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Iranian Alert -- DAY 12 -- LIVE THREAD PING LIST
LIVE THREAD PING LIST | 6.21.2003 | DoctorZin

Posted on 06/21/2003 12:39:58 AM PDT by DoctorZIn

We continue to receive so many excellent stories about the protests in Iran that we are maintaining this live thread.

Please continue to post all news stories in this thread and ping your lists to this thread so we can increase the overall awareness of what exactly is going on.

BTW, if you post breaking news, please make a reference to this Iranian Alert -- DAY 12 -- LIVE THREAD PING LIST. This way we can get new readers while still keeping a single location of all important news stories on Iran.

Thanks for all the help.

TOPICS: Activism/Chapters; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: bushdoctrineunfold; iran; protests; southasia; southasialist; studentmovement; warlist
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1 posted on 06/21/2003 12:39:58 AM PDT by DoctorZIn
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To: JulieRNR21; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Pan_Yans Wife; RobFromGa; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; ...
Iranian Alert -- DAY 12 -- LIVE THREAD PING LIST

LIVE THREAD PING LIST | 6.21.2003 | DoctorZin
Posted on 06/21/2003 12:39 AM PDT by DoctorZIn

"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail me”
2 posted on 06/21/2003 12:45:01 AM PDT by DoctorZIn (IranAzad)
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To: DoctorZIn
I thought you should see some of the protesters...

3 posted on 06/21/2003 1:24:41 AM PDT by DoctorZIn (IranAzad)
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To: DoctorZIn
Protests in Iran Spread, and an Imam Urges Severe Punishment

The NYTimes

TEHRAN, June 20 — Protests here spread to at least eight other cities around the country today as a high-ranking imam called for the severe punishment of protesters.

Scores of student arrests continued. The total is not known. In Tabriz, student Web sites report the number so far may be as high as 135.

The Amir Kabir University Web site in Tehran reported that 50 students had been arrested in Yazd and 105 in Sabzehvar.

Children of prominent reformist politicians, including two members of Parliament, Ahmad Shirzad and Mohsen Safai Farahani, were among those arrested in Tehran.

Mr. Shirzad, in a letter to Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahroudi, the head of the judiciary, said he had witnessed arrests being made based on an illegal court order allowing the police to take in anyone they found suspicious, the Iranian Student News Agency reported.

Emrooz, a Web site close to reformers, reported that the judiciary had also arrested four of the vigilantes who had attacked protesters last week with knives and truncheons.

The nightly protests in Tehran have now moved from the area around Tehran University to other parts of the city. Large numbers of people drove to the Ressalat neighborhood tonight, causing traffic jams, despite roadblocks operated by paramilitary forces carrying Kalashnikov rifles. Witnesses said vigilantes and the police, in riot gear, had clashed with protesters.

The executive director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch, Hanny Megally, said in a statement that Iran's leaders had not taken any real steps to halt attacks by vigilantes on protesters.

Earlier, at Friday Prayers in Tehran, Ayatollah Muhammad Yazdi, former head of the judiciary, said the protesters should be punished severely. "I asked the head of the judiciary and public prosecutors across Iran not to treat these people with compassion as they endangered the country's security," he said.

He added that the judiciary should deal with those people as those who fight Allah. The charge of fighting Allah can carry the death sentence.

Demonstrations took place in Tabriz, Zanjan, Shiraz, Yazd, Sabzehvar, Kermanshah and Isfahan. A student Web site reported that students at the University of Sistan-Baluchestan, in southeastern Iran, were demanding that the supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, cede power to an elected body.
4 posted on 06/21/2003 1:28:42 AM PDT by DoctorZIn (IranAzad)
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Comment #5 Removed by Moderator

To: JulieRNR21; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Pan_Yans Wife; RobFromGa; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; ...
In Iran, Student Activist Pays Price for Democracy Pursuits

LATimes Headlines 6.21.2003
By Azadeh Moaveni, Times Staff Writer

TEHRAN — Abdollah Momeni is a student on the run. The university activist began challenging Iran's Islamic regime seven years ago, and since then he has seen peers get arrested, jailed — and even risk their lives to fight the system.

Last fall, he spent a night in police custody so harrowing that he considered abandoning his activism altogether.

Now, as the clerical regime tries to round up student leaders in the wake of days of violent unrest, Momeni is a target. Tehran's hard-line Revolutionary Court has issued arrest warrants for Momeni and about 55 others, all high-profile activists who have ties to a countrywide network of students.

The students say Iran's hard-line regime is trying to crush their movement before massive demonstrations, which are expected July 9, the anniversary of nationwide pro-democracy protests that took place in 1999.

Plainclothes police showed up at Momeni's apartment after dark one day this past week to arrest him. But Momeni doesn't go home now. He also believes that both his home phone and cellular phone are tapped by intelligence agents. If he is arrested, authorities could hold him again for just a night. Or, like several students arrested in 1999, he could be jailed for years.

Momeni is driven by the dreams of political freedom, human rights and secular democracy in Iran, ideas supported by many of Iran's 48 million young people, a large majority of the population. They are increasingly frustrated by the strict rule of clerics, but protests have been sporadic and relatively few are willing to take the risks that Momeni takes.

"This is a system that wants to hear only one voice — its own," Momeni said this week in a conversation on a friend's cell phone. "How can they refuse to tolerate our opposition after we've agreed to work for change within the system?"

Although he is watching out for police and security officials in order to avoid arrest, Momeni still attends student meetings where he and others debate tactics. In the last week, they have staged sit-ins to demand the postponement of final exams and petitioned pro-reform members of parliament for the release of students who have been imprisoned for their political views.

Protesters chanted slogans calling for an end to the Islamic system of government and for death to the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Before Momeni and the other student organizers went into hiding, they convened their meetings in parks and coffee shops around Tehran. The core group of each university's student association meets regularly in such public places, debating the future of Iran's internal power struggle and charting strategy.

The Islamic Student Assn., an umbrella group of student organizations from around the country, has a few thousand members. The leadership core, including activists such as Momeni, is much smaller.

Tehran University, at the center of the student movement, spreads out along a city block in central Tehran, its aging buildings retaining an air of dignity.

Momeni came to the capital at age 17 from western Iran to attend Tabatabei University. He was married already, had a child and was well versed in the frustrations of being young in a crippled economy that reserves success for the establishment elite.

Today's student activists are mostly young people like Momeni — middle-class, practicing Muslims from provincial cities — an indication of the depth of opposition to the Islamic system.

Iran's revolution of the 1970s was shaped by clerics aiming to satisfy this broad, traditional swath of Iranian society, which felt that the overtly pro-Western tilt of the shah's regime was an affront to its social values.

Today dissent springs from this class rather than from the privileged, cosmopolitan suburbs of north Tehran. Once they witnessed the children of well-connected revolutionaries and senior clerics step into the shoes of the shah's associates — complete with educations abroad and gaudy mansions — students such as Momeni began to lose faith in the revolution's ideals.

The votes of young people seeking change twice brought moderate President Mohammad Khatami to power. Students were among the many Iranians seeking to combine Islam and democracy, and they backed Khatami's efforts to transform the country.

But hard-line clerics obstructed reforms, and students parted ways with Khatami. They began advocating a secular system.

The 1999 protests represented a watershed for the student movement. At least one student was killed when vigilantes stormed a dormitory and threw students off a balcony. Several more almost certainly died.

The number of politically active students dropped.

"What are we going to do?" asked 23-year-old physics student Maryam Sarafian, who has stopped attending political meetings. "What can we really accomplish?"

This time, some of the 55 student leaders facing arrest have already been detained. Student leaders hope that once the July 9 anniversary passes, authorities will release those they have targeted. But they are not sure.

"We used to differentiate within the system between its elected and appointed sides," Momeni said this week in a sit-down interview.

"Now, to us they're all the same," he added, tensely bending his long, slight frame. "We have to admit that the reform movement is at a dead end."

Momeni looks nothing like the long-haired youths whom state-controlled television likes to put on display after protests, as evidence that only thugs and spoiled rich kids oppose the system. He is clean-shaven, dresses in khakis and speaks softly in the dense, intellectual vernacular of Iran's student organizers.

Financial hardship makes it difficult for these student activists to travel abroad, and they have not been widely exposed to Western culture. However, they are enamored with Western political theories, especially liberalism. Their heroes are Iranian philosophers and dissident clerics whose writings are heavily influenced by secular nationalism and Western thought.

Like most students, Momeni relies on Internet sites run by Iranian reformers for access to the outside world. Satellite television is expensive, technically illegal and impossible to install on campus, where Momeni has been living with his family in a simple two-room flat crammed with books.

The student group to which Momeni belongs, the Office to Consolidate Unity, used to chart strategy at a decaying two-story villa in downtown Tehran, near the former U.S. Embassy, the site of the hostage drama during the 1979 Islamic Revolution. But that meeting place is now off limits because of incessant surveillance by intelligence agents.

Alone most of the time now, his wife still supports his activism but fears for her husband. She believes that the authorities will eventually track him down.

Momeni says the student movement advocates only peaceful protest but is aware that demonstrations can lead to violence. Last week, some demonstrators provoked confrontations with the Islamic vigilante groups that the regime often deploys against them.

Passive resistance is unlikely to bring about the fundamental change students seek, Momeni says, but it might prod the regime into opening up, creating a foundation that can be built upon in more favorable circumstances.

"We're breaking taboos and pushing the red lines," he said.

As students criticize the regime more directly, their thinking goes, pro-reform newspapers will take a more aggressive tone and slowly the regime will be nudged into a higher tolerance for dissent.

In the meantime, the hours Momeni dedicates to politics leave only a small chunk of each day for academic work. A social welfare major, he has stopped going to classes, where he could be arrested. As is the case with many student activists, his degree is taking twice as long as it should.

"Unfortunately, the system doesn't make room for political activity, and you pay a great price for pursuing this goal," said Momeni, who was taken from his house last fall and interrogated all night blindfolded and handcuffed.

His captors also tried to intimidate him by accusing his parents of plotting to overthrow the regime — a crime punishable by execution in Iran.

"For the first day or two afterwards, I thought of giving it all up and just having a simple life rather than one full of insecurity and anxiety," he said. "But later I thought I might come to regret not putting my capabilities to use. If your activism stems from true belief, I believe you'll never be regretful.",1,2626129.story?coll=la-headlines-world-manual

"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail me”
6 posted on 06/21/2003 1:36:02 AM PDT by DoctorZIn (IranAzad)
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Comment #7 Removed by Moderator

To: ganeshpuri89
A senior Iranian cleric warned Washington yesterday not to treat Iran like Afghanistan or Iraq and urged courts to hand out death penalties to "hooligans" who took part in recent protests against Islamic clerical rule.

That is one way to spark a political revolution.

8 posted on 06/21/2003 1:58:54 AM PDT by Paul C. Jesup
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To: DoctorZIn
Is there any way that someone there could tape an interview with one of the student leaders and get a video out to American news channels? They could even digitalize the file and send it through the Internet. Reading Momeni's words is so powerful to begin with, a tape played on the news would certainly have a great impact (especially given the lack of footage coming out of Iran right now).

I'd dearly love to see the students getting the media coverage they deserve during this struggle...
9 posted on 06/21/2003 2:00:50 AM PDT by Tamzee (Liberalism.... the willing suspense of rationality.)
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To: *southasia_list
10 posted on 06/21/2003 6:09:25 AM PDT by Libertarianize the GOP (Ideas have consequences)
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To: DoctorZIn
The sacrifices these young people make for freedom is horrendous. They should read some of the stories of what our forefathers suffered during the American revolution. Some of them lost everything, homes, family, health. But today they are remembered and revered for their sacrifice. Only those with the truest hearts are fit for such work. They ensure freedom and liberty for generations.
11 posted on 06/21/2003 7:43:25 AM PDT by McGavin999
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To: DoctorZIn
Saturday Freeedom and Justice bump!
12 posted on 06/21/2003 8:26:53 AM PDT by ewing
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To: ganeshpuri89
Doc, the Reuters piece I posted says there weren't any demonstrations and the Times piece you posted says there were. Strange. Are they referring to the same night?

The article I posted (LA TImes)was dated 6.21.2003. I have no way of knowing for sure. I have not heard first hand accounts yet this morning. Since the demonstrations are being reported starting in one place and then one other starting on the other side Tehran and then another in still another area, it may be that just as the regimes forces can't always get to the protests, neither can the Rueter reporter. But all the other reports are that they are continuing.

13 posted on 06/21/2003 8:37:27 AM PDT by DoctorZIn (IranAzad)
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To: Tamsey
Is there any way that someone there could tape an interview with one of the student leaders and get a video out to American news channels?

I don't know but I will ask.

14 posted on 06/21/2003 8:38:52 AM PDT by DoctorZIn (IranAzad)
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To: JulieRNR21; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Pan_Yans Wife; RobFromGa; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; ...
This just in...

SMCCDI: 2 Dead, several kidnapped and new violent clashes lead to several injured and tens of arrests in eastern Tehran

Violent clashes lead to several injured and tens of arrests in eastern Tehran
SMCCDI (information Service)
June 20, 2003

Tens more have been injured and tens of other arrested in the sporadic but violent clashes that took place, in the late hours of Friday evening, in the Tehran Pars area of the Iranian capital as the special troops of the regime, mostly in civilain clothes, enetered in action with knives, clubs and chains to attack peaceful protesters.

A chase and run took place in the entire area as groups of young escaped in order to bring into prepared traps these civilan agents known for their brutality and crimes. Several of them and several young freedom fighters were seriously injured, including 3 in critical conditions.

The regime men were angered as they have too face the residents in several fronts due to the new tactic of the freedom lovers and fighters.

At least 2 persons have died in the last 3 evening clashes of Tehran pars and the name of 2 of these freedom fighters are "Ali Reza Nezamzadeh" of 21 years of age and "Majid Panahi"

Several female demosntrators are also missing and the officials declare not having news about them which let believe of their kidnappings confirming partially the rumors of rape of abducted females by the foreign mercenaries of the regime. name of one of the kidnaped female is "Azita Eyvazi".

Source: Info net

"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail me”
15 posted on 06/21/2003 8:40:57 AM PDT by DoctorZIn (IranAzad)
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To: DoctorZIn
"To Have Freedom or to Die"

June 20, 2003
The salon
Mark Follman

An Iranian dissident leader says a week of protests has set the stage for regime change. He welcomes President Bush's support, but warns against U.S. military action.

Since June 11, nightly student-led pro-democracy demonstrations in the streets of Tehran have turned up the pressure on the nation's hard-line regime. With the Bush administration now bearing down on Tehran's alleged nuclear weapons program and making explicit its desire to see regime change there, the world has been watching the uprising and trying to gauge its strength. Can the hard-line regime really be toppled from within by sporadic bursts of seemingly disorganized protests?

Aryo Pirouznia, a founder and spokesman for the U.S.-based Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran, says the momentum on the ground in his native country is growing, drawing not only university students who are thirsty for modern freedoms but disenchanted people from many other sectors of society as well. Pirouznia says that his group, whose members include students, scholars and working professionals in the U.S., helps strategize and coordinate peaceful political actions inside Iran through daily communications with its affiliates there. The organization was officially launched in July 1999, following the six days of historic protest at the University of Tehran which ended in bloody government-backed repression.

Pirouznia thinks the Bush administration's vocal support for the student-led demonstrations is changing the situation dramatically, and helping to undermine the Islamic regime. "Nobody can deny the impact of the moral support of the person representing the great superpower of the world," he says. "I can tell you honestly that the message of the Bush administration has gone straight to the heart of many, many Iranians." Nonetheless, Pirouznia maintains that Iranians are foremost nationalists, and that any U.S. military interference would be a mistake.

Now 39, Pirouznia was once a high school student activist himself in Tehran, but with the country embroiled in the Iran-Iraq war, he fled in November 1982. He landed in Nice, France, where he studied law for six years, and came to the U.S. in 1993. He currently resides in Dallas, Texas, where he works as a corporate finance manager. Pirouznia says he last traveled to Iran to meet with fellow activists in May 2002, entering the country covertly and staying close to the border for fear that he'd be recognized in the city. Today, the majority of his organization's efforts to mobilize and spread democratic principles have to be carried out through the revolutionary tools of the digital age -- satellite television and the Internet.

He may be overly optimistic about the latest showings of revolutionary fervor. Far removed from Tehran, Pirouznia could be underestimating the repressive power of the ruling mullahs -- past crackdowns have been swift and severe, and there's little reason to believe the regime will respond any differently now, or in the future, if it feels seriously threatened. Moreover, some dissidents fear that Bush's remarks could backfire among nationalistic Iranians, many of whom still regard the United States as a malign force for its past meddling, including the CIA-backed coup in 1953 that resulted in the repressive rule of the Shah of Iran. Indeed, during the last two nights of unrest, the major news services have reported much more muted demonstrations, with heavy government security blanketing the city. No visible pro-democracy leadership has yet emerged.

But, as has been much reported by the Western media in recent days, Pirouznia's view is supported by compelling demographics; dissatisfaction in a disproportionately young, chronically unemployed population can only fester for so long before it turns explosive. And strong support for the movement communicated from overseas -- which the regime could hardly hope to prevent from reaching the nation's millions of satellite TV viewers -- could accelerate that process.

Salon spoke with Pirouznia by phone from Dallas on Thursday, where he was busy helping plan more demonstrations focused on regime change. With more and more people in the streets, he says, it's only a matter of time.

The media have repeatedly said the student-led protest movement in Tehran is disorganized and "leaderless." Is that true? Who or what is getting thousands of people out into the streets?

It's true that this movement seems disorganized, because it's a grass-roots movement. The current uprising indeed started with the students in Tehran, and now there are other layers of the population in various cities around Iran joining in. But we have been noticing and have confirmed with sources that groups of students and others are now acting in a more organized manner. That's why we see, on Wednesday evening for example, that security forces are waiting for unrest to take place in one location and suddenly thousands come out in another part of town.

Who are all these other people you mention, who are now participating in the protests?

It's practically all layers of the population, except, of course, those who have radical beliefs or an interest in the regime, but that is a very small minority. There are teachers, government employees who are unhappy with the conditions, and those from the huge proportion of Iranian people who are jobless. Many of the people who do have jobs have to have two or three of them in order to survive.

So we are reaching a stage that I will call "pre-revolution" in Iran. This doesn't necessarily mean the beginning of a bloody revolution like in past decades. The population is indeed tired of 24 years of dictatorship and is looking for, I think, a smooth way of change.

How big is the movement?

There are thousands and thousands across Iran. Thursday night was the ninth consecutive night of protests -- you know, once the wall of fear is broken, you get more and more people rallying. Since Monday it has spread to cities like Yazd, which was a very calm and provincial city before. So the momentum is growing in all directions.

What are the student-led movement's objectives? Who, specifically, do the protesters want to lead the country?

Well, at this point and level of intensity we are not where we were seven years ago, when the students simply wanted reforms from within. Now we are talking, properly, about a regime change. The protesters are now calling for overthrow of the regime with slogans such as "Referendum, referendum," and "To have freedom or to die." It's no longer talking about social or economic slogans; we are seeing much more radical ideas for regime change, with the conjunction of all these repressed people.

Where is it leading? I don't think we're at the stage yet of knowing about the prospects for a [democratic] republic or a monarchy. Iranians now are commonly agreeing about referendum, which means to put the fate of the future political frame of Iran with an election. The student movement itself does not have the goal of governing the country; it wants to create the circumstances for a referendum. You have students with different political beliefs and biases, but the cement that is holding them all together is the thirst for democracy. I think we'll be seeing in the very near future people who will come forward as leaders.

You know, when you get to this point when you have so many more people in the streets, and with the morale of the [government] troops down, it's just a matter of time.

"Nobody wants any foreign country to bring freedom for Iran"

How do the street protesters feel about President Bush's strong vocal support? Do they feel it helps their cause or hurts it?

Nobody wants any foreign country to bring freedom for Iran. It's Iranian business and it should be done in Iran, by Iranian hands. But nobody can deny the impact of the moral support of the person representing the great superpower of the world.

So they want Bush's support?

Yes, of course. That's why there are all these slogans given in English, they are for people [in the West] to hear them. The Bush administration has caught this signal and has responded favorably. I can tell you honestly that the message of the Bush administration has gone straight to the heart of many, many Iranians.

Do any of the protesters believe America should ultimately use military action in Iran if that's what it takes to end the tyrannical, ultraconservative Khamenei regime?

Oh no, that would be a mistake. Iran is no Iraq, nor Afghanistan. Iranians have shown that no matter their differences, they are nationalists first.

The best thing the Bush administration can do is put relentless pressure on the political body of the Islamic Republic, and also the international institutions ... Iran is disregarding its U.N. agreements. Back in 1948 it signed the universal declaration on human rights. Indeed you have this regime sitting there on the council that is one of the most barbaric in the world: torturing, stoning, hanging. Killing thousands of its people.

There seems to be some confusion in the West about these protests -- some are saying this is a groundswell unseen before, others say it's nothing new and won't change much. What is the Western media missing about the situation on the ground in Tehran right now?

Well, from the beginning the impression has been given to the American public that reforms can happen within the theocratic regime, that it can be done gradually. But this is ignoring a theosophy there which states, "Whomever turns from these beliefs [is the one] who needs to be put to death."

So are you saying there is a greater urgency in the streets now, that people are now demanding immediate, dramatic change?

Well, when we have come to a point of seeing people using Molotov cocktails, which happened in several areas on Wednesday evening, this should show to anybody on the planet the urgency there. We are no longer just talking about protesters or strikes; there are these Molotov cocktails and incendiary grenades that are beginning to be used.

So if the European countries are really scared about their future interests in Iran, it's time for them to shift their position and put their investment into the people. Otherwise they may have to confront a very bloody revolution in Iran, which of course will have very bad consequences for years and years to come, for the Iranian people and for European economic partners.

How do the protesters feel about President Mohammad Khatami, who was believed to be a liberal, pro-reform leader when he was elected in 1997? Does he have any real will, or power, to effect change? Or is he now seen as a total failure, no less reviled than the ultraconservative mullahs?

Yes, I think he is very much seen as an incompetent leader. Last year on the official occasion of "Student Day," for the first time ever hundreds of students who had been pre-screened and who were then presented to Khatami started to shout during that meeting, "Referendum, referendum! You failed in your promises!" And now, a year later in the street demonstrations, there are insults against Khatami and people calling for his resignation. This should make the situation clear to anybody watching from abroad who is still believing in Khatami and his so-called reform from within.

Khatami has claimed in the last few days that Iranians, conservative and liberal alike, would unite against any U.S. interference. Is he right to say that about the student-led reform movement?

No, no. Khatami and the others, I think, are like the information ministry was in Iraq. They don't know what they are talking about anymore.

But you did say that the pro-democracy movement would not want the U.S. to interfere, or to get involved militarily.

We are talking about the difference between moral interference and military interference. When it comes to military interference, the people believe that will be the wrong move. Frankly speaking, for the mullahs in power, a U.S. attack will serve their purposes. Many people there, I think, see the world's superpower creating unrest in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and in the Israeli-Palestinian region. So with a U.S. attack the clerics would hope to say: "Didn't we tell you, these are your enemies."

But when we are talking about moral interference, this is what is destroying the power of the Islamic Republic. All this pressure the U.S. is exerting through different political channels. This is why we are seeing the mullahs backing off now -- for example, backing off from opening fire on all these protesters.

"We absolutely want to avoid responding to bloodshed with bloodshed"

The media has attributed the latest violence to the so-called vigilante squads, suspected by many as serving the regime. What are the protesters really risking out in the streets right now?

Well, some are getting attacked with long sabers -- exactly like in Haiti with the Tonton Macoutes [the paramilitary squads] of Papa and Baby Doc [Duvalier]. Others are getting brutalized with clubs and chains, and getting arrested. Some are even getting shot.

It's not simply vigilantes. The structure of the Islamic Republic is like the Mafia. For example, the current Iranian ambassador to Kuwait was involved in the bloody repression two years ago during the soccer riots. There was a scandal afterward and his name came out, so they took him and made him ambassador in another country. This is how the Islamic regime works, and all these vigilantes are part of the regime -- they have roles in its administrations, in its official security forces. So when the need arises, the regime plays a good cop-bad cop game: They can talk about the turmoil and say, "Well, we have tried to stop them as well."

You've said you're in daily contact with student activists in Tehran. How do you communicate with them? Do they look to your organization for help with strategizing and planning their political actions?

The committee has had a big part in creating what we call a secular political debate in Iran. We published various writings on the Internet and through our mailing lists, and in the last two years alone we had over 100 hours of direct satellite broadcast, and several hundred hours of radio broadcast. In the beginning it was really hard to explain to the people ... the true principles of the committee and our comrades abroad.

So you've provided a lot of information, but are you also directly involved in planning specific actions over there? Do you provide financial and logistical support?

Sure, of course. We help them design plans by saying, "We think that tonight we should be going in this area, but not that one ... " We absolutely want to avoid responding to bloodshed with bloodshed; we try to maintain only civil disobedience. We do have our people on the inside there who we communicate with -- we are in a digital age. We also provide financial help for our friends and members inside.

How many members do you have on the ground there?

A decent number -- the group has been active for several years. We have constant contact with the population, and a lot of people have contacted us through the student corps in Iran after we appeared in a long debate on an L.A.-based satellite TV station. Remember, we are not a political party, but we do now have dozens of committee members in several main Iranian cities, and several hundred in Tehran.

What is most important though, and this has been confirmed through a lot of our communications with people there, is that the calls for demonstration we have issued in the past have been followed by a popular reaction there. We have a good name, and people trust what we say because we have never tried to use them for a republican or monarchy front.

A number of U.S. policy makers, including hawks like Richard Perle, say there's a "good chance" the latest uprisings could succeed in peacefully toppling the Khamenei regime -- but these kinds of protests have been going on periodically for years. Is this a more powerful movement now than during the last major uprising of July '99?

We've never seen protests before like the ones now. For five days in July 1999 the streets were in the hands of the students, but at that time what was missing was the popular support. Now we are witnessing the ninth consecutive night of demonstrations, not only in many neighborhoods of the capital, but also in various other cities. I'm not saying the revolution is going to happen this evening in Tehran -- we are not yet at that point. There needs to be an alternative ready for the future government of Iran, and we don't have that yet.

How has the swift U.S. victory in Iraq affected the pro-democracy movement? Has it emboldened the mood and grown its support?

Of course. When people see that Iran has become neighbors with America on its borders, and how two regimes like the Islamic Republic have fallen ... the people know that this time the Americans are truthful in what they're saying -- that they are talking about regime change in these places and indeed they are sending their sons and daughters to do it. So now when they are saying that they're ready to help regime change in Iran, it gives people a lot of courage to come out.

So there is a lot optimism, I think. For Iranians it is no longer a question of whether the Islamic regime will stay or go, it's a question of when it will go.

Are the student protesters prepared to use violence if necessary, to change the regime?

As I've said, we ask them to avoid using violence. That has been mostly respected so far. But we cannot ask them indefinitely to get beaten, to get cut with knives, and not to respond. And remember, it's no longer just the students. A lot of people who are jobless arrive at the protests now, and as we have seen in recent nights, the use of Molotov cocktails. The repression is starting to be answered with violent reaction. Unfortunately, the violence is going to happen when there is no longer an alternative.

Does anyone you talk with there believe that reform is still possible with the current regime?

No. Reform was born dead, and now this is well-known to everybody. That's why we are seeing all these people in the streets. The Iranian people have realized that there will be no reform with the Islamic Republic. We need to go much further, and the regime must be left behind.

* Mark Follman is an editorial fellow at Salon.

16 posted on 06/21/2003 8:51:53 AM PDT by DoctorZIn (IranAzad)
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To: DoctorZIn
Protesters chanted slogans calling for an end to the Islamic system of government and for death to the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Interesting that the chants USED to be for "Death to Americans".

Prayers for Momeni and all the Iranians yearning for freedom.

17 posted on 06/21/2003 9:08:07 AM PDT by BOBTHENAILER (proud member of a fierce, warlike tribe of a fire-breathing conservative band of Internet brothers)
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To: DoctorZIn
Any idea of where these people are being taken? These foreign thugs raping young Iranian women is disgraceful. I can't imagine any military or policeman with a drop of Persian blood standing by while that happens. Where is their pride?
18 posted on 06/21/2003 9:11:00 AM PDT by McGavin999
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To: DoctorZIn
Re #16

So if the European countries are really scared about their future interests in Iran, it's time for them to shift their position and put their investment into the people. Otherwise they may have to confront a very bloody revolution in Iran, which of course will have very bad consequences for years and years to come, for the Iranian people and for European economic partners.

Euros elites are in trouble.

19 posted on 06/21/2003 9:20:08 AM PDT by TigerLikesRooster
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To: DoctorZIn
For those of you interested in seeing what is going on in Iran you can watch the Iranian TV boradcasts into Iran at:

The programming is in Farsi, but they show video clips from Iran and rebroadcast US media stories from time to time (these are of course in English).

Right now ChannelOne is showing an English language documentary on the Shah.
20 posted on 06/21/2003 9:38:28 AM PDT by DoctorZIn (IranAzad)
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