations worldwide, the most publicized incidence of Iranian barbarity was carried out with the help of another torture-friendly Middle Eastern dictatorship: Syria. In April 2003, Jamil Bassam and Abrahim Khodabandeh, two Iranian political refugees and democracy activists who had lived in Britain for over 30 years, were visiting family in Syria when they were arrested at their Damascus hotel.

After two months of solitary confinement in a Syrian prison, the two men were flown — in violation of international law — to Tehran on a Syrian jet and into the waiting arms of Iranian authorities. Bassam and Khodabandeh are currently being held in Ward 102 of Evin Prison, where they are reportedly being tortured severely while awaiting trial on unspecified charges.

Reached by phone in England, Khodabandeh's wife, Elaha, said recently that she had not spoken to her husband since July 2003. "I want the mullahs to allow a (politically) neutral person, someone from the Red Cross or British Parliament, to visit my husband in prison," she says.

While that remains unlikely, two weeks ago, protests were held by Iranian activists in Washington, D.C., London, Stockholm, Oslo, Rome, Frankfurt, Berlin, and the Hague to condemn the two men's handover by Syrian authorities and the lack of a response from the British government on the matter thus far.

Further demonstrations were held on April 25, when, in a rare show of civil disobedience, 300 people gathered in front of the United Nations offices in Tehran to demand the immediate release of all Iranian political prisoners. The protest, like any event critical of the mullahs, was conducted under the watchful eye of Iranian security forces.

Despite such repression, Iran's pro-democracy activists have proven to be a perseverant and gutsy bunch, as evidenced by frequent reports of anti-government protests — most often led by university students — that have raged in the streets of major Iranian cities over the past several years.

But without more support from the West, achieving any real change will likely prove difficult for Iran's reformers. The U.S. regularly condemns Iran's human-rights record but has done little to encourage the country's democracy movements. As for the European Union, it recently chose not to table a United Nations resolution censuring flagrant Iranian human-rights violations.

It's no wonder the most likely place to find an Iranian reformer these days is in a Tehran prison.

— Nir Boms is a fellow at the Council for Democracy and Tolerance and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Erick Stakelbeck is senior writer for the Investigative Project, a Washington, D.C.-based counterterrorism research institute.
3 posted on 05/04/2004 9:03:42 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
What To Do In Iraq?:.. And The Real Road Ahead

May 04, 2004
New York Post
Amir Taheri

What to do about Iraq? I was bombarded with this question during a recent visit to the United States.

The question is based on two assumptions. First, that Iraq is about to plunge into one of the nightmare scenarios discussed by self-styled experts on TV. Second, that there is some kind of magic wand that one could wave to transform Iraq into a paradise of freedom and prosperity.

Both assumptions are false.

The nightmares are often peddled by those who had opposed the liberation because they didn't wish to see a U.S.-led coalition bring down a Third World dictator. The doomsayers' initial prediction was that, deprived of its oppressor, Iraq would plunge into civil war. That has not happened, so they now warn of chaos, and predict a nationwide insurrection against the Coalition.

But is Iraq really plunging into chaos? Anyone in contact with Iraqi realities would know that the answer is: No.

Yes, a variety of terrorist, insurgent and ordinary criminals are active in the country. Parts of Baghdad remain unsafe. Some roads, especially in the desert area bordering Jordan and Syria, are prone to attacks by bandits. And, as in many other parts of the world where criminal gangs operate, there is also some hostage-taking. But most of Iraq's 18,000 villages and 200-plus towns and cities remain as safe, if not safer, than those in some other Arab countries.

The Coalition faces a problem in Fallujah. But Fallujah accounts for no more than 4 percent of Iraq's Sunni Arab community. Other major Sunni cities - Mosul, Ramadi, even Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown - remain calm.

Fallujah has become a problem for specific reasons. It is at the heart of a region that has been the center of Sunni military elites since the creation of Iraq in 1921. It is also the capital of several Sunni Arab tribes with branches in other nations, including Syria and Jordan. And Saddam invested heavily there, especially by building housing for army, police and secret service personnel working in Baghdad. Ba'athist military and their families account for some 30 percent of the city's population. It is the Iraqi city that most resents Saddam's fall and the end of its privileges.

Yet even in Fallujah there is no evidence that a majority of the people regret liberation or want Saddam back. There are perhaps 2,000 insurgents, including dozens of non-Iraqi fighters, in the city. The fact that more than half of the city's inhabitants have left their homes shows that, though they may wish the occupation to end, they don't wish to side with the insurgents.

Those who claim that Iraq is in chaos also point to Najaf, where Muqtada al-Sadr, a 30-year-old Shiite cleric, is hiding in a number of holy shrines and mosques along with his so-called Army of the Mahdi. But talk to anyone in Najaf and you'll soon know that the overwhelming majority of the city's population wants Sadr to get the hell out. (After more than two weeks of contacts with Iraqi Shiite leaders and opinion-makers at various levels, this writer has not found anyone who supports Sadr and his shenanigans.)

Sadr is abusing the old Shiite practice of "bast," which consists of taking sanctuary in a holy shrine. But Najaf is a city of 500,000 people, while Sadr's followers number 3,000 at most.

And Sadr's quarrel with the Coalition is personal rather than principled. He resents not being given a share in the Governing Council, and is unhappy that he and 18 close associates are wanted for murder. His strategy is a typical desperado's: He hopes to force the Coalition out of Iraq, provoke chaos and, if not secure a chunk of power for himself, avoid prosecution for murder.

The Coalition would do well not to force its way into either Fallujah or Najaf. In each, it faces a group of armed men holding larger civilian populations hostage. In Fallujah, the insurgent Ba'athists are using Saddam's typical tactic of using human shields. In Najaf, Sadr and his gang use the Shiite shrines for the same purpose.

There is no nationwide insurrection in Iraq. Nor is Iraq suffering from a general breakdown in law and order. To be sure, it is no bed of roses. But the violence and insecurity are within the remit of normal in a post-liberation situation, and remain manageable.

As things stand, the Coalition does not need more troops. In fact, it should speed up withdrawals from the dozen or so cities and towns where its troops are deployed for policing, a task for which they are neither trained nor equipped. Disbanding the Iraqi army and national police was a major mistake. But that is spilt milk. What's now needed is a fast-track program to train and deploy more units of the new army and police.

What of the pundits' second assumption - that some magic wand could turn that country into an Arab Switzerland overnight? There is, of course, no such magic wand. And Iraq, while capable of moving towards pluralism, will need years to develop a stable democratic system.

When President Bush announced the start of the war to liberate Iraq, he promised to stay the course until the Iraqi people built a new democratic system. Implicit in that offer was that the Iraqis should play their part in what is by far the greatest challenge they have faced since their state was created eight decades ago.

The people of Iraq have kept their end of the bargain. They did not fight on Saddam's side, allowing the Coalition to achieve victory with remarkable ease. Since then, they've continued to do what is required of them - not only by isolating insurgents and terrorists, but also by beginning to rebuild their shattered country. As a string of recent polls, complemented by personal and anecdotal information, indicates, the overwhelming majority are still prepared to work with the Coalition to achieve their dream of a new political system based on human rights and pluralism.

The real question is: Will the Coalition keep its end of the bargain? Or will U.S. and British leaders, for reasons of domestic politics, lose their nerve, throw Iraq to the United Nations or some other ineffectual custodian and sacrifice the strategic goal of a democratic Middle East to tactical electoral considerations?

What to do in Iraq? The answer is simple: Don't lose your nerve!

Yes, Iraq can become another Vietnam - not because of anything that's happening there, but because America and its allies, for reasons of domestic politics, might panic and transform victory into defeat.

4 posted on 05/04/2004 9:04:36 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Judiciary Rushes to Play Down Renewed Death Sentence

May 04, 2004
Channel NewsAsia

TEHRAN -- Iran's powerful hardline judiciary hastened to play down a provincial judge's confirmation of a death sentence for blasphemy on dissident academic Hashem Aghajari, saying the verdict was not final.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Elham, quoted by the student news agency ISNA, said it was still up to the supreme court to hand down a definitive judgement.

Meanwhile, defense lawyer Saleh Nikbakht said Aghajari has again refused to appeal against the death sentence.

Aghajari had already refused to appeal when the sentence was first pronounced by a judge in the western city of Hamedan for a speech he made critical of Iran's dominant clergy.

"He told me yesterday that he refused to lodge an appeal and forbade me to do it on his behalf," Nikbakht told reporters.

Judicial authorities were seen to be anxious to avoid a repetition of the protests at home and abroad that followed the original death sentence on Aghajari, a disabled war veteran and university teacher, in November 2002.

A court in Hamedan found that Aghajari had committed blasphemy in a speech earlier in the year criticising the power of the dominant Shiite clergy and that, in line with Islamic and Iranian law, deserved to die.

The speech hit at the very core of Iran's 25-year-old Islamic regime, calling for a reformation in the state religion and asserting that Muslims were not "monkeys" and "should not blindly follow" religious leaders.

For powerful conservative hardliners, those comments were seen as a frontal assault on the Shiite doctrine of emulation and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's status as supreme guide.

Aghajari was also sentenced to eight years in jail. The term was later commuted to four years before being scrapped on April 14, but he is still being held in Tehran's Evin prison.

Following demonstrations by students and protests by reformists in the government over the death sentence, Khamenei demanded it be reviewed. In January 2003, the supreme court ordered a retrial.

"The judge has ... maintained his original decision," Zekrollah Ahmadi, the judiciary chief for Hamedan province in western Iran, told AFP on Monday.

"The decision must again be referred to Iran's supreme court," which rejected the earlier condemnation on technical grounds, Ahmadi said, adding that any technical flaws had now been rectified.

Elham said the case would now go back before three judges of the supreme court, whom he described as "experienced".

Reformist President Mohammad Khatami, in an open letter carried by the state news agency IRNA on Monday before the news from Hamedan, had condemned the sentencing of Aghajari.

It is "painful" that an intellectual such as Aghajari who has served the Islamic revolution and who lost a leg during the war against Iraq in the 1980s should be faced with the death sentence, he wrote.

The office of Nobel Peace Prize winner and human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi was quick to condemn the Hamedan judge's act.

"In light of the constitution and principles of human rights, it is unacceptable to sentence someone to death merely for expressing an opinion," Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, spokesman for Ebadi's Circle of Defenders of Human Rights, told AFP.

"We hope that the supreme court will annul this verdict which is contrary to the principle of freedom of opinion."

Dadkhah noted that the judiciary had recently issued a series of directives stressing the rights of prisoners and saying that torture and ill-treatment were banned.

"The decision of the Hamedan judge runs counter to this trend," he said.

However, the main reformist student group, the Office for the Consolidation of Unity (OCU), was pessimistic that students would demonstrate as they did in November 2002.

"Given the current torpor in Iran's universities and the lack of interest in politics, for the moment no action is predicted," OCU official Abdollah Momeni said.

Nikbakht said that if Aghajari refuses to appeal, judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi would have to use his authority to ensure this happened.
5 posted on 05/04/2004 9:05:34 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Brussels Urges Iran to Reform or Face Bar on Trade Talks Revival

May 04, 2004
The Financial Times
Judy Dempsey

The European Union's top officials told Iran yesterday it could not expect important trade talks to resume immediately even if it complied with all its commitments to openness about its nuclear programmes.

The visiting Iranian foreign minister was told that Brussels is also insisting on progress on human rights, political reform and an end to support for terrorist groups.

This tough stance by Javier Solana, the foreign policy chief, and Chris Patten, the external affairs commissioner, appears designed to prove to Iran - and the US - that the EU can speak and act with one voice by using the prospects of a mutually beneficial trade relationship to put pressure on Iran.

If the Islamic republic does not co-operate, it has been told, it could face isolation by its largest trading partner.

Kamal Kharrazi, the Iranian minister, who is on a fresh diplomatic offensive to several European capitals, was in Brussels yesterday seeking assurances that the agreement made with Tehran last year by London, Paris and Berlin and backed by the EU still stood.

The "Big Three" had suggested to Iran that if it complied with an International Atomic Energy Agency request for enhanced inspections of its nuclear sites, claimed by the US to be being used to develop nuclear weapons, Iran could expect some rewards that involved trade and other issues.

Unable to create divisions on the issue inside the EU or among the Big Three, Iran complied with the IAEA request, considered a diplomatic coup by the Europeans. However, Iran's subsequent cover-up of its nuclear facilities, allegations that it was continuing its enriched uranium programme and the victory of the conservatives in the recent elections, have hardened the position of the Europeans.

The EU officials told Mr Kharrazi, considered a reformer, that they expected "full transparency" in Iran's co-operation with the IAEA. "We have been deceived before. Today, we insisted on full transparency," said a European diplomat.

Joschka Fischer, the German foreign minister, is expected to repeat the same line tomorrow when Mr Kharrazi visits Berlin.

The IAEA will deliver its verdict on Iran's compliance on June 14 and the Europeans are exerting as much diplomatic pressure as possible in the meantime.

Mr Kharrazi responded that the EU could not be considered a "reliable partner" if the political and trade talks were not soon restarted. Nevertheless, the EU is insisting on its conditions for their resumption.
6 posted on 05/04/2004 9:06:16 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
Brussels Urges Iran to Reform or Face Bar on Trade Talks Revival

May 04, 2004
The Financial Times
Judy Dempsey
7 posted on 05/04/2004 9:06:45 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Brussels Spurns Tehran's Efforts To Restart Trade Talks

May 04, 2004
Radio Free Europe
Ahto Lobjakas

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi was in Brussels yesterday as part of a European tour aimed at reviving EU trade talks that were suspended last year. Union officials say, however, that there is widespread "disappointment" in Brussels and member-state capitals over Iran's recent elections and continued doubts about the country's nuclear program.

Brussels, 4 May 2004 (RFE/RL) -- EU officials did little to hide their frustration with Iran during a visit to Brussels yesterday by the country's foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi.

Officials said Kharrazi is touring Europe in the hope of persuading the EU to revive stalled trade talks. However, EU capitals and the European Commission in Brussels are still stung by the exclusion of hundreds of reformist candidates from recent elections in the Islamic Republic. Iran's apparent attempts to conceal parts of its nuclear program are also an issue.

Reijo Kemppinen, a spokesman for European Commission President Romano Prodi, was unusually tight-lipped following yesterday's meeting between Prodi and Kharrazi -- saying only that the dialogue would continue in a follow-up meeting between Kharrazi and External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten.

"With the president they discussed the relationship between the European Union and Iran. They concentrated on the possibilities of recommencing, restarting the dialogue. They did not, with the president, go into any detail on that issue. That remains to be done with Commissioner Patten," Kemppinen said.

But the meeting with Patten brought no results either.

A commission official said the EU had made clear its "disappointment" with Iran in failing to do more to improve ties between Tehran and Brussels. The official said the EU had "invested heavily" in the relationship and considers Iran a very important partner.

This refers to the EU's preference for what is known as "positive engagement." Rejecting U.S. charges that Iran is part of the "axis of evil" supporting terrorism, the EU adopted a different strategy, offering Tehran a lucrative trade deal in exchange for a commitment to political reform. But those talks broke down in June after revelations about Iran's nuclear program came to light.

The EU official said yesterday that nearly a year later, little has changed about Iran's human rights record. But more significantly, the commission's policy of offering rewards for progress has been seen as reaching a dead end after this spring's legislative elections in Iran, where hundreds of reformers were banned from running. The official said this had drastically "changed the atmosphere" of the talks.

The official said the EU also regrets that it was not told about some elements of Iran's nuclear program. Recent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports have shown that even as Iran put a pause on some uranium-enrichment projects, it continued to buy centrifuges needed for the process.

Last autumn, the foreign ministers of the United Kingdom, Germany, and France negotiated a deal with Iran offering aid to the country's civilian nuclear projects in exchange for allowing IAEA inspectors access to Iran's nuclear facilities.

However, EU sources say the deal has been interpreted differently in Brussels and Tehran. Iran's government appeared to think that signing an IAEA nuclear inspections protocol and announcing a moratorium on enrichment activities would be enough to restart talks with the EU.

Some member states in the EU, however, were insistent that the moratorium must be a long-term commitment. One source said yesterday these difference have given rise to a "period of frustration" on both sides, but especially in Iran.

The EU has indicated that, in contrast to the United States, it is not against a civilian nuclear program in Iran. But EU officials say Iran must show full transparency.

The EU is now awaiting another report on the issue, scheduled for June, from the head of the IAEA, Muhammad el-Baradei.

This means EU foreign ministers are unlikely to be able to consider a resumption of talks before July.

One EU official said yesterday it would be "very surprising" if the bloc decided to move ahead on the issue while questions remain about the content of el-Baradei's report.
8 posted on 05/04/2004 9:07:30 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Backing Terror Attacks Targeting Israeli-Palestinian 'Islands of Sanity'

May 04, 2004

Jerusalem -- Iran is increasing its influence over Palestinian terrorism through Hizballah involvement in a new trend of terror attacks, which target the vestiges of Israeli-Palestinian cooperation, which provide Palestinians with income, a senior Israeli military official said on Tuesday.

There has been an escalation in attempts by terrorists during the last few months to strike at "islands of sanity" - places where Israelis and Palestinians have continued to work together despite the troubles, said Brig. Gen. Ruth Yaron, the Israel Defense Forces (Army) spokeswoman.

Yaron pointed to the Erez crossing point and Industrial Zone in the Gaza Strip as one of the examples of this developing terrorist phenomenon.

"The Erez Industrial Park was for many, many years an island...of sanity in a sea of insanity," Yaron told members of the foreign press on Tuesday.

"As terrorism was raging around it, the Erez crossing...was feeding tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza, was a secured island where Israeli and Palestinian industrialists were working together shoulder to shoulder and minding...their own business and dealing with the economy and the welfare of their own people," she said.

Thousands of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip worked in the some 170 Israeli and Palestinian factories in the joint industrial park, seen by Israel as a bastion of Israeli-Palestinian coexistence, even during the last three and half years of violence and trouble.

Thousands more crossed through the Erez checkpoint daily for work in Israel. (Tens of thousands used to cross prior to the outbreak of Palestinian violence when they were prevented from doing so for security reasons.)

Even two years ago, Palestinians working in the industrial zone had to run the gauntlet there between stringent Israeli security and Hamas threats to arrive at jobs, which paid above average wages. Now a spate of terror attacks there may change even that.

"We have managed throughout the years to preserve this island of sanity," Yaron said. "This island [was] a good example of almost coexistence that could reign here in the region, and it was at this specific target that the Palestinians, especially the Hamas, have targeted."

In the last few months, 14 people have been killed at Erez, including four Israeli security guards who were killed by a female suicide bomber. Prior to that attack, Israel almost never closed the industrial park, because doing so was seen as a victory for Hamas because Israeli crackdowns boosted the militants' popularity.

"To a certain degree...industrialists both Israeli and Palestinian are saying that this industrial park is ruined," Yaron said. "It will be almost impossible to go back to where we were...allowing more than 15,000 Palestinian families to get their daily living out of this place."

Yaron also pointed to the Karni crossing point, which was a secured area, where Palestinian businessmen were able to continue their trade and through which they could export their goods.

In March, two terrorists hid in a large shipping container entering Israel through the Karni crossing and carried out a double suicide bombing at the Israeli seaport of Ashdod, killing 10 Israelis. In the last few days, the Army discovered two explosives belts at Karni, Yaron said.

"The terrorist organizations are aiming specifically at those points where ...the Israeli society and the Palestinian society [are] meeting...where we are able in spite of the madness that goes on in the war against terror to secure certain islands of sanity...that will enable the Palestinian society to go on with their daily life in spite of what's going on in there," she said.

Hizballah Behind the Attacks

Although Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Tanzim, the military wing of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction may be responsible for carrying out this new trend in terror attacks as well as other attacks, the Lebanese-based Hizballah is playing a greater role, Yaron said.

Hizballah, funded and ideologically linked to Iran and logistically aided by Syria, considered itself a champion over Israel after Israel withdrew its troops unilaterally from a swath of land in southern Lebanon, known as the security zone, it had secured for 18 years against terror attacks along its northern border.

As such, the Palestinians have looked toward the Hizballah as a role model. But now the organization is getting more directly involved in the terrorist war against Israel.

"For us the Hizballah is not the name of an enemy on our northern border only," said Yaron.

"The Hizballah is very much present in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] and Gaza. The unseen bond and the unseen connection existing between the Hizballah and the Hamas and the Tanzim and the Islamic Jihad is unveiling more and more in the past few months," she said.

According to Yaron, Hizballah is not only sending funds, but also giving instructions and advising on methods of operations but the trail does not end with the militant Islamic group.

"We understand that we have to connect the dots," she said. "What we are facing here is a war against terror that does not begin and does not end with a certain local terrorist organization in Gaza or in Nablus [in the West Bank]...

"We will have to look at the Hizballah and understand, [that] the long hand of the Hizballah is reaching much farther places than only our northern border and we have to understand that the Hizballah is the extended arm of countries like Iran and Syria who are supporting, sheltering, financing and directing terrorism," Yaron said.

They must be held accountable, she added.

Both Iran and Syria are on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism. Iran was named by President Bush as one of three countries in the "axis of evil" along with Iraq and North Korea.

Congress passed the Syria Accountability Act late last year requiring President Bush to slap sanctions on Syria if Damascus did not stop supporting terrorist organizations and end its occupation of Lebanon.

Syrian President Bashar Assad has rejected a U.S. demand that he close down the offices of some one dozen Palestinian terrorist groups headquartered in his capital, saying that they are merely public relations offices for the groups. Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal is based in Damascus.
9 posted on 05/04/2004 9:08:23 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran's Stirrings in Iraq

May 04, 2004
Middle East Media Research Institute
Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli*

With the downfall of its nemesis Saddam Hussein, Iran can now pursue two principal objectives in Iraq: the first is to stir up problems for the Americans to keep them pinned down and divert their attention from its nuclear program. The second is to assert its influence over the Hawza ...

With the downfall of its nemesis Saddam Hussein, Iran can now pursue two principal objectives in Iraq: the first is to stir up problems for the Americans to keep them pinned down and divert their attention from its nuclear program. The second is to assert its influence over the Hawza, or the Shi'a religious centers in the two holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, and to prevent the emergence in these cities of an independent religious and spiritual leadership competing with the Iranian city of Qum.

In a Friday sermon on April 9, delivered at Tehran University amid shouts of "Death to America, Death to Israel," Expediency Council head Hashemi Rafsanjani said: "The present situation in Iraq represents a threat as well as an opportunity… It is a threat because the wounded American beast can take enraged actions, but it is also an opportunity to teach this beast a lesson so it won't attack another country." [1]

Open Borders - An Invitation to Subversion

It is commonly recognized that the coalition forces have been unable to fully control Iraq's borders with its neighbors, particularly with the antagonist neighbors - Iran and Syria. On Iraq's eastern and southern fronts, both Iranian intelligence agents and Iranian-sponsored terrorists have been able to enter Iraq at will. Many of them are easily disguised as religious pilgrims who, for the first time in years, are able to visit the two holy cities of Najaf and Karbala freely. For Shi'a Muslims, these pilgrimages are almost as theologically significant as a pilgrimage to Mecca.

Operating in a friendly milieu in southern Iraq, which is inhabited predominantly by Shi'a Muslims, Iranian intelligence officers have used a combination of incentives and coercion to widen the base of collaborators. According to the Iraqi daily Al-Nahdha, the Iraqi police have arrested many Iranians who are ostensibly pilgrims but, in reality, are intelligence operatives. The newspaper estimates the number of Iranian agents operating in Iraq at 14,000. They are penetrating the country's nascent security forces and taking advantage of the open distribution of books and literature. As a measure of their success to sell their revolutionary dogmas to the Iraqis, the newspaper's reporter has found that, for the first time in modern Iraqi history, a growing number of policemen have grown beards as a symbol of their identification with revolutionary Iran. Pilgrims are also known to have brought to Iraq hundreds of remote controls devices capable of activating explosives. [2]

Al-Sadr's Visit to Iran

The young Iraqi Shi'a revolutionary cleric and rabble rouser Muqtada Al-Sadr has visited Iran in 2004 as a guest of the Revolutionary Guard. During his visit, Al-Sadr met with Hashemi Rafsanjani, head of the Expediency Council, as well as the head of the revolutionary guard intelligence, Murtadha Radha'i, and the commander of the Al-Quds Army responsible for Iraqi affairs, Brig.-General Qassim Suleimani, and other government and religious leaders. [3]

Training Camps for Al-Sadr's Supporters

A source in the Al-Quds Army of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard revealed to the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat information relating to the construction of three camps and training centers on the Iranian-Iraqi borders to train elements of the "Mehdi Army" founded by Muqtada Al-Sadr. The source estimated that between 800 and 1200 young supporters of Al-Sadr have received military training including guerilla warfare, the production of bombs and explosives, the use of small arms, reconnoitering, and espionage. The three camps were located in Qasr Shireen, 'Ilam,and Hamid, bordering southern Iraq which is inhabited largely by Shi'a Muslims.

The newspaper also reported that the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad has distributed 400 satellite phones to supporters of Al-Sadr and to clerics and students at the A'thamiyya district of Baghdad, Al-Sadr City, and in Najaf, all of which are inhabited predominantly by Shi'a Muslims.

The Iranian source, known in Iraq as "Abu Hayder," confirmed that the intelligence service of the Revolutionary Guards has introduced to the Shi'a cities radio and TV broadcasting facilities which are used by Al-Sadr and his supporters. [4]

The source estimated the financial support to Al-Sadr in recent months have exceeded million, in addition to the cost of training, equipment, and clothing of his supporters.

The source indicated that elements of the Al-Quds Army and the Revolutionary Guard Intelligence lead many of the operations directed against the coalition forces. These elements are also leading a campaign against the senior Shi'a clerics such as the Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, Hussein Al-Sadr [Muqtada's uncle], Ayatollah Ishaq Al-Fayyadh, and others, because of their opposition to the concept of "the Rule of the Jurist" (Wilayat Al-Faqih), which is Khomeini's style of government. [5]

Iranian Intelligence Services in Iraq

An Iranian official known as Al-Haj Sa'idi, whowas previously in charge of the Iraqi desk in the Iranian intelligence services, spoke of a dense Iranian presence from the uppermost point in the north of Iraq to the lowest point. The Iranians can draw upon a large reservoir of potential agents from the Iraqi Shi'a but more so from the Iraqi-Iranian nationals who were expelled by Saddam Hussein to Iran and are now coming back to Iraq not only acting as agents but also representing a large reservoir of Shi'a voters who could tip the scale in favor of Al-Sadr in future elections in Iraq. These agents are suspected of assassinating the liberal Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir Al-Haqim, the former leader of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and a former member of the Iraqi governing council, and were about to assassinate Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, another moderate cleric, before their designs were exposed. [6]

Iranian Money to Support Secular Groups

The Iraqi daily Al-Zaman reported a secret investigation being carried out by the CPA and the Iraqi Governing Council on the flow of funds from Iran to secular groups. Meetings with such groups are also known to have taken place in various Gulf countries. While Iran has denied intervening in the internal affairs of Iraq, every available evidence suggests the contrary. [7]

In an article, Al-Zaman criticized Iran for allowing into Iraq members of Al-Qa'ida and of extremist Arab groups loyal to Tehran. It also criticized Iran's attempt to impose its control over the Iraqi Shi'a Islamic centers, and terrorize those who do not acquiesce. Further, the article referred to the smuggling of Iraqi oil, sheep and spare parts, and the destruction of the Iraqi economic infrastructure in the hands of organized Iranian gangs - criminal acts which, the paper argued could not have been carried out without explicit support of the Iranian authorities. The paper characterized Iranian policies as "nefarious and unfathomable." [8]

Hizbullah in Iraq

Another arm of Iran's intervention in Iraq is its proxy – Hizbullah.Accordingto the London daily Al-Hayat Iran sent 90 of its fighters to Iraq shortly after the fall of the Saddam regime. The presence of Hizbullah fighters in Iraq is meant to neutralize any attempt by the coalition forces to activate opposition to Iran from within Iraq. In the words of an Iraqi daily, Iran is telling Washington, "We can help but we can also cause harm." [9] In the meantime, seeking more controversy, Muqtada Al-Sadr announced that he was in alliance with Hizbullah, which has Iranian support, and with the Palestinian Hamas. This alliance was broadly criticized by the Iraqi press.

Pilgrims Inundating Holy Sites

With borders wide open and with no requirement for either a passport or a visa, 150 buses arrive daily in Karbala. The number of visitors was much larger during 'Ashura, when the Shi'a Muslims mourn the death of Hussein, Prophet Muhammad's grandson, or during other religious holidays. Al-Hayat wrote about "black spots" moving from one place to another preceded by someone carrying a flag as is common in tourist groups. The rotating chairman of the Iraqi Governing Council, Muhsin Abd Al-Hamid said Iraq has authorized the visit by 1000-2000, but in fact 10,000 Iranians cross the borders daily. [10]

However, the borders are, in essence, open in only one direction. The Iraqi daily Baghdad writes about the unhappiness of many Iraqis that Iranians can enter the country without passports – and, in some cases, can even bring in drugs which they exchange for fabrics and food. By contrast, an Iraqi citizen has to pay to obtain a visa to enter Iran. [11] According to Iraqi estimates 10 percent of the 5 million Iranian visitors have managed to register as Iraqis and are able to vote in future elections. [12]

Iranian Flags in Karbala

In a piece titled "Do Not be Surprised to See the Iranian Flags over Karbala," the front page editor of the Iraqi daily Al-Mashriq wrote that it is one thing for the Iranians to visit the holy sites or to organize exhibitions in Baghdad to distribute pictures of their religious symbols (referring perhaps to the photographs of Ayatallah Khomeini); it is altogether a different thing to raise the Iranian flags by the side of holy sites or for the Persian language to become the spoken language of the people of Karbala. The editor complained about Iranians who bring drugs or who smuggle Iraqi antiquities, heritage and food. For the newspaper, these events represent "a cultural invasion." [13]

Al-Sistani Issues a Fatwa Calling for Calm

The recent rebellion by Muqtada Al-Sadr and his threat to use his militia to rain "the fire of hell" upon any attempt by the coalition forces to enter Najaf and capture him, has been denounced by the Shi'a religious establishment in Najaf and Karbala. They have called upon Al-Sadr to take his forces out of these two cities to save their inhabitants "death, suffering, fire, and smoke." [14] More importantly, the senior Shi'a cleric, Grand Ayatollah Al-Sistani issued a fatwa forbidding anything that would lead to the disruption of peace. The fatwa reads: "In the name of the Almighty - We denounce the methods of the occupation forces in dealing with current incidents, as we denounce the violation on public and private properties and anything that disrupts the peace and prevents Iraqi officials from carrying out their duties in serving the people. We call for treating these matters with wisdom and through peaceful means and the avoidance of any escalating measure that leads to more chaos and bloodshed. It is incumbent on the political and social forces to participate actively to put an end to these tragedies and Allah is the Source of Success." [15]

Al-Sistani believes that in free elections in Iraq, the Shi'a will gain a majority which will lead them to head the post-occupation elected government, and he is not interested in rocking the boat. He sees in Al-Sadr not only a challenge to his authority but a disruptive element that could jeopardize the chances of the Shi'a to reach their goal. It is not surprising that he has refused to meet with Al-Sadr despite the latter's many appeals.

Similarly, it was reported from the city of Qum, the Shi'a religious center in Iran, that Ayatollah Kadhem Hussein Al-Ha'iri, who is considered Muqtada Al-Sadr's spiritual father, has expressed his displeasure with Al-Sadr's conduct and for failing to coordinate with Al-Ha'iri's office in Najaf. [16] In addition, religious and tribal leaders in the Najaf area have denounced the heavy-handed tactics used by the Al-Mehdi Army to impose its will on the local inhabitants. [17]

It is too early to tell how the rebellion led by Al-Sadr will end. It is clear that if the sovereignty of Iraq is to be transferred on June 30 the militias will have to cease to exist. Failing to do so will raise the danger that the various ethnic groups and sub-groups might resort to the use of force to attain their goals. The Iranians could help for a price but the CPA is on record against any Iranian involvement in the affairs of Iraq. [18] Hence, other means for removing Al-Sadr and his militia from two holy Shi'a cities of Najaf and Karbala may be inevitable.

* Nimrod Raphaeli is a Senior Analyst at MEMRI.

[1] Al-Siyassah (Kuwait), April 10, 2004.
[2] Al-Nahdha (Iraq), February 17, 2004.
[3] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), October 8, 2003.
[4] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 9, 2004.
[5] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 9, 2004.
[6] Al-Furat (Baghdad), April 4, 2004.
[7] Al-Zaman (Iraq), April 17, 2004.
[8] Al-Zaman (Iraq), November 11, 2003.
[9] Al-Hayat (London), November 25, 2003.
[10] Al-Sabah (Iraq), February 23, 2004.
[11] Baghdad (Iraq), February 23, 2004.
[12] Al-Zaman (Iraq), April 14, 2004.
[13] Al-Mashreq (Iraq) February 17, 2004.
[14] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 28, 2004.
[15] Al-Ittihad (Baghdad), April 12, 2004.
[16] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 30, 2004.
[17] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 30, 2004.
[18] See the interview with Ambassador Bremer on Al-Jazeera TV, April 26, 2004.
10 posted on 05/04/2004 9:10:19 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Reporters Without Borders: Anual Report on Iran

May 04, 2004
Reporters Without Borders

The regime stepped up its campaign against the press in 2003 with the arrest of 43 journalists. A Canadian-Iranian photojournalist, Zahra Kazemi, was also murdered and the investigation of her death became part of the power struggle between reformists and hardliners in the regime.

Iran remains in a dramatic and paradoxical press freedom situation. It is the biggest prison for journalists in the Middle East, with harsh censorship but also a prolific and vigorous written press that is clearly helping the growth of civil society. This press mirrors the split between the regime's reformists and hardliners, who are part of a unique regime headed by the hardline Supreme Guide of the Republic, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and a reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, who does not have much power.

The hardline press, inspired by Islamic revolution and backing Khamenei, coexists with the reformist newspapers, which emerged in 1997 after President Khatami was elected. There is no opposition media in the traditional sense but genuine debate goes on between the two sides.

All written material is closely monitored, especially by the Supreme National Security Council (chaired by Khatami but controlled by the hardliners) which each week sends all newspapers a list of banned subjects, such as (in 2003) the 1999 student demonstrations, resumption of talks with the United States, the murder of photojournalist Zahra Kazemi and anything about nuclear weapons agreements. But reporting what Iranian politicians say about these topics is sometimes possible. However, any discussion of them is strictly forbidden. Many papers, including hardline ones, have been suspended by the Council.

The bane of the reformist press is Judge Said Mortazavi, who is under the orders of the all-powerful head of the judiciary, Abbas Ali Alizadeh, who has been assigned by the Supreme Guide to get stamp out press freedom. Mortazavi was named chief prosecutor of Teheran on 20 May 2003 after long being head of court no.1410, known as "the press court" and notorious for its suspension of dozens of newspapers since April 2000.

In 2003, he suspended many papers and also imprisoned journalists, who were often tried in secret and held for months in solitary confinement, as the head of a visiting UN working party, Louis Joinet, and the UN Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Ambeyi Ligabo, both noted. Journalists called for Mortazavi's dismissal on 8 August.

In February, supreme court judge Ayatollah Mohammad Sadegh al-Essehagh ruled that the law used since 2000 to shut down nearly 100 newspapers was illegal. As well as being harassed by the judiciary, the press was targeted by the intelligence ministry, which summoned more than 30 journalists for questioning during the year. Some journalists were very often only freed from jail conditionally, were subject to heavy pressure and threatened with reimprisonment to complete the rest of their sentence.

Tension increased with the death on 10 July of Canadian-Iranian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, who had been jailed in Teheran's Evin prison after being arrested for taking pictures of prisoners' families outside the notorious jail. The case, which the authorities first tried to cover up, showed the world how the justice system operates in Iran and revealed the conditions of detention of political prisoners.

The investigation, entrusted to the criminal branch of Mortazavi's office, also showed the fierce hostility between the reformists and hardliners. An intelligence ministry agent was accused of murdering her by the justice ministry in a bid to absolve Mortazavi, who was strongly suspected of involvement in the killing. Impunity seems likely to win the day once again, as in the case of a number of journalists and intellectuals murdered in 1998.

A journalist killed

Canadian-Iranian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi was arrested on 23 June 2003 as she was taking pictures of prisoners' families outside the Evin prison north of Teheran. She was beaten in detention, fell into a coma and on 27 June was taken to the city's Baghiatollah Hospital, where she died, officially on 10 July. After trying to cover up the cause of death, the authorities, in the person of Vice-President Ali Abtahi, admitted on 16 July that she had been "beaten."

Her body was hastily buried on 22 July in the southern town of Shiraz, despite her mother, who lives in Iran, asking for the body to be sent to Canada. She admitted on 30 July being pressured to allow burial in Iran. Canada has insisted the body be handed over to Kazemi's Canadian son Stephan, as he has requested.

Some members of parliament accused judiciary of being responsible for Kazemi's death. The culture and Islamic guidance ministry's foreign press chief, Mohammad Hussein Khoshvaght, admitted in a letter in the media on 24 July that Teheran prosecutor Said Mortazavi had forced him to say she had died of a brain haemorrhage. Mortazavi reportedly accused him of issuing a press visa to Kazemi, who he said was a spy.

Reformist MP Mohsen Armin said Mortazavi "ordered a story to be told that she had died of a brain haemorrhage and asked her family to bury her quickly." He said she had told police who interrogated her that she had been hit on the head. Vice-President Abtahi spoke on 30 July of a "murder." The judiciary spokesman, Gholamhossein Elham, admitted on 11 August she had died after being hit on the head but said individuals, not institutions, were to blame. However, torture does not seem rare in Iranian prisons.

The criminal branch of Mortazavi's office, headed by investigating judge Javad Esmaeli, presented its report on 22 September, clearing all state institutions of blame for Kazemi's death and accusing an unnamed intelligence ministry agent who had interrogated her. The agent was charged with "semi-intentional" murder, implying that he hit Kazemi without intending to kill her.

The intelligence ministry, controlled by the reformists, vehemently denied one of its people was involved and threatened to reveal evidence implicating Mortazavi's office. The power struggled between reformists and hardliners is blocking efforts to get at the truth and makes more necessary than ever an independent and impartial enquiry including international experts, as Canada has demanded. In October, lawyer Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner, agreed to represent Kazemi's mother.

New information about journalists killed before 2003

The murder in late 1998 of a group of intellectuals and regime opponents - among them Daryush and Parvaneh Foroohar, symbolic figures of the liberal opposition, Majid Sharif, a columnist with the monthly Iran-e Farda, and writers and journalists Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad Jafar Pouyandeh - deeply shocked Iranians and outraged much of the reformist media. The authorities reacted by opening an investigation and in January 1999 the intelligence ministry officially admitted some its agents had been involved and announced the arrest of dozens of suspects.

Pirooz Davani, editor of the newspaper Pirooz who disappeared in late August 1998 and whose body was never found, was also among the victims. In January 2001, three intelligence ministry agents were sentenced to death and 12 others to prison terms for murdering the Foroohar couple. Three other people were acquitted. The supreme court confirmed the sentences in late January 2003. The victims' families complained that those who ordered the killings were still free and, after a rally of 5,000 people in late November to mark the killings, they formally asked the UN Human Rights Commission to investigate.

Three journalists physically attacked

Hassan Raghifar, of the regional weekly Asan, was kidnapped by four strangers on 16 August 2003, interrogated about his work, tortured for two hours and then freed. The paper had printed articles about the arrest of journalists.

Several journalists, including Negareh Babakhani of the daily Hambastegi, were beaten by police and civilian activists during student demonstrations in June.
Freelance journalist Peyman Pakmehr, was attacked and kidnapped on 2 July by four Islamist militiamen after he had sent a story to a foreign-based Iranian radio station. He returned home two days later.

43 journalists imprisoned

Akbar Ganji, of the daily Sobh-e Emrooz, was arrested on 22 April 2000 after appearing before the press court. He was accused of revealing details of the murder of intellectuals and regime opponents in late 1998 and of writing articles supporting dissident cleric Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, under house arrest since 1989.

He was also accused of taking part in a Berlin conference, held in April 2000 to discuss reforms in Iran, that was considered anti-Islamic by the authorities. At one hearing, he said he had been tortured in prison. He was sentenced to 10 years in jail on 13 January 2001. In May that year it was reduced on appeal to six months, but on 15 July, the supreme court cancelled the reduction because of supposed technical errors and imposed a six-year jail sentence. Until 2003, Ganji was allowed out of prison several times for a few days after posting high sums as bail. In July 2003, his family voiced concern about his health and said he had been refused medical care. He was hospitalised in Teheran in late November and released on medical grounds on 23 December.

Hassan Yussefi Eshkevari, a theologian and contributor to the monthly Iran-e Farda, was arrested on 5 August 2000 and sent to Teheran's Evin prison after his home had been searched. He had gone to Europe in April to attend the Berlin conference and get treatment for his diabetes.

At his trial, held in secret before the special religious court from 7 to 15 October that year, he was accused of undermining national security, defaming the authorities, undermining the reputation of the clergy and of being a "mohareb" ("fighter against God"). On 12 October 2002, he was called before the court and told he had been sentenced to seven years in prison - four years for saying that wearing the veil and other Islamic dress codes for women had cultural and historic roots in Iran and were not a necessity for Islam, one year for attending the Berlin conference and two years for "spreading false news."

Behrooz Gheranpayeh, head of the National Institute of Public Opinion and a journalist with the now-closed daily paper Nowrooz, was arrested on 16 October 2002 and sent to Evin prison, accused of spying and collaborating with the Mujahideen exiled armed opposition. He was freed on 16 January 2003 on bail of 1.3 billion rials (130,000 euros).

Hossein Ghazian, a director of the Ayandeh public opinion institute and a journalist with Nowrooz, was arrested on 31 October 2002 and sent to Evin prison.

Abbas Abdi, another Ayandeh director, ex-editor of the daily Salam and former staff member of many reformist newspapers, was arrested at his home on 4 November 2002. Press court Judge Said Mortazavi accused Ayandeh of receiving money from the US polling firm Gallup "or from a foreign embassy."

Gheranpayeh, Gazian and Abdi were each sentenced at a secret trial on 6 January 2003 to four years in prison for "passing information to enemy countries," and six months for "making propaganda against the Islamic regime." Associates said they feared their supposed confessions meant they had been submitted to very strong psychological pressure. The sentences were confirmed on appeal in mid-April.

Alireza Eshraghi, Hamid Ghazvini and Rahman Ahmadi, of the daily Hayat-e Now, were arrested on 12 January 2003 after the paper four days earlier printed a 1937 US newspaper cartoon about the pressure exerted by then-President Franklin Roosevelt on the US Supreme Court, represented by a bearded, black-robed old man resembling the Islamic regime's founder, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. It was printed alongside an interview with a social science professor about "social collapse" in Iran. The paper was closed the day before they were arrested. Ghazvini was freed after a few hours, Rahman on 13 January and Eshraghi on 9 March.

Mohsen Sazgara, one of the founders of the reformist press and editor of the Internet website was arrested at his home on 18 February by plainclothes police, his home and office searched and many documents seized. The previous week, he had posted on the website a call for constitutional reform and said the Iranian people had been taken hostage by the Council of Guardians, which is controlled by the hardliners, its members named by the Supreme Guide, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and which oversees elections and checks all legislation to ensure it complies with Islamic law.

He wrote that the past five years had shown the religious regime could not be reformed or be efficient and he called Khamenei a dictator. He was freed on 22 February and on 3 June banned from leaving the country. On 2 June he was summoned to the intelligence ministry, where he was told a recent law approved by the Supreme National Security Council had banned some people from speaking to foreign-based Persian-language media. The exit ban may have been punishment for his talking on foreign radio stations.

He was arrested again on 15 June during student demonstrations. His family posted bail of six billion rials (600,000 euros at the official rate) but he was not released. He has staged two hunger-strikes in prison, of 56 and 23 days, despite serious heart problems. He was charged by the Teheran revolutionary court with undermining national security and "insulting the Supreme Guide" and sentenced to a year in prison on 27 September at a secret trial. He was freed on 6 October.

Kambiz Kaveh, of the film magazines Sinema-ye Jahan, Majaleh-ye Film, Donia-ye Tasvir and Sinema-e Now, and Said Mostaghasi, of the weekly Haftehnameh-ye Sinema, were arrested at their homes on 26 February, taken away and the houses searched. They were freed on 10 April.

Mohammad Abdi, editor of the monthly Honar-e Haftom, and Amir Ezati, of the monthly Mahnameh-ye Film, were arrested on 28 February. Abdi was freed on 14 April and Amir Ezati, accused of translating and distributing in Iran Salman Rushdie's book "Satanic Verses," on 30 June. Ezati had spent 60 days in solitary confinement.

Film music critic Yasamin Soufi was arrested on 1 March and taken to an unknown place when she answered a summons by the Teheran police's Adareh Amaken section, which deals with "moral" offences and is close to the intelligence ministry. She was freed on 4 March, arrested again on 17 March and freed on 20 March.

Ali-Reza Jabari, a translator and freelance contributor to several independent newspapers, including Adineh, was arrested on 17 March and sentenced on 19 April to four years in prison, 253 lashes and a fine of six million rials (600 euros) for "consuming and distributing alcoholic drinks" and for "adultery and incitement to immoral acts." Such charges are routine against non-religious people. On 17 June, the sentence was reduced on appeal to three years. In fact, he was being punished for belonging to the Writers' Association and sending material to foreign-based news websites, especially articles defending a jailed lawyer, Nasser Zarafshan.

Behzad Khorshidi, editor of the monthly Piramoon, was arrested on 29 March and taken to a secret place after being summoned by Adareh Amaken and accused of criticising the regime's cultural policies and having links with journalist Siamak Pourzand. He was released on 13 May. He had earlier been arrested on 17 March in the same circumstances and freed a few days later.

Siamak Pourzand, often heard on US-based opposition radio stations, was arrested on 30 March and taken to Evin prison. He had been conditionally freed from jail in early December 2002, a device sometimes used by the judiciary in response to international pressure. A journalist thus freed has no official document certifying release and can be rearrested and jailed at any time.

Pourzand, also head of a Teheran cultural centre, had been arrested on 24 November 2001 and sentenced to eight years in prison in May 2002 for "undermining state security" and "having links with monarchists and counter-revolutionaries." The court said it had taken into account his confession of guilt. He had admitted all the charges and said he did not have to defend himself. His family said they were worried that psychological pressure while in prison had forced him to confess. The Teheran appeal court upheld the sentence in May 2002.

Ahmad Zeid-Abadi, of the daily Hamshahri, appeared in court on 13 April and was sent to Evin prison. He had been sentenced on appeal on 10 March to eight months in jail for "anti-regime propaganda" and five for "publishing false news." He was also banned for five years from "public and social activity," including journalism. He was freed on 6 October.

Sina Motallebi, of the reformist daily Hayat-e Now and editor of the website, was arrested on 20 April after being summoned the previous day by Adareh Amaken, the latest of a series of summonses. After the paper was closed in January, he had revived the website and used it to defend one of the paper's journalists, Alireza Eshraghi, who had been arrested on 11 January. The website had angered some legal officials and also reformists, who he criticised for their silence about the arrests of journalists. He was accused of "undermining national security by cultural activity." He was freed on 12 May.

Taghi Rahmani, of the weekly Omid-e Zangan, Hoda Saber, of Iran-e farda, and Reza Alijani, Iran-e farda's editor and winner of the Reporters Without Borders - Fondation de France Prize in 2001, who had been given heavy jail sentences in May but not arrested, were detained on 14 June and accused of having secret meetings with students who had staged anti-regime demonstrations that month. They were arrested on the orders of Judge Mortazavi.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Elham said on 15 October that three journalists "were serving a prison sentence" but did not say why, or where and when they were tried. They were reportedly tried in secret on 15 September and kept in solitary confinement until 30 October. In May, the Teheran revolutionary court had sentenced Rahmani to 11 years in jail, Alijani to six and Saber to 10. All three were stripped of political rights for 10 years.

Amin Bozorgian, editor of the daily Golestan-e Iran, was arrested on 15 June and accused of inciting students to revolt. He was freed a month later.

Ali Akrami, of the suspended reformist daily Nedat Eslahat, was arrested on 16 June and released on 9 July.
Ensafali Hedayat, of the daily Salam, was reporting on a demonstration at Tabriz University (northern Iran) on 16 June when he arrested by strangers who accused him of inciting students to revolt. He was freed on 14 July after three weeks in solitary confinement.

Freelance journalist Amir Teirani and Mohamed Reza Bouzeri, of the daily Golestan-e Iran, were arrested on 16 and 18 June respectively for allegedly inciting students to demonstrate. Bouzeri was freed on 20 July. Teirani, who was kept in solitary confinement and under strong psychological pressure to force him to confess to having secret documents, was released on 15 September.

Iraj Jamshidi, editor of the financial daily Asia, and his wife Saghi Baghernia, the paper's managing editor, were arrested on 6 July for "anti-regime propaganda." The day before, the paper had printed a picture of Maryam Rajavi (wife of Massud Rajavi, the well-known leader of the People's Mujahideen group), who was arrested in France on 17 June. Baghernia was freed on 7 July and the paper suspended.

Esmail Jamshidi, of the monthly Gardon and brother of Iraj Jamshidi, was arrested without explanation on 7 July. He was freed on 31 August.

Hossein Bastani, Vahid Pourostad and Said Razavi Faghi, of the reformist daily Yas-e no, and Shahram Mohamadi-Nia, editor of the weekly Vaght, were summoned on 11 and 12 July by Teheran prosecutor Said Mortazavi and imprisoned. Yas-e no had reported on 10 July that the intelligence ministry had ordered it not to run a series of articles about demonstrations on 9 July. Bastani and Pourostad were released on 20 July and Faghi was freed on bail on 25 September after spending nearly 80 days in solitary confinement. Mohamadi-Nia, who was accused of printing an "unsuitable" photo and article, was freed on 16 July.
Iraj Rasteghar, editor of the suspended weekly Tavana, was arrested on 12 July as part of legal proceedings against the paper. He was freed on bail on 16 July.

Freelance journalist Arash Salehi was arrested the same day in the street in Teheran and released a month later.
Hossein Farrokhi, editor of the monthly Sinema-Teatre, was arrested on 15 July and accused of printing pictures of women that did not conform to the Islamic republic's dress code. He was freed on bail on 17 July.

Abolgasem Golbaf, editor of the monthly Gozaresh, was arrested on 20 July for "anti-regime propaganda" and "publishing false news." He was released on 9 October on bail of 400 million rials (40,000 euros).

Arash Noporshian (cartoonist) and Mohammad-Amin Golbaf and Nader Karimi (journalists), of the monthly Gozaresh, were arrested on 26 July after failing to pay money to the judiciary for unknown reasons. They were freed on 3 August.

Ali Reza Ahmadi, of the financial daily Asia, was summoned and jailed on 28 July in Evin prison, where he was put in solitary confinement.

Behzad Zarinpour, editor of Asia, was summoned by a Teheran court on 7 September and a few hours later plainclothes agents searched his home. His family had no news of him for a week until on 13 September officials announced he was in jail. He was freed on 5 October.

Three journalists imprisoned before 2003 were freed

Emadoldin Baghi, of the daily Fath, was freed on 6 February 2003. He had been arrested on 29 May 2000 after a hearing before the press court. On 17 July that year he was sentenced to five years in prison for "undermining national security" and "spreading false news" in a September 1999 editorial in the daily paper Neshat in which he advocated a modern approach by Islam to the death penalty. The Revolutionary Guards (Pasdaran) and former intelligence minister Ali Fallahian had filed complaints against him. His sentence was cut to three years by an appeal court on 23 October 2000. In early June 2003, he was summoned by a Teheran court and told he could not leave the country.

Bijan Safsari, editor of the daily Seda-ye Edalat and owner of the daily Azad, was freed on 28 May 2003 after being arrested in late November 2002. Azad had been suspended in July 2002 and Safsari accused by the press court of continuing to work as a journalist on Seda-ye Edalat after Azad was suspended. He was stripped of his civil rights.

Behrooz Gheranpayeh, head of the National Institute of Public Opinion and a journalist with the now-closed daily paper Nowrooz, was freed on 16 January 2003 on bail of 1.3 billion rials (130,000 euros). He had been arrested on 16 October 2002 and sent to Evin prison, accused of spying and collaborating with the Mujahideen exiled armed opposition.

A cyber-dissident imprisoned

Javad Tavaf, a student leader and the editor of the popular news website Rangin Kaman, which for a year had been criticising the Guide of the Islamic Revolution, was arrested at his home on 16 January 2003 by people who said they were from the military judiciary, which later denied it had arrested him. He was freed two days later.

Three journalists arrested

Issa Saharkhiz, editor of the monthly Aftab, was arrested on 15 July 2003 and freed on bail two days later. He was rearrested on 27 July and then freed the next day after being questioned about corruption. He was summoned again on 26 August by the Teheran prosecutor's office and questioned about statements supposedly made by Iraj Jamshidi, editor of Asia, who had been arrested in early July. The hardline paper Resalat accused Saharkhiz of corruption on 25 August.

Mohsen Mandegari, political editor of the hardline daily Entekhab, was summoned by the Teheran revolutionary court on 7 October and imprisoned until the next day. Editor Mohammad Mehdi Faghihi was summoned at the same time but only held for a few hours. They were arrested after publishing an article about the importance to the regime of signing an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Harassment and obstruction

The reformist daily Bahar was suspended on 11 January 2003 by the Teheran press court a few days after reporting shady stock exchange dealings by the firm Al-Zahra, three of whose shareholders are prominent politicians - former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, former judiciary chief Ayatollah Yazdi and Ahmad Janati, head of the council of the Revolutionary Guards. The paper had been suspended on 8 August 2000 and did not reappear until December 2002.

Hamid Ghazvini, Hossin Moslem and Ahmad Shams, of the daily Hayat-e Now, were summoned for the third time by the religious court on 16 January and interrogated, as earlier, for nearly seven hours. Two other staff members, Mohsen Mosahafi and Sayah Rezai, were also summoned and lengthily interrogated.

Akram Didari, of the daily Hamshahri, was summoned on 19 January by the religious court and questioned about his writings.

The daily Hamshahri was suspended on 23 January for 10 days for refusing to print a right-of-response article by Ali-Reza Mahjoub, secretary-general of the government controlled Workers' Club trade union. The paper is a favourite target and distribution had already been banned outside the capital on the pretext that it was a Teheran paper. It reappeared five days later.

Film press journalists Sepideh Abroaviz, Narges Vishkai, Assal Samari, Yasamin Soufi and Mehrnaz Teherani were interrogated at the end of February by Adareh Amaken and accused of "criticising the regime's cultural policy" and "having contacts with" journalist Siamak Pourzand. The head of Teheran's security forces also said he found "immoral CDs" in their homes.

Narges Mohammadi, of the weekly Peyam-e Hajar, was given a one-year suspended prison sentence on 9 March for giving interviews to the media while her husband, Taghi Rahmani, of the weekly Omid-e-Zangan, was in prison. She had been summoned on 4 November 2002 by the revolutionary court for "disturbing the peace. She is reportedly under new legal investigation.

Shaghaiegh Abolfazeli, of the monthly Sinema-ye Jahan, was arrested on 7 April for unknown reasons and freed a few hours later. She said she had been roughed up and insulted.

Masomeh Alinejad, of the daily Hambastegi, Mohammad Naimpour, editor of the daily Yas-e no, Reza Monsaref, editor of the fortnightly Ava-ye Maku, the editor of the daily Tosseh, editor Mohammed Mirdamadi of the daily Nowrouz, and Mohsen Sazgara, editor of the news website Alliran, were summoned by the press court in mid-April.

Eleven journalists, including many from the film press, were summoned in May by Adareh Amaken and accused of possessing and selling "immoral" videos. They were Golamreza Moussavi, editor of the monthly Sinema-ye Jahan, Ali Moalem, editor of the monthly Donya-ye Tasvir, Feridon Jerani, editor of the weekly Sinema, Payam Fazlinejad, of the monthly Gozaresh-e Film, Mohammad Hadi Karimi, editor de Sinema, Alireza Bazel, journalist and translator with the daily Hayat-e Now, Houshang Golmakani, of the monthly Film, Nushabeh Amiri (editor) and Houshang Asadi (journalist) of Gozaresh-e Film, film critic Khosrow Dehghan, president of the Writers' Association, and Ibrahim Nabavi, a contributor to several reformist papers.

The Supreme National Security Council, headed by President Mohammad Khatami, banned the press at the end of May from publishing a letter sent by more than 100 reformist MPs to the Supreme Guide demanding reforms and warning that the regime would be in danger if he continued to block them.

They said most Iranians were unhappy or disappointed, most educated people remained silent or left the country, as had most of its financial reserves, and that the country was entirely surrounded by foreign forces.

No Iranian newspaper printed the letter, which was made public on 24 May, and it could only be read for a few hours on the reformist website Rouydad and the site of the student news agency ISNA before it was taken down. It can now only be read on foreign-based Persian-language sites.

The daily Kayhan, the main Islamist organ, did not appear on newsstands on 10 June, a few days after new Teheran prosecutor Said Mortazavi ordered it suspended for a day for calling members of the reformist-majority parliament "swine." The Kayhan group, which puts out dozens of hardline publications, is controlled by the Supreme Guide and is close to the secret police.

The Supreme National Security Council banned the press on 12 June from the Teheran University campus, where new demonstrations were taking place. Several journalists from the ILNA and ISNA news agencies, including ISNA director Abolfazl Fateh, were beaten, and some had their cameras seized and were detained for a few hours. The cameras were not returned. The press had been able to report on the protests fairly easily until then.

Dozens of satellite receiver dishes were seized in Teheran in early July, especially in neighbourhoods where there had been unrest. During the 10-20 June demonstrations, US-based Persian-language satellite TV stations (most controlled by monarchists) had urged people to take to the streets. The regime wanted to block new protests on 9 July, the anniversary of the brutally-crushed student protests in 1999. Selling and possessing dishes is officially forbidden but the authorities say there are several :million in the country. The regime jams Persian-language and other foreign-based TV stations.

Between mid-July and mid-August, Reporters Without Borders recorded more than 50 cases of journalists being summoned by legal officials.

Javad Alizadeh, cartoonist on the monthly Tanz, was summoned on 13 July by the Teheran prosecutor's office.
Mortaza Lotfi, of the daily Kar va Karegar, was summoned by a Teheran court on 27 July to answer 17 formal complaints.

Mostafa Karazi, managing editor of the daily Sada-ye Edalat, was summoned on 28 July and charged on the basis of a complaint by the Teheran prosecutor.
Mahnaz Hovida, editor of the regional weekly Raizan Javan, was summoned on 30 July by Teheran prosecutor Said Mortazavi.

Ahmad Nabavi, managing editor of the weekly Nada-ye Eslahat, was banned from working as a journalist for three years by a court in Arak on 3 August and fined 7 million rials (700 euros). Editor Ma'soud Moradi Bastani was given a suspended six-month jail sentence, a five-year ban on working as a journalist, a fine of a million rials (100 euros) and six lashes. One of the paper's journalists, Moharam Berati, was similarly banned for three years and fined 80,000 rials (eight euros). All three were accused of libel and "publishing lies."

The weekly Nahmeh-ye Ghazvin was banned on 9 August for "encouraging depravation and publication of lies." Its first issue had also been banned and editor Ali Shahrouzi accused of "damaging the reputation of political and religious figures and undermining official organisations."
The same day, four people were each given a year's suspended prison sentence for publishing two books about women. They were Banafsheh Samghis, who reported the books in the press, their publisher and the two women authors.

Abdollah Nasseri, head of the national news agency IRNA, was summoned by a Teheran court on 12 August for publishing a speech by Teheran MP Mohsen Armin about the murder of photo-journalist Zahra Kazemi.

Ali Reza Alavitabar, who helps run the website Emrouz, was summoned by a Teheran court on 13 August.

Mostafa Kovakabian, managing editor of the reformist daily Mardomsalari, was summoned and charged on 17 August on three counts concerning articles about the Kazemi murder and about Hossein Khomeini, grandson of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini..

Gholi Shikhi, managing editor of the reformist daily Tosseh, was summoned four times by a Teheran court on 18 August for four different matters.

The same day, Mostafa Nassehi, editor of the suspended weekly Tabarestan, was summoned and convicted by a Teheran court for "anti-regime propaganda, insulting regime officials and publishing false news" after the paper reported on flaws in the legal system and on torture in prison.

Amir Reza Nourizadeh, who writes for the newspapers Mosigi Magam and Sinema-ye Jahan, was ordered from 22 August to report daily to the police. The same day, Mohammad Javad Roh, of Yas-e no, was summoned and then freed on bail.

Mohammad Naimpour, managing editor of the daily Yas-e no, was summoned by the Teheran prosecutor's office on 27 August to answer 25 complaints filed by the Revolutionary Guards, the prison administration and the Teheran prosecutor for libelling the authorities, undermining national security and publishing anti-regime propaganda. He was freed on bail of 700 million rials (70,000 euros).

Mohammad Javad Roh, of the daily Yas-e no, was summoned and interrogated by the Teheran revolutionary court on 28 August for "insulting the regime" and "publishing false news." He was freed the same day on bail of 100 million rials (10,000 euros) pending trial.

Several journalists, including Amir Reza Nourizadeh, of the monthlies Musighi-ye Magham and Sinema-ye Jahan, were summoned by Adareh Amaken at the end of August.

Mostafa Sabti, editor of the weekly Gorgan Emrouz, was sentenced by a court in the northern town of Gorgan on 1 September to 91 days in prison for publishing "lies that disturb the peace" and libelling the authorities, plus a further four months suspended for three years. He remained free pending his appeal.

Lotfollah Missami, editor of the monthly Cheshmeh Andaz-e Iran, was summoned by a Teheran court on 6 September for publishing "lies that disturb the peace" and for libel. He was released on bail of one billion rials (100,000 euros).

Eskandar Deldam, of the suspended weekly Tabarestan, was summoned and detained by the Teheran prosecutor's office on 21 September after an article poking fun at the state radio and TV, which is directly controlled by the Supreme Guide. He was freed the same day.

Keyvan Zargari, cartoonist for the daily Yas-e no, was summoned on 27 September and freed the same day on bail.

Fariba Davoudi Mohajer, a contributor to the reformist press, was given a three-year suspended prison sentence on 28 September by the Teheran revolutionary court for subversion and anti-regime propaganda for her writings and because she had signed a petition calling for the release of political prisoners.

The managing editors of the reformist dailies Yas-e no, Sharq, Hambastegi and Baharaneh were summoned by a Teheran court between 1 and 7 October on the basis of complaints by prosecutor Said Mortazavi.

The weekly Avay-e Kordestan was banned in mid-October by a revolutionary court in the Kurdish province of Sanandaj.
Mohammad Naimpour, managing editor of the daily Yas-e no, was summoned by a Teheran court on 18 October.

The same day, Elias Hazrti, managing editor of the daily E'temad, was summoned by a Teheran court for "undermining national unity."

Gholam Reza Sadeghian, of the daily Kayhan, was summoned by a Teheran court on 23 October for libel and "publishing lies." He was freed on bail the same day after interrogation. He had written an article about trafficking in used medical supplies that had infected 80 people.

Manuchehr Tavakoli, editor of the monthly Niki, was convicted by the Teheran revolutionary court on 29 October of publishing "immoral" articles and photos.

Issa Sahakhiz, editor of the monthly Aftab, was summoned by a Teheran court on 5 November for an article allegedly insulting the late Ayatollah Khomeini. It was based on a translation of an article in an Israeli paper about the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Majid Ghassemi Fizabadi, managing editor of the daily Nassim-e Sabah, was convicted by a Teheran court on 10 November of libel and "publishing lies disturbing the peace" by printing a report on the Zahra Kazemi murder by parliament's Article 90 Commission.

The weekly Aban was suspended by the press supervisory commission on 18 November for "irregular publication." The paper was one of 20 suspended in 2000 in a crackdown on the reformist press. It was allowed to reappear in 2001. Its most recent issue had contained two articles about the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize, which went to Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi.
11 posted on 05/04/2004 9:11:37 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
Reporters Without Borders: Anual Report on Iran

May 04, 2004
Reporters Without Borders
12 posted on 05/04/2004 9:12:08 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Posted Tuesday, May 4, 2004

BRUSSELS, 4 May. (IPS) Failing to warm up the European Union to improving trade relations with the Islamic Republic by re-activating stalled talks on Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Kamal Kharrazi on Tuesday urged the expanded EU to “take initiative to change US policies in the Middle East and stop US human rights abuses in Iraq”.

The E.U. froze the talks aimed at improving investment conditions for European companies last June after evidence emerged that Iran had brought nuclear weapons and enriched uranium, breaking an international nonproliferation treaty.

“In public, Prodi, Patten and Kharrazi were all smiles, but behind closed doors the E.U. team expressed growing concern about Tehran's faltering commitment to allow international inspectors to make unannounced visits at all its nuclear installations. Kharrazi's explanation of Iran's efforts to comply with International Atomic Energy Agency "disappointed", correspondents quoted un-named E.U. official as having said.

"We want a clear message," said Emma Udwin, an E.U. spokeswoman.

Mr. Kharrazi said his current tour of Europe and to the EU and other European nations is to discuss with European authorities the upcoming IAEA report on Iran and about the initiative taken by the three EU states, Germany, France and the UK, to work with Tehran on the issue of Iran’s nuclear technology.

He was referring to an agreement signed last October in Tehran between the foreign affairs ministers of Britain, France and Germany and hojjatoleslam Hasan Rohani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme Council on National Security and until recently, the regime’s senior interlocutor to the Veianna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

However, to the surprise and dismay of the international nuclear watchdog, it was discovered that not only the Islamic Republic had not respected its signature, but had continued enriching uranium with more advanced centrifuges.

In its last meeting, the IAEA Board of Directors warned Iran that if it fails to convince the international community about the peaceful nature of its atomic activities, the case would be transferred to the United Nations Security Council for taking hard economic actions.

During the first lap of his European tour, Kharrazi was bluntly warned by France and the European Union to respect engagements it had signed last week with foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany promising to suspend uranium enriching activities and sign the additional Protocols to the Non Proliferation Treaty, promises that Tehran did not carry out, continuing enriching uranium using more advanced technologies.

He scraped Germany from his agenda because of a row over the installation of a plaque in Berlin’s Charlottenbourg district commemorating the murder, in 1992, of four Iranian Kurdish leaders by Lebanese and Iranian gunmen in an operation masterminded by Iranian ruling ayatollahs.

“I briefed them about our expectations. I stressed that the project does not belong to Iran only, but is trilateral project, between IAEA, Iran and EU. Success in this project is success of all parties, failure in this project is a failure of all parties and therefore all parties have to work together to come up with a solution
in upcoming board of IAEA governors meeting in June”, Mr. Kharrazi said according to IRNA.

On EU-Iran dialogue, Kharrazi explained that Tehran does not accept “any preconditions on cooperation with Brussels”.

“EU officials say that Iran is a very important country and a major player in the region. If the EU is interested to have Iranian cooperation in different matters, certainly this has to be reciprocal. Iran needs the EU, EU needs Iran”, he went on, adding: “We are ready if the other side is ready to establish solid ties with the EU, comprehensive economic and political cooperation and regional and international cooperation”.

However, EU sources speaking on condition of anonymity said “closer cooperation with Iran is conditional to the betterment of the human rights conditions and, of course, Iran’s clarity on its nuclear projects”.

IAEA Chief Mohammad ElBarade’i visited Tehran three weeks ago and hammered out an agreement for Iran to adhere to a timetable to answer outstanding questions about its nuclear activities, the official Iranian news agency IRNA said.

Tehran’s “cat and mouse” attitude with the IAEA and the recent discovery of more uranium enriching equipments in a military base near Tehran brought the EU’s three Big closer to the positions of the United States and Israel insisting that Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons, thus seeking a tougher stance against the Islamic Republic, including sanctions imposed by the United Nation’s Security Council.

For its part, Iran says all its nuclear projects are for civilian use and repeats that it has no plan to develop atomic bomb, acclaim that few really believes.

It also accuses Britain, France and Germany of breach of agreement, offering Iran access to advanced nuclear technologies for civilian purposes provided the IAEA cleared the country of running a secret weapons programme.

Accusing the United States of “systematic tortures and ill treatment” on Iraqi prisoners, Mr. Kharazi, in his second round of visit to European capitals said, “I hope the EU which is celebrating the enlargement will take initiative to put pressure on Americans to change their policies towards the Middle East”, the official Iranian news agency IRNA reported from Brussels.

“If the EU is advocating to promote human rights, human dignity necessitates everyone to act”, the Iranian Minister stressed, noting that the divulgation of news and despicable pictures of American soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners in the notorious Abou Qoreib prison had made the situation in Iraq “more dangerous, unstable and explosive”.

Speaking to reporters at the end of his talks with EU officials, including European Commission President Romano Prodi, EU Foreign and Security Affairs Minister Javier Solana and Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten, Mr. Kharrazi said the torture of the Iraqi prisoners in the one hand and Washington’s “systematic and one sided” support of Israeli policies against the Palestinians were “increasing the hatred of the Americans in both the Muslim and Arab nations”.

Mr. Kharrazi said that Iran plays a “very important role in terms of Iraqi developments” and tried its best to resolve the conflict and help Iraqis overcome their problems like it has been playing a positive role in Afghanistan, but repeated that Iran has not been mediating between the US and Hojjatoleslam Moqtada al-Sadr, a young and turbulent Iraqi cleric who is fighting American presence in Iraq.

To the Iranian Minister, US move to arrest Mr. Sadr and his followers enflamed the situation. “It was wrong and another mistake committed by the Americans, he argued, adding”. “I believe that the question of Moqtada al-Sadr should be put in the hands of religious authorities in Najaf”.

On the Palestinian issue, Mr. Kharrazi said he told Patten that the Quartet meeting in New York Tuesday is a “waste of time and talks are not going to lead anywhere. There is need for action and the EU, as a key player, must be more aggressively involved in supporting justice”.

“As long as the Americans are supporting Sharon’s policies, meetings like Quartet or other initiatives are not going to lead anywhere”, Kharrazi added, stressing that that “the only way is to fulfil the rights of Palestinians”.

13 posted on 05/04/2004 9:14:12 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
"In April 2003, Jamil Bassam and Abrahim Khodabandeh, two Iranian political refugees and democracy activists who had lived in Britain for over 30 years, were visiting family in Syria when they were arrested at their Damascus hotel.

After two months of solitary confinement in a Syrian prison, the two men were flown — in violation of international law — to Tehran on a Syrian jet and into the waiting arms of Iranian authorities. Bassam and Khodabandeh are currently being held in Ward 102 of Evin Prison, where they are reportedly being tortured severely while awaiting trial on unspecified charges."

These abuses are why the regime isn't making a big deal of the Iraqi prisoners being abused by some American soldiers.
That, and the history of the war with Iraq.
14 posted on 05/04/2004 9:14:42 PM PDT by nuconvert ("America will never be intimidated by thugs and assassins." ...( Azadi baraye Iran)
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To: Eurotwit
Aghajari Pong
15 posted on 05/04/2004 9:19:19 PM PDT by nuconvert ("America will never be intimidated by thugs and assassins." ...( Azadi baraye Iran)
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To: DoctorZIn
Bump for tomorrow's read.
16 posted on 05/04/2004 9:23:23 PM PDT by lizma
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To: nuconvert
Thanks for the ping.
17 posted on 05/04/2004 9:24:29 PM PDT by Eurotwit
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To: DoctorZIn
Hi Doctor Zin. I haven't posted for awhile because my Iranian in-laws were here and it was just party, party, party. My father-in-law- bless his heart, would get up and kiss the TV screen every time President Bush was on. He may live in Iran, but he is one of the most patriotic American's I've ever seen. He loves Bush because he knows the mullahs are afraid of him. Somebody needs to tell the President to do some interviews and ads on the Iranian-exile stations. Most of the hosts are fervently pro-Bush and the Iranian-American vote could be critical in a state like California. Thanks for what you are doing and I'll be following this thread daily.
18 posted on 05/04/2004 10:51:35 PM PDT by SusanTK
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To: DoctorZIn
19 posted on 05/05/2004 12:34:06 AM PDT by windchime (Podesta about Bush: "He's got four years to try to undo all the stuff we've done." (TIME-1/22/01))
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To: DoctorZIn; nuconvert; AdmSmith; SusanTK; downer911; RaceBannon; Valin
Iran box-office hit angers hard-liners

Wednesday, May 5, 2004

TEHRAN, Iran -- It's a film that breaks plenty of taboos in clergy-ruled Iran: A convicted thief escapes prison disguised as an Islamic cleric; a man sings inside a mosque; a cleric robs a driver and sweet-talks and leers at a young woman.

Tehran director Kamal Tabrizi's award-winning Marmoulak - "The Lizard" - has angered many hard-line clerics, who want people to believe that they are immune from any criminality and that their prophetic robes are sacred.

But the film is getting a much different reaction from audiences - it has been a box-office hit in Iran since its release in early April.

Despite its extremely satirical tone, some clerics have been satisfied with the film's ending, in which the thief-turned-cleric undergoes a moral transformation by finding God. Even so, Iran's Culture Ministry, controlled by reformers, censored parts of the film but permitted the rest to be screened last month.

Hard-liners in Mashhad, a religious city in northeastern Iran, have banned the film in their city, while its imminent screening in Qom, known as Iran's Vatican city, is expected to provoke even greater clerical opposition.

The film depicts the fortunes of a thief, who breaks out of a prison hospital by wearing robes stolen from a cleric and discovers the benefits available to clergy in Iran, a Shiite Muslim state ruled by a hard-line religious establishment.

Trying to leave Iran illegally to Europe, protagonist Reza Marmoulak lands in a village near the Turkish border wearing the cleric's stolen robes. Waiting at the train station are a group of anxious locals expecting a cleric to lead prayers for elderly villagers. Not knowing the real cleric died in a car crash, they welcome the thief.

Marmoulak proves to be popular, capturing hearts through his simplicity and making fun of strict religious interpretations of Islam. During his short life as a cleric, he discovers God before turning himself over to authorities.

During the film, the cleric is shown robbing a driver, jumping over a wall to enter a house and openly saying that not all clerics deserve respect.

In another scene aboard a train, the would-be cleric ogles an attractive young woman, whose mother says she has been beaten by her husband and needs to be prayed for.

"You're so pretty," Marmoulak tells the woman. "Too pretty to need my prayers."

One filmgoer, 26-year-old Reza Houseinpour, said: "I have never laughed so much in my life as I did while watching the film."

"You don't expect to see a film making fun of clerics in a country ruled by clerics," said Maryam Nouri, a 25-year-old student who has seen the film twice. "The film shows many realities about bad clerics they have refused to acknowledge."

The film has had such an impact that it is now common to hear youths yelling out "Hey Marmoulak!" to clerics walking by in the street.

But the hard-line weekly Zan-e-Rooz, or "Woman of the Day," said the film encourages Iranians to disrespect clerics.

"To damage the sacredness of the respected clerical robe, there may be thousands of ways and Marmoulak shows the worst of them," the paper said in a recent editorial.

Iran's reformist movement has been stymied by the country's hard-line establishment, which has blocked efforts to enhance political, social and economic change promoted by reformist-backed President Mohammad Khatami.
20 posted on 05/05/2004 2:37:45 AM PDT by F14 Pilot (Don't give in without a FIGHT)
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