Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 15 Jan 2000

There are 3 messages totalling 386 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. ips: DISSIDENT GRAND AYATOLLAH MONTAZERI SAYS LEADER IS NOT ABOVE LAWS
2. bbc: ANOTHER RALLY HELD IN AZERI TOWN TO SUPPORT DISSIDENT
3. Investigative Report: Voice of Southern Azerbaijan

Date: Sat, 15 Jan 2000 19:17:07 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: ips: DISSIDENT GRAND AYATOLLAH MONTAZERI SAYS LEADER IS NOT ABOVE LAWS

LONDON 13TH Jan. IPS) Grand ayatolloah Hosseinali Montazeri, one of Shi'a
Muslims highest religious authority warned that if the ruling conservative
clergymen continue to monopolise the powers, the Islamic revolution would face
a total fiasco.

In an almost rare and unprecedented interview with foreign media, the
dissident
grand ayatollah who lives in Qom under house arrest conditions reiterated once
again that the leader of the regime was not above any other ordinary
citizen of
the country, that he must obey the constitution and the law and the limit of
his powers defined by the Constitution.

He also criticised the conservatives-controlled Council of the Guardians,
saying that the duty of this watchdog body was to supervise the electoral
process and not wet the candidates.

Ayatollah Montazeri was placed under house arrest and his classes closed in
October 1997on orders of ayatollah Khameneh'i after he openly criticised both
the autocratic rule and the "kingly" way of living of the present leader,
observing that he had established a royal court filled with courtesans and
sycophants at his orders.

In the interview that was published by the influential "Manchester and London
Guardian", the former heir to leadership of the Islamic Republic noted that
like any other ordinary men, the valye faqih, or the most learned juristconsul
was also subject to mistakes and sins and therefore must be open to criticism
and answerable for his deeds.

Mr. Montazeri was demoted by grand ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and send
back to
the city of Qom, the "craddle" of radical Shi'ism situated 150 Kilometres
south
of Tehran in 1989 after he publicly and strongly opposed and denounced mass
execution of political prisoners ordered by the founder of the Islamic
Republic.

According to reliable sources, between 5000 to 10.000 prisoners were executed
between 1987 and 1989, the year ayatollah Khomeini passed away.

In a clear reference to ayatollah Khameneh'i who has established firm,
umbilical, direct control over all strategic centres of powers, including
Armed
Forces, security and Intelligence services, Judiciary and the Legislative and
intervenes regularly in the daily life of the government, going as far as
conducting foreign affairs, Mr. Montazeri repeated that the valy should not
interfere with questions outside his competence, like economic problems of
foreign diplomacy.

Questioned by the Persian service of the BBC about the timing of the interview
and whether it was related to the just finished session of the
conservatives-controlled Assembly of Experts, Mr. Ahmad Montazeri, the younger
son of the grand ayatollah said that his father had responded to questions
that
were faxed to him some times ago.

"Thinking that he had a moral duty to answer the questions, he therefore
prepared the answers that took some days before being faxed back", the young
Montazeri explained.

Mr. Montazeri denied that the detention conditions of his father had eased,
saying that this was part of a malicious campaign by the authorities in order
to calm the public opinion angered by the ill treatment reserved to his
father.

"Ayatollah Montazeri was placed under house arrest because of the critics he
addressed to them (Mr. Khameneh'i and the conservatives). This is a shame
for a
regime of which my father was one of the founders. Knowing this, they time to
time spread rumours that he is enjoying better conditions. In fact, even
today,
only the closest relatives have the right to meet him or to bring doctors to
his residence", the young Montazeri said, calling on the authorities to end
the
limitations imposed on his father.

He also said he was "unaware" of statements attributed to the former president
ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in which he is reported to have said
that he had never authorised any action to be taken against the grand
ayatollah, noting that such declarations or other of the kind that both he
(Rafsanjani) and Khameneh'i respects Mr. Montazeri "do not match" with the
insulting conditions imposed on him.

"If they are sincere, why not ending the house arrest and restore my father's
full freedom and possibility of medical care necessitated by his poor health?"
he pointed out.

Considering the importance of the interview and its coincidence with the
present situation where the Council of the Guardians has rejected the
eligibility of more than 50 prominent reformist candidates, IPS presents the
full text of the interview as printed by the Guardian.

Geneive Abdo in Qom Thursday January 13, 2000

The man behind profound change in Iran is the invisible resident of holy
Shi'ite Muslim city.

He has been under house arrest for more than two years, exiled to his modest
home on Riverbank Street.

Few dare to mention his name in public. Newspapers that print his ideas are
closed or taken to court.

Fellow clerics who spread his opinions in public are imprisoned. And thousands
of his disciples, the seminarians who read his books, do so clandestinely.

Now, Ayatollah Hosseinali Montazeri is tired of being silenced. In his first
interview ever, according to his aides, he told the Guardian of his vision for
a new Iran.

"I have spent a lifetime fighting for the independence and honour of this
country, defending the rights and freedoms of the people. I have obeying to
the
truth my religious duty," he said in the interview.

The truth for Ayatollah Montazeri, the most powerful cleric in
post-revolutionary Iran after the late ayatollah Khomeini, is terrifying for
Iran's conservative clerical establishment. He interprets the Iranian
constitution as giving the people the right to elect all leaders in the
government, including the supreme clerical leader, now appointed by a body of
theologians.

"Although some of the clerics are of the opinion that the supreme leader
derives his authority from divine appointment, such opinions are subject to
dispute.

"From the Koran, the book of God, one can deduce that government is a public
affair," he said in the12-page interview, which was faxed to the Guardian from
his home.

For many conservatives who believe in the current system whereby clerics have
the power to screen candidates who run in elections, Ayatollah Montazeri's
ideas threaten their political survival. His criticism of Iran's maltreatment
of political prisoners forced him out of favour in 1989, after ayatollah
Khomeini had designated him as his successor.

In 1987, ayatollah Khomeini was quoted as saying of Montazeri: "He is the
fruit
of my life. My essence is in him, not once or twice but several times."

Since his house arrest in November 1997, ayatollah Montazeri lives under
constant scrutiny by two guards posted in a separate house next to his own.

Even his children are forbidden to venture out without permission from the
guards. During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ended last weekend,
seminarians were allowed to visit his family, but the ayatollah was forced to
remain secluded behind closed doors.

"The day I went to Montazeri's house, his son Ahmad had to get the guards'
permission to go to the store to buy some yoghurt," said one seminarian and
admirer.

The restrictive conditions of his arrest have eliminated him physically from
the scene. The theological school he ran was closed; and the state froze his
assets, virtually impoverishing the elderly cleric, born in 1922.

But his shadowy existence has made him a figure larger than life in Iran.

"In the seminaries, it is forbidden to study Montazeri's writings. One student
caught reading his books was sentenced to seven years in prison. But many
smuggle in his writings, which are an inspiration to us all," said one
seminarian.

Ayatollah Montazeri was placed under house arrest for criticising the powers
granted to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i. He also said
ayatollah Khameneh'i was unfit to make religious rulings.

In the Guardian interview, he reiterated his opinions. "The leader is equal to
any other person before the law. He can never be above the law, and he cannot
interfere in all affairs, particularly the affairs that fall outside his area
of expertise, such as economics and international relations."

But in today's Iran, ayatollah Khameneh'i regularly speaks out on relations
with the west, particularly the United States. He advocates a general
policy of
isolationism.

Ayatollah Montazeri also criticised the clerical establishment for refusing to
give more power to the president when a revision of the Iranian constitution
was made in 1989, shortly after ayatollah Khomeini's death. Indeed, the
limitations on President Mohammad Khatami, who was elected in a landslide in
1997, have been a major obstacle to implementing his reform programme.

"How can the president implement the constitution when the military and
security forces are not under his command? Whereas all social expectations are
directed at the president, and he has to respond to almost everybody, all
institutions of power are under the command of the supreme leader, a leader
that according to some, is above the law and therefore cannot be held
accountable."

When parliament amended the election law after ayatollah Khomeini's death,
giving the Guardian Council, a body of clerics, the right to supervise
elections, ayatollah Montazeri said this violated the constitution.

The Guardian Council this week announced that it had eliminated key pro-reform
candidates who registered to run in parliamentary polls scheduled for February
18.

"The law [constitution] is explicit on the fact that the supervisory role of
the Guardian Council pertains to 'supervision over the elections' and not
'supervision over the candidates'," Ayatollah Montazeri said.

Ayatollah Montazeri is sad, not about his arrest, but at the limitations of
freedom of expression in Iran. "I am very sorry to see that in the present
circumstances there is no tolerance in the Islamic society for hearing
anything
other than what is coming out of the ruling circles, a condition in which the
children of the revolution are being sent to jail."

And he apologised for having to communicate his ideas by fax and not in
person.
ENDS MONTAZERI TO GUARDIAN 13100

Date: Sat, 15 Jan 2000 19:18:22 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: bbc: ANOTHER RALLY HELD IN AZERI TOWN TO SUPPORT DISSIDENT

BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom ; 14-Jan-2000

Text of report by Azerbaijani TV station ANS on 13th January

[Presenter in studio] According to a report from the National Liberation =
Movement of Southern Azerbaijan press service, the events which took =
place in Tabriz [the Azerbaijani media reported on a rally in the =
Iranian town of Tabriz on 7th January; item: ANS TV, Baku, in Azeri 1400 =
gmt 07 Jan 00, "Police arrest about 150 in ethnic unrest in northern =
Iran, Azeri independent TV"] are being repeated in other towns in the =
same way. A rally was held in the [Iranian] town of Urmiya with hundreds =
of people participating.

The participants, who show their solidarity with Dr [Mahmudali] =
Johragani [ethnic Azeri dissident in Iran], said that until Johragani's =
trampled rights are restored, no elections will be held in Urmiya.

Source: ANS TV, Baku, in Azeri 1730 gmt 13 Jan 00

Date: Sat, 15 Jan 2000 19:09:54 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Investigative Report: Voice of Southern Azerbaijan

http://www.ralabs.com/swl/vosa.htm
Investigative Report:
Voice of Southern Azerbaijan
By Nick Grace C., March 1, 1998



The Voice of Southern Azerbaijan (VOSA), active since 1996 with
broadcasts against Iran from an undisclosed transmitting location, is
quickly becoming an intriguing story. A story that not only includes
oil and politics, but also espionage, the Mossad, and players from the
Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980's.

When it was first heard, radio monitors assumed that it was
broadcasting from Turkmenistan, however, an Israeli connection slowly
came to light as more people tuned in. According to monitor Nikolai
Pashkevich in Russia, "when I tuned in my receiver to this channel I
found an open carrier with 'Reshet Bet'... on the background and then
VOSA signing on" (CDX 180). Rashet Bet is, of course, a news service of
Israel Radio. The German Telecommunications department has also
pinpointed VOSA's location to be somewhere around Israel, Jordan and
Saudi Arabia (BCDX 351.) Cumbre DX founder Hans Johnson notes in
Cumbre 179 that the station "switches to DST the same time that Israel
does," marking Israel as the primary target (CDX 179.)


Rashet Bet office (courtesy of Rashet Bet)

If this is the case, then VOSA is clearly supervised and arranged by
Israel's intelligence agency: the Mossad. Both Kai Ludwig and this
author made the connection after reports began to surface in late
February 1998. But the story becomes more complicated and interesting.

According to Wolfgang Bueschel in BCDX 351, "Mr. Vafa Culuzadeh,
adviser of former Azerbaijan President Ebulfez Elicibey, told the
Italian press agency IPS in October 1992 from Baku, that the Israelian
secret service specialist David Kimche and... Richard Secord, who was
involved in the Iran-Contra-Affair, visited Azerbaijan, (and) presented
a delegation of more Israelian secret service personnel. Mr. Culuzadeh
took part on a return visit to Israel, (and) lead a delegation of
Azerbaijan/Uzbek/Kazakh secret services" (BCDX 351.)

Vafa Culuzadeh, despite the quote above, is an adviser to the current
Azeri president (Heydar Aliyev), and has been an important negotiator
between Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as between Armenia and
secessionists from Nagorno-Karabakh.

David Kimche is a 30-year veteran of the Mossad and was an important
force behind the Reagan administration's arms-for hostages swap with
Iran and its secret aid to the Nicaraguan rebels (coined Iran-Contra.)
In fact, it was Kimche who helped to organize the Contras, who supplied
them with Israeli military advisers, who sold the US government
Palestinian weapons Israel had seized in 1982, and who claimed he could
get access to the hostage-takers in Lebanon. He was not indicted
because of diplomatic scuffling between Israel and the United States.
Kimche was the former Director General of the Israel's Ministry of
Foreign Affairs and currently heads the Israel Council on Foreign
Relations. He is also on the Board of Directors for Israel's
International Policy Institute for Counter Terrorism (ICT.)

Retired Air Force Major General Richard Secord was also a key player
during the Iran-Contra scandal. He earned his wings while flying
for "Air America," the CIA covert paramilitary operation in Laos that
supplied local Hmong tribes with arms and training to counter the
Communist Laotian regime. He wrote a memoir, "Honored and Betrayed:
Irangate, Covert Affairs, and the Secret War in Laos," in 1992 to
detail his involvement with the CIA and service to the American
government. He was one of the Iran-Contra players who set up
the "Enterprise," the company outside of the CIA that earned money and
lined the pockets for those involved.

The involvement, if any, of the above three individuals with VOSA is
unknown at the present time. It is interesting to note, however, that
the address VOSA announces in Austria is addresses as "Vosa, Ltd."
Both Secord and Kimche made money off of Iran-Contra arms sales. Could
the organizers of VOSA also be making money?

Front for the National Independence of South Azerbaijan

Azeris are the second largest ethnic group within Iran, therefore, any
attempt to organize them against the Iranian government would be
perilous for the country. (Ramezanzadeh.) In fact, Human Rights Watch
reports that between 15 and 20 million Azeris reside in Iran, and that
they "inhabit a strategically important, prosperous area in northwest
Iran, relatively close to Tehran" (HRW.) In 1996, the nightmare for
Iran started to become a reality when four Southern Azerbaijani
(Iranian) political parties merged under the umbrella of the Front for
the National Independence of South Azerbaijan (FNISA.) The government
in Tehran, however, claims that Azerbaijan should be incorporated into
Iranian territory since it was once part of ancient Persia. "The
Azarbaijan Republic once was ours. So, if there is any talk of
unification of the two Azarbaijans, it is they who should come back to
Iran .... Some agents of world arrogance are trying to damage our
national unity by spreading secessionist sentiments in our region,"
Ayatollah Mohsen Shabestary stated during Friday prayer in Tabriz, May
1996 (ibid.)

Iranian government officials often alledge Turkish involvement with
FNISA - not Israeli nor the Mossad. However, a recent scandal
developed between Israel and Switzerland after Mossad officials were
caught engaging in espionage against Iranians (Schlein.)

Radio VOSA announces two telephone numbers at the beginning of their
broadcasts, reportedly at 1633 GMT. Wolfgang Bueschel writes that he
has called one of the numbers and reached an answering machine in the
Azeri language (BCDX 351.) According to the BBCM, representatives for
the station say that its programs are about "the daily life of the
people of Southern Azerbaijan under Iranian oppression, the struggles
of our brothers who live in Northern Azerbaijan (Republic of
Azerbaijan), their long standing war with the Armenian enemy who
receives help from Iran, programmes about our Azeri inheritance, our
great history and civilization..." (ibid.)

The address VOSA announces is: Vosa Ltd., Postfach 108, A-1193 Vienna,
Austria, and the telephone number is: +31 307-192189.

Listeners may try to hear broadcasts of VOSA during the following time
frames:

Time Frequency
0615-0715 11934.9 kHz
1630-1730 7095 kHz


This article will be updated as more developments unfold.


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End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 15 Jan 2000