Skip to comments.Iranian Alert -- May 22, 2004 [EST]-- IRAN LIVE THREAD -- "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 05/21/2004 9:57:55 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 Americans 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.
Man, whatever did the Iranian people do to you!?!
Teheran Calls Foreign Press to Order After Reporter Barred
May 22, 2004
Khaleej Times Online
TEHERAN - Iranian authorities have called the foreign press to order, saying correspondents should respect the law and professional ethics, after barring a reporter for the British newspaper The Guardian for three months.
Dan De Luce was told Tuesday his visa would not be renewed until July after he filed a report from the earthquake-stricken city of Bam without authorisation.
The foreign press chief at the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance,Mohammad Hossein Khoshvaght, quoted by the state news agency IRNA Saturday, said De Luce, 38, a US citizen, had deliberately broken Iranian law.
He said the ministry had authorised the journalist to accompany an aid organisation to Bam but not to report on the situation there.
Journalists must respect the law and professional ethics if they want to work in this country, Khoshvaght added.
Luce was quoted in his paper as saying: I was just trying to do my job. I wrote the story from Bam because I thought it was important to document the situation there -- what the survivors and the aid agencies were saying.
De Luce said that after being denied permission to go to Bam to report in the wake of the December 26 earthquake that killed some 26,000 people, he accompanied an Iranian group there in March to help clear debris.
He had not planned to write anything, but moved by what he saw and heard in Bam, he filed an article for the Guardian in which he reported that the earthquake survivors were critical of the governments reconstruction effort.
He applied to renew his visa on April 25, and was told on May 3 that he would have to leave the country for a period of three months.
De Luce said he believed his expulsion was intended to set an example to other foreign correspondents in Teheran.
Khoshvaght said the foreign press was welcome in Iran and would be helped to do its work as long as it holds to professional values and respects Iranian law.
The Paris-based international press rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders says De Luces punishment infringes press freedom and shows once again that the Iranian authorities cannot tolerate criticism.
How Kazemi was Murdered
May 22, 2004
The Ottawa Citizen
The murder of Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi in Iran has been shrouded in denial and speculation -- until now. In exclusive interviews, other dissidents reveal what happened inside Tehran's notorious Evin prison last June.
TEHRAN - Heshmatollah Tabarzadi will never forget Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi screaming in a nearby cell.
Mr. Tabarzadi, an Iranian political dissident, was arrested last June on the same day as Ms. Kazemi and, like her, thrown in cellblock 209 of Tehran's Evin prison, where Ms. Kazemi would be detained, interrogated and eventually murdered.
Mr. Tabarzadi remains in prison. But his son, Ali, a young man with a goatee and long, black hair gathered in a ponytail, has spoken with his father about those days.
"When Zahra Kazemi was in wing 209, my father heard her crying," Mr. Tabarzadi says.
"At first he didn't know who it was, but the agents told him. He could hear her moaning and weeping."
Mr. Tabarzadi is one of dozens of activists and students who had been detained for protesting against the Iranian government. Most were jailed at Evin.
On June 23 last year, friends and family members gathered at the prison gates to demand their release. Ms. Kazemi, an accredited journalist with permission from Iran's government to work in the country, was among them, taking photographs. She was arrested and detained with the students and political dissidents whose stories she had come to capture on film.
Four days later, in the middle of the night, Ms. Kazemi, 54, was taken from the prison to a hospital, unconscious and bleeding from her nose and mouth. Two weeks later, she was dead.
What happened to Ms. Kazemi during her four days incarcerated at Evin has been the subject of speculation and denial. The Iranian government first claimed she had died of a stroke, and then admitted she had been beaten to death. Mohammed Reza Ahmadi, an Intelligence Ministry agent, has been charged with "quasi-intentional murder." A trial is scheduled for July.
Until now it has been impossible to know much more than this. Iran is a closed society with no free press and no independent judiciary. The Iranian parliament's power is crippled by clerics. Indeed, many of the reformist MPs who had campaigned to discover the truth about Zahra Kazemi's murder were banned by the hardline Guardian Council from running for re-election this February.
But it is hard to keep secrets in a prison. And it is especially difficult at Evin.
"We are living in a country where for no reason they jail, kill and torture people," says Saeed Kalanaki, a student who was jailed at Evin at the same time as Ms. Kazemi. "They have shaped society to their own purposes, and they don't allow views other then their own orthodox way of thinking. For us young people, it has reached a point where we can't tolerate it anymore."
Mr. Kalanaki and several other students who were jailed at Evin have been released and are sitting in a circle on the floor of a townhouse on the outskirts of Tehran. Family members of imprisoned students and activists are also here.
They have arrived in twos, walking or driving from different directions to avoid detection, to tell a foreign journalist what they know about Zahra Kazemi: Her murder, who killed her, and the attempt to cover it up.
An hour earlier, I had arrived wearing clothes I had carefully described over the Internet to a contact I had never met. The house is under surveillance, but I have black hair and olive skin and we hope I won't be identified by Iranian police as a foreigner.
A tall man in his 20s with a sad, handsome face, long hair and dark brooding eyes sees me and crosses the street. We exchange passwords and shake hands. A light inside the house flashes on and off twice. I am beckoned inside.
- - -
Zahra Kazemi was born in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz, a city nestled in a fertile valley and surrounded by the ruins of ancient Persian civilizations.
She lived there until 1974, when, at age 24, she moved to France, where she lived before settling in Montreal in 1993 as a single mother with her son, Stephan Hachemi.
"It wasn't easy," says Mr. Hachemi, now 26. "But she was a strong woman, even though she had modest resources."
Ms. Kazemi began working as a freelance photojournalist. She travelled widely, often to dangerous locales such as Afghanistan, Libya, the Ivory Coast and Iraq. Her son says she was driven by a need to expose injustice.
"She showed people in everyday situations -- common crimes, common injustices," Mr. Hachemi says. "She showed children and women in a beautiful way, with an artist's eye. She showed their everyday life, and in this way she could make a difference."
In an effort to capture the lives of her subjects on film, Ms. Kazemi got as close to them as possible. She shunned the five-star hotels favoured by other foreign journalists and instead slept in refugee camps throughout Afghanistan, Lebanon and the West Bank.
Often, she would leave Canada with extra bags of Mr. Hachemi's old clothes to give away to people in the developing countries she was visiting.
"And you have to remember my mother was 54 years old, and she was small," Mr. Hachemi says. "She would get tired. But this didn't matter to her. She thought it was important."
Ms. Kazemi's former colleagues describe her as committed to telling the stories of everyday people struggling in extraordinary circumstances. She returned to the Middle East again and again, even though the little money she made selling her photos didn't come close to covering her costs.
She spent three months in Heart, Afghanistan, where she accompanied female Afghan journalists who were applying for jobs at a local television station.
She was also in Heart when reporters arrived to film the grand opening of a new school, but she stayed after they left and the school never opened.
While in Iran, Ms. Kazemi focused on women chafing under the Islamic regime.
"The women in Iran are fighting very subtly," Mr. Hachemi says. "She'd show their resistance, the way they'd oppose the mullahs by wearing their chadors just a little bit farther back on their head or by wearing just a little bit of makeup.
"It scared me a little bit, the way she would stand up to everyone. I was scared by this when she went on these trips," Mr. Hachemi says.
Richard Amiot, Ms. Kazemi's editor at the Montreal magazine Recto Verso, remembers her as wilful and brave, but never naive or reckless.
"She was a woman who didn't hold back and wasn't afraid," Mr. Amiot says.
"But she knew how to get around, and she was not a fanatic. She could navigate and negotiate her way around soldiers and military men from different cultures."
Mr. Hachemi recalls a story a family member told him about his mother when she was a young nursing student in Iran. One day the shah of Iran was to visit the school and all students were expected to turn out in the school's auditorium to welcome him.
"Only two people weren't there, my mother and her friend," Mr. Hachemi says, laughing for the first time. "She got in big trouble for that."
- - -
The students and activists sit cross-legged on large carpets on the townhouse floor, leaning against cushions, drinking tea and smoking cigarettes.
Among the dissidents, only Bina Darabzand, a barrel-chested man with a thick moustache and smiling eyes, is older than 30. He is 46 years old and once campaigned to overthrow the shah.
Parents of jailed students are also here, supporting their sons and daughters. They sit together, young students and middle-aged men and women who 25 years ago believed the Islamic revolution would free them from the shah's dictatorship.
"At those times, almost everyone supported the revolution," one father says. "We believed we could reach freedom and democracy this way. But if we knew what would happen, that our sons would be behind bars, we wouldn't have done it. It was a mistake."
Most of the students do not want a repeat of the Islamic Revolution of 1979, with its bloodshed and chaos.
They are committed to realizing their goal of a secular and democratic Iran peacefully, through civil disobedience and by bringing international pressure on the theocracy. They believe they can force a national referendum on the country's political future.
"The time for violent revolution in Iran is dead," says student Saeed Kalanaki, 26.
- - -
Some of the guards and soldiers sympathize with the political prisoners. They bring their prisoners kebabs before trial hearings and share scornful jokes about the interrogators and prosecutors they both despise.
Before his release from Evin prison last year, Kianoosh Sanjari, a student who is only 20, had a forthright conversation with one such prison guard about Zahra Kazemi's arrest and detention. The guard told Mr. Sanjari that a soldier had noticed Ms. Kazemi taking photographs of the protest from a parked car. He told his boss, who ordered her arrest. People are arrested in Iran all the time, but Ms. Kazemi made an immediate impression with her defiance.
"Right from the start, she insisted on her rights," Mr. Sanjari says. "Then, she stood in front of the guards and ripped the film out of her camera. But they took her anyways."
The guards brought Ms. Kazemi to solitary confinement in cellblock 209, where political prisoners are taken to have their spirits broken.
Mr. Kalanaki, a longtime activist against the Iranian theocracy, was also in cellblock 209. He didn't know about Ms. Kazemi's arrival; isolation in the block is near complete. But he could tell something had gone awry.
"Security was tight. But from all the commotion outside the cell, I knew something wrong had happened," Mr. Kalanaki says.
"The interrogators were visibly nervous. Usually they conduct their interrogations calmly, but those days they were very agitated."
It is clear that Ms. Kazemi had been brutally beaten during her first three days in prison, when she was interrogated by officials from both the hardline judiciary and from the intelligence ministry, which is controlled by the reformists.
At some point, according to a police report cited by the Washington Post, Ms. Kazemi wrote: "They have broken my nose and thumb. And they have broken my toes, too."
On the fourth day of her detention, a prison doctor examined her at 4:30 p.m. and reported nothing wrong. But four hours later, she was coughing up blood, and bleeding from her nose.
The soldier who spoke with Mr. Sanjari also told him that two nurses had reported that Ms. Kazemi was barely conscious. They alerted prison authorities, who removed Ms. Kazemi from the cellblock and took her to the prison's emergency clinic.
But according to the soldier, Ms. Kazemi was already near death and the prison clinic rejected her. Prison officials were forced to take Ms. Kazemi to the Baqiyatollah Azam Hospital, which is under the control of the hardline Revolutionary Guards security force.
Mr. Sanjari's prison guard acquaintance was on duty late that night and watched as Ms. Kazemi's comatose body was taken through the prison gates. He asked who the prisoner was, and was told it was the Canadian woman, Zahra Kazemi.
"The soldier told me she had been slapped, and her head was smashed violently," Mr. Sanjari says. "They didn't cover that up."
But Ms. Kazemi was officially admitted to the hospital with "intestinal problems."
And when she died 14 days later, the official verdict, allegedly issued by Iran's chief prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi, declared she had died as a result of a stroke.
Meanwhile, Iranian government officials at the prison took steps to cover up the murder.
Separate guards told Mr. Kalanaki and Mr. Sanjari that prison personnel who had somehow been involved in the case were taken to cellblock 209, where officials told them what to tell investigators looking into Ms. Kazemi's death.
The guard told Mr. Sanjari that documents had been also altered and destroyed -- an allegation confirmed months later by Iran's parliament.
Iran's reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, ordered an inquiry. And within days, the vice-president, Mohammad-Ali Abtahi, said Ms. Kazemi had died of a brain hemorrhage caused by a blow to the head.
This news ignited prisoners at Evin. Ms. Kazemi's case was openly and feverishly discussed by everyone -- guards and prisoners alike.
Those prisoners who have since been released believe Mohammed Reza Ahmadi, the intelligence agent who has been charged with Ms. Kazemi's murder is a scapegoat. The real murderer, they believe, is the man at the heart of Iran's religiously conservative judiciary, the chief prosecutor, Judge Saeed Mortazavi.
"Everyone knew that Mortazavi is a butcher. But still we were shocked," Mr. Sanjari says. "We knew this couldn't be a normal death."
Known throughout Iran as "the butcher of journalists," Mr. Mortazavi had been responsible for shutting down more than 100 newspapers and for frequently jailing Iranian journalists.
Whenever students are arrested, Mr. Mortazavi tries to interrogate each one personally. He has a fearsome reputation among Iranian dissidents.
A parliamentary commission last fall blamed Mr. Mortazavi for Ms. Kazemi's detention, and for attempting to cover up the beating. The parliament has accused him of lying and forging documents pertaining to Ms. Kazemi's case, and it has condemned the judge for refusing to testify before their investigation.
But students who were detained at Evin that summer believe Mr. Mortazavi also delivered the fatal blow that killed Ms. Kazemi.
The story that circulated throughout the prison is that Ms. Kazemi had refused to cower before Mr. Mortazavi during her interrogation. One rumour has it that Mr. Mortazavi had wanted to visit or study in Canada and Ms. Kazemi told him this would never happen, or that she had threatened to prevent it.
Whether or not this particular detail is true, the prisoners who were at Evin agree Mr. Mortazavi was somehow infuriated by Ms. Kazemi's defiance.
"She showed a lot of courage, and that made Mortazavi go crazy," Mr. Sanjari says.
The stories are impossible to verify. But they are consistent. Last July, the French newspaper Liberation, quoting unnamed sources, reported that Mr. Mortazavi had struck Ms. Kazemi on the head with the hard heel of a shoe.
The blow, or a similar one received during her interrogation, caused a slow hemorrhage in her brain, which killed her two weeks later.
Before her body could be examined, her body was buried in Shiraz, the city of her birth, against the wishes of her son, who says her soul won't be at peace until her body is brought home to Canada.
- - -
Late that night, we leave the townhouse in pairs. We walk away in different directions, meeting a few minutes later at a busy street corner, where a car pulls up and we quickly climb inside. I want to visit the Evin prison.
The prison is located in a wealthy residential suburb in north Tehran. Its stone walls are thick and crumbling. They are topped with rolls of barbed wire and rise 12 metres into the night sky.
The scene outside the Evin prison the day Zahra Kazemi was arrested was lively and chaotic. But now, nine months later, it is one o'clock in the morning and the streets are quiet. The guard tower is deserted, or perhaps the guard is asleep on the tower's floor.
I walk along the prison walls with Behrouz Javid Tehrani, 26, the man who had met me on the street earlier in the evening. He spent 10 months inside Evin as part of a four-year sentence he received for protesting against Iran's religious dictatorship.
"I have bad memories of this place," Mr. Tehrani says. "My worst and most terrible tortures were here, in the first few days of my imprisonment."
Mr. Tehrani was arrested in 1999, at the height of the student opposition movement, after police stormed one of Tehran University's dormitories, arresting hundreds of students and killing one.
Mr. Tehrani was thrown into solitary confinement. His hands were cuffed and he was hung from the ceiling. His jailers whipped the soles of his feet, an excruciating punishment that leaves no physical scars.
"They wanted information about the other students," Mr. Tehrani says. "I didn't want my friends to be punished like me, so I said nothing."
After two months, Mr. Tehrani says a judge came into his cell and spoke to him for three minutes before sentencing him to eight years in prison. His term was later reduced to four years.
Mr. Tehrani says he could have endured his sentence. But 45 days before his scheduled release his mother died. His jailers had refused to release him to be by his mother's side during her final moments or to attend her funeral. Mr. Tehrani was crushed.
Mr. Tehrani is bitter. I am only 26 years old, he says, and I have spent four of those years in jail.
He walks as he speaks, past the shadow of the Evin prison walls and onto the sidewalk of a nearby residential street. An elderly man emerges from one of the houses after hearing voices outside. Dressed in his underclothes and holding a walking stick, he confronts Mr. Tehrani and loudly berates him:
"What are you doing smoking a cigarette? You are wasting your youth."
- - -
Iranian exiles in North America warned me that I will be watched by government agents while I am in Iran, and I take steps to disguise my intentions. But on my last day, these precautions break down.
I have arranged to meet the students and activists a second time, outside Tehran's Museum of Contemporary Art. Twenty minutes before the meeting time, I lie to the staff at my hotel about where I am going and set off for the museum on foot.
No one is there when I arrive, so I circle the museum twice before calling Bina Darabzand on my satellite phone, which may have attracted attention.
A few minutes later, Mr. Darabzand pulls up in his car with Kianoosh Sanjari, Saeed Kalanaki and Behrouz Javid Tehrani. He calls and waves and I climb into the back seat. We drive a block and then pull over so I can take notes as we speak.
As we are parked, a man from Iran's secret service steps out of an alley between two shops and takes a photograph of the five of us together.
I don't see the photographer. But a shopkeeper flashes a signal to Mr. Darabzand to let him know what has happened. The area around the museum is popular with political dissidents and is under frequent surveillance. The shopkeepers support the dissidents, and they watch the government agents and informers, who are in turn watching the students and activists.
Unlike most journalists in Iran, I am here on a tourist visa, not a press visa, which means there is no government minder controlling where I go and whom I talk to. It also means I am afforded none of the limited privileges and protection given to accredited journalists. If I am caught with four previously jailed dissidents, I will almost certainly be arrested as a spy.
Mr. Darabzand tells me not to worry. He says the security organizations in Iran are incompetent and won't even develop the film for several days. But his face is drawn and his lips are pursed tightly together.
"Let's go," he says, easing the car into traffic. "It was dangerous to stop."
A moment later, the car is pulled over by police. We have been stopped for a minor traffic violation. But everyone is rattled as we pull onto the highway, hoping to achieve anonymity in the traffic chaos before proceeding to another suburban safehouse.
Along the way, a young girl is weaving between gridlocked cars with a pan of burning seeds. Mr. Darabzand invites to wave some of the smoke over us in exchange for a few coins. It is an ancient Persian tradition that is supposed to drive away evil spirits. It gives poor children something to do instead of simply begging, Mr. Darabzand says. And we need some good fortune.
When the interviews are complete, we once again leave the safehouse in pairs, heading in different directions. Mr. Tehrani and I take a taxi to a crowded shopping plaza where he won't be noticed and where I can pretend to be a tourist before catching a taxi back to my hotel without him.
Mr. Tehrani gets out of the cab and tries to give me a reassuring smile. He makes a small wave with his fist and says something in Farsi that sounds like "Up with Iran!" We embrace and kiss each other three times on both cheeks. "Khoda Hafez," he says. "Go with God."
I turn around and try to disappear into the plaza, where I buy an armload of conspicuous souvenirs to show the hotel clerks.
When I get back to my hotel nothing seems amiss. I spend the evening in my room, counting the hours until my flight, disguising my notes, memorizing and destroying telephone numbers, and waiting for a knock at my door.
The tightness in my stomach and nervous sweats do not dissipate until my plane rumbles down the runway and takes off early the next morning. When I call Mr. Darabzand from a Berlin cafe later that day to let him know I am safe, he is relieved and tells me to have a beer for him. "Make it a Budweiser," he says. "That used to be my drink."
- - -
Before leaving Iran I travelled to Shiraz, the city of Zahra Kazemi's birth and burial.
Shiraz is also the burial place of Iran's favourite son, the poet Hafez, whose sensual poems about wine, nightingales and romance are immensely popular.
His grave is located in a beautiful park and visited by hundreds of Iranians every night, some to read his poetry or to pay their respects. Others, usually young people, court among the flower beds.
Zahra Kazemi lies somewhere nearby, buried by an Iranian government that tried to cover up its crimes and ignored her son's request to bring her body home.
Few people visit Ms. Kazemi's grave in Iran. But she is remembered by the students and activists whose story she came to tell.
"She stood up to them," Mr. Darabzand says, referring to the guards, interrogators and clerics who were enraged by her defiance. "She was a woman. She was an Iranian woman. And she faced these men and showed them they they're not so tough. This poor girl paid for a lot of things."
Ms. Kazemi is also remembered half a world away, in Montreal, where her son, Stephan Hachemi, says he has an obligation to talk about his mother's life and death.
"It's my duty. She was my only family. It's not like I can forget, or I want to forget ... But it's not getting any easier," he says.
"What happened to my mother is still happening to other people in Iran. But not many people have the opportunity to talk about it. So I need to do it."
- - -
The death of Zahra Kazemi
Spring 2003: Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi leaves Canada for Iran.
June 23, 2003: Ms. Kazemi is arrested outside Evin prison while photographing a student protest.
July 11, 2003: Kazemi dies in a Tehran hospital from severe head trauma received during four days in prison.
July 12, 2003: Canada orders Ambassador Philip MacKinnon to investigate Kazemi's death.
July 13, 2003: Iranian report states Ms. Kazemi suffered a stroke.
July 14, 2003: Canada demands return of Ms. Kazemi's body.
July 16, 2003: Iran admits Ms. Kazemi died from beating.
July 20, 2003: Iranian news agency reports Ms. Kazemi suffered a 'physical attack' that fractured her skull.
July 23, 2003: Canada recalls ambassador in protest.
July 25, 2003: Iran accuses a B.C. police officer of murdering an Iranian on July 21 and demands the officer brought to justice. Canada rejects Iran's claims.
July 27, 2003: Canada expresses satisfaction with reports that five Iranian security agents were detained in connection with Ms. Kazemi's death.
Sept. 1, 2003: Iran drops charges against two interrogators accused of in Ms. Kazemi's "quasi-intentional murder."
Sept. 10, 2003: Canada asks UN to help in investigation.
Sept. 22, 2003: Mohammed Reza Aghdam Ahmadi, one of the interrogators, is charged with "semi-premeditated murder" in Iranian court.
Oct. 7, 2003: Mr. Ahmadi's trial opens. Case is immediately adjourned for more study.
Oct. 8, 2003: Iran's president criticizes court's handling of trial.
Oct. 28, 2003: Iran Parliament condemns a chief prosecutor for accusing Kazemi of spying and blaming her death on a stroke.
Nov. 5, 2003: Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi takes Ms. Kazemi's case.
May 9, 2004: The Canadian Association of Journalists names Kazemi as the posthumous winner of its President's Award.
May 20, 2004: A lawyer announces the trial will resume in July.
Iran Gives U.N. Second 'Full' Nuclear Dossier
May 22, 2004
The New York Times
VIENNA -- Iran said on Saturday it gave the U.N. nuclear watchdog what it described as a full declaration of its atomic program, which Washington says is a front for building an atom bomb.
Iran, which insists its atomic program is dedicated to the peaceful generation of electricity, gave the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) a similar ``full'' declaration in October 2003.
However, the October declaration omitted details about potentially weapons-related research, including designs and components for advanced ``P2'' centrifuges capable of producing bomb-grade uranium.
``Yesterday, we submitted the declaration prior to the due date of June 18,'' Iran's ambassador to the United Nations in Vienna, Pirooz Hosseini, told Reuters.
Asked if this declaration was full and truthful, Hosseini said: ``Yes.''
But one Western diplomat, who declined to be named, said IAEA inspections should continue until the declaration can be verified.
``I think the fact that they already submitted a declaration that was supposedly full and complete but clearly wasn't...means that intensive inspections should continue for at least the foreseeable future,'' the diplomat told Reuters.
The diplomat is convinced Iran is still hiding things from the United Nations.
``Iran has a covert parallel nuclear program that is military in nature'' and aimed at producing atomic weapons, the diplomat said.
IAEA officials could not be reached for comment. Diplomats said it was unlikely the agency would be able to verify the dossier before the June meeting of the IAEA governing board.
The latest declaration was required under the IAEA's so-called Additional Protocol, which Iran signed on December 18, 2003.
Although Iran's parliament has not yet ratified the protocol, Hosseini said Tehran had ``decided to voluntarily apply the protocol'' and submit the declaration within six months from the signing date.
The Additional Protocol gives the IAEA the right to conduct more intrusive, short-notice inspections and requires Tehran to give the IAEA much more information than under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Hosseini said the declaration contained no surprises, such as nuclear sites that the IAEA was not aware of. But he said it gave ``more details about sites already declared to the IAEA.''
It also covers past and present activities and sites connected to the enrichment of uranium and all other aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle, he said.
Give The Youth A Chance
May 22, 2004
Iran va Jahan
"History tells us that appeasement does not lead to peace. It invites an aggressor to test the will of a nation unprepared to meet that test. And...those who seemingly want peace the most, our young people, pay the heaviest price for our failure to maintain our strength." - Ronald Reagan
Among Iranians of the Diaspora, many of the older generation read articles about Iran's political events with interest, often shaking their heads in sorrow or anger about the laws voted on by the regime 'hard-liners'. They also keenly observe the outcome of programs set out by the 'reformists'. One theme permeates almost everything coming out of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI)news about the youth [70% or more of Iran's population].
Historically students in Iran have long been a thorn in the side of the regime in power, dating back more that 50 years. Student activists have created chaos at times, such as on 9 July, 1999 (18 Tir, 1378), a day commemorated annually to mark some of the worst student/regime clashes at universities throughout the country, most notably in Tehran. The voices of the students are echoed in other segments of society: critical articles written by daring journalists; subtle defiance of regime excesses by protesting of women.
These groups are at the forefront of protests, outspoken and active in raising world attention to what ails this theocracy. By browsing the Web, listening to satellite radio and TV broadcasts, and reading books and magazines bought on the black market, they keep themselves informed of world events. Because of the way that academic institutions are governed and administered, access to education at higher levels is limited to a select group of regime cronies or those whose circumstances in life allow them to "buy" their entrance. Therefore, many industrious students pursue their interests on their own with whatever means at their disposal, even if they can by emigrating to the West in search of a better future and more possibilities for themselves. Notwithstanding, many are left behind, their hopes languishing in despair. Those hopes can be seen demonstrated through their protests on the city streets.
We read and hear other news: news relating to massive youth joblessness, to addicts and prostitutes scrounging to make ends meet. On the other hand, murmurings of more affluent minority of rich youth resonate with tales of how they 'live it up' behind tall walls and closed doors, a life the majority never sees. They bribe the morality police to ignore their indiscretions, buying their silence.
Rather than live under these extreme measures with resignation, they have figured out that by sheer disregard of the social and 'moral' Islamic laws, they can impose their will and ridicule the mullahs. They look to their contemporaries in the hope for help and support in their struggles, yet to little avail, for many in the Diaspora are apathetic to internal Iranian politics, preferring the comforts of non-interference to the uncertainty. Nonetheless, a number genuinely care and are politically active.
For a quarter century, the Diaspora's older generation has done little to help. Although they have set-up satellite radio and TV stations, have written articles and made speeches, and created political action committees and groups, they remain fragmented and bitter. They believe that they are fighting a noble fight in support of a free Iran. Their fight is noble, but their motivations are self-righteous. They seek a glory lost. Blinded by the past they live in, they do not see the light the future can hold. A disconnect exists between this exiled older generation and the 70% majority youth in Iran. The Diaspora is stuck in a time warp and their actions have been more damaging than helpful. The result is clearly visible: 25 years of stagnant ineffectiveness!
My sincere belief is that if we give the youth in Iran the necessary tools to overthrow the IRI from within, and give them a chance to advance their agenda, they would. As in all struggles for freedom, the spark that ignites the fire begins inside the core of the system. The students and other courageous protestors have through their actions, words, and demonstrations started a movement. They yearn and seek support from their compatriots outside Iran. As in all struggles for freedom, the spark inside is easily extinguished by the suffocating system in which it tries to burn. In order for it to thrive and succeed, those outside the country whose voices are not stifled, whose passions can drive and energize those within, must raise the banner. The Prague Spring of 1968 is an example of a spark extinguished, a hope suffocated. The world learned a vital lesson then, hoping never to be repeated again. On the other hand, the South African and Polish struggles are beacons of success. South Africans and Poles around the world, inspired by their compatriots back 'home', raised their voices and helped lead their nations to freedom. Iranians abroad must recall the successes of the Polish and South African struggles, that through solidarity Iran can once again be free as well.
The key to Middle East peace is the reintegration of a free and democratic Iran into the community of nations. If that were to happen, we would not see the disintegration of Iraqi society, the chaotic mess of today's Baghdad, Fallujah, an-Najaf and other cities, or the perpetual Arab/Israeli quagmire. Rather a democratic Iran would add a pillar of strength to the equation for regional stability. This can only be achieved by enabling the youth, thereby creating a strong and effective opposition to the IRI. The youth can only attain that status by a united and courageous leadership serving as their voice in the West. This leadership must reflect their hopes and aspirations and understand their frustrations and despair.
The only means to achieve this goal is for the Diaspora to pass the torch of leadership to their contemporaries. This young and patriotic core would naturally refer to the expertise, advice and experiences of their elders for helpful insight and guidance. They, the youth, would be at the forefront of the leadership, working hand in hand with the youth in Iran. They would 'run the show'. They would not be the foot soldiers of the elders.
Any political movement that aims to overturn the power and machinery of a State requires united perseverance, strong leadership, hopeful determination and adequate resources. Resources are the intellectual capabilities and mental stamina of the group coupled with expertise, experience and connections and fortified by financial strength. The former is vested in the young patriots, while the latter relies upon the elders. The ultimate success of this movement is dependent on this formula.
This quest has been damaged by the infighting of all the different opposition groups in the West. It is time that the failure of these groups is admitted by their leaders. It is time that they admit that their time has passed.
Iranians are proud, dignified and non-violent. They have suffered humiliation for long enough. Let us unite and regain our cultural and humane heritage. Let us pass the torch of leadership to the young, so that they may join hands with their contemporaries inside Iran towards their common goalfreedom and democracy for Iran and Iranians.
Selim Nassar, in an article in al-Hayat on 8 May, 2004, referred to Cairo, Egypt, hoping to succeed in solving the difference between the Palestinian authority's demand for a secular system, and Hammas' vision of an Islamic State.
Cairo gave the model of the French Resistance when all French factions united under the leadership of General de Gaulle, and postponed their differences until after the victory of the battle for the liberation of France.
We should do no less than unite with the leadership of the youth under the banner of liberating Iran from theocratic tyranny. The youth must lead a united front to achieve the referendum advocated by all the opposition groups, letting democracy take its course.
Chalabi raid leads to civil war?
Former Pentagon official thinks 'Bremer has gone mad'
Posted: May 22, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Kenneth R. Timmerman
© 2004 Insight/News World Communications Inc.
The early-morning raid on the home and office of Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi in Baghdad sends "the wrong message" to America's would-be allies in the Arab world, former Pentagon official Michael Rubin tells Insight.
"This is a huge blow to America's prestige," he said. "The message we've just sent is that we do not stand by our allies, that the United States can't be trusted. We've just told Arab liberals and democrats that it's just plain crazy to work with America."
Rubin, who served as an aide to Deputy Undersecretary of Defense William Luti, spoke with Sunni clerics, Shiite professionals and independent Kurdish businessmen in Iraq in the hours immediately after the Baghdad raid Thursday.
"Everyone in Iraq believes that because of U.S. actions, we are now heading for civil war," he says. "We have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory."
Deeply involved in planning for the Iraq war, Rubin tells Insight that he left the government in April out of a sense of frustration.
"This administration has been taking so many hits, many of them based on outright fabrications or on information from 'anonymous intelligence sources,' that I felt I could be more effective on the outside," he says.
Rubin now is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.
Francis Brooke, an American aide to Chalabi, was at his home in Baghdad when Iraqi troops supported by 25 U.S. military policemen and "an SUV full of OGA guys" an acronym commonly used in Baghdad to designate the CIA ["other government agencies"] stormed the house. Chalabi was awakened by four armed men pointing guns at him.
"I myself stood for an hour with an American military person pointing a gun at my chest," Brooke told Insight by phone from Baghdad. "It was totally misplaced."
The raids were carefully orchestrated and appeared part of an effort to embarrass Chalabi.
"They had TV cameras across the street," Brooke says. "They were hoping to lead out a bunch of guys in handcuffs, but they didn't find anybody they were looking for."
Instead, they seized computers, documents relating to the INC's investigation of the U.N. oil-for-food scandal, a family Quran and a set of prayer beads.
A spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad insisted in a telephone interview with Insight that the raid was not the work of the CPA, but had been ordered by an independent Iraqi judge.
"They wanted six or seven people for questioning," the spokesman said. "I can't tell you their names I can't even get one Arab name straight."
American news reports yesterday gave several variants of the alleged charges against the Chalabi aides, ranging from corruption, fraud and vehicle theft to intimidation and blackmail. But INC sources and Rubin believe there is no doubt that U.S. civil administrator L. Paul Bremer ordered the raid.
"The decision to 'cut Chalabi down to size' was taken in Washington," Rubin said, "but the operation against Chalabi originated in Baghdad. There is no doubt that Bremer signed off on this. Basically, Bremer has gone mad. This raid shows the U.S. has not learned the lessons of Abu Ghraib, and is still trying to humiliate" perceived opponents.
Attempts by Insight to reach Bremer for comment were unsuccessful.
At a press conference in Baghdad after the raids, Chalabi identified one of the individuals allegedly being sought as Aras Habib, his longtime security and intelligence chief. Before the U.S.-led invasion, Habib ran the INC's network of informants within Saddam's regime and identified defectors the INC ultimately helped to escape Iraq.
Chalabi's detractors claim the intelligence provided by those defectors relating to Iraqi weapons of mass destruction programs was false or fabricated. But in fact, says Rubin, the INC provided intelligence and human sources at a time when the CIA has no assets inside Iraq at all.
"The CIA hates Chalabi because he comes out with information they do not have and that later gets confirmed," Rubin says.
Insight worked with Habib on several occasions before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq while reporting stories involving Saddam's WMD programs, and consistently found him to be reliable, providing documents and sources not connected to the INC and allowing independent verification of the INC allegations.
Chalabi also has alienated the State Department, which has taken its cue from neighboring Arab governments seeking to put an end to the experiment in democracy in Iraq and replace the Iraqi Governing Council with a new Arab strongman, Rubin and others believe.
"While Americans tend to overlook family relations, Iraqis do not," Rubin says. "[U.N. Special Envoy Lakhdar] Brahimi's daughter is engaged to Prince Ali of Jordan, the brother of King Abdullah."
Not only do Iraqis see Brahimi as partial to Jordan, but many feel he is hostile to Iraqi Shias and Kurds.
The first time Brahimi met with the Governing Council, an Iraqi source tells Insight, he said he came not just as the U.N. envoy, but as a "brother Arab." Brahimi's words "sent chills" down the spines of the Shia and Kurdish members of the council.
Since the insurgency began last summer, Habib and the INC have provided invaluable intelligence to the United States "that has saved American lives," says INC spokesman Entifad Qanbar.
Rubin agrees with that assessment.
"The most virulent hatred of Chalabi comes from those who have never met him," he says. "Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA] and U.S. military commanders in Iraq who have worked with the INC have given them stellar reviews. They have used INC intelligence to stop operations by insurgents that were targeting Americans. They have caught insurgents red-handed because of information provided by Chalabi. [Secretary of State Colin] Powell and [Deputy Secretary of State Richard] Armitage appear to place greater value on winning bureaucratic battles in Washington than in saving American lives in Iraq."
The most extravagant allegation against Chalabi was launched Thursday evening by Dan Rather and 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl on the CBS Evening News. In what Rather portrayed as an "exclusive report," CBS claimed that U.S. intelligence operatives were seeking to arrest Chalabi because he had delivered "top-secret U.S. intelligence" to the Islamic Republic of Iran. The intelligence was so sensitive, Rather ventilated, that it could "get Americans killed."
The CBS allegation, which Rather and Stahl said they had learned from "senior U.S. intelligence officials" they refused to name, sounded serious, but it turned out to be a word-for-word repeat of an earlier report that appeared in Newsweek, which also quoted anonymous U.S. intelligence officials. CBS did not credit Newsweek with the alleged "leak."
One of the "former U.S. intelligence officials" who frequently feeds the media with false allegations about Chalabi actually has a name. He is Pat Lang, a former DIA Middle East analyst, who sometimes appears on air as a CBS News consultant.
Lang was quoted by Washington Post reporter Robin Wright in her front-page story on the raids that appeared yesterday, disparaging the intelligence Chalabi's group had provided the United States before the war.
"Now it's demonstrable that [Chalabi] told the U.S. government a lot of things that were not true," Lang said.
In citing Lang as an expert on Iraq, neither CBS nor the Washington Post ever has mentioned that Lang has registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent for an Arab government.
"How can somebody working for an Arab government parade about as a neutral analyst?" asks Rubin.
Chalabi never has denied his many visits to Iran or his meeting with high-level Iranian government officials. Before the U.S.-led invasion, Chalabi and top INC officials had to travel through Iran to reach Iraq because Turkey had closed its borders to INC operatives.
"Actually, if truth be told, I think Ahmed has actually used the Iranians for our benefit," a key Chalabi supporter tells Insight.
Chalabi appears to have been instrumental in getting the Iranian government to drop its support for radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr, several sources say.
Kenneth R. Timmerman is a senior writer for Insight.
Timmerman is an old friend of Chalabi. That is why he is writing this. Chalabi is a mythomaniac that has swindled many people.
Thanks for that info. I wondered if they were friends......
Hmmm.......I don't think I agree with Banafsheh.
I don't think Shirin Ebadi is window dressing for Khatami that Islamic Republic has propped up..."
I think she's a 'peacenik' with her own ideas, who has helped women and children of Iran. (among others)
I wish she'd speak out more against the regime and point out more sufferings of the people. But I don't think she's in cahoots with the regime. I could be wrong.......