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posted on 10/10/2003 12:13:20 AM PDT
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posted on 10/10/2003 12:14:36 AM PDT
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posted on 10/10/2003 12:14:56 AM PDT
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U.N. says still waiting for Iran nuclear data
Fri 10 October, 2003 04:00 BST
LONDON (Reuters) - Chief United Nations nuclear inspector Mohamed ElBaradei says he is still waiting for Iran to provide satisfactory information to show its atomic programme is entirely non-military, the Financial Times has reported.
ElBaradei told the paper's Friday edition that teams of inspectors sent to Iran last week had been given access to sites they had requested and had received fresh information from Iranian authorities.
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has insisted that Tehran will provide whatever cooperation is needed by an October 31 deadline set by the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to prove its nuclear programme is solely geared for peaceful purposes.
But ElBaradei said the amount and flow of information remained inadequate.
"They've promised information will be forthcoming but it has not yet been provided," he told the paper in an interview.
"The central question is whether Iran has any (uranium) enrichment activities that we have not yet been informed about. On that question I haven't got satisfactory information."
U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton predicted on Thursday that Iran would show some cooperation to prevent a showdown over the deadline but not enough to dispel international suspicion of its nuclear ambitions.
"They will try and throw sand in our eyes and use a modest level of cooperation to hide some level of obfuscation and lack of cooperation, to conceal as much as they can, to delay, to fight for time, and to avoid having the issue referred to the (U.N.) Security Council," he told reporters in London.
ElBaradei has warned Tehran that if it fails to cooperate fully with his agency Iran's case may be sent to the Security Council for possible sanctions.
Iran insists its nuclear programme is solely geared to producing electricity and not for building an atomic arms capability, as Washington alleges. http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsPackageArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=386027§ion=news
posted on 10/10/2003 12:17:31 AM PDT
A Must Read Article By Amir Taheri -- DoctorZin
ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS RECANT
By AMIR TAHERI
October 10, 2003 -- ENOUGH is enough! This is the message of a new book selling like hotcakes in Egypt. The authors are eight senior sheiks (leaders) of Gamaa al-Islamiyah (Islamic Society), a terrorist organization that waged a bloody campaign against the Egyptian state for 20 years. The campaign claimed thousands of lives, including hundreds of Western tourists.
The book's purpose is better explained by its subtitle "Theological Revisions by the Islamic Society," rather than its almost romantic title, "River of Memories." It is a summary of discussions held by the movement's leaders and militants over a period of 10 months, while serving prison terms of between five and 22 years.
Egypt's government has released 1,000 of the group's members in recent days - in good part because of the sentiments expressed in the book.
The sheiks write: "Egyptians should not shed the blood of Egyptians . . . What happened was wrong and should not happen again." They add, "Women and children should not be killed, even in war."
They sheikcall for "a complete and unconditional end to any act of violence, including verbal violence, against the Egyptian authorities inside or outside the country."
The book contains a discussion about the attack organized by the terror movement against tourists in Luxour in 1997, in which almost 60 Westerners, mostly Germans, were blown to pieces.
"In Luxour we killed men, women and children, young and old - innocent travelers who had come to visit our land," the book says. "It was wrong, wrong, wrong. Islam does not permit the murder of innocent civilians for any reason."
The sheiks attribute the 9/11 attacks to the Israeli secret service Mossad, and claim that no Muslim would have planned and carried out an operation that claimed the lives of "thousands of innocent people." To back their claim, they recall the Islamic rule that identified suicide as a grave sin on par with the denial of the oneness of God. Thus Mohamed Atta and his gang could not have been Muslims.
The sheiks also condemn the recent terrorist attack in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, which killed almost 50 people - but, this time, do not blame it on Mossad.
The sheiks claim that they had misunderstood and misused the concept of jihad in Islam. They enumerate the classical rules concerning jihad, which has been wrongly interpreted by many commentators to mean "holy war." They admit that they had ignored those rules, but do not express regret. "What is past is past," they insist. They assert that the issue of jihad is "too delicate, too complex" to be handled by "unqualified individuals acting on the basis of raw emotions."
They add that jihad could be interpreted as an order to war only if it is based on theological consensus, something almost impossible to achieve, and even then only in self-defense.
The sheiks call for an end to armed struggle and a new strategy of "re-Islamicizing" Egyptian society through example and preaching.
Leading the discussions was Karam Muhammad Zohdi, who spent 22 years in prison after being found guilty of participation in the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in October 1980. The authorities released Zohdi from jail last month and allowed him to promote the new book.
The movement's most senior leader, Zohdi was joined by other sheiks, notably Najih Abdallah, the movement's ideologue, and Hamdi Abdel-Azim. Missing from the group is Ayman al-Zawahiri - now al Qaeda's No. 2, and hiding either in Iran or in Pakistan.
The sheiks describe the Taliban regime in Afghanistan as weird and its leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, as "a warlord," and not a theologian. They shed no tears for the deposed Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein and say that "not anyone who bears arms is a fighter for Islam."
What should one make of this strange turnabout? Here are eight men who have blood on their hands and whose organization is responsible for countless tragedies, and yet they seek reintegration into a society that they terrorized for a generation.
Some of them describe themselves as tawwabin - "the repenting ones" - and refer to classical Islamic rules that allow forgiveness for those who confess their sins and dedicate their lives to repairing the effects.
There are, nevertheless, several troubling points.
* The sheiks claim that Egyptian society needs to be "re-Islamicized." This presupposes the existence of an ideal Islamic model, known only to the ex-terrorist leadership.
* They call for a campaign of "persuasion and encouragement" aimed at promoting "Islamic values." This means intimidating women into wearing the type of hijab (headgear) that has become the symbol of Islamist terrorism since the mid '70s. It also means ostracizing men who do not grow their beards in the form mandated by the terrorist leaders.
Beyond these outwards symbols, it also means an atmosphere in which people who do not wish to live their lives the way the sheiks deem fit would constantly feel threatened.
* Finally, the sheiks are careful not to abandon such goals as making Islam the sole religion of all mankind, wiping Israel off the map and destroying "deviant" Muslims - such as Shiites, a majority in Iran, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon - like "evil weeds."
In military terms, the Egyptian terrorist movement has lost the war it unleashed against the state. But it intends to pursue a political, social and cultural war in which psychological terror is the prime weapon.
The Gamaa's new strategy is, in a sense, not new at all. It has been practiced by the Ikhwan al-Moslemeen (The Muslim Brotherhood) in Egypt and half a dozen other Arab countries for years.
Allied to the despotic regimes in place, the Brotherhood promises not to challenge the political authority of the state. In exchange, it gets a free hand in "Islamicizing" society the way it likes.
In some countries, including Egypt, the strategy has worked. Today, many Egyptians feel less free than 25 years ago. Also compared to 25 years ago, Egypt is becoming a cultural desert upon which blows the murderous wind of bedouinisation.
Amir Taheri is an Iranian author of 10 books on the Middle East and Islam. He's reachable through www.benadorassociates.com. http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/7721.htm
posted on 10/10/2003 12:25:22 AM PDT
posted on 10/10/2003 12:30:00 AM PDT
(Homeland Security + Tom Ridge = Open Borders --> Demand Change!)
PM Visit To Iran To Deepen Bilateral Relations: FM
Updated on 2003-10-10 10:43:12
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Oct 10 (PNS) - Upcoming visit of Pakistans Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali to Iran will deepen the existing relations between Tehran and Islamabad, Pakistans top diplomat said here Wednesday.
In a meeting with Iran`s Ambassador Mohammad-Ebrahim Taherian at Foreign Office, Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri called for expansion of Iran-Pakistan cooperation and interaction vis-a-vis the regional and international developments.
According to a press release by Irans Embassy in Islamabad, the Iranian envoy expressed satisfaction over the opportunity for cementing the ties between the two brotherly neighboring countries of Pakistan and Iran.
"Stability and security in the region notably in Afghanistan is in the best interests of its neighboring countries as well as the whole region," Taherian was quoted as saying.
Both the minister and the visiting ambassador hailed the splendid history of friendly and deeply-rooted relations between their respective countries stressing for expansion of ties in all fields, the embassy reported.
Pakistans premier is expected to visit the Islamic Republic of Iran on Oct 22 heading a top-level delegation. http://www.paknews.com/main.php?id=1&date1=2003-10-10
posted on 10/10/2003 12:42:10 AM PDT
Shirin Ebadi wins Nobel Peace Prize
Iranian lawyer and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi has won the Nobel Peace Prize for 2003. Ebadi is Iran's first female judge and a leading figure in the struggle for women's and children's rights in Iran. She is known for representing the interests of persecuted individuals and has braved reprisals for her beliefs.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee was founded in compliance with Alfred Nobel's will, made public in January 1897, a month after his death. The Committee is composed of five members appointed by Norway's parliament, the Storting.
The current committee is led by Ole Danbolt Mjoes, and includes Berge Ragnar Furre, Sissel Marie Rønbeck, Inger-Marie Ytterhorn, and Kaci Kullmann Five. Geir Lundestad is secretary and director of the Nobel Institute.
The peace prize is worth SEK 10 million (USD 1.3 million).
At 11:00 am local time, the head of the Norwegian Nobel committee, Ole Danholt Mjoes, announced that the prize would be going to a Muslim woman for the first time.
"I am very happy, and hope that the prize can contribute to the struggle for human rights in Iran," Ebadi said in a telephone interview with Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) after the announcement.
Ebaid also said that she hoped the prize would encourage other Muslim woman around the world, and for their fight for equal rights.
In 2001 Ebadi won the Rafto Prize for her long battle for human rights and democracy in Iran. He has also been recognized by Human Rights Watch for her efforts.
In 1997 Ebadi told Norwegian news agency NTB that Iran's existing system had to change.
"After the revolution many things went wrong. For example, we received a series of discriminatory laws. Now an increasing number of people want changes, and this is seen in the election of Mohammad Khatami as president. The time has come for reforms," Ebadi said.
posted on 10/10/2003 2:53:38 AM PDT
Iran's Ebadi Thorn in Side of Clerics
October 10, 2003
Iran's first woman judge before the 1979 Islamic revolution, Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi's work as a human rights activist has landed her in jail and seen her branded a threat to the Islamic system.
A vocal campaigner for women's and children's rights, Ebadi, 56, has acted as defence lawyer for a wide range of political activists, earning a reputation for taking on cases others were too afraid to touch.
"Any person who pursues human rights in Iran must live with fear from birth to death," she told the Christian Science Monitor in a 1999 interview.
"But I have learned to overcome my fear," she said.
The country's first woman judge, Ebadi was prevented from continuing in that role after the Islamic revolution when Sharia law was enforced. Women were too emotional and irrational to pass judgment in the courtroom, Iran's new leaders said.
Now a lawyer, writer and part-time lecturer at Tehran University, Ebadi has spent much of her time since the revolution campaigning for better rights for women and children in her native country.
She argued passionately that Sharia law could be adapted to modern times without undermining religion in the officially Shi'ite Islamic Republic.
"The legal keys that Shia religion has given us enable us to transform and act according to the times," she wrote in a recent article.
Ebadi found herself on the wrong side of the law in 2000, when she was accused of disseminating a politically explosive videotape of a violent Islamic vigilante group member who confessed to links with conservative politicians in Iran.
That incident landed Ebadi in Tehran's notorious Evin prison where scores of political dissidents are held.
In solitary confinement there, she wrote: "Angrily I am trying to write on the cement wall with the bottom of my spoon that we are born to suffer because we are born in the Third World. Time and place are imposed upon us. So let's be patient as there is no other choice."
Reformist political analyst Saeed Leylaz said Ebadi had "provided a lot of legal help to political prisoners and those who had activities supporting reforms."
"I'm very excited as an Iranian and I congratulate her," Leylaz said. "I hope it helps to push reforms forward in Iran." http://uk.news.yahoo.com/031010/325/earrl.html
Peace Award Divides Iran
October 10, 2003
The news that the Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi has won the Nobel Peace Prize has met with mixed feelings in her own country.
While her supporters in the reform movement were clearly delighted, hardliners who don't share her liberal views were not pleased to see the outside world honouring someone they regard as a dissident.
Ebadi has fought in the corner of high-profile Iranian dissidents
Hours after the news was making headlines around the world, it still had not been reported by Iran's state-run TV, radio or news agency.
Most of the official media are regarded as strongholds of the conservative hardliners.
Shirin Ebadi made her mark in the field of women's rights here even before the 1979 Islamic revolution, being appointed Iran's first woman judge.
That distinction was removed after the revolution, and she took to teaching law at university. But she soon went beyond that to become an activist pioneer of women's and children's rights, seeking changes particularly in the way the divorce and inheritance laws work in Iran.
She also took up the cases of liberal and dissident figures who fell foul of the judiciary, one of the bastions of hardline power here.
Two of her clients, liberal intellectuals Daryoush and Parvaneh Forouhar, were stabbed to death in a series of killings in 1998 which turned out to be the work of "rogue elements" in the Intelligence Ministry.
Shirin Ebadi found herself in the dock in 2000, accused of distributing the video-taped confession of a hardline hooligan who claimed that prominent conservative leaders were instigating physical attacks on pro-reform gatherings and figures.
That won her a suspended jail sentence and a professional ban, but it also brought increasing outside recognition from human rights groups abroad.
Since then, she has continued her pioneering role, setting up a new non-governmental organisation, the Centre for the Defence of Human Rights.
Fellow human rights campaigners, and the reform movement in general, were clearly delighted by the prestigious award, seeing it as validation of their own cause.
"I hope the people who do not approve of her will now reconsider their position," Sharbanou Amani, one of 13 women MPs in the Iranian parliament, told the French news agency AFP. "It is a source of pride for Iran's intellectuals."
Elaheh Koulaie, another female reformist MP, said the prize "shows the world community that the democracy process in Iran is going forward."
Other reformists pointed to the huge discrepancy between the international recognition conferred on Ms Ebadi and the causes she is struggling for, and the dire situation she and her colleagues face at home.
In addition to feeling discomfited by the award, some conservatives saw it as a further attempt by outsiders to intervene in Iranian politics. The Nobel committee said it hoped the prize would encourage those inside Iran struggling for human rights and democracy.
"This prize carried the message that Europe intends to put further pressure on human rights issues in Iran as a political move to achieve its particular objectives," said Amir Mohebian, a commentator at the hardline newspaper Resalat. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3180758.stm
Iranian Exiles Say Ron Arad is Jailed Near Tehran
October 10, 2003
Missing Air Force navigator Ron Arad is alive and held by the Iranian intelligence in a small, secret jail near Tehran, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported Friday, quoting three Iranian exiles.
One of the sources is a diplomat and the two others former intelligence officials, all whom are currently in Europe.
Arad has been missing since his plane was downed over Lebanon in 1986.
The paper said that it could not establish or refute the testimonies of the three men in Israel, and says that the claims must be treated with caution and suspicion.
The paper said that the three have given testimonies in the west on other Iranian issues and that it is reasonable to assume that they have no reason to lie or fabricate the information on Arad.
According to the one of sources, Arad was transferred from Lebanon via Syria to Iran in mid 1994. Before the trip he underwent an operation to paralyze his legs in order to prevent him from escaping. The source said Arad had attempted to escape while he was in Lebanon, and was then shot and wounded by his guards.
The source said he worked in the prison Arad was taken to, which is near Tehran, not far from a missile factory, and that he had access to Arads files. He said that he saw Arad several times and even exchanged words with him. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=348654&contrassID=1&subContrassID=1&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y
Ebadi Hopes Nobel Will Help Iran Democracy
October 10, 2003
Middle East Online
OSLO - Iranian human rights activist and feminist lawyer, Shirin Ebadi, was awarded the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo Friday, becoming the first Muslim woman to win the honour in the prize's 102-year history.
Ebadi, 56, was given the prize "for her efforts for democracy and human rights," particularly for women and children in her country, which has been under Islamic rule since its 1979 revolution, the Nobel Committee said.
In 1974 she became Iran's first woman judge, but lost that post in the revolution five years later when Islamic clerics took over and decreed that women could not preside over courts.
In a reaction broadcast on Norwegian radio, Ebadi said her win was "very good for me, very good for human rights and very good for democracy in Iran."
She added that she was "very glad and proud" and hoped the fame the prize brought would help her work in her country.
In 1974 Ebadi became Iran's first woman judge, but lost that post in the revolution when Islamic clerics took over and decreed that women were too emotional to preside over courts.
"My problem is not with Islam, it's with the culture of patriarchy," Ebadi told Britain's Guardian newspaper in June. "Practices such as stoning have no foundation in the Koran."
Ebadi spent time in jail for attending a 2001 conference on Iranian form in Berlin. She has maintained a high profile in her feminist struggle, also by writing many books and articles.
"Any person who pursues human rights in Iran must live with fear from birth to death, but I have learned to overcome my fear," she told the Christian Science Monitor newspaper in 1999.
The Nobel Peace Prize, which carries a purse of 10 million Swedish kroner (1.1 million euros, 1.3 million dollars), is decided by an Oslo-based Nobel Committee which counts two men and three women.
Ebadi was selected from a field of 165 candidates for the prize, among them Pope John Paul II and former Czech president Vaclav Havel. http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=7345
Shirin Ebadi - Biography
October 10, 2003
The Norwegian Nobel Committee
The Iranian lawyer and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi was born in 1947.
She received a law degree from the University of Tehran. In the years 1975-79 she served as president of the city court of Tehran, one the first female judges in Iran. After the revolution in 1979 she was forced to resign. She now works as a lawyer and also teaches at the University of Tehran.
Both in her research and as an activist, she is known for promoting peaceful, democratic solutions to serious problems in society. She takes an active part in the public debate and is well-known and admired by the general public in her country for her defence in court of victims of the conservative faction's attack on freedom of speech and political freedom.
Ebadi represents Reformed Islam, and argues for a new interpretation of Islamic law which is in harmony with vital human rights such as democracy, equality before the law, religious freedom and freedom of speech. As for religious freedom, it should be noted that Ebadi also includes the rights of members of the bahai community, which has had problems in Iran ever since its foundation.
Ebadi is an activist for refugee rights, as well as those of women and children. She is the founder and leader of the Association for Support of Children's Rights in Iran. Ebadi has written a number of academic books and articles focused on human rights. Among her books translated into English are The Rights of the Child. A Study of Legal Aspects of Children's Rights in Iran (Tehran, 1994), published with support from UNICEF, and History and Documentation of Human Rights in Iran (New York, 2000).
As a lawyer, she has been involved in a number of controversial political cases. She was the attorney of the families of the writers and intellectuals who were victims of the serial murders in 1999-2000. She has worked actively - and successfully - to reveal the principals behind the attack on the students at Tehran University in 1999 where several students died. As a consequence, Ebadi has been imprisoned on numerous occasions.
With Islam as her starting point, Ebadi campaigns for peaceful solutions to social problems, and promotes new thinking on Islamic terms. She has displayed great personal courage as a lawyer defending individuals and groups who have fallen victim to a powerful political and legal system that is legitimized through an inhumane interpretation of Islam. Ebadi has shown her willingness and ability to cooperate with representatives of secular as well as religious views. http://www.aftenposten.no/english/local/article.jhtml?articleID=644606
The Nobel Peace Prize 2003 - Press Release
October 10, 2003
The Norwegian Nobel Committee
The official press release from The Norwegian Nobel Committee:
"The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2003 to Shirin Ebadi for her efforts for democracy and human rights. She has focused especially on the struggle for the rights of women and children.
As a lawyer, judge, lecturer, writer and activist, she has spoken out clearly and strongly in her country, Iran, and far beyond its borders. She has stood up as a sound professional, a courageous person, and has never heeded the threats to her own safety.
Her principal arena is the struggle for basic human rights, and no society deserves to be labelled civilized unless the rights of women and children are respected. In an era of violence, she has consistently supported non-violence. It is fundamental to her view that the supreme political power in a community must be built on democratic elections. She favours enlightenment and dialogue as the best path to changing attitudes and resolving conflict.
Ebadi is a conscious Moslem. She sees no conflict between Islam and fundamental human rights. It is important to her that the dialogue between the different cultures and religions of the world should take as its point of departure their shared values. It is a pleasure for the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the Peace Prize to a woman who is part of the Moslem world, and of whom that world can be proud - along with all who fight for human rights wherever they live.
During recent decades, democracy and human rights have advanced in various parts of the world. By its awards of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has attempted to speed up this process.
We hope that the people of Iran will feel joyous that for the first time in history one of their citizens has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and we hope the Prize will be an inspiration for all those who struggle for human rights and democracy in her country, in the Moslem world, and in all countries where the fight for human rights needs inspiration and support. " http://www.aftenposten.no/english/local/article.jhtml?articleID=644598
Groups Hail Ebadi for Pro-Democracy Work Back
October 10, 2003
Human rights groups hailed Friday's awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to female Iranian activist Shirin Ebadi, saying the move would strengthen the fight for democracy in Iran and equal rights everywhere.
Karim Lahidji, president-in-exile of the Iranian League for Human Rights and vice president of the Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, said the prize was a "great victory" for democrats and rights groups in Iran, which is dominated by conservative Muslim clerics.
"I'm happy that the modern world ... recognizes this struggle and gives her this recognition," said Lahidji, who has known Ebadi for 40 years.
Ebadi, 56, the first Muslim woman to win the prize, was the first female judge in Iran. She was cited by the Nobel Committee for her focus on human rights, especially the struggles for the rights of women and children.
Last year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, former President Carter, said Ebadi's work was "an inspiration to people in Iran and around the world."
"She proves that one person, standing on principle, can make a positive difference in the lives of many," Carter said.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who shared the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize with the United Nations itself, said he hopes Ebadi's award will encourage women "to speak out and insist on their rights."
Amnesty International, the London-based rights group, said the Nobel Committee recognized the critical importance of human rights and those who defend them.
"Coming at a time when human rights principles are increasingly under threat, this award will bring renewed hope to those engaged in the daily fight to uphold human rights," a group statement said.
Ebadi received Human Rights Watch's highest award in 1996, and its associate director, Carroll Bogert, called her "a brave advocate for human rights in a very hostile environment."
"We hope that the Nobel prize gives her a measure of protection as she returns to Iran," Bogert said. "We hope it sends a message to the Iranian government that the very serious human rights violations in Iran will not be tolerated by the human rights community."
Jakub Hladik, spokesman for former Czech President Vaclav Havel _ himself a Nobel hopeful, said Havel was delighted. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's spokesman, Bela Anda, called Ebadi "a courageous woman."
Friday's award had wider political implications, with some interpreting it as a show of support for democratic _ and pro-Western _ impulses in the Muslim world. Those impulses have assumed greater importance as the West confronts radical forces in Islam in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
"I profoundly admire her courage and commitment, as well as that of other Iranian human rights lawyers and activists. Miss Ebadi is an inspiration for her region more than ever and for the rest of the world," EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solana said.
Hisham Kassem, head of the Egyptian Organization of Human Rights, said the award was overdue recognition of the work by women activists in the Middle East.
"It is obvious that the wheel is beginning to turn for the region when it comes to democratization and human rights," he said. "The world is beginning to take notice of the human rights crisis in the region."
However, the award was not welcomed by all.
Egypt's first female judge, Tahany el-Gebaly, said there were more deserving activists in the Middle East, but Ebadi was chosen because her views were acceptable to the West.
"There are many fiery Muslims whose actions and positions are a lot more outspoken, but because they are anti-West, or anti-American or Western policy in the region, they get no attention," she said.
In Poland, Solidarity founder Lech Walesa, the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize winner, expressed disappointment that Pope John Paul II did not receive the award.
"I bear nothing against this lady, but if anyone among the living deserves it, then it is the holy father," Walesa told TVN24. http://www.620ktar.com/news/article.aspx?article_id=233001&cc=012345
Nobel Winner's Plea to Iran: Free All Political Prisoners
October 10, 2003
The Iranian human rights activist who won this year's Nobel Peace Prize has called on the government in Tehran to free all political prisoners.
Shirin Ebadi told a news conference the most urgent issues for Iran to deal with were freedom of speech and the release of those imprisoned for expressing their opinions.
Ms Ebadi, 56, is a well-known lawyer noted especially for promoting the rights of women and children by seeking changes in Iran's divorce and inheritance laws.
She is the first Muslim woman to be awarded the prize, beating other nominees who included Pope John Paul II and former Czech President Vaclav Havel.
The Norwegian award committee said it chose her because of her focus on promoting human rights and democracy in her country.
In Tehran, a foreign ministry spokesman said her award was a cause for happiness and reflected the improved situation of women in Iran.
The BBC's Jim Muir in Tehran says that while Iran's reformists will be delighted, the conservative authorities see the award as a political move by Europe to increase pressure on Iran.
Tribute to courage
Ms Ebadi was the first female judge in her country, but was forced to resign following the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
She said the award, which comes with prize money of $1.3m, had been a surprise but that she was "very happy and glad" about it.
"I hope it will have an effect in Iran.
"As a person who has actively been involved in human rights, I am against war and conflict, and countries and nations do not need war," she said speaking at a news conference in Paris - where she is visiting - hours after the award was announced.
The chairman of the five-member selection committee, Ole Danbolt Mjoes, paid tribute to Ms Ebadi's work at home and abroad, saying she understood that "No society can be seen as democratic without women being represented".
She was also praised as a "courageous person" who "has never heeded the threat to her own safety".
The Nobel committee emphasised that its choice should be seen as a statement about human rights.
"This is a message to the Iranian people, to the Muslim world, to the whole world, that human value, the fight for freedom, the fight for rights of women and children should be at the centre," Mr Mjoes said.
"I hope the award of the peace prize to Ebadi can help strengthen and lend support to the cause of human rights in Iran," he added.
Iranian state media reported the Nobel committee's decision without comment.
The BBC's correspondent in Tehran says that for the Iranian to win is an enormous boost for human rights campaigners there and a source of great delight to her supporters - but also something of an embarrassment.
"Hardliners who run the judiciary will see it as outsiders now trying to intervene in Iranian politics.
"It is an embarrassment to them to see someone they have vilified held up as a shining example," he said
The choice of Ms Ebadi - the 11th woman and third Muslim to net the prize - surprised observers worldwide. Pope John Paul II was the bookies' favourite to scoop the prestigious award this year amid speculation that he is nearing death.
Official reactions outside Iran have been overwhelmingly positive, and even the Vatican is, reportedly, sending a message of congratulations.
However fellow Pole Lech Walesa - a former president and Nobel laureate - did not seek to hide his disappointment, calling the decision a "big mistake".
"I have nothing against this woman, but if there is someone alive in the world who deserves this distinction it is certainly the Holy Father", he told Polish television. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3181428.stm
Conservatives React Angrily to the Nobel Committee's Decision
October 10, 2003
Parinoosh Arami and Parisa Hafezi
TEHRAN -- The Iranian government Friday congratulated lawyer Shirin Ebadi, the country's first Nobel Peace Prize winner, and reformers said it was a victory for women's rights and political change in the Islamic Republic.
"In the name of the Islamic Republic of Iran's government I congratulate Dr. Ebadi and we see this (award) as the result of her qualifications," Abdollah Ramazanzadeh, spokesman for Iran's reformist government said in the first official reaction.
He said her views on human rights, especially women's rights, had been noted internationally and "this is an honor for Iranian women and shows that Iranian Muslim women have gained a positive atmosphere for their activities and we hope that her views will be noticed inside and outside of Iran."
In a show of support by the reform government of President Mohammad Khatami, Ramazanzadeh said a government representative would attend a welcoming ceremony for Ebadi at Tehran airport on her return to the country Tuesday.
Conservative-controlled state television and radio took several hours to announce Ebadi's award, then did so without comment, reflecting the struggle with reformists over Iran's political destiny.
Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a close aide to Khatami, said the announcement was "very good news for every Iranian" and a sign of the active role played by Iranian women in politics.
He stressed the comments reflected his personal view.
But individual conservatives, who have long viewed Ebadi's activities as a defender of women's rights and lawyer for political dissidents as a threat to the Islamic system, reacted angrily to the Nobel Committee's decision.
"Although we may be happy that an Iranian has won the prize we believe the Nobel Peace Prize is being used to suit political objectives," said Amir Mohebian, an editor of the hard-line conservative Resalat newspaper.
"This prize carries the message that Europe intends to put further pressure on human rights issues in Iran as a political move to achieve its particular objectives," he said.
Since coming to office in a 1997 landslide, Khatami's government has struggled to break the stranglehold on power enjoyed by unelected conservatives opposed to any watering down of what they say are Islamic principles.
Over the past four years scores of liberal newspapers have been shut down and dozens of pro-reform activists jailed by the hard-line judiciary. Ebadi herself has been briefly jailed and was banned from practicing law for five years in 2000.
International criticism of Iran's human rights record -- including the legal discrimination against women and the use of public executions and stonings -- has met with stern rebukes for other nations not to interfere in Iran's internal affairs.
Leading reformist parliamentarian Elahe Koulaei said Ebadi's award was a sign the Nobel Committee had recognized the importance of the struggle for greater democracy in Iran.
"We have to congratulate the Iranian nation, particularly women, on her success and consider it a success for all of those who are attempting to improve human rights and remove oppression throughout the world," she said. http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=3595428
U.S., U.N. Congratulate Iran's Shirin Ebadi for Nobel Peace Prize
October 10, 2003
Washington -- The U.S. government and the United Nations have welcomed the decision of the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi, the first Iranian and the first Muslim woman to receive the prize.
"We congratulate Shirin Ebadi for the Nobel Peace Prize," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.
"The prize is well-deserved recognition of a lifetime champion of the cause of human dignity and democracy. She has worked tirelessly, and suffered at the hands of the clerical regime, including imprisonment for promoting democracy and human rights in her country," he added.
"We are very pleased to see the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to this very, very dedicated and committed woman who has spent so much of her life in the cause of justice and freedom," said Secretary of State Colin Powell.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher issued a statement noting that Ebadi "has tirelessly worked on behalf of all Iranians, with a focus on the rights of women and children."
"We fully support the aspirations of the Iranian people to live in freedom, and hope their call for democracy will be heard and transform Iran into a force for stability in the region," Boucher's statement said.
When informed that she had been awarded the prize, the 56-year-old lawyer and human rights activist, who was in Paris, said, "this prize doesn't belong to me only. It belongs to all people who work for human rights and democracy in Iran."
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan added his voice to the chorus of praise. In a statement issued through his spokesman, Annan noted that Ebadi served as Iran's first woman judge and is noted for her work on behalf of women, children and refugees.
Ebadi is known for her conviction that human rights are fully compatible with Islam, and her interpretation of Islamic law in a way that recognizes the harmony between human rights, democracy and equality before the law, Annan's statement said.
Her work is a fine example of the very principles the United Nations stands for, and this award should serve as an inspiration to women and men, Annan's statement added.
In a statement issued in Geneva, acting U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Bertrand Ramcharan congratulated Ebadi and commented that peace and development depend on the faithful observance of international human rights norms globally.
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov) http://usinfo.state.gov/xarchives/display.html?p=washfile-english&y=2003&m=October&x=20031010172344atarukp0.2574427&t=usinfo/wf-latest.html
A Nobel Prize for A Noble Cause
October 10, 2003
Iran va Jahan
Last week, we endorsed the Iranian dissident Hachem Aghajari, for this year's Nobel Peace Prize. At that time no one (including Shirin Ebadi herself!) knew that she also had been nominated. After hearing the good news this morning and listening to parts of her news conference, we feel proud, exhilarated, and hopeful for the future of human rights in Iran. Had we known, our endorsement would have been different. What was most essential for us was focusing world attention on the situation of human rights in Iran. Because we believe the issue of human rights is not an internal issue. Today violation of human rights anywhere is an international issue. On this point we may have a disagreement with the latest Nobel laureate's position at her news conference today but we can leave that for later.
No single event, short of Iran's total liberation from the bloody tentacles of the Mullahs, could have brought so much joy and happiness to the Iranian people. This joy is not limited just to the Iranians; decent and humane people everywhere should feel vindicated and proud today. Pope John Paul and former Czech President Vaclav Havel who themselves were among those named as possible recipients of this year's Nobel Peace Prize have enthusiastically welcomed the selection of Shirin Ebadi. It is indeed significant that the very first Nobel Prize ever given to any Iranian is a Peace Prize awarded to an Iranian lawyer for her courageous defense of human rights victims of the Islamic Republic.
Shirin Ebadi has long record of engagement with the police state in Iran. According to just one of the files of the Amnesty International, Shirin Ebadi and Mohsen Rahami - along with several other lawyers - were tried on 15 July 2000 in a closed hearing by Branch 16 of the General Court in Teheran. On 28 September 2000 they were sentenced to 18 month suspended prison sentences and both were banned from practising law for five years; others received prison sentences for their involvement in the alleged offence. Both were tried by a General Court in connection with their activities as lawyers. The two had met at Shirin Ebadi's office to conduct an interview with a witness who appeared to have relevant testimony for cases on which the two lawyers were working. Shirin Ebadi was one of a team of lawyers whose clients were family members of four individuals murdered in 1998 and 1999. The alleged murderers were then on trial and Shirin Ebadi was representing them. Hojjatoleslam Mohsen Rahami was the defense lawyer of students pursuing damages in connection with injuries they sustained during a security forces' raid on student dormitories in July 1999.
Videotape was made of the witness' testimony, in which he reportedly discussed his activities as a member of a militant group, Ansar-e Hezbollah, or Partisans of the Party of God. He allegedly implicated senior establishment figures in allegations about the activities of the group, which include a failed attempt to murder Hojjatoleslam Abdollah Nouri, former Vice President and Interior Minister.
The tape was later found to be in circulation in public and the two lawyers were arrested, along with several others. They were charged with "disturbing public opinion", "disseminating false information" and other offences.
On 27 June 2000, the two were arrested, separately. Shirin Ebadi has reportedly stated that at one o'clock in the afternoon on the day she was arrested, she heard in a news broadcast that one woman and one cleric had been arrested in connection with the tape. She then received a telephone call from a friend, but she reassured her friend that she had not been arrested. Six hours later two plain-clothes officers appeared at her office and she went to court for initial interrogations. She spent 25 days in temporary custody prior to being released on bail.
The trial took place in camera but the judiciary permitted two observers from the Tehran Bar Association to attend the trial; a similar request from parliament was denied. Both lawyers have appealed the verdict, against which the Tehran Bar Association publicly protested, and continue to practice law.
As a lawyer, judge, lecturer, writer, activist and professor, Shirin Ebadi has spoken out clearly and strongly during the past difficult 25 years. Prior to the revolution, she was of the first female judges in Iran.
The victory and recognition of Shirin Ebadi is indeed the vindication of the heroic struggle of all Iranian women and men struggling for their rights and dignity. http://iranvajahan.net/cgi-bin/news.pl?l=en&y=2003&m=10&d=10&a=12
Iran and North Korea: the next targets?
9 - 10 - 2003
Despite its problems in Iraq, the United States continues to focus on the nuclear ambitions of the other two axis of evil states, North Korea and Iran. In the context of its doctrine of pre-emption, and the reluctance of the eight existing nuclear weapons states to disarm, can another dangerous conflict be averted?
Although the United States continues to face major difficulties in Iraq, the Bush administrations attitude to the proliferation of nuclear weapons remains firm: if it considers a country to be a threat to the US or its interests, and if that country is developing nuclear weapons, then pre-emptive military action is one option that will be actively considered and even implemented.
Last week, the North Korean authorities announced that they had completed reprocessing 6,000 spent reactor fuel rods, a process that could provide them with enough plutonium to produce perhaps six nuclear bombs. There is no confirmation of this; indeed, it contrasts with the view of independent analysts that North Korea may possibly have produced just one or two nuclear weapons.
It may well be that North Korea is exaggerating its capabilities to provide some kind of deterrent against US action, just as the Saddam Hussein regime may have done to an even greater extent, but it is certainly the case that the North Korean government will use such a statement as a diplomatic bargaining chip.
Its move comes at a time of claims in Washington that the third part of the axis of evil, Iran, is actively pursuing a nuclear weapons programme. Whatever their truth, it is necessary to put the possible nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran in a wider context, especially as these developments come at a time when the United States has all but given up on most forms of traditional nuclear arms control.
The worlds nuclear inventory
During the cold war, the United States and the Soviet Union developed extraordinarily large nuclear arsenals. The collective total of bombs and warheads - ranging from mines, torpedoes, artillery shells and anti-aircraft missiles through to massive multi-megaton warheads on intercontinental ballistic missiles was as high as 70,000.
Many of the long-range missiles built in the latter stages of the cold war were astonishingly accurate and gave rise to fears of disarming first strike policies that could make crises extremely dangerous; it is now clear that there were several occasions when the superpowers came close to using nuclear weapons.
At the same time, there were some progressive developments. A nuclear arms race between Argentina and Brazil was averted in the mid-1980s; Taiwan and South Korea were persuaded to limit their nuclear ambitions; and in the immediate aftermath of the cold war nuclear weapons were withdrawn by Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan, while South Africa dismantled its small nuclear arsenal.
Even so, the worlds nuclear arsenals remain large, and none of the eight nuclear powers (the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, Israel, India and Pakistan) show any sign whatsoever of renouncing their nuclear arsenals. Moreover, they are all engaged in modernising them, not least in ways that may make some of them more useable in crises that fall far short of worldwide nuclear war.
The United States, for example, currently has some 7,650 nuclear warheads actively deployed, with a further 3,000 in reserve or awaiting dismantling. Most of these weapons are strategic - and far more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb - but there are substantial numbers of tactical bombs of the B-61 group, including the B61-11 earth-penetrating bomb developed in the 1990s. The US retains a facility at Los Alamos for producing new nuclear weapons although no new designs are currently in production.
There have, however, recently been clear moves towards the development of new designs, especially of small nuclear weapons for specific uses in counter-proliferation activities such as destruction of deeply-buried targets. There are also proposals for investing in the refurbishment of the Nevada nuclear test site to make it easier to resume nuclear testing should that be considered necessary.
Such planning takes place in the context of an acknowledged commitment to pre-emptive action against potential nuclear weapons states, and also comes at a time when the United States is developing missile defences. If these could be made to work, then the United States would be the only country in the world that could offer some kind of defence against nuclear attack while retaining very powerful offensive nuclear forces. This possibility is of real concern to Russia and China in particular.
Meanwhile, much of Russias nuclear infrastructure including its submarine fleet - is in a severely decayed condition. There are reported to be over 8,000 warheads in active deployment and 10,000 in reserve or more awaiting disassembly, but the actual number of active warheads may be very much lower.
Russian nuclear policy appears now to concentrate on retaining a relatively small core of nuclear forces, including a process of progressive modernisation such as the enhancement of the Tu-160 strategic bomber. While the United States and Russia have agreed to cut their nuclear forces to around 2,000 active strategic warheads by 2012, the agreement does not include tactical systems, nor does it involve dismantling existing warheads which can therefore be maintained in reserve.
Meanwhile, the British, French and Chinese nuclear forces have all undergone a transition since the end of the cold war but, in all cases, withdrawal of obsolete weapons has been accompanied by a modernisation of key systems. Furthermore, all three states aim to sustain their nuclear status for the foreseeable future, with an emphasis on versatile forces appropriate for tactical and strategic uses.
Britain has withdrawn its tactical nuclear bombs but now fields the Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) in both strategic and sub-strategic (that is, tactical) modes, with the latter involving a much smaller warhead yield while retaining full-range capabilities. Total warhead numbers are under 200.
France has withdrawn land-based tactical and theatre missiles but maintains aircraft-delivered nuclear weapons and is modernising its SLBM fleet with the deployment of the Triomphant-class boats, two of which are in service with two more under construction. It maintains a warhead total of about 350.
China has diverse nuclear forces totalling about 400 warheads, primarily configured for regional purposes but with a small intercontinental capability. This last component would be capable of rapid enlargement and enhancement should the United States develop a comprehensive national missile defence system, and there are indications that the future Chinese nuclear posture may move in this direction, although with some reluctance on grounds of cost.
Israel is a country that is often quietly forgotten when nuclear weapons are discussed. It first developed these in the 1960s with French help, and had a limited capability by the time of the Yom Kippur/Ramadan war of October 1973. It has since built up substantial nuclear forces including aircraft-delivered free-fall bombs and up to 100 warheads carried by variants of the Jericho land-based ballistic missile with a range of up to 1,800 kilometres. The total arsenal is likely to by around 200 warheads, including fusion (H-bomb) weapons. Israel may also have tactical artillery shells and may be developing a warhead for use on a submarine-launched cruise missile.
India first tested a nuclear device in 1974 but developed a nuclear arsenal more recently and may have tested fusion as well as fission devices. Its warhead inventory may be slightly smaller than that of Pakistan but is currently being expanded. India has a mix of aircraft and missile delivery systems, including the 2,000-km range Agni II missile, first tested in January 2001.
Pakistan has short- and medium-range aircraft and missile delivery systems for a small but developing nuclear arsenal based on enriched uranium implosion devices. The number of its warheads is difficult to estimate but is likely to be less then fifty.
From Tehran, the world looks different
Beyond these eight established nuclear powers, the capabilities and intentions of two of the three states characterised as part of an axis of evil by President Bush present a complex picture.
North Korea is believed to have produced a very limited number of nuclear warheads - perhaps only two and of low yield - from supplies of reprocessed plutonium; it may also have a limited capability for uranium enrichment to weapons-grade levels. Its leadership is intensely secretive and has something of a fortress mentality, but it is certainly reasonable now to conclude that North Korea has become the worlds ninth nuclear weapons state.
In Iran, there is certainly the potential to develop nuclear weapons, though their production and deployment may still be several years away.
The aggressive assessments of US intelligence sources tend to make sound judgments about Iran difficult, and the Iranian political and power system is hugely more complex than that of North Korea.
But one key aspect is a perception from Tehran that the attitude of the US and other western nuclear states is frankly hypocritical. Iran sees itself as a major and historic state of the region facing a heavily-armed United States which now has forces to its east (Afghanistan), west (Iraq) and south (the Gulf). Its leaderships sense of vulnerability is increased by the fact that Israel shares the USs hardline sentiments towards it. Indeed, Israel has made veiled threats of action against Iran if the United States itself refrains from military action against Iranian nuclear facilities, whether or not the latters purpose is energy supply alone.
Iran also sees Britain and France content to pursue their own nuclear ambitions while ignoring the powerful Israeli nuclear forces, and having little to say about those of India and Pakistan. The end result of this is a degree of cynicism even among the more moderate opinion-formers in Iran; and a reinforced determination among conservative elements that Iranians must unite in the face of a stated threat from the United States and Israel.
Any room for countries like Britain and France to ameliorate the excesses of Washingtons war on the axis of evil is limited by their own nuclear status and what is widely seen across the Middle East as a two-faced attitude. The tensions inherent in this situation would be eased substantially if these countries were more clearly willing to embrace multilateral progress towards nuclear disarmament as covered by the non-proliferation treaty.
In the absence of such a move, there is a persistent perception in the Middle East that these two countries also operate according to a principle of do as I say, not as I do. This perception really does limit the ability of Britain, for example, to have much impact on Iranian policy. For the moment, there is not much prospect of change, but it is worth noting that one effect of the US tendency towards pre-emption may have been to propel North Korea down the very nuclear weapons path that it sought to avoid.
Even though Iranian society and power politics are more complex than North Korean, a similar effect is possible there. This would make some form of military action by the United States or Israel against Iran an increasingly likely prospect. The dangerous consequences of such an outcome could greatly exceed even those now being experienced in Iraq. http://www.opendemocracy.net/themes/article-2-1531.jsp
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