Skip to comments.Iranian Alert -- August 28, 2004 [EST]-- IRAN LIVE THREAD -- "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 08/27/2004 9:31:40 PM PDT by DoctorZIn
The US media still largely 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. As a result, 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. In fact they were one of the first countries to have spontaneous candlelight vigils after the 911 tragedy (see photo).
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.
Tehran, Aug 27 - Interim Tehran Friday prayer leader Hojatoleslam Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani encouraged the "occupiers of Iraq and White House politicians" to think deeply and "take lessons from Najaf incidents."
Addressing thousands of worshipers at Tehran University's central campus, the head of Iran's Expediency Council added, "the main point is that an occupier country fights for 3 weeks quite resolutely against a group of defenseless, but selfless muslims who merely relied on their strong will, killing many, and destroying greatly, without achieving any tangible results."
Rafsanjani added, "the Americans need to hesitate a bit and contemplate on the point why they could not defeat the people who absolutely relied on no power's support."
He considered the armed struggle of the "Mujahids" and combatants against the aggressor occupier forces, and the massive welcome of the Iraq nation to Ayatollah Sistani's call for peaceful march toward Najaf, "two popular moves", arguing, "both the armed struggle and the peaceful and kind hearted political move of a cleric well acquainted with the people's problems are democratic and popular moves."
The former Iranian president stressed, "the US forces, relying on their most advanced military equipment, failed to intimidate the resistance fighters in Najaf, since if they had managed to do so, the fight would have halted a lot earlier, but we all know that did not happen."
Evaluating the beginning of the Najaf crisis as "quite amazing", Rafsanjani assured all, "it goes without saying that the initial stages of Najaf incidence were based on a comprehensive, premeditated planning and the occupiers were fully ready for suppressing the resistance forces, and that was not restricted to Najaf, either."
He emphasized, "the occupier Americans wished to harness all their opponents through intimidation and threat, and sent that message by launching a wild massacre of the Iraqi nation in Najaf and other Iraqi cities, but they gained the opposite feedback."
The interim friday prayer leader said, "the return of a 73-year-old source of jurisprudence after a sensitive heart surgery to a crisis stricken country, without any body guards and going the distance from border to Najaf along with the people, was truly a political maneuver that the White House advisors need to study deeply."
Rafsanjani compared that move with the late Imam's departure from Paris, on his own free will, and his arrival in Tehran, despite the ousted Shah's fiddle supporters' will, which "broke the backbone of the former Iranian regime."
He said, "the Americans have still not thoroughly understood the realities within the Islamic world and I expect the White House to consider my remarks as a warning, heed the sheer and prevailing realities, and stop creating so much trouble for the nations around the globe."
Rafsanjani quoted "some US dailies and magazine" as evaluating the Najaf attack"the most stupid move made by the white house in contemporary history."
He reiterated, "Mr. Bush has personally admitted to making mistakes in Iraq, particularly in evaluating the general situation there." Rafsanjani emphasized, "what kind of a global man agement are you putting on display? The power that claims to be the top manager of the whole world makes such a big mistake, and creates such a big mess in Najaf, the sum up of whose conduct is merely massacring the Muslims and destroying some of the holiest Islamic cities."
Referring to an electronic billboard recently erected in New York's central square which displays the expenses of Iraq war to the moment, Rafsanjani said, "up to Wednesday, August 25th, the Iraq war had cost $134.5 billion, and each day some $177 million is added to that amount, if there are not unexpected incidents, and yet, the United States has achieved no tangible result in Iraq."
He further elaborated, "the Americans spend an average $122,820 per minute just to keep killing the Iraqi civilians and create more crimes."
The former Iranian president said, "I want to send a message to the Americans from this tribune and that is hesitate for a second to evaluate the conduct of the other side, and then experience a humanitarian solution to the existing problem."
Rafsanjani added, "had you spent a quarter of this huge amount for paying back a part of your debts to those third world nations whom you have exploited their resources as a colonialist power, in the form of scientific, food stuff, and technical assistance, you would have harvested much greater outcomes."
He emphasized, "the only result of the policy you are perusing presently would be inflicting heavier human and material losses, since keeping in mind the rising oil prices at international markets, you need to compare your expenses to what you gain."
Rafsanjani said, "you not only did not secure your grandeur at international level, but were severely belittled, and Najaf today is the symbol of resistance in contemporary history, above stalingrad that formerly held that status."
The head of the Expediency Council emphasized, "you (Americans) are leading a war against the mosques around the globe, and against Islam's pah and Islamic piety and this war would yield no benefits for you."
Rafsanjani reiterated, "of course, we can see signs of coming to sense in some US officials' conduct, and even in nuclear issue, where they unfairly accused US of having military intentions, they are recently showing a certain amount of rationalism, but this, too, could be a new deceit."
The head of the Expediency Council said, "meanwhile, we invite you to observe rationalism, and we believe if you really wish to push forth reforms, you can rely on rationalism, cooperation, and collaboration, gain the assistance of a large number of people."
Rafsanjani added, "yet, if your only objective is securing your hegemony, and assuring the US monopoly, aimed at looting the resources of the world nations, I assure you that neither resorting to force, nor resorting to politics and deceit, you cannot achieve that objective."
The head of the Expediency Council meanwhile expressed hope that President Mohammad Khatami's cabinet would succeed in remaining one year of his tenure success in solving the people's acute problems, such as unemployment and inflation, and putting back on trail the important projects whose process of execution have been halted, so that his government would succeed in presenting a worthy record to the esteemed nation.
27 August 2004
Says United States maintaining pressure on Iran to abandon nuclear hopes
Secretary of State Colin Powell welcomed the initial success of the Iraqi interim government in working with Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to defuse the situation in Najaf and achieve a demobilization of Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi militia.
In an August 27 radio interview with Tony Snow, the secretary said, "Ayatollah al-Sistani came back and said to al-Sadr and others that this is the time to work with the government and to stop this kind of killing, this kind of violence; we have to start building our country."
Powell said that the standoff in Najaf was a good example of how U.S. forces are working with the sovereign Iraqi government to restore stability to the country. He said the presence of the American troops "shaped the battle to the point where it was clear to al-Sadr that he had to yield to al-Sistani and to the government."
Powell said that the resolution of this situation shows how U.S. forces are continuing to adjust their strategies according to changing circumstances on the ground while keeping their focus on the ultimate goal, which is the establishment of a free and democratic Iraq.
Turning to the question of whether Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons capabilities, Powell said that Iran continues to deny any such intention but that "the evidence suggests otherwise."
The United States has worked with its European allies to pressure Iran into abandoning its nuclear aspirations. Powell said the Bush administration is now awaiting the September report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to determine the extent to which Iran is complying with international expectations.
He said Bush would continue using diplomatic pressure through the IAEA, the European Union, Russia and the U.N. Security Council to ensure that Iran realizes that it is not in its interest to pursue nuclear weapons.
As for the fate of the current regime in Tehran, Powell said that it is up to the Iranian people to determine how they wish to be governed. "They see what the rest of the world has. They know that they could be doing better than they are doing now. And as we have seen in recent months, they are pressuring their government," he said.
Following is the transcript of Secretary Powell's interview:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
August 27, 2004
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell
On the Tony Snow Show
August 27, 2004
(11:20 a.m. EDT)
MR. SNOW: Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen. My special guest now, Secretary of State Colin Powell. Mr. Secretary, as always, an honor. Thank you for joining us.
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, Tony. It's good to hear your voice.
MR. SNOW: I am going to ask you the obvious question you get asked a billion times, but I promised Laurie and Waco that I would do it because she wants you to run for president some day. So, there you go.
First, are you going to be vice president this year?
SECRETARY POWELL: Of course not, Tony.
MR. SNOW: Okay. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY POWELL: I'm Secretary of State and proud to be serving my nation and my President in this way.
MR. SNOW: And do you intend to be president at any time?
SECRETARY POWELL: No, I have no political ambitions, whatsoever, Tony. It's standard. You've heard this answer before.
MR. SNOW: I told Laurie what you were going to say. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah, well, I appreciate her interest and I'm flattered by it, but I'll serve the country the way I'm serving it now.
MR. SNOW: And God bless you for doing it. Let's talk a little bit about some of the key challenges facing the country. President Bush told the New York Times that, yes, there have been some miscalculations in post-war planning in Iraq. Isn't that -- am I wrong, or is it natural not to have perfect foresight about what's going to happen in a war zone after the chief combat hostilities are over?
SECRETARY POWELL: You can never be sure what's going to happen. You make plans, but what you have to be able to do is adjust those plans when faced with reality. There is an old army expression, "No plan survives first contact with an enemy."
And so, what we have been doing, as the President noted in this New York Times interview, we have been adjusting, and we continue to adjust to make sure that we don't lose sight of our goal and that we accomplish that goal and that is a free and democratic Iraq. In the last 24 hours, I think we've seen some improvement in the situation with the resolution of the situation in Najaf.
MR. SNOW: Two questions: First, when you read New York Times headlines, the way the New York Times played it, does it make you crazy?
SECRETARY POWELL: Nothing makes me crazy in this town anymore, Tony. You expect these kinds of things, and you just come in every day and do your job and accomplish what the President set out to accomplish: a free, democratic Iraq; a free, democratic Afghanistan.
Fifty-five million people have been freed and they are all getting ready for elections. They're being challenged by insurgents and those who are throwing hand grenades and bombs around because they don't want democracy, and they can't be allowed to win and they will not win. And what's more important to take a look at now is how the new Iraqi Interim Government has started to show leadership and potential in working with the Ayatollah Sistani to resolve the situation in Najaf, as we see it being resolved over the last 24 hours.
But keep in mind it was the presence of U.S. troops, working with coalition troops and with the Iraqi forces, that shaped this situation to the point where the leadership of the Iraqi Interim Government, working with the Ayatollah Sistani, could bring about a resolution that did not require troops to go into that mosque. And that shows how we are working with this new government, this new sovereign government.
MR. SNOW: Secretary of State Colin Powell with me on the Tony Snow Show.
That's an important point. U.S. forces had been closing in on Muqtada al-Sadr, who, by the way, was he not taking advantage of the absence of the Ayatollah Ali Husseini al-Sistani, who had gone to London for heart treatment and immediately, surprise, surprise, all of a sudden Muqtada al-Sadr starts trying to foment rebellion in Najaf around the mosque of Ali Shrine -- the Shrine of Ali Mosque.
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, he may well have been taking advantage of the Ayatollah Sistani's absence, but the Ayatollah Sistani came back and said to al-Sadr and others that this is the time to work with the government and to stop this kind of killing, this kind of violence; we have to start building our country.
MR. SNOW: But under the previous provisional government, and correct me if I'm wrong, is not Muqtada al-Sadr still under indictment for murder?
SECRETARY POWELL: He is still under indictment. That indictment has not been lifted. Although the new government has declared something of a general amnesty, it's not clear that it applies to him.
Right now, we're not pursuing that. Right now, we're pursuing stability in Najaf and stability in that mosque, and it's good to see Iraqi police and Iraqi troops that are providing that stability, but with the nearby presence of coalition troops, especially American troops, that shaped the battle to the point where it was clear to Sadr that he had to yield to Sistani and to the government.
QUESTION: All right. By the way, so, in other words, if he tries again, and we've been through this three or four times already, the U.S. will be at the ready, if necessary?
SECRETARY POWELL: We'll be at the ready. More importantly, the Iraqi Government will be at the ready and his militia seems to be moving out or leaving the area. Frankly, they took huge losses over the last several weeks and I think their capability was diminished and we want to keep that capability diminished.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, Iran. What do we do to prevent Iran from creating nuclear weapons?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we have always felt that Iran was moving in this direction and we pressed the Russians, who were working on a power plant for the Iranians, and we pressed the International Atomic Energy Agency and our European Union friends. And the international community has put enormous pressure on Iran and there will be meetings of the IAEA in September and November to decide whether Iran is responding in a proper way or what else we might do.
We do not want Iran to have nuclear weapons. Iran says it is not moving in that direction, but the evidence suggests otherwise.
So this is a case where the President is using diplomatic pressure in a variety of ways -- with the Russians, with the IAEA, with the European Union, with the Security Council -- to constrain Iran. And I hope that Iran will realize it is not in their interest to keep moving in such a direction and will act accordingly.
QUESTION: What about the Iranian people? Do you think that they're going to put pressure? There's been a lot of speculation about, at some point, an overthrow.
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I see this speculation and, you know, we just have to leave it up to the Iranian people to decide how they wish to be governed. I think the Iranian people, who are mostly young -- I mean, it's a very young population -- I think they are looking for a better life. I've been in touch with a number of Iranians who have relatives here in the United States and talked to them and I'm in touch with them through that means, and they're looking for a better life. They see what the rest of the world has. They know that they could be doing better than they are doing now. And as we have seen in recent months, they are pressuring their government.
But we have learned over the years that we should listen to what the Iranian people say and we should talk to the Iranian people with the message we have of a desire for a better relationship with Iran. But it is up to the Iranian people to determine how they will be led and what kind of leadership they would like to see in political power in Iran.
QUESTION: Secretary of State Colin Powell, thanks so much for joining us. Have a great trip to Greece. Enjoy yourself. Are you looking forward to it?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I am. Thank you very much, Tony. We're still looking at that trip and thank you very much. It's been a great Olympics. I mean, the Greek people and Government have done a superb job. Thank you.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
Chirac: Iran Must Suspend Nuclear Enrichment To Gain Trust [Excerpt]
August 27, 2004
Dow Jones Newswires
PARIS -- French President Jacques Chirac had sharp words Friday for the leadership of Iran , which the U.S. accuses of using a civilian nuclear program as a cover for a secret nuclear weapons project.
"Iran must understand that it must create the conditions for gaining the trust of the international community, especially in terms of living up to its commitment to suspend enrichment."
Earlier this month, Iran confirmed it had resumed building nuclear centrifuges, which can be used to enrich uranium to weapons grade, and declared it should have the right to nuclear technology that has both peaceful and weapons uses.
The U.S. has been lobbying for the International Atomic Energy Agency to refer Iran 's nuclear dossier to the Security Council, which could impose sanctions.
In an address to his nation's diplomats, Chirac also said despite occasional flaring tensions and differences in point of view - the U.S. and France have always been friends and allies.
EXECUTION OF 16 YEARS OLD GIRL OUTRAGES PUBLIC OPINION
By Safa Haeri
Posted Friday, August 27, 2004
PARIS, 27 Aug. (IPS) Iranians and international community expressed outrage at reported execution of the 16-year-old Ateqeh Rajabi on vague charges of un-Islamic behaviour.
According to Press reports from the Islamic Republic, Ms. Rajabi was publicly hanged on a street in the city centre of Neka in the northern province of Mazandaran, on 15 August, for "acts incompatible with chastity".
Faced with domestic and international outcry of dismay, the authorities said the young girl was mentally incompetent.
However, informed sources revealed that Ms. Ateqeh was sentenced to death by the judge, a cleric, because during the "trial", she expressed outrage at the misogyny and injustice in the Islamic Republic and its Islam-based judicial system.
The lower court judge was so incensed by her protestations that he personally put the noose around her neck after his decision had been upheld by the Supreme Court, the sources reported.
The execution of Ateqeh Rajabi is the tenth execution of a child offender in Iran recorded by Amnesty International since 1990. Amnesty International has urged Irans judicial authorities to halt further executions of child offenders - people who were under 18 years old at the time of the offence. This is to bring Irans law and practice in line with requirements of international human rights law.
Amnesty International that expressed outrage at the execution of the young girl believes that the execution of Ateqeh Rajabi underlines the urgent necessity that Iran pass legislation removing provision for the execution of child offenders, thereby preventing further execution of child offenders, and bringing Iran into line with its obligations under international law.
In an article published Friday 27 August 2004 in the Germany-based internet newspaper Iran Emrooz, Dr. Hoseyn Baqer Zadeh, an Iranian human rights activist observed that the laws of the Islamic Republic are the most inhuman, segregationist, insulting and discriminatory against women.
While, according to Islam-based laws, a woman accused of adultery faces capital punishment, a man can have several wives and commits adultery without punishment, he observed.
Actually, a man who murdered his wife during her trial in a court in Shahr Rey near Tehran had been acquitted by the court that was judging the case of the woman accused of relations with another man outside marriage.
Interestingly, female lawmakers at the present conservatives-dominated Majles, or parliament have opposed attempts by lawyer Shirin Ebadi, the human rights activist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2003 for improving the conditions of women in Iran.
Amnesty International is alarmed that this execution was carried out despite reports that Ateqeh Rajabi was not believed to be mentally competent, and that she reportedly did not have access to a lawyer at any stage.
According to report on Peyk-e Iran internet website, Rajabi was sentenced to death approximately three months ago, by a lower court in Neka in the northern Iranian province of Mazandaran, for "acts incompatible with chastity".
During her trial, at which a lawyer did reportedly not represent her, the judge allegedly severely criticised her dress, harshly reprimanding her. It is alleged that Rajabi was mentally ill both at the time of her crime and during her trial proceedings.
But experts have not confirmed this. On the same night that she was buried, unknown individuals reportedly removed Ateqehs corpse from the grave. The Rajabi family have lodged a complaint and have called for an investigation.
The co-defendant of Ateqeh Rajabi, an unnamed man, was reportedly sentenced to 100 lashes. He was released after this sentence was carried out.
It is reported that although Ateqehs national ID card stated that she was 16 years old, the Mazandaran Judiciary announced at her execution that her age was 22.
The Supreme Court upheld the death sentence and Ateqeh Rajabi was publicly hanged in the city centre of Neka on 15 August.
The co-defendant of Ateqeh Rajabi, an unnamed man, was reportedly sentenced to 100 lashes. He was released after this sentence was carried out.
A bill to raise the minimum age for execution to 18 was reportedly under consideration by parliament in December 2003. However, the bill is believed to have been not ratified by the Guardian Council, Irans highest legislative body.
As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Iran is bound not to execute child offenders. Both treaties provide that capital punishment shall not be imposed for offences committed by persons under 18 year of age at the time of committing the offence.
ENDS ATEQEH EXECUTED 27804
Najaf militants surrender shrine
The deal was mediated by Iraq's top Shia leader, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, to end three weeks of fighting.
First thousands of pilgrims thronged the mosque, then as residents returned to the city, traffic jams formed.
At least 10 "charred and bloated" bodies have been found at a court run by Najaf revolt leader Moqtada Sadr.
The deputy police chief in Najaf said his officers had discovered a building containing the remains of people "convicted" by the court.
A correspondent for the Associated Press news agency said he saw about 10 charred and bloated bodies in the court building, including one of an elderly woman.
Police said the bodies belonged to police and civilians, but a court official said they were militants killed in recent fighting.
Shia pilgrims had come to Najaf from all over Iraq, heeding a call by Mr Sistani to converge on the city.
Loudspeakers within broadcast a call by Mr Sadr for his followers to leave the complex.
Correspondents say many of the fighters melted away with the worshippers as they left the shrine in the early afternoon.
Dozens of militants were seen piling their weapons on to carts.
However, a reporter for the AFP news agency said some fighters were carrying Kalashnikovs home in plastic bags and heavier weapons wrapped in canvas were being hidden in private houses in the old city.
Then there was silence on the streets. The American forces pulled most of their troops back and the Iraqi police moved in to take control of the city.
They were followed by traffic jams as people flooded back in to assess the damage and rebuild businesses.
In other developments:
The Najaf deal came after Ayatollah Sistani returned to Iraq from the UK, where he had been receiving medical treatment.
It is a remarkable end to a crisis that a day ago seemed to be going nowhere - and a major success for an elderly cleric with a heart problem who disobeyed his doctor's orders to bring peace to his holy city, says the BBC's Alastair Leithead in Najaf.
Our correspondent notes that an earlier peace agreement in June was short-lived. It remains to be seen, he says, whether Mr Sadr's supporters will be back in the days and weeks ahead.
The deal negotiated with Moqtada Sadr has been welcomed by the US-backed interim government in Baghdad as a "great victory".
But a spokesman for Mr Sadr stressed that the fighters were disarming, not disbanding.
A spokesman for the interim government, Qassen Daoud, said Mr Sadr's supporters would be welcome to join the political process and Mr Sadr would be allowed to remain free.
Iraqi doctors say hundreds of people were killed or injured in the 22-day stand-off.
Population : 68,070,000 The Iranian regime censors thousands of websites it considers "non-Islamic" and harasses and imprisons online journalists. Internet filtering was increased in the run-up to the February 2004 parliamentary elections, at which the hardliners strengthened their grip on the country. But despite this, the Internet is flourishing, with fierce debate and weblogs ("blogs") sprouting up all the time. The Internet has grown faster in Iran than any other Middle Eastern country since 2000 and has become an important medium, providing fairly independent news and an arena for vigorous political discussion for more than three million users. Websites, like the press, reflect the split between reformists and hardliners in the regime, which has a hardline Supreme Guide of the Islamic Revolution (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) as head of state and a reformist president (Mohammad Khatami) whose power is quite limited. Though the authorities crack down hard on freedom of expression, civil society remains active and keen to debate the country's affairs. But the 20 February 2004 parliamentary elections, which gave all power to the hardliners, may reduce Internet users' freedom to discuss social issues. The weblog phenomenon Weblogs - personal or collective websites where people comment on current events - are a new and promising development which is having a big impact on society. Vice-President Mohammad Ali Abtahi himself set up one of these mini-sites, where he described daily progress (with photos as well) at a major international conference he was attending. His "blog" can still be seen at www.webnevesht.com. The Supreme Guide, Ali Khamenei, launched his own website, www.khamenei.ir, in May 2004. Weblogs are much used at times of crisis, such as during the June 2003 student demonstrations, when they were the main source of news about the protests and helped the students to rally and organise. The regime is aware of the growing influence of weblogs and is trying to restrict them by filtering sites that host them and set them up, such as www.geocities.com, www.ifrance.com, www.tripod.com and www.freeservers.com. Iran also has between 20 and 30 major political websites, most of them (such as www.emrooz.ws, blocked from inside Iran since February 2003) close to the reformists. But the hardliners have their publications online too and each side uses the Internet for propaganda. Quite effective control Censorship, officially to protect the public from immorality, has quickly spread to political content. In fact, it is now easier to access pornographic sites than reformist ones. Nearly 10,000 sites are thought to be blocked from inside the country. Privately-owned ISPs began to develop timidly in Iran in 1994, in the shadow of the big state-run ISP, Data Communication Company of Iran (DCI), which is directly controlled by the intelligence ministry. They have to be approved by both this ministry and the culture and Islamic guidance ministry and must have filters for websites and personal e-mail. All users are required to promise in writing not to access "non-Islamic" sites. A commission of officials from the ministries of intelligence and culture and Islamic guidance and from the state-run radio and TV was set up in January 2003 to make a list of "illegal" news sites and supply the names to the posts and telecommunications ministry, which passed them on to the ISPs to filter out. Prosector-general Abdolnabi Namazi announced a new commission in early May to deal with online offences. He said authors of material posted on websites created in Iran would risk prosecution if they did not respect the national constitution and the press law. He added that since there was no Internet law yet, courts could use the press law, which provides for heavy prison sentences. Justice ministry spokesman Golam Hossin Elham said in June that the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution was drafting an Internet law that would ban criticism of the regime and its officials, buying and selling alcohol and distorting the words of the Supreme Guide, Ali Khamenei, or the late Ayatollah Khomeiny. Deputy posts, telecommunications and information technology minister Massud Davari-Nejad said in May his ministry had blocked access to "immoral sites and political sites that insult the country's political and religious leaders." When people try to access an "illegal" site, they are warned that "on orders from the posts and telecommunications ministry, visiting this site is not permitted." Measures were also taken against ISPs. Five privately-owned ones in the northern city of Tabriz were shut down in early May because they had not installed filters against banned sites. At least seven ISPs were also closed down in Teheran for the same reasons. The hardliners were not the only ones trying to control the Internet. In May, two reformist figures, government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh and posts, telecommunications and information technology minister Ahmad Motamedi, warned ISPs to apply the new rules and said the system of filters was quite legal. Cybercafés under surveillance Owners of cybercafés, which are very popular with the young people, students and intellectuals, especially in the capital, who are most of the country's Internet users, ask customers to disconnect if they catch them looking at "non-Islamic" sites. The regime stepped up its control of cybercafés in May 2001 and in November that year, the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, chaired by President Khatami but dominated by hardliners, ordered all privately-owned ISPs to shut down or put themselves under government control. The measure went into effect at the end of the year. Repression increases in run-up to elections Online publications, like the written press, were harassed by the regime in the weeks before the February 2004 elections. The independent and very popular online paper www.gooya.comwas temporarily blocked in early January. Many of the 50 or so weblogs discussing the elections were also blocked, including http://sobhaneh.com and a collective weblog giving news about the reformist boycott of the vote (http://home.c2i.net/hasanagha/tahrim/tahrimmajles01.htm). News site www.rouydad.ws was officially cut off on 18 February and the Reporters Without Borders website www.rsf.org (which is also in Persian) has been inaccessible in Iran since early February. Teheran's chief prosecutor, Said Mortazavi, who is very harsh on the reformist media, announced on 23 February the closure of the reformist news site www.emrooz.ws, which had been blocked in Iran since the beginning of the year but was still accessible from abroad. Mortazavi's action could lead to a complete shutdown of the site, which he claimed was "harming national security." Cyber-dissidents still harassed and imprisoned Javad Tavaf, editor of the personal website Rangin Kaman and one of the leaders of the student protest movement, was arrested at his home on 16 January 2003 by people who said they were military court officials. But when his family went to the court, they were told he had not been arrested. Tavaf had earlier been arrested during the July 1987 student revolt. His website had been very popular in 2002, when he harshly criticised the Supreme Guide, Ali Khamenei. He was freed on 18 January. Mohsen Sazegara, one of the pioneers of the reformist media and editor of the news site www.alliran.net, was arrested at his home on 18 February by plainclothes state security agents, his house and office searched and a large amount of written material seized. A week earlier, he had posted an article on the website calling for reform of the national constitution. He also wrote that the wishes of Iranians had been "hijacked by six religious figures on the Council of Guardians," a body controlled by hardliners and appointed by Khamenei which supervises elections and ratifies laws. "The past five years have shown that the religious authorities cannot be reformed," he wrote, saying the Supreme Guide had "dictatorial" powers. He was freed on 22 February but arrested again on 15 June amid student demonstrations. His family paid bail of six billion rials (600,000 euros) but he was not released. He staged prison hunger-strikes lasting 56 and 23 days despite having serious heart problems. He was charged by the Teheran revolutionary court for "undermining national security" and "insulting the Guide." He was sentenced on 27 September to a year in prison after a secret trial, but was freed on 6 October. Sina Motallebi, a journalist with the reformist daily Hayat-é-Now and editor of the website www.rooznegar.com, was arrested on 20 April after being summoned the previous day by the Teheran police's morality section, Adareh Amaken, which is close to the intelligence services. After the closure of the paper in January, he set up the website and used it to defend one of the paper's journalists, Alireza Eshraghi, who had been arrested on 11 January. The site, which especially defends imprisoned journalists, had angered some legal officials and also a number of reformists who he criticised for their silence about the arrests of journalists. He was accused of "undermining national security through artistic activity." He had been summoned several times by legal officials and by Adareh Amaken. He was freed on 12 May and had to leave the country. He is continuing his journalistic work from abroad. The Supreme National Security Council, headed by President Khatami, banned the press at the end of May from publishing a letter sent by more than 100 reformist MPs to the Supreme Guide demanding reforms and warning that the regime would be in danger if he continued to block them. They said most Iranians were unhappy or disappointed, most educated people remained silent or left the country, as had most of its financial reserves, and that the country was entirely surrounded by foreign forces. No Iranian newspaper printed the letter, which was made public on 24 May, and it could only be read for a few hours on the reformist website Rouydad and the site of the student news agency ISNA before it was taken down. It can now only be seen on foreign-based Persian-language sites.
Internet users : 3,168,000 (2002)
Average charge for 20 hours of connection : 5 euros
DAI* : 0.43
Situation** : very serious
The weblog phenomenon
Quite effective control
Cybercafés under surveillance
Repression increases in run-up to elections
Cyber-dissidents still harassed and imprisoned
Olympics: Iran grabs Olympic taekwondo gold on day of protests
28 August 04
ATHENS : Iran grabbed their first-ever Olympic taekwondo gold medal while world-leaders South Korea opened their campaign with one title, saying they may have lost another to a scoring mistake by the judges.
Sydney bronze medallist Hadi Saei Bonehkohal narrowly outpointed Taiwan's Huang Chih-Hsiung in the men's under-68kg gold-medal final.
Iran had taken home one bronze medal when the Korean-born combat sport made its debut in the 2000 Sydney Games.
Jang Ji-Won grabbed South Korea's first taekwondo gold medal in Athens by whipping Nia Abdallah of the United States 2-1 in the women's under-57kg featherweight final as the four-day competition crossed halfway point.
It was the first day of action for South Korea, who won three out of the eight golds on offer in Sydney.
The Olympic quota limits each country to four entrants total in a sport that includes four men's and four women's divisions.
South Korea's gold-medal hope Song Myeong-Seob narrowly lost to Saei Bonehkohal in the men's semi-finals by a penalty point slapped on him. The competition arbitration board rejected Song's appeal against the scoring, and he had to fight back through the consolation round to win the bronze.
The day also saw Greece's world champion Areti Athanasopoulou lead a chorus of protests after she lost to Thailand's Nootcharin Sukkhongdumnoen by a decision in the women's first round. Her protest was also rejected.
Saei Bonehkohal, the Sydney Olympics bronze medallist, led Huang 1-0 after the first round.
The Taiwanese, the world champion in the 58-62kg bantamweight, battled back to trail 2-4 at the end of the second.
But the 28-year-old Iranian veteran scored two more points for kicks. But two points were deducted from his score for penalties to win the match 4-3.
In the women's final, Jang scored a one-point kick in the first two-minute round. The 2001 world champion widened the points lead to 4-0 in the second and end the match at 4-1. Two points were taken out from her score due to penalties for passivity.
Mexican Iridia Salazar Blanco, a three-time world silver medallist, beat Sonia Reyes of Spain 3-2 in the play-off for the bronze medal.
Hadi Saei from Iran, displays the gold medal he won in men's under 68kg at Taekwondo, Friday, Aug. 27, 2004, at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
Iran-America in Olympics wrestling...Cael Sanderson, of United States, right, and Majid Khodaei, of Iran, wrestle during a pool elimintion bout for the men's freestyle 84kg at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Friday, Aug. 27, 2004. (AP Photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian)
Didn't hear this...
If anyone has more information on his efforts, please post it here.
October 1st 2004
The End of the Islamic Republic of Iran?
The Iranian community is a buzz with the reports that October 1, 2004 will mark the end of the Iranian Republic of Iran. ...
Books Banned by the Islamic Republic of Iran
I have found an interesting website that provides downloadable versions of some interesting books "Banned in Iran."
Oh God, I hope he's safe. He's going to need some heavy prayers.
Interesting list of books. I'm puzzled as to why they banned books by Khomeini and Khamenei? Bad translations?
Sounds like 3 possible scenarios:
1) The regime could deny him entry into Iran
2)They could arrest him when he steps off the plane
3)They could wait to see who he meets with, and then arrest all of them.
...I'm puzzled as to why they banned books by Khomeini and Khamenei? ...
The Iranian government has tried to eliminate the evidence of the many stupid things Khomeini said.
Well, if they're trying to eliminate stupid quotes, they ought to put a muzzle on Khatami.