Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 19 Feb 2000

There are 7 messages totalling 486 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. IRNA: interior-press conference-lari on sixth majlis election
2. fwd: Doroud Bar Nader Naderpour
3. Khatami's brother a strong advocate of democracy and reform
4. Young Iranians Clamor for Change
5. AFP: Conservatives "shattered" as Iran reformers triumph at the polls
6. AFP: Armed Iranian opposition claims string of attacks in southwest
7. Early returns from Tehran

Date: Sat, 19 Feb 2000 22:48:12 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: IRNA: interior-press conference-lari on sixth majlis election

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thr 068
interior-press conference
lari on sixth majlis election
tehran, feb 19, irna -- interior minister abdolvahed mousavi lari told
a press conference here on saturday that about 80 percent of iranian
people had taken part in the february 18 elections for the sixth
majlis.
lari said that people's presence on the scene of the sixth majlis
election had been more extensive than the may 23 presidential
elections in 1997.
such a presence signifies the spirit of freedom, freedom seeking,
sound understanding of situation and true recognition of needs.
lari said that people's massive presence rejected claims of
certain people that presence of parties had discouraged people and
distanced them from political activities.
he said that the event showed that iranian people are for
diversity of opinions, praise competition within framework of the law
and observation of all parties' rights and are against existence of a
single trait in society.
the minister said that women and the youth had active presence on
the scene of elections. such a presence shows that that the current
atmosphere in the society has set the scene for hope and joy, he
added.
lari said the election would strengthen security and those
elements being against the system and for its toppling would be
further isolated.
the sixth majlis election, said the minister, has stabilized bases
of the system and would strengthen security of economic investment as
well as solidarity and national unity.
the election showed that iran is for all iranians and people are
awaiting reforms within framework of the law, he added.
lari said the election was held in a calm atmosphere and no
problem was created for executives of the elections.
reaction of parties and groups after announcement of the early
results of elections showed that the groups respect whatever people
wish, he added.
asked to comment on the islamic republic of iran broadcasting
(irib)'s performance regarding the sixth parliamentary polls, interior
minister abdolvahed musavi lari said the irib's performance was weak
before the ten days of dawn ceremonies but the organization had a more
active presence after the said ceremonies.
elaborating on the performance of the guardian council, lari
pointed out that the council's action with respect to this round of
the elections was more in agreement with the law than in the previous
polls. the minister thanked the council of guardians for their
exhaustive efforts in dealing with the protests lodged by the
disqualified candidates.
asked whether the elections faced any rigging by the vying
candidates, the minister said 150,000 monitors supervised the
elections to guarantee a balloting free from any illegal acts. he
hoped that the guardian council would confirm the healthy atmosphere
of elections.
lari further touched on the efforts by some foreign media to
distort the results of the elections and said the foreigners would
have seen that the iranians are freedom-loving and truth-seeking
people had they looked at the realities of our society.
the peoples across the world are well aware of the fact that the
iranian nation is a cultured one and the system ruling them attaches
great importance to their demands, the minister remarked.
hostile elements and enemies have not a realistic conception of
the iranian nation and the reason for that is they do keep their eyes
closed on the realities in the islamic iran, lari said.
on the results of the elections throughout the county, the
interior minister said by 3 pa the results of the balloting from 30
constituencies had been announced. the winners include 33 incumbents,
72 new mps while elections in 28 constituencies would go through a
run-off.
responding to a question on the eventual victory for the reformers
to win a majority, lari said the aim followed by all the factions
taking part in the elections was to maintain the independence of the
country and its territory and all those who think the vying groups
have pursued other goals are wrong.
on the date for announcing the final results of the voting in the
tehran constituency, lari said the initial returns of the ballot would
be announced within one or two days to come but the vote counting
would take a few days due to the multiple number of the hopefuls and
the polling stations in the capital.
in connection with the counting of ballots by electronic machines
in tehran, lari said the guardian council was concerned over the
difficulty it would create for the public while casting their ballots.
the ministry of interior did not find it necessary to insist on the
ballot counting by machines. however using such machines would be
cost-effective and less time consuming in the elections, he added.
so far, from 145 constituencies throughout the country, 13,564,848
ballots have been counted, lari said adding that while the age of the
voters has been risen from 15 to 16, the figure reveals that the
turnout was heavier than that in the may 23 presidential polls.

Date: Sat, 19 Feb 2000 22:25:24 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: fwd: Doroud Bar Nader Naderpour

The great Iranian poet and scholar Nader Naderpour died on Februrary 18, 2000,
in Los Angeles. He made great contributions to Iranian literature and
enriched
Iranian culture. Naderpour was steadfast in his active support for freedom
and
democracy. He exposed and condemned the crimes of the Islamic Republic
against
the Iranian people.

You can listen to Naderpour’s voice as he reads one of his poems on Dariush’s
album "Kohan Diara" (available from MZM Records, Tel: 818-762-3885, Fax:
818-980-6495).

Iranians will honor Naderpour in ceremonies around the world.

Iran and the world have lost a great man. Ravanash shad.

Payandeh Iran

Date: Sat, 19 Feb 2000 22:40:19 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Khatami's brother a strong advocate of democracy and reform

TEHRAN, Feb 19 (AFP) - Mohammad-Reza Khatami,
the brother of the reformist Iranian president who could
well head the next parliament, is a political novice who has
captured the attention of voters.

Khatami, the number-one candidate of the top pro-reform
party backing President Mohammad Khatami which
appears on the verge of a decisive victory in Friday's polls,
has won favour for his strong calls for democracy.

"We want to make democracy an institution in Iran," the
charismatic 40-year-old told AFP in an interview last
week.

"Experience has shown that democracy along with reform
at every level is the only way" to achieve the reforms put
forward by his brother.

"We can't pretend that all our problems will be solved in
the blink of an eye. But we're beginning to respond to the
aspirations of our young people, without which there will
be anarchy," he said.

The confident doctor, who stepped down as deputy health
minister to stand for parliament, had said throughout the
campaign that reform was "unstoppable" and was always
certain reformers would carry the day.

Mohammad-Reza was also quick to link himself politically
to his popular brother, whose pledges of economic,
political and social reform helped him sweep to victory in
1997 presidential elections.

"I have really been tremendously influenced by his ideas,"
he said.

"Our positions are identical and I can say that, morally and
intellectually, I'm the one person closest to him."

Mohammad-Reza might not have been the top choice of
the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF) had it not been
for the ineligibility of Abdollah Nuri to stand in Friday's
polls.

Nuri, a reform hero imprisoned late last year for spreading
"anti-Islamic" propaganda in his now-banned newspaper,
was barred from running by a conservative-led election
committee.

The IIPF at times also seemed unsure about the untested
"junior" Khatami, naming someone else to head its
candidate list at a press conference before the polls and
then reversing its decision.

Mohammad-Reza has also stressed that Iran's international
relations, while important, would not be at the top of his
political agenda.

"If the democratic process truly gets underway we will be
able to turn our attention to other problems such as Iran's
foreign relations," he said, alluding to a possible re-opening
of ties with the United States. "But we need reform first of
all."

Both Khatami brothers seem to have inherited a great deal
of their personal appeal and intellectual rigour from their
late father Ayatollah Ruhollah Khatami, in his day one of
the most popular clerics in the southern province of Yazd.

The Western-educated Mohammad-Reza, who speaks
English and Arabic as well as Persian, is also a veteran of
Iran's 1980-1988 war with neighbouring Iraq.

Date: Sat, 19 Feb 2000 21:09:47 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Young Iranians Clamor for Change

International Herald Tribune
Paris, Friday, February 18, 2000

Young Iranians Clamor for Change
Their Strength at Ballot Box Could Hand Parliament to Reformers



By Howard Schneider Washington Post Service



TEHRAN - The music started and the crowd was on its feet, dancing and
shouting, boys and chador-draped girls mingling freely in the small
auditorium. They cheered their candidate in a raucous campaign rally that was
a hallmark of the new political season in Iran - a time when many young
Iranians have become convinced that parliamentary elections Friday could help
mold this Islamic country into a place where they have more freedom to think,
do and say what they want.

With interlocking layers of authority, the conservative clerical
establishment is still strong enough to slow the reform movement that for the
past three years has tilted away from Iran's strict theocratic foundations.
But even before the first vote is cast, the two-fingered whistles that girls
give their favorite candidates - and the defensive words

and actions of conservative opponents - have made one thing clear: For the
old guard that came to power in Iran in 1979 with Ayatollah Ruhollah
Khomeini, the rules of the game have changed.

A reformist coalition, inspired by the 1997 election of President Mohammed
Khatami on a platform of civil reform and openness, is widely expected to
break conservative control of the Parliament, gaining enough seats in the
290-member assembly to enact legislative and social changes blocked during
Mr. Khatami's first years in office.

"With their massive presence, the people will not only show their will but
also help the president and the government to fulfill their promises," Mr.
Khatami said in a speech on state television Wednesday, the last day of
campaigning. This "unique epic," he said, will occur if all the young men and
women "take part in the elections."

The head of the country's main conservative faction contended in a speech
that his camp would retain a majority in the assembly no matter what Mr.
Khatami says. But other conservatives acknowledge that Iran's political
environment is shifting and have positioned themselves less as opponents of
change than as advocates of a slower reform.

"Change is good," said Mohammed Javad Larijani, a conservative who is running
for re-election and is among those who say Iran's new atmosphere and
overwhelmingly youthful demographics must be accommodated. "All Iranians are
moving toward pragmatism," he said.

Institutions such as the Guardian Council - answerable only to the unelected
supreme clerical leader, Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei - retain power to block
any changes they consider un-Islamic, including laws passed by Parliament.
But a strong reform vote Friday could make the council's authority difficult
to assert. And such institutions could themselves become targets if momentum
builds in the new Parliament to revise the constitution.

"Five years ago, people were afraid to expose their own views," said Ali
Rashidi, a former central bank president who was barred from running because
of his reformist views. "Now there is going to be a very strong force that
will move to the right side of issues," including constitutional reform that
could shift more power toward elected officials and away from clerical
authorities.

The United States has considered Iran a hostile state since Ayatollah
Khomeini's followers toppled Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi in 1979, seized the
U.S. Embassy and 66 hostages and preached the export of Islamic revolution.
But Iran in recent years has moved toward democracy, becoming a place where
basic principles are debated in a way not seen in American-allied countries
in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

If the young Iranians clamoring for change get their way, a new political
atmosphere could enhance regional stability, improving the sense of security
among the Gulf's oil monarchies, lessening long-standing Arab-Iranian
tensions and even, according to some analysts, encouraging democratic trends
in other Islamic countries.

Some officials in Iran and the United States have supported an evolution
toward normal relations. But there has been little substantive progress, a
fact that Secretary of State Madeleine Albright hinted could change if the
election confirms the strength of Iran's pragmatic forces.

The elections, in which about 38 million Iranians age 16 and older are
eligible to take part, will test the reform movement's ability to sustain
itself in the face of establishment efforts to dilute it.

Several key figures, including Abdullah Nouri, a popular liberal cleric
previously considered a strong candidate for assembly speaker, were jailed
for their views before the campaign. Others were among more than 570 hopefuls
banned from running under a system in which a conservative-dominated body
reviews each potential contender.

Electoral changes passed before the campaign, moreover, give conservatives a
further edge in a race that will force voters to sort through nearly 6,000
names in two rounds of balloting.

The reform camp seems to have met the test without missing a stride. For
every derailed contender, a substitute surfaced, including Mr. Nouri's
brother and the sister of another popular imprisoned cleric, Mohsen Khadivar.

Once sensitive topics - the need for broad constitutional change, social
freedoms and limits on the power of unelected clerical figures such as Mr.
Khamenei - are being discussed.

Establishment figures are booed. Catch phrases involving freedom, prosperity
and "Iran for all Iranians" have replaced religious militancy in slogans from
the left, center and right. Readings from the Koran still start the typical
gathering, but they are followed by once-banned nationalist anthems and
ancient Persian poetry. A record number of women are running; a record low
number of clerics.

"We accept an interpretation of Islam that supports justice, freedom and
morality for everyone," said Zahra Mujaradi, a theology student and mother of
three. "Without freedom we will not have morality."

"Don't lose sight of how significant this is," a Western diplomat said. "A
free and fair election. No holds barred. An open debate. This is supposed to
be a clerical theocracy and it is transformed, before our eyes, into a pretty
lively democracy."

The first round of voting Friday is likely to produce few clear winners,
although the turnout and trends should be enough to anticipate final results,
which may not be known for several weeks.

Date: Sat, 19 Feb 2000 22:29:04 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: AFP: Conservatives "shattered" as Iran reformers triumph at the polls

TEHRAN, Feb 19 (AFP) - Iranian President Mohammad Khatami was on
the verge of winning a historic mandate for change Saturday as
reformists crushed conservatives in the initial results of
parliamentary elections.
In the first numbers posted from traditional right-wing
strongholds in the provinces, pro-Khatami reformers won at least 57
of 95 seats and analysts said the conservative movement was being
"shattered."
Conservatives who have railed against the dangers of Khatami's
reforms to Islamic values and stymied his moves toward a more
liberal Iran in the legislature now have little chance of holding on
to their majority.
The upset in right-wing rural areas, as well as the expected
victory in more liberal citites once all results are compiled in the
coming days, will almost surely give Khatami the "cooperative"
parliament he has called for.
"The right-wing is shattered," said political analyst Ali
Ajanpour, adding that top conservative candidate Akbar Hashemi
Rafsanjani now stood little hope of capturing the powerful post of
parliamentary speaker.
"Even if he is elected in Tehran, Rafsanjani -- who has banked
all his prestige on this election -- will never become speaker," he
said.
Rafsanjani was the top candidate opposing the reform camp led by
Khatami's brother Mohammad-Reza as the two sides squared off Friday
in what was seen as the most important election here in 20 years.
Conservative spokesman Mohammad-Reza Bahonar gamely claimed a
"relative success" at the polls but the conservative Tehran Times
said the strong reform voice of the people was "now crystal clear."
"The burden of reforming Iran no longer rests on the shoulders
of Khatami alone," trumpeted the Mosharekat daily, closely linked to
the top pro-reform party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front
(IIPF).
"Reformers will dominate the next parliament," it declared.
According to an AFP tally, at least 10 conservative or
independent rightist seats in the outgoing legislature were captured
by conservatives as voters backed Khatami's vision of a more open
"civil society."
Under Iran's unusual election system candidates could appear on
any number of party lists, making it difficult to determine the
exact political leaning of some of the victors.
A second round of voting, whose date has not been set, is also
still to come for the last remaining seats among those candidates
who failed to get at least 25 percent of the vote.
But with an unprecedented 75 percent of eligible voters casting
their ballots Friday, Khatami appeared to have gotten the massive
turnout he pleaded for to "allow us to speed the way to a brighter
future."
Interior ministry sources told AFP late Friday that Khatami's
brother Mohammad-Reza would definitely be a victor in the first
round although the ministry later denied the report.
"We can't get carried away or become too proud or arrogant," a
spokesman for his party told AFP on Friday well before the close of
the polls.
"It's only normal that we wait for the end of the voting and the
final results," he said.
But Mohammd-Reza, who now stands a chance of becoming speaker
and helping to set the legislative agenda for the next four years,
was confident of a win throughout the campaign.
He said last week that, with more than half of Iran's population
under age 25, reform was now "unstoppable."

Date: Sat, 19 Feb 2000 22:30:34 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: AFP: Armed Iranian opposition claims string of attacks in southwest

NICOSIA, Feb 19 (AFP) - The main armed Iranian opposition, the
People's Mujahedeen, on Saturday said it carried out 18 attacks on
Iranian military bases in the southhwestern provinces of Kermanshah,
Ilam and Khuzestan, killing at least 12 soldiers in one operation.
In a statement received in Nicosia, the Baghdad-based group
claimed it killed "at least 12" Iranian soldiers in Sarnay in Ilam
province when it attacked divisional headquarters with mortars,
following up with heavy machine guns, anti-tank rockets and
grenade-launchers.
Mujahedeen units also attacked military bunkers and command
posts west of Qasr-e-Shirin in the west of the Islamic republic with
heavy and light mortars, it said.
They also attacked bunkers belonging to Iran's 16th Armoured
Division to the northwest of Salehabad with heavy mortars, the
statement said.
Elsewhere in the province, the Mujahedeen said two of its
fighters were wounded in heavy fighting with soldiers from the same
division in the Tangbijar region.
"Mujahedeen units used light and medium calibre weapons and
opened fire on enemy forces who had set up an ambush for them," the
statement said adding: "The mullahs' forces were forced to flee".
The group claimed mortar attacks against battalion headquarters
in Mehran and south of the city, as well as in Dehloran and to the
southeast of Moussian.
The Mujahedeen said it set up ambushes between Sarnay and
Salehabad, between Nairian and Dehloran and on the military road
between Moussian and Dehloran.
It also set up ambushes near the bases of the 23rd Airborne
Division in Chamhendi and seized the Sheikh Qandi-Chananeh road west
of Shush.
At the end of last month Iran launched the biggest military
manoeuvres on the border with Iraq since the end of their nine-year
war, as Mujahedeen attacks in the region showed a marked increase.
Baghdad's support for the Mujahedeen, who claim to have 50,000
heavily-armed guerrillas, is the main obstacle to a return to normal
relations between Iran and Iraq, which fought a savage war from 1980
to 1988.

Date: Sun, 20 Feb 2000 01:39:12 EST
From: KPGBT@AOL.COM
Subject: Early returns from Tehran

Hi all,

Rafsanjani is not in the top 15 vote getters. Mohammad Reza Khatami, Behzad
Nabavi, Ali Reza Nouri, Borghani, Jamileh Kadivar, ...

These are the names I remember.
I will send the top 10 in a few hours.

Congradualtions to everyone.

Best Regards
Kourosh

End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 19 Feb 2000