Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 23 Feb 2000

There is one message totalling 129 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. The article that sparked the violence in Iran(FYI)

Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 22:01:19 EST
Subject: The article that sparked the violence in Iran(FYI)

The article that sparked the
violence in Iran

(Updated August 6, 1999) The current student
protests in Iran
was sparked by the government’s closing down of
newspaper Salam after the Persian-language daily printed the article
below. The article
appeared on the morning of July 6, just as Parliament was to begin
debating a bill that limited
freedom of the press. This lead story claimed that the bill originally
was the brainchild of Sa’id
Eslami, a former Intelligence Ministry official who was implicated in
the killings of writers and
opposition leaders in 1998. Sa’id Eslami has since died in prison as a
result of an apparent
suicide attempt.

The July 6 Salam article, which quotes the letter in which Sa’id
Eslami explained his plan for
the Press Law, appears in full below. One day after this article
appeared, the Iranian parliament
approved the general principles of the bill, with its details still to
be decided upon in

On August 4, a special clerical court banned Salam for five years. The
court also banned its
publisher, Mohammad Mosavi-Khoeniha, from working in journalism for
five years.
Mosavi-Khoeniha was also sentenced to three years in prison and
lashes. The prison
sentence and lashes were suspended because of his “revolutionary”
credentials; he led the
group of students who seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979.
Mosavi-Khoeniha was
ordered to pay fines of 23 million rials (US$7,600).

Edited and published with permission by Index on Censorship,
Lancaster House, 33 Islington High Street, London, N1
9LH, United Kingdom. Tel: +(44-171) 278-2313. Fax: +(44-171)
278-1878. E-mail:

Sa’id Eslami proposed the amendment of the Press

News desk: It has been revealed on the basis of reliable information
that in a letter
dated 16.7.1377 [corresponding to October 8, 1998] numbered 41/Kh/281,
to the honourable minister and entitled “The cultural climate and its
control - cultural
rehabilitation, establishing a cultural system for the country,”
Sa’id Esiami
recommended the imposition of cultural and press restrictions.

It has been stated in the letter: As Your
Excellency is
aware, the extensive activities undertaken by
such as Golshiri, Chehel-Tan, Dolatabadi,
aimed at keeping the [Writers’] Association in the
raising its profile in the world and gaining
support will cause security problems for the Islamic
Republic of Iran and, especially, this ministry.

The existence of parallel legal currents and the establishment of
plants with the aim
of fomenting schisms and sowing discord among them can diminish the
threat to

Amending the current Press Law would not be
enough in itself to thwart the existing plots
because it only holds licence-holders and
managing directors responsible; whereas, in
the cultural arena, we are faced with a
wide-ranging group of writers, translators,
publishers, reporters, poets and... , the attacks
of which can only be prevented by confronting
them individually, using the law, in order to ban
them from writing or publishing.

To this end, it is hereby recommended that the honourable deputy
department number 932 should set out to draw up a draft members’ bill
government bill similar to... the country’s culture, with the
assistance of the relevant
bodies in order to ensure that we have the required lever to lend
legality to the
security measures. The bill must include such issues as the
professional nature of the
work and eligibility for it (on the condition of having the required
qualifications, as is
the case with doctors or lawyers), such that the relevant person can
be given an
identification number under the cultural system, deeming them to be a
translator or a
writer; [and] the establishment of a special court (disciplinary in
nature) which would
deal with the professional offences committed by these people and
carry out the
required sentencing. In this way, associations that are acceptable to
us can be
strengthened and hostile elements driven away.

The cultural system can embrace the field of books, the press,
theatre, cinema, music and so on.

End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 23 Feb 2000