Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 16 Feb 2000 to 17 Feb 2000 - Special issue
There are 15 messages totalling 1225 lines in this issue.
Topics in this special issue:
1. Akbar Ganji's new answer to Fallahian Commentary to Asr-e Azadegan
2. No Sattire!: Friday Morning, 8 a.m. Chehel Sotoon Column
3. Polls put 'Iran for All Iranians' to the test
4. Iran reformers confident before Friday poll
5. Iran Court Overturns Death Sentences
6. Albright Vows Ex-Iran Hostage Aid
7. Khatami Urges Big Iran Vote Turnout
8. Tehran's bazaar divided on future parliament
9. NEWSMAKER-Rafsanjani under fire in Iran poll
10. Iran reform journalist calls for truth commission
11. FACTBOX-Iran's election at a glance.
12. ANALYSIS-U.S. hopes for Iran could be premature
13. Leading Iran reformer sees future ties to U.S.
14. Czech govt to block supplies for Iran power plant
15. Iran goes to the polls for Khatami's "day of destiny"
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 12:59:03 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Akbar Ganji's new answer to Fallahian Commentary to Asr-e Azadegan
Payvand's Iran News ...
02/17/00 Akbar Ganji's new answer to Fallahian Commentary to Asr-e
Azadegan 16 February 2000
Akbar Ganji answered remarks made by former Intelligence Minister Ali
Fallahian. Fallahian had called Ganji's articles (about the serial
killings of intellectuals and dissidents during his rule) fiction. Parts
of Ganji's note are:
Mr. Fallahian has said that everybody knows that "whatever Ganji writes
is based on his imagination, and is chiefly fiction, fiction that has
been derived from lies and may excite some people. His book "Darkroom of
the Ghosts" is also exaggerations and pure lies."
Mr. Fallahian must definitely not regard the remarks of his friend and
schoolmate Ruhollah Hosseinian, who has said, "Saeed Emami had conducted
hundreds of successful operations abroad; he believed that all the
opposition figures should be beheaded." On the other hand, Mr. Fallahain
does not regard as lies Mr. Rafsanjani's remark that "Saeed Emami sent
missiles to Belgium to mar Iran-Europe relations." Mr. Rafsanjani has
called that period "the cleanest period in the history of the
Intelligence Ministry", and Mr. Fallahian says: "When I was the
minister, Emami was not an evil person."
Yes, in that "cleanest period", someone like Saeed Emami murdered tens
of dissidents and intellectuals, solved the master-key's personal
problems (Siamak Sanjari and Fatemeh Qaem-maqami) to apparently save the
non-existent integrity of the master-key (?)
Mr. Fallahian has called my remarks fiction, but he is better note that
this fiction has interesting parts that have not been told yet. For
example, I wanted to put forth the issue of the murder of Reza Mazluman
and clarify whose agent he was, and how he was murdered at orders by the
master-key, and that a certain individual was investigating for six
months to find Mazluman's murderer, until one of the agents who carried
out operations abroad proved to him that Reza Mazluman was murdered by
orders from the master-key.
In one of the parts of my fact/fiction story, reformist deputies of the
6th Majlis will form a fact-finding committee to openly call the
master-key into account, and unveiling the facts, they will show that
how many people perished by that lover of the meat of gazelles who kept
living gazelles in his backyard to be slaughtered to satisfy his taste.
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 13:01:43 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: No Sattire!: Friday Morning, 8 a.m. Chehel Sotoon Column
Payvand's Iran News ...
02/17/00 No Sattire!: Friday Morning, 8 a.m. Chehel Sotoon Column Asr-e
Azadegan daily 17 February 2000
By Ebrahim Nabavi
There is a limit to humor. Although we still can joke today and discuss
problems in the language of other days, but I want to talk to you about
the elections day a little more seriously.
Friday is the day of the destiny of this country. There is no joking
about it. To save the our and your respect , to prevent all the
pressures and humiliations we and you have suffered, to prevent the
entering of those who have done nothing in the Majlis but insulting and
humiliating the people under the title of the people's representatives
and standing against Khatami-the Iranian people's true representative--
and to reach a free atmosphere which is the main solution to all Iran's
problems, we and you have no way. I propose the following:
1.On Friday it is prohibited to stay home from morning to night.
2.At any price, in any state and anyway, come to the ballot boxes and be
sure to vote.
3.Inform all the people around you, father, mother, son, daughter,
siblings, aunts and uncles, neighbors and schoolchums to participate in
the elections. Pick on anyone who doesn't want to come to the polls and
make them vote.
4.Read the papers. Look at the faces of the candidates one by one.
Recall what each has done in these years and particularly in the past
2-3 years, prepare your list, and vote for the candidates you find
groovy and daring to defend your freedoms.
5.Don't be bothered with election mottos. A politician means a motto,
and a motto means hot air. Compare people's mottos with their
performance in the past. See how much those who appear by Khatami in
photographs have stood by him or against him in the past years. Today
all the gentlemen have become advocates of the 2nd of Khordad in fear of
losing their desks and chairs or in hope of grabbing seats of the
6.Even if you think that Khatami has not fulfilled all he had promised,
don't stay at home. Staying at home means giving the Majlis to those who
take advantage of people's absence. Khatami needs a popular Majlis more
than anything, and people are in need of sending their true
representatives to the Majlis.
7.Don't vote for those who take advantage of the 2nd of Khordad, the 2nd
of Khordad press, and their own activities on the 2nd of Khordad to
enter the Majlis to stand against Khatami and the 2nd of Khordad
8.What a preposterous thing is to write seriously. But I close my eyes,
and I get a kick when imagine the roly-poly, groovy gentleman
(Bourqani-K.) who stands by the people becoming Tehran's top winner.
Sometimes I think that one of the best things in the world is democratic
9.The 2nd of Khordad is the beginning of a sweet story the hero of which
many people would like to either disgrace or eliminate as soon as
possible. The 29th of Bahman is the day to support Khatami, people's
votes and the people.
10.Vote for all 30 candidates, even if they are not completely to your
taste. First write the names of those you like and are helpful; then
those who may not be very helpful but aren't harmful either; and in the
end, those who your trusted ones find proper people. Don't be short on
names, for it would be detrimental.
11.Don't vote for those who spend in excess to be elected. A cat will
never catch a mouse for the sake of God's satisfaction
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 13:07:03 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Polls put 'Iran for All Iranians' to the test
TEHRAN, Feb 16 (Reuters) - President Mohammad Khatami and his reformist
allies put their promise of pluralism before Iran's voters on Friday in
the most competitive parliamentary election since the early days of the
Beneath the surface of a bare-knuckle political fight lies a clash of
cultures and generations between the reform movement and a hardline
conservative establishment that has controlled Iran since the death of
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989.
Every aspect of the one-week campaign reveals this conflict. Not
surprisingly in an Islamic republic, it can be traced back to competing
readings of Iran's Shi'ite Moslem faith.
Conservative theologians and their political allies have clung to a
monopoly of religious interpretation, one that accords civic rights only
to the chosen "insiders" at the expense of the so-called "outsiders."
The unelected hardline Guardian Council of senior clerics and Islamic
jurists used its absolute powers to bar prominent reformists, whom it
branded "outsiders," from the election.
Khatami's faction, the Islamic Iran Participation Front, struck back
with a deceptively simple slogan designed to neutralise the conservative
approach: "Iran for All Iranians."
Front leaders hope this inclusive message will bring out the 38.7
million eligible voters in record numbers and secure reformist control
of the 290-seat parliament. They also want to replace personality
politics with that of parties and factions.
"In one sentence, our campaign is to change the political system of Iran
to such an extent that free and fair elections can be held," Mohammad
Reza Khatami, a leader of the Front and brother of the president, told
an enthusiastic campus rally.
"This will create real competition and foster civic institutions, so
that all Iranians will have a place in society."
Conservatives say such talk masks the intent of the reformers to impose
their own monopoly on political life.
"You call on all Iranians to participate and want an Iran for all of
them...This is a beautiful slogan but you betray it when you cut down
your opponents and do not tolerate them in the next parliament," the
conservative daily Kayhan said.
This rhetorical divide has obscured key issues including the moribund
economy and future ties to arch-foe the United States. Many want to see
these addressed by the next parliament.
CULTURAL SONG CONTEST
It is also mirrored throughout campaigning in Tehran, the battleground
for 30 seats, more than 10 percent of the total.
At one pro-reform rally on Tuesday, girls in full-length black chadors
swayed to pop music and whistled loudly as the boys, segregated in line
with Iran's Islamic social code, competed for their attention.
"Thirty million kids have been born since the (1979 Islamic)
revolution," said Faezeh Hashemi, an incumbent pro-reform MP and
daughter of two-term president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
"They have reached adolescence today and they want to get out and be
Such behaviour, repeated at other reformist campaign stops throughout
the week of campaigning, has nonplussed conservatives.
The hardline daily Jomhuri-ye Eslami denounced young people at an
earlier rally for indulging in such illicit pleasures as dancing, mixing
of the sexes and rhythmic clapping.
It also decried the "bad hejab" of many of the women who were violating
strict rules on veiling and female modesty.
But such high-profile culture wars cannot obscure the very real hardball
politics being practised by both sides.
Hardliners deployed the Guardian Council as a first line of defence
against leading reformers and "religious nationalists" who have been
frozen out of politics for almost two decades.
They have used their monopoly of state broadcasting to promote
ex-president Rafsanjani, running with joint support from centrists and
There have also been scattered attacks by hardline vigilantes on
pro-reform rallies and campaign headquarters.
Meanwhile the reform movement, with a growing diversity of candidates,
has had to lean on many candidates in to withdraw in favour of
colleagues so as not to split the pro-Khatami vote.
With a strong pro-reform showing certain in Tehran, the reformists'
ability to obey that plea could shape their fortunes in the provinces
and determine the final result of the election.
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 15:02:02 EST
Subject: Iran reformers confident before Friday poll
Iran reformers confident before Friday poll
By Jonathan Lyons
TEHRAN, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Iran's reformers were confident on Thursday of
victory in parliamentary elections as campaigning was suspended for a
mandatory 24-hour ``quiet period'' before voting begins.
Friday's race for 290 seats in the expanded parliament is seen as a
referendum on President Mohammad Khatami's reforms aimed at creating a civil
society within Iran's Islamic system.
Mohammad Reza Khatami, the president's brother who heads the pro-reform
Islamic Iran Participation Front ticket, said candidates affiliated to the
Front were poised for victory.
``At least 60 percent of the seats in parliament will be for the reformers,''
said Khatami, a Western-trained physician.
State television carried appeals from top conservative clerics in the Shi'ite
Moslem holy city of Qom, south of Tehran, for voters to elect devout
CONSERVATIVES URGE VOTE FOR MOSLEM VALUES
``Send those to parliament who are devoted to the Islamic system and follow
the line of the late Imam (Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini),'' said Ayatollah Ali
Ayatollah Ebrahim Amini cautioned: ``Enemies want the kind of people in
parliament who are indifferent towards...Moslem values and the Islamic nature
of our state system.''
The conservative Coalition of Followers of the Line of the Imam and the
Leader, said earlier it was confident it would win more than half the seats.
``Our analysis hasn't changed....We predict that more than 50 percent of the
seats will belong to us,'' coalition spokesman Mohammad Reza Bahonar said on
A leading conservative daily called on all Iranians to respect the outcome.
``Whatever the result of the elections within the framework of the law, we
must accept it and abide by the people's choice,'' Resalat said in an
``Whichever group or party loses must not perceive that this loss means
either the revolution or the system has lost.''
CENTRIST SEES BALANCED PARLIAMENT
Ataollah Mohajerani, culture minister and a leader of the centrist Executives
of Construction Party which is close to the reformists, predicted a balanced
``No exact prediction is possible, but I imagine that the composition of
parliament will change and (reformists) will have a majority. But the
minority will not be weak and could play a significant role at times,''
Mohajerani told reporters.
He predicted that his party's mentor, former president Akbar Hashemi
Rafsanjani, would be elected and ``would play an effective role in
Rafsanjani's bid to win a seat and become the assembly's speaker has caused a
split between the Executives and the reformists, who accuse him of being too
compromising towards the conservatives.
Khatami called on Wednesday for a big turnout, especially by the youth who
helped his 1997 pro-reform landslide.
Sixty percent of the population of about 63 million is below the age of 25.
KHATAMI'S BROTHER SEES BETTER TIES WITH U.S.
Voting begins at 9 a.m. (0530 GMT) on Friday at 36,000 polling stations. Some
38.7 million Iranians, aged 16 and up, are eligible to take part.
Despite a lack of independent polls and the number of candidates -- more than
5,700 -- reformers expect changes in foreign and domestic policy after the
Mohammad Reza Khatami said victory would accelerate improved ties with
foreign governments, including the United States. Asked to assess the future
of ties with Washington, he told reporters:
``Yes, I think in future we will have normal relations with the United
States, but the time that we can achieve these relations -- I cannot guess.''
He said parliament was not in a position to make a sharp turn in foreign
policy. ``But if the reformers win in the next elections, I think many things
will be changed and the speed of relations with all countries will be greater
than it is today.''
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 15:04:56 EST
Subject: Iran Court Overturns Death Sentences
Iran Court Overturns Death Sentences
.c The Associated Press
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran's Supreme Court has rejected death sentences handed
down to three followers of the minority Bahai faith, a Tehran newspaper
New sentences have not yet been issued for the three Bahais, who were
convicted of unspecified anti-security acts against the state, the daily
Sobh-e-Emrouz reported. The case has been under investigation in Iran's
northeastern Khorasan province for eight months.
The newspaper, which quoted Judiciary spokesman Hossein Sadeqi as the source
of its information, gave no further details. The report was the first word of
the three Bahais in the Iranian press.
In a statement last week in Washington, President Clinton said he was deeply
troubled that death sentences had been reaffirmed against two Bahais, whom he
identified as Sirus Zabihi-Moghaddam and Hadayet Kashefi-Najafabadi, and one
had been imposed on Manucher Khulusi.
``Executing people for their religious faith is contrary to the most
fundamental human rights principles,'' Clinton had said.
Bahais are considered heretics in Iran and are not recognized in the Iranian
constitution as a religious minority. The faith is based on the belief that
the will of one God is progressively revealed through the prophets of the
Clinton's statement said the Iranian government would be held responsible for
the safety of the Bahai community of Iran and strongly urged the executions
not be carried out.
Reports out of Washington said the three were arrested in 1997 for violating
a government ban on religious gatherings and have been in prison for two
A State Department report last year accused Iran of implementing policies to
eradicate the Bahai faith through prolonged imprisonment of Bahais,
confiscation and desecration of holy places and denial of the right to
Many Bahais were executed after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 15:06:40 EST
Subject: Albright Vows Ex-Iran Hostage Aid
Albright Vows Ex-Iran Hostage Aid
By TOM RAUM
.c The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Clinton administration is promising to work with former
American hostages and their families to find ways of settling
multimillion-dollar judgments against the government of Iran.
As a federal judge prepared to rule on a $100 million lawsuit by former
hostage Terry Anderson, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told a
congressional hearing the administration was ``looking at various funds''
containing money owed to Iran that might be tapped.
``But we have to do it in some way that does not harm our overall foreign
policy interests,'' Albright said.
After two days of testimony, U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson on
Wednesday began deliberating Anderson's lawsuit.
Although held in Lebanon, Anderson and his fellow former hostages contend
their capture was orchestrated by Iran. Jackson, who has called testimony by
Anderson, his wife and daughter ``compelling,'' held Iran in default earlier
in the week when it did not send a representative to the trial. That means
the principal issue before the judge is the size of the judgment.
Anderson, former chief Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press,
was held for 2,454 days - from March 1985 to December 1991.
He said today he is not bitter. ``This is not about anger or hatred or
bitterness,'' Anderson said on CBS' ``The Early Show.''
``It's about taking responsibility for what you do. ... I'd be delighted to
see a U.S. ambassador in Tehran again. ... I don't want to see that happen
until Iran admits what it has done, takes responsibility for it. To this day,
they deny having any part in our kidnapping or other acts of terrorism and
that's simply not true,'' Anderson said.
Three other hostages held with Anderson in Beirut - David Jacobsen, Joseph
Cicippio and Frank Reed - earlier won judgments from Jackson totaling $65
Both their suit and Anderson's were filed under a 1996 law that lets
Americans subjected to terrorism in foreign countries sue in U.S. courts if
the State Department lists those nations as sponsors of terrorism. Iran is so
So far, however, no money has been collected because the law lacks an
Albright, testifying Wednesday before the House International Relations
Committee, expressed caution against confiscation of Iranian diplomatic
property that might prompt retaliation against U.S. assets overseas.
She indicated officials have not determined exactly what they can do. But she
said she would work with hostages and their families on what actions can be
taken to collect on the judgments.
``We are trying to be of assistance in terms of how to resolve these (claims)
and we're prepared to work with these families to identify unblocked Iranian
assets to help satisfy the judgments they have received,'' Albright said.
``This is a subject that is high on our agenda.''
Anderson, who has been meeting privately with administration officials and
lawmakers in hopes of finding a compromise mechanism for tapping Iranian
assets, said Albright's comments could lead to a major victory in allowing
hostages and their families to collect judgments.
``The chances are pretty good we can work something out with the
administration,'' Anderson said.
Such a formula might also make it easier for the Americans held hostage in
the U.S. Embassy in Tehran to press claims against Iran.
Militants seized the U.S. Embassy there in 1979 and held 52 Americans hostage
for 444 days.
Anderson's lawyer, Stuart Newberger, said he hopes for a ruling by Jackson
within a few weeks - although suggested it might be get delayed by the
Microsoft antitrust case, which is also pending before Jackson.
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 15:07:40 EST
Subject: Khatami Urges Big Iran Vote Turnout
Khatami Urges Big Iran Vote Turnout
By VIJAY JOSHI
.c The Associated Press
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran's president has urged his supporters to turn out in
large numbers for Friday's elections in a drive to end the domination of
parliament by hard-liners who have hampered his campaign for social and
Opponents to President Mohammad Khatami's liberal reforms called on voters to
cast ballots for conservative candidates to uphold the virtues of Islam,
which now dictate nearly every aspect of Iranian life.
At stake are 290 seats in the Majlis, or parliament. In the outgoing chamber,
conservatives held a slight majority.
Khatami's brother, Mohammadreza Khatami, a front-running candidate in Tehran,
predicted a two-thirds majority for reformists in the new legislature.
``I am sure that the youth will ... show to the world that we are alive and
we are looking for a free life,'' he said at a rally Wednesday, the last day
of campaigning before the vote.
There are no opinion polls in Iran, but many expect the reformists to do well
because of the mounting frustration among ordinary people with the Islamic
rule imposed after the 1979 revolution brought the Shiite clergy to power by
ousting the pro-U.S. shah.
That frustration first brought Khatami to office in a landslide victory in
May 1997 elections. In a radio and television address to the nation
Wednesday, the president said people can once again show their will in these
``By these votes, you can give the most help to the president,'' he said.
``This election will be the 21st election since the revolution and, God
willing, it would be the most significant one.''
Since coming to power, Khatami has eased social restrictions and granted
greater freedom of speech, despite stiff opposition from hard-liners, who
control crucial institutions such as the judiciary, radio and television, and
the armed forces.
``This election can and should bring Iran's political, economic and cultural
atmosphere out of haziness and ambiguity, and (allow) for all individuals to
support Khatami,'' the government-owned Iran Daily said today. ``Such support
will downsize the radicals.''
Hard-line newspaper Jomhuri Islami, however, warned today against electing
``strangers'' who can do ``great damage and deliver an irreparable blow'' to
the principles of the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The Jomhuri Islami said the United States and other ``Satanic powers'' are
hoping for the success of those ``who have no motivation to prevent the
return of the hellish domination of the United States.''
Today was also the debut for Hammihan, or ``Compatriot,'' a reformist daily
owned by former Tehran Mayor Gholamhossein Karbaschi. It became one of about
a dozen newspapers that have supported Khatami and been a major organizing
tool for the reformists.
Karbaschi, a Khatami confidant, was pardoned and released last month after
serving seven months of a two-year sentence on corruption charges believed to
be politically motivated.
Even if reformists win a majority in the Majlis, they face the hard-liners'
domination of the Guardian Council, which must endorse all legislation.
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is said to be behind the
conservatives, has the final word on all matters.
``The structure of power in our country is such that the president alone
cannot do much. But one by one we should take control of the power bases,''
Karoon Memari, 18, said in a Tehran street.
For many Iranians, a reformist parliament could change their day-to-day lives
and allow many activities now forbidden - watching western television
programs, listening to the music of their choice, criticizing the clergy and,
for women, dressing in clothes other than the head-to-toe robes now mandated
Nearly 6,000 candidates, including 424 women, are running in the elections -
both numbers a record. For the first time, candidates must have a college
degree to be able to stand.
About 38.7 million of Iran's 62 million people are eligible to vote.
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 15:08:48 EST
Subject: Tehran's bazaar divided on future parliament
Tehran's bazaar divided on future parliament
TEHRAN, February 17 (Reuters)- Tehran's traditional bazaar, long a bastion of
conservative Islamic politics, is split into reformist and conservative camps
on the eve of crucial parliamentary elections.
Impromptu debates and arguments break out non-stop in the shops and offices
of the capital's giant, bustling covered market hours before polls open on
Reformist candidates are vying against the rightists for the expanded
290-seat parliament. The outgoing parliament has fiercely opposed the reform
policies of moderate President Mohammad Khatami.
Mohsen, 52, a square-faced bearded watch seller at the entrance to the
bazaar, said that two and half years of Khatami's presidency has weakened
``The way Khatami is pushing ahead with his reforms, we will have more
permissiveness in our society,'' he said.
On the economic front, Khatami had ``talked a lot, but delivered little,''
the shopkeeper complained.
Farhad Nowtash, a 32-year-old textile merchant, who had come to buy a watch,
interrupted him, saying Khatami was doing his best to build a better future
``More than any other politician, Khatami wants this country to prosper.
Young bazaaris will vote for the pro-Khatami factions,'' he said.
A RELIGIOUS BAZAAR
The teeming central commercial district is run by deeply religious men. The
market is closed a total of almost one month a year so that the faithful
bazaaris can take part in a string of religious festivals, mourning
processions and ceremonies.
The bazaar encompasses several mosques, a mausoleum of a Shi'ite saint, and
two religious seminaries stand nearby.
It was the nerve centre of hardline Islamic opposition to the former Shah and
gave vital financial backing to revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah
Khomeini. During the 1979 revolution, it provided the bulk of the hard-right
Islamic vigilantes who specialised in breaking up leftist rallies.
The Marvi seminary, a historic building in a poor shopping street teeming
with Arabic-speaking Iraqi refugees selling fried chick-pea falafal
sandwiches at discount rates, is a hotbed of conservative activism.
Earlier this month, students at the seminary staged a sit- in to protest at
the publication of a cartoon in a liberal daily depicting a leading
conservative cleric as a crocodile.
For Mohammad Sadeq Moharram-Khani, 26, who studies at Marvi, Iran is going to
Khatami's rule had emboldened boys and girls to fraternize in public,
violating Islamic rules of decency and sex segregation, he said.
``Young people are behaving inappropriately. In the street, you can see that
ties between boys and girls have become a lot closer, and a lot easier,'' he
He also blamed Khatami for ``too much freedom'' in the Iranian press, and
warned there would be a backlash from the hardliners.
``As a man of culture, Mr Khatami should pay more attention to these cultural
issues...Those who sacrificed for the sake of Islam and the revolution will
lose their patience with this state of affairs,'' he said.
EMERGENCE OF NEW LIBERALS
Islamic moderates and liberals are a steadily growing group in the bazaar.
Mostafa Nassiri-Fard, 40, a bag seller, said moderates like Khatami were good
for the economy, and the bazaar.
``Whoever backs the president, we will vote for him,'' he said, his voice
mixed with the chirping of caged birds in his shop and the incessant honking
of car horns in a nearby street.
``We need someone like Khatami who will try to establish peace and prosperity
in this country. My brother was paralysed by a war injury,'' he said,
recalling the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war which bled the country and its economy.
``We want no more wars,'' he added.
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 15:09:40 EST
Subject: NEWSMAKER-Rafsanjani under fire in Iran poll
NEWSMAKER-Rafsanjani under fire in Iran poll
TEHRAN, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani,
whose candidacy has split reformist ranks in Friday's parliamentary polls, is
fighting to maintain his role as a pragmatist pivot in Iran's revolutionary
Castigated by many reformers for threatening to undermine their bid for a
parliamentary majority, Rafsanjani has been welcomed with open arms by the
troubled conservative camp as a saviour.
His bid to win a parliamentary seat and be elected as speaker has split the
broad-based reformist coalition that brought President Mohammad Khatami to
power in 1997.
While radical reformers attack Rafsanjani as a back-room deal-maker of the
past and a stranger to the politics of transparency introduced by Khatami,
his centrist backers say he is faithful to the popular president.
``The rightist camp is clinging to Hashemi (Rafsanjani) as their ship of
salvation as they realise they do not have much popular support,'' said
Rafsanjani's daughter Faezeh Hashemi.
``Mr Rafsanjani has never opposed Mr Khatami in the past two and a half
years. I am sure he will support the government more than anyone else,
because he has been in charge of the government and knows what difficulties
the president faces,'' Hashemi, a member of parliament, told Reuters.
But Abbas Abdi, a key radical reformist leader, said Rafsanjani could be
discredited at the polls by failing to draw most votes, as might be expected
for a member of the revolutionary Old Guard.
``His era is past...If he does not top the polls, that is really a defeat for
him,'' Abdi told Reuters.
RAFSANJANI HAS MAINTAINED CENTRAL ROLE
After serving two terms as president from 1989 to 1997 and speaker of
parliament throughout the 1980s, Rafsanjani has maintained his place at the
top of the political hierarchy.
He now heads the Expediency Council, an influential body that advises Iran's
spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and can pass legislation over the
head of parliament.
Rafsanjani still has wide support among mainstream Islamists as a pragmatist
trying to reconcile Iran's Islamic revolutionary ideals with its urgent need
to solve daunting economic problems and open up to the outside world.
Political analysts say the former president could play an instrumental role
in reviving the moribund economy and give Khatami the political backing he
needs to make a diplomatic deal with the United States.
After acting as the right-hand man of late supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah
Khomeini in a decade of revolution and war, Rafsanjani championed Iran's
quest to rebuild its shattered economy and break out of international
Rafsanjani, 65, is widely credited in Iran with persuading Khomeini to end
the eight-year war with Iraq in 1988.
Born in a pistachio-growing village in southern Iran, Rafsanjani went to the
holy Shi'ite Moslem city of Qom to study theology at the age of 14.
He joined the Islamist unrest led by Khomeini against the pro-Western
monarchy in the early 1960s and was jailed five times over the next 15 years.
He was a relatively obscure figure at the onset of the 1979 Islamic
revolution, but Khomeini appointed him to a top ruling body.
He escaped an assassination attempt with minor injuries in May, 1979.
Rafsanjani built up his mass base over the 1980s partly by his sermons at
Tehran mass Friday prayer meetings, where he is sometimes introduced as ``the
eloquent voice of the revolution.''
Rafsanjani is married and has two daughters and three sons
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 15:10:11 EST
Subject: Iran reform journalist calls for truth commission
Iran reform journalist calls for truth commission
By Paul Taylor
TEHRAN, Feb 17 (Reuters) - A prominent Iranian journalist called on Thursday
for the next parliament to establish an independent truth commission to
investigate the killings of dissidents by the country's intelligence service.
Akbar Ganji, who has played a leading role in uncovering a series of murders
of intellectuals and political dissidents, said he had the support of the
main reformist party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front, for his proposal.
He was speaking to reporters at the IIPF headquarters on the eve of a
parliamentary election in which supporters of reformist President Mohammad
Khatami hope to wrest control of parliament from conservative Islamic
``If we take over parliament, we will definitely establish a national truth
commission,'' Ganji said. ``The new parliament can give us the legal basis
The commission should be empowered to question former intelligence agents who
are in custody but have not yet been brought to trial for the killings, he
The Intelligence Ministry caused a sensation last year by admitting that what
it called a rogue unit headed by former deputy minister Saeed Emami had
kidnapped and killed two writers and two political dissidents in 1998.
Intelligence Minister Ghorbanali Dorri Najafabadi was forced to resign.
Emami was officially said to have committed suicide in prison last year by
swallowing hair remover.
GANJI SAYS UP TO 100 MURDERED IN IRAN
Ganji has alleged in a best-selling book, ``The Dungeon of Ghosts,'' that the
killings went back almost a decade and that about 100 intellectuals and
dissidents had died under mysterious circumstances or disappeared during that
``The transition from monopolism to democracy has its price. In the third
phase of our transition to democracy, the monopolists have killed those who
opposed them,'' he said.
Ganji said Iran had paid a lower price in human life for democracy than many
countries in Latin America or Eastern Europe. Truth commissions have been
used in South Africa and Argentina to throw light on the human rights abuses
of the past.
The journalist earlier challenged former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani,
in power from 1989 to 1997, to a live television debate on the issue and
offered to go to jail if he could not prove his case.
In response, Rafsanjani's brother branded the reporter a spy and the
ex-president's daughter accused him of fabrication. The former president says
he had had no real knowledge of the workings of the intelligence service.
The issue has dogged the parliamentary election campaign because Rafsanjani
is running for a seat in Tehran and is widely regarded as the favourite to
become speaker of the assembly.
Ganji, who said he his life had been threatened repeatedly, declined to
detail his evidence but said he was willing to disclose it in court providing
he was given an open trial.
Asked if he feared being killed, he said: ``I try not to worry. I come and go
freely wherever I want. If you try to reveal something about an organisation
that has killed dissidents, then this is indeed playing with death.''
The dissident journalist was imprisoned for three months from December 1997
after criticising Iran's system of clerical rule, known as velayat-e faqih,
in a public speech. He said that trial was held in secret.
Asked whether Khatami backed the truth commission proposal, Ganji said it was
the president who had forced the disclosure of the intelligence ministry's
``He has followed the case personally as if the victims had been his own
family,'' the journalist said.
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 15:11:14 EST
Subject: FACTBOX-Iran's election at a glance.
FACTBOX-Iran's election at a glance.
TEHRAN, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Following are key facts about Iran's parliamentary
election on Friday.
PARLIAMENT - The new Majlis, or parliament, will have 290 seats, up from 270
in the outgoing assembly to take account of a population increase. It sits
for four years. Parliament has powers to introduce and pass legislation,
summon and impeach ministers or the president. These powers are checked by
the Guardian Council, a 12-man body of clerics and lawyers which must ensure
all laws passed by the Majlis agree with Islamic Sharia law and Iran's
constitution. Five seats are reserved for non-Moslems: one each for
Zoroastrians and Jews, one for Assyrian and Chaldean Christians, and two for
ELECTORAL SYSTEM - Candidates must win 25 percent of all votes cast in their
district. A runoff is held for top vote-winners who fail to get 25 percent of
the votes in the first round.
CANDIDATES - Some 5,700 candidates, including about 400 women, are standing.
They have been screened by the Guardian Council for their Islamic faith,
belief in Iran's Islamic state system, and allegiance to the country's
supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. More than 500 would-be
candidates have been rejected and several hundred have withdrawn in favour of
CAMPAIGN - The election campaign began last Thursday and ended at 9 a.m.
(0530 GMT) on Thursday, 24 hours before polls open.
ELECTORATE - Some 38.7 million people aged 16 and over out of a total
population of about 63 million are eligible to vote. Some 24.7 million people
voted in the previous elections in 1996 out of an electorate estimated at 32
million to 35 million.
VOTING - Some 36,000 polling stations in 207 constituencies, some of which
have more than one seat, will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (0530 to 1530
GMT). The hours can be extended by the Interior Ministry.
ISSUES - Reformists back liberal, social and political reforms introduced by
President Mohammad Khatami to establish a civil society within Iran's Islamic
system. Conservatives stress dealing with economic issues including
unemployment and inflation.
Many of them support more gradual reforms, fearing that revolutionary values
may be watered down.
PARTIES - Main reformist groups are the Islamic Iran Participation Front, the
closest faction to Khatami; the League of Militant Clerics, which groups
leftist clerics many of whom have moderated their views; and the centrist
Executives of Construction Party. Reformists have set up a nationwide
coalition but have failed to agree on a full list in Tehran. Conservatives,
who dominate the outgoing parliament, have set up the Coalition of Followers
of the Line of the Imam (Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini) and the Leader
(Khamenei). Among the key components of the coalition are the Society of
Militant Clergy, the main conservative clerical group, and the Islamic
Coalition Society, a hardline group dating back to before the 1979 Islamic
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 15:13:02 EST
Subject: ANALYSIS-U.S. hopes for Iran could be premature
ANALYSIS-U.S. hopes for Iran could be premature
WASHINGTON, Feb 17 (Reuters) - U.S. leaders might end up disappointed when
they pin hopes for quick rapprochement with Iran on Friday's parliamentary
elections, analysts say.
Even if reformists win a majority in the 290-seat Iranian parliament, their
conservative rivals are likely to retain strongholds from which they can
fight a rear guard action against normalisation with the country they have
called the Great Satan for the past 20 years, they add.
Presidential elections in 1997, won by reformist cleric Mohammad Khatami,
raised similar hopes that Tehran and Washington could soon patch up their old
But the conservatives tied Khatami's hands and the most he ever offered the
United States was a ``dialogue of civilisations,'' with more people-to-people
Shaul Bakhash, a professor of history at George Mason University near
Washington, said Khatami clearly had a more ambitious aim when he gave the
U.S. news network CNN a groundbreaking interview in 1998.
``Clearly there have been enormous obstacles in Iran as well as in the United
States. I don't think these obstacles are no longer operative,'' said
Bakhash, a leading expert on contemporary politics and society in Iran.
Khatami and the reformers would hesitate to stick their necks out on
relations with Washington without support from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei, who is widely seen as close to the conservatives fighting the
``Obviously a stronger reformist or pro-Khatami swing will strengthen his
hand but it's going to be very important to bring along the Supreme Leader
... and his minions to this before it will be possible,'' Bakhash said.
``So I would say it (rapprochement) would be easier but we won't yet be
there,'' he added.
Shireen Hunter, an Iran expert at the Centre for Strategic and International
Studies in Washington, said that some people were going to read too much into
the election results.
``Oversimplifying issues and forces in Iran's politics and basing predictions
about its future course on the election outcome has reached unreasonable
levels,'' she wrote in a commentary in the Los Angeles Times.
Unless groups associated with Khatami win a resounding victory, significant
change in Iran may have to wait. ``Efforts to establish a dialogue with the
U.S. would be abandoned or at least put into an even lower gear,'' she added.
But analysts, based in the United States, are predicting a strong showing by
the reformists, broadly accepting the theory that Iran is moving inexorably
``One way or another, reform keeps creeping, making likely what was
considered impossible just a short while ago and then seeming normal and
routine,'' said Farideh Farhi, an Iranian scholar who has taught at Iranian
and U.S. universities.
She said she thought the reformists would ``register a victory'' but that
might not be enough to bring about rapid change, if only because the
reformists are a broad coalition.
``What will be remarkable will be the introduction of new players into
decision making and pushing to the side, perhaps not completely, important
old players,'' she added.
Bakhash, in common with observers inside Iran, said the election campaign had
paid little attention to specific issues such as relations with the United
But Iranians shared assumptions about what the various factions would do, and
``detente with countries abroad'' was seen to be part of the reformist
agenda, he added.
U.S. officials have tried to avoid commenting on the elections, on the
grounds that the conservatives might exploit any sign of U.S. support for the
But their enthusiasm for change in Iran has repeatedly got the better of
their promises to hold their peace.
On Wednesday, for example, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said she saw
an upsurge of support for reform.
In case the elections do bring change, the United States is ``looking at
ways...that might lead to something different'' in relations between Tehran
and Washington, she said.
President Bill Clinton has also had his say. ``We like to see these
elections,'' Clinton told CNN. ``I think that one of the best things we could
do for the long term peace and health of the Middle East and indeed much of
the rest of the world is to have a constructive partnership with Iran.''
``I'm still hoping that that can materialise,'' he said. ``A lot of that is
now in the hands of the Iranian people and their elections and also the
leaders of Iran.''
In a sign of the times, the State Department said on Monday it saw ``key
elements'' of free and fair elections. The United States more commonly finds
fault with the electoral practices of countries with which it has hostile
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 15:13:27 EST
Subject: Leading Iran reformer sees future ties to U.S.
Leading Iran reformer sees future ties to U.S.
TEHRAN, Feb 17 (Reuters) - The head of Iran's top reformist coalition and
brother of President Mohammad Khatami said on Thursday that Iran and the
United State would enjoy normal relations but there was no telling how soon.
Mohammad Reza Khatami told a press breakfast ahead of Friday's parliamentary
polls it was only a matter of time before relations were restored between the
estranged former allies.
Asked about a future improvement in ties to Washington, ruptured after
militant students seized the U.S. embassy in late 1979, Khatami said:
``Yes, I think in future we will have normal relations with the United
States, but the time that we can achieve these relations -- I cannot guess.''
He said the results of the polls, which have shaped up as a contest between
reformers backing his brother and the more cautious conservative
establishment, would not have a direct bearing on Iran's foreign relations.
The parliament, he said, was not in a position to make a sharp turn in
foreign policy. ``But if the reformers win in the next elections, I think
many things will be changed and the speed of relations with all countries
will be greater than it is today.''
The vexing problem of ties to the United States has cropped up only on the
margins of the election campaign, which has focused almost exclusively on the
pace of domestic political reform.
However, a number of the more outspoken reformist candidates have hinted they
would be prepared to restore ties if the United States moderated what they
say is its aggressive stance towards Tehran.
In particular, they are looking for Washington to drop its trade sanctions,
halt attempts to block third-country investment in Iran's energy sector and
free Iranian assets frozen after the embassy takeover.
For its part, Washington is watching the results of the elections closely for
signs of a potential diplomatic opening.
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 15:16:13 EST
Subject: Czech govt to block supplies for Iran power plant
Czech govt to block supplies for Iran power plant
PRAGUE, Feb 16 (Reuters) - The Czech government said on Wednesday it would
halt a plan by a local manufacturer to supply air conditioning equipment to
an Iranian power plant, fearing that Tehran may use the plant for military
``The government has decided that supplies for the Iranian power plant in
Bushehr will not be conducted from the Czech Republic,'' Deputy Prime
Minister Pavel Rychetsky told a news conference.
The government has been worried that the one billion Czech crown ($27.5
million) deal, planned by air conditioning maker ZVVZ Milevsko a.s.
(ZZVV.PR), may cause an international scandal.
The United States has warned Prague that it may impose sanctions under U.S.
law against the Czechs, new members of the NATO alliance, if the exports were
Iran is building a pressurised water reactor at Bushehr, a project first
begun with German assistance by the late Shah before the 1979 Islamic
revolution, but later bombed by Iraq.
Rychetsky said the government had good reasons for not releasing more details
about what steps it intended to take to prevent the supplies. He did not rule
out that the government may try to take over the company.
($1-36.34 Czech Crown)
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 20:11:25 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Iran goes to the polls for Khatami's "day of destiny"
Iran goes to the polls for Khatami's "day of destiny"
TEHRAN, Feb 17 (AFP) - Millions of Iranians will take to the ballot box to
elect a new parliament Friday in what President Mohammad Khatami is calling a
"day of destiny."
Facing a crucial juncture in his presidency, Khatami has made no secret of
his desire to overturn the conservative majority in the legislature which has
hampered his ambitious programme of liberalising reforms.
He has appealed to voters to give him a "cooperative parliament" to push
through the social, economic and political changes he pledged upon taking
office with a landslide election win in May 1997.
Despite the often fierce opposition of conservatives and hardliners, Khatami
has gone far toward establishing his goal of a "civil society" based on the
rule of law.
Social restrictions have eased, women now have a greater role in the
political life of the nation and the press has flourished.
But numerous Khatami allies have been jailed and pro-reform papers have been
banned by the conservative-controlled courts amid criticisms that his
leadership has brought about a "laxity" regarding Islamic values.
Sometimes the competing forces of reform and reaction have stretched Iran
almost to the breaking point, as when the closure of one paper last year set
off bloody student riots that were brutally crushed by police.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on almost all
matters of state and whose powers dwarf the president's, gave his public
support for Khatami and the moment of crisis passed.
Now the president is looking to his brother Mohammad-Reza, the top candidate
of the largest pro-Khatami party, to win a mandate for his reform plans and
pave the way for his re-election in 2001.
In perhaps the clearest sign that Iranian political life remains largely a
closed system, making change hard to achieve, Khatami's biggest challenge
comes from his predecessor, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
The wily Rafsanjani, thought by many to be well out of the running just a few
months ago, has emerged at the head of a loose coalition of moderates and
conservatives standing in Friday's polls.
A win would put him near the top of the list of hopefuls to be speaker of
parliament, a powerful post that helps set the legislature's agenda, and
could bog down Khatami's reforms anew.
The pro-Khatami camp has been confidently predicting a major victory,
claiming that reform in Iran is "unstoppable" with young people counting for
well more than half of the population.
Women and the young backed Khatami overwhelmingly in 1997, yet many of them
have since been frustrated by the glacial pace of change and a stagnant
economy burdened with high inflation and unemployment.
Meanwhile Rafsanjani has traditionally enjoyed solid support from the
powerful bazaaris who control much of the nation's business, as well as from
clerical conservatives opposed to Khatami's liberalising measures.
"By voting, the people will not only demonstrate their will but they will
help the president and the government realize their ideas," Khatami said
Wednesday in an impassioned public plea.
Along with a world curious to see which way Iran will go, Khatami will have
his answer very soon.
Iran's votes are still counted the old-fashioned way, by hand, and the
results of the election -- inescapably a referendum on his tenure in office
-- will be in early next week.
End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 16 Feb 2000 to 17 Feb 2000 - Special issue