Iran highlights Berlins chemical aid for Saddam
TEHRAN Tehrans city council erected a plaque outside the German embassy on Friday denouncing Germanys contribution to Saddam Husseins chemical weapons, in the latest swipe of a diplomatic feud between Berlin and Irans clerical leaders.
Name of the German government for the Iranian nation is the reminder of the great catastrophe of chemical massacre during the Iraqi Baathi regime imposed war against Iran, read the English version of the inscription on the rhombus shaped plaque placed on a white stone pillar in front of the German embassy in Tehran.
The then German government bestowed chemical weapons and the relevant production technology on Saddams regime to slaughter the Muslims in Iran and Iraq (Halabcheh), it added.
The inscription was also written in Farsi but not in German. Tehrans municipality gave the order on April 27 to put up the plaque in a direct response to the unveiling the week before of a plaque outside a restaurant in Berlin denouncing Iran for the 1992 murders there of four Kurdish dissidents. afp
Another NYTimes Article On Iran:
Velvet Hand, Iron Glove
The NY Times
May 15, 2004
NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
I had just about convinced myself that Iran is not a police state and then the authorities detained me for a second time.
The first time was in Isfahan, for committing journalism. The police apologized and let me go after 30 minutes when my papers were found to be in order. The second time was at Tehran's airport as I was trying to leave, and this time the interrogation was tougher.
"Have you ever been to Israel?" Gulp, yes.
"Are you working for the Israeli government?" Of course not.
"Are you working for the American government?" I tried to explain that my views make me unemployable by either the Bush or Sharon administrations, but the interrogators were weak on both subtlety and humor.
After hinting for 90 minutes that I was a spy and a liar, and that they might hold on to me indefinitely, the interrogators finally let me board my plane. Indeed, toward the end, they seemed worried principally by my threat to write about the encounter.
That episode crystallized an impression that had been forming during my trip through Iran: if it were an efficient police state, it might survive. But it's not. It cracks down episodically, tossing dissidents in prison and occasionally even murdering them (like a Canadian-Iranian journalist last year). But Iran doesn't control information partly because satellite television is ubiquitous, if illegal and people mostly get away with scathing criticism as long as they do not organize against the government.
The embarrassing point for us is that while Iran is no democracy, it has a much freer society than many of our allies in the Middle East. In contrast with Saudi Arabia, for example, Iran has (rigged) elections, and two of its vice presidents are women. The Iranian press is not as free as it was a few years ago, but it is now bolstered by blogs (Web logs) and satellite TV, which offer real scrutiny of government officials.
I was astonished that everywhere I went in Iran, people would immediately tell me their names and agree to be photographed and then say something like, "There is no freedom here."
All this means, I think, that the Iranian regime is destined for the ash heap of history. An unpopular regime can survive if it is repressive enough, but Iran's hard-liners don't imprison their critics consistently enough to instill terror.
Pet dogs, for example, are strongly discouraged in Iran as dirty and contrary to Islam, and traffic police regularly arrest dogs and their owners. But the number of pet dogs is multiplying, and Tehran now has dozens of veterinary clinics.
Many Iranians believe that the Iranian leadership is pursuing a "Chinese model," in which the authorities tolerate personal freedoms but rigidly control politics. But it won't work. In China, the greatest expansion of personal freedoms was followed, in 1989, by the biggest antigovernment demonstrations in Chinese history.
In one country after another (including Iran in 1979), repressive governments have tried to buy time by easing up a tad, and dissidents have used that as leverage to oust the oppressors. I'm convinced that Iran will be the same (although I should acknowledge that my Iranian friends, who know the situation much better, tend to be more pessimistic).
The crisis in legitimacy even manages to create nostalgia for the repressive shah. "Everybody longs for the good old days of the shah," said Amir, a peasant in a village north of Isfahan. "Prices were cheap, and he was good at building the country. If the shah built a road, it would still be good after 30 years. Now if they build a road, it cracks and falls apart in a few years."
Young people constantly told me how they scolded their parents for backing the Islamic Revolution in 1979. As a young woman, Sogand Tayebi, put it, "Those who backed the revolution are now sorry about that."
In the end, I find Iran a hopeful place. Ordinary people are proving themselves irrepressible, and they will triumph someday and forge a glistening example of a Muslim country that is a pro-American democracy in the Middle East.
I treasure a memory from the airport: after I was detained, a security goon X-rayed my bags for the second time and puzzled over my computer equipment. He snarled at me, "American reporters bad!" The X-ray operator, who perhaps didn't know quite what was going on, beamed at me and piped up, "Americans very good!"