Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 28 Feb 2000 to 29 Feb 2000 - Special issue

There are 15 messages totalling 1270 lines in this issue.

Topics in this special issue:

1. Gulf team to renew efforts to end Iran-UAE row
2. Iranian police on trial over student attack
3. U.S. envoy Holbrooke says encouraged by Iran polls
4. Ex-Iran Police Chief Faces Court
5. Iran's morals squads crack down after polls
6. Iranian students testify against police
7. INTERVIEW-Iran asks West's help with nuclear safety
8. Gulf states to renew efforts to end Iran-UAE row
9. Press freedom in Iran travels across the Gulf
10. TIME EUROPE: Iran's Conscience Ignoring death threats
11. LA Times: Striving to be Both a Theocracy and a Vibrant Democracy
12. CSM: Iran bends its ways to fight drugs
13. (Reuters)Iran Asks West's Help With Nuclear Safety
14. BBC: Tehran police trial opens
15. The Economist: The Iranian opportunity

Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 06:20:18 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Gulf team to renew efforts to end Iran-UAE row

Gulf team to renew efforts to end Iran-UAE row


DUBAI, Feb 29 (Reuters) - A Gulf Arab team trying to resolve a territorial
row between Iran and the United Arab Emirates plans new talks with Tehran
following the victory of reformers in parliamentary polls there, a Gulf
minister said.

Oman's Foreign Minister Youssef bin Alawi bin Abdullah said a tripartite
committee of Oman, Saudi Arabia and Qatar ``will soon start contacts with
Iran now the parliamentary elections are over to look at how to bring points
of view closer between Iran and the UAE so as to start direct negotiations.''

Bin Alawi made his comments in an interview with the UAE's Abu Dhabi
Television on Monday night. His comments were also carried by the official
Omani News Agency.

The committee was set up last year after the UAE threatened to quit the Gulf
Cooperation Council alliance in anger over Saudi Arabia improving ties with
Iran before the row over three Gulf islands is resolved.

After years of mutual suspicion, relations between Gulf Arab states and their
non-Arab neighbour have warmed since Iranian President Mohammad Khatami
launched a drive to break Iran's regional and international isolation.

But the dispute over the strategic islands of Abu Musa and the Lesser and
Greater Tunbs -- located near key shipping lanes at the mouth of the Gulf --
still hampers a further improvement in relations.

Gulf Arab states welcomed the victory of reformers allied with Khatami
against conservatives in last week's parliamentary polls and say they hope
the new assembly will help further improve relations with Iran.

Iran which controls the three islands, says it is ready for talks to resolve
the ``misunderstanding.'' But the UAE wants the talks to have a clear agenda
and a specific time frame, and suggests referring the dispute to
international arbitration if direct talks fail.

Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 06:21:35 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Iranian police on trial over student attack

Iranian police on trial over student attack


TEHRAN, Feb 29 (Reuters) - Twenty Iranian police officers went on trial in a
military court on Tuesday for their alleged part in an attack on student
protesters that provoked the worst unrest since the aftermath of the Islamic
revolution.

Former police chief Brigadier Farhad Nazari, commanders of special riot
squads and other police personnel face charges of illegally entering Tehran
University hostels, beating the students and destroying their property.

The case marks a rare prosecution of members of the powerful security forces,
who have often been seen as a law unto themselves.

Iran's reform movement, fresh from its big victory in parliamentary polls,
has demanded prosecution of hardline vigilantes who students say led the
attacks, abetted by police.

At least one person was killed and more than 200 students injured in the
initial assault on a peaceful pro-democracy protest last July, followed by
six days of demonstrations that escalated into rioting in central Tehran.

In addition to the criminal charges, court officials say some 400 students
have filed complaints against the police for injuries and damage to personal
property.

``Only some of the culprits have been pursued but others have been left
alone,'' Mohsen Rohami, a pro-reform cleric acting as attorney for the
student plaintiffs, told the court.

``There were some people coordinating between the police and those in plain
clothes. The prosecutor must pay attention to this fact,'' said Rohami,
blaming the hardline Ansar-e Hezbollah and the Islamic Basij militia.

Rohami said chief Nazari was acting on orders from above but said the
plaintiffs have so far been unable to identify the actual commmander behind
the attack.

Students fear the authorities are unwilling to confront the so-called
pressure groups, used by hardline elements to break up pro-reform rallies and
intimidate reformist leaders.

``Unfortunately because there is insufficient will, and because of support
from rogue agents behind the attack, they (the vigilantes) have not been
punished,'' reformist student leader Ali Afshar said before the hearing.

The official IRNA news agency said files on the vigilantes had been forwarded
to the special Revolutionary Court for later prosecution.

Mohsen Armin, a newly elected MP from Tehran, vowed the next parliament would
take up the case if the judiciary did not prosecute the pressure groups.

Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 06:22:13 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: U.S. envoy Holbrooke says encouraged by Iran polls

U.S. envoy Holbrooke says encouraged by Iran polls


DUBAI, Feb 29 (Reuters) - The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Richard
Holbrooke, said the victory of reformers in Iran's elections could pave the
way for important developments in severed ties between Washington and Tehran.

Holbrooke, in an interview with the Saudi-owned London-based al-Hayat daily
on Tuesday, said however that Iran first had to address contentious issues,
such as its support for what the United States calls terrorist groups.

``We think the elections in Iran are very important...What is happening in
Iran today is not democracy, because of the continued religious domination,
but it is a huge, really huge step forward,'' Holbrooke said.

``If the Iranian government responds positively to the American position on
the issue of state sponsorship of terrorism and cooperating in solving
regional problems and sources of instability in which Iran plays a big role,
then the road would be open for a major development in the relationship,'' he
said.

Western governments, including the U.S. cheered the large turnout in the
February 18 general elections, in which the pro-reform coalition backing
President Mohammad Khatami took most of the seats.

Iran-U.S. relations were ruptured after the 1979 Islamic revolution and the
takeover of the U.S. embassy by militant students.

Last week, members of the coalition -- which includes some of the student
leaders who seized the embassy -- called on the U.S. to take the first
concrete steps toward normalisation.

They demanded an end to unilateral sanctions against Iran and repudiation of
allegations the Islamic republic is seeking weapons of mass destruction.

Cultural and sporting contacts between the two states have increased since
Khatami took office in 1997, but there has been nothing approaching a
political breakthrough.

The United States repeated after the parliamentary polls in Iran an offer for
dialogue -- in essence the same conditions offered since Khatami's election.

It said it would put on its agenda in any dialogue with Tehran Iran's
opposition to the Middle East peace process, its nuclear programme and its
support for groups like Hizbollah which Washington calls terrorists.

Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 06:23:38 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Ex-Iran Police Chief Faces Court

Ex-Iran Police Chief Faces Court

By AFSHIN VALINEJAD
.c The Associated Press


TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - The trial today of a former police chief and 19 officers
charged in a vigilante attack on a university dormitory signals Iran's
willingness to punish hard-liners who take the law into their own hands.

The July raid by police and vigilantes sympathetic to hard-line clerics
sparked Iran's worst unrest since the 1979 Islamic revolution. The attack on
the Tehran University dormitory was aimed at breaking up a student protest
over the closure of a reformist newspaper.

Brig. Gen. Farhad Nazari, a staunch hard-liner, was dismissed as Tehran
police chief a month after he was blamed for the July 8-9 raid.

At least one person was killed and 20 injured in the attack, which sparked
massive demonstrations across Iran, followed by riots as students demanded
more freedom. Two others were killed and 200 injured in the ensuing violence.

Hard-line vigilantes have frequently attacked critics of clerical rule in
recent years without facing legal retribution.

Student groups have complained that authorities were quick to try leaders of
the demonstrations that followed the dormitory raid - sentencing three of
them to death - while no vigilante member has been indicted in the case.

Today's trial is the first against any of those who ordered or took part in
the raid.

The student protest and its aftermath strengthened reformists who won 170
seats in Feb. 18 elections for Iran's 290-member Parliament. Hard-liners and
conservatives won 45 seats and independents 10. Another 65 seats will be
decided in run-off elections in April.

The reformist movement took off after President Mohammad Khatami came to
power in 1997 and started a campaign of cultural, social and political
reforms. He has also emphasized the need to build a civil society based on
rule of law.

Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 06:25:15 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Iran's morals squads crack down after polls

Iran's morals squads crack down after polls

By Jonathan Lyons


TEHRAN, Feb 29 (Reuters) - Iran's morals squads have gone on the warpath
against illegal satellite dishes and free-spirited young people in what is
widely seen as a hardline response to the reformists' victory at the polls.

In a series of seemingly coordinated actions in the days since the February
18 polls, police and units of the Islamic Basij militia have stepped up raids
on apartment blocks in search of satellite receivers.

They have also hauled young men and women from restaurants, cafes and
shopping malls, accusing them of violating the strict Islamic dress codes or
fraternising with the opposite sex.

The raids have been centred in affluent north Tehran, a hot- bed of reformist
sentiment, prompting residents to see the hands of the defeated conservatives
behind the crackdown.

Feeding those fears was an open call for revenge attacks on Tehran's middle
class, many of whom voted for broad reform within the existing Islamic
system.

``Our brothers in the Basij and police...must increase their moral, social
and cultural enforcement and carry out Islamic punishments precisely, so the
middle class feels fed up and believes the reformists are incompetent,''
proclaimed the hardline Jebheh magazine.

``This violence must not be turned into a perpetual daily event but must take
place on special days with full force, swiftly and surely.''

SATELLITE BAN TARGETED BY REFORMERS

The leading pro-reform coalition, led by President Mohammad Khatami's
brother, coasted to victory on a platform of expanded social, cultural and
political freedoms.

Among their promises were repeal of the ban on satellite dishes, barred under
strict regulations to shut out foreign cultural influence, and an end to
state interference in citizens' private lives.

But at the up-scale Golestan shopping mall, teeming with young people,
shoppers said police harassment had picked up since the elections, in which
reformers won 29 of Tehran's 30 seats in the next parliament.

``I was arrested last week,'' said Youssi, sitting in a cafe with three
classmates. ``Three soldiers in camouflage took me to a back alley and
searched me. They hit me when I protested.''

Along Jordan Avenue residents said plain-clothes units late last week moved
in to seize satellite TV systems.

``They went door to door in our apartment building, searching for dishes and
taking them all away,'' one resident told Reuters.

Similar raids were reported at the weekend in other neighbourhoods.

An Italian restaurant popular with young people was also raided, and dozens
of young men and women were carted away in police wagons.

``One minute we were eating, and the next the police were there,'' said one
witness, who was dining with his wife and children. ``They took them all
away.''

Manager Tahmesab Ehiapour said on Monday night he had taken pains to ensure
that boys and the girls, most of them there for a classmate's birthday party,
sat at separate tables. But police detained him, too, before a judge set him
free with a fine.

Such raids had become less common in recent months, as the gradual
liberalisation under President Khatami took root.

But the heightened tensions of the election campaign saw Iran's deep
factional divisions increasingly cast in cultural terms.

Conservative seminarians in the holy Shi'ite Moslem city of Qom held
pre-election rallies to condemn Khatami's cultural polices and demand renewed
restrictions on the press, while hardline candidates warned of a threat to
Iran's Islamic values.

Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 08:26:53 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iranian students testify against police

Iranian students testify against police

By Ali Raiss-Tousi


TEHRAN, Feb 29 (Reuters) - Iranian students took the stand at Tehran's
military court on Tuesday to testify against police officers accused of
brutality in raids on student dormitories last July.

Former Tehran police chief Brigadier-General Farhad Nazari, commanders of
special riot squads and other police personnel were facing charges of
illegally entering the Tehran University hostels, beating students and
destroying their property.

The case marked a rare prosecution in open court of members of the powerful
security forces, who have often been seen as a law unto themselves.

But Iran's powerful reform movement, fresh from victory in recent
parliamentary polls, says the current prosecutions are not enough. Its
members are demanding action against the vigilantes who they say were
instrumental in the bloody assault.

At least one person was killed and more than 200 students injured in the
initial attacks by police and hardline vigilantes last July. The raid touched
off six days of demonstrations that escalated into rioting in central Tehran.

``Police accompanied by plainclothes (vigilantes) burst into our room and we
were beaten with clubs, iron bars and chains,'' law student Ramin Karimi
said.

TOP STUDENT PARTIALLY BLINDED

Mohsen Jamali, a medical student, told how he lost an eye after a tear-gas
canister hit him in the face and police refused to allow the ambulance
carrying him to leave the complex.

Jamali, who underwent reconstructive surgery on his cheekbone, wore a white
patch over his missing eye.

``Had my mother known what would become of her son, she would have never shed
tears of joy upon hearing that I had won a place at medical college after
graduating top of my class,'' he said.

Other students testified to being forced through lines of policemen who beat
them with batons before throwing them out of windows or down stairwells.

Saeed Kord, a biology student, said he was stabbed in the neck and arms by
attackers in plain clothes, before being rescued and sent to hospital.

The police attack on pro-democracy students protesting the closure of a
leading reformist newspaper by a hardline court sparked off the worst social
unrest in Iran since the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic revolution.

In addition to the criminal charges, some 400 students have filed complaints
against the police for injuries and damage to personal property, assistant
military prosecutor Houshang Eqbal said.

But the court did not allow the family of Ezzat Ebrahim- Nejad, who was
killed in the unrest, to speak pending completion of investigations into his
death.

Students fear the authorities are unwilling to confront the so-called
pressure groups, used by hardline elements to break up pro-reform rallies and
intimidate reformist leaders.

``Unfortunately because there is insufficient will, and because of support
for some rogue agents behind the attack, they have not been punished,''
reformist student leader Ali Afshari said before the hearing.

Mohsen Armin, a newly elected leftist MP from Tehran, vowed the next
parliament would take up the case if the judiciary did not prosecute the
so-called pressure groups widely blamed for the attack.

Hearings will resume next Saturday.

Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 08:28:42 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: INTERVIEW-Iran asks West's help with nuclear safety

INTERVIEW-Iran asks West's help with nuclear safety

By Mehrdad Balali


TEHRAN, Feb 29 (Reuters) - Iran, vowing it has no ambition to develop nuclear
weapons, wants Western experts to help ensure its nuclear power plants
conform to top international safety standards.

Asadollah Sabouri, vice president of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, said
on Tuesday Iran's first nuclear power plant, under construction with Russian
help in the Gulf port of Bushehr, had been deprived of top-quality
supervision because of Western sanctions on ``dual-use'' technology.

``Unfortunately, pressures and limitations prevent us from having access to
nuclear specialists. Western consultants refuse to cooperate with us,'' he
told Reuters in an interview.

``We are deprived of quality supervision. Otherwise, we could have assured
ourselves and the world of our operations' safety.''

The United States and Israel are leading a campaign to undermine Iran's
pursuit of nuclear technology, fearing it would lead to manufacture of
nuclear arms by a country they see as a threat.

Last week, the U.S. Senate voted to impose sanctions on any country that
supplies nuclear, biological or chemical weapons equipment or technology to
Iran.

Sabouri flatly denied Iran was after nuclear weapons: ``I assure the world we
are not doing anything against international conventions. Our operations are
fully open and transparent.''

Iran has signed the Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation treaty and a similar
one against the spread of chemical arms.

Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 11:41:33 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Gulf states to renew efforts to end Iran-UAE row

Iran's dispute with the UAE over three Gulf islands will prove the acid
test
for the reform movement which triumphed in the Iranian elections.

February 29, 2000, 03:10 PM

DUBAI (Reuters) - A Gulf Arab team trying to resolve a territorial row
between Iran and the
United Arab Emirates plans new talks with Tehran following the victory of
reformers in
parliamentary polls there, a Gulf minister said.

Oman's Foreign Minister Youssef bin Alawi bin Abdullah said a
tripartite committee of Oman, Saudi Arabia and Qatar "will soon start
contacts with Iran now the
parliamentary elections are over to look at how to bring points of view
closer between Iran and the UAE so as to start direct negotiations".

Bin Alawi made his comments in an interview with the UAE's Abu Dhabi
Television on Monday night. His comments were also carried by the official
Omani News Agency.

The committee was set up last year after the UAE threatened to quit the
Gulf Cooperation Council alliance in anger over Saudi Arabia improving ties
with Iran before the row over three Gulf islands is resolved.

UAE: Islands dispute acid test for Iran

Iran's dispute with the UAE over three Gulf islands will prove the acid
test for the reform
movement which triumphed in the Iranian elections, an Emirati newspaper
said Tuesday.

"The key test will be whether Iran revises its policy toward the three UAE
islands and accepts a
political dialogue on the issue," said Al-Khaleej, which is close to the
Abu Dhabi government.

"The Gulf region is predisposed to becoming a zone of tranquillity,
stability and development for
all the peoples of the region, provided that the minefields are defused
and that suspicions and
hostility are dispelled," it said.

Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 11:45:15 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Press freedom in Iran travels across the Gulf

Press freedom in Iran travels across the Gulf

Media openness in Iran stands in contrast with the experience of many
other Gulf countries, where the hand of the state is omnipresent.

February 27, 2000, 08:10 PM

DUBAI (IPS) - As Iran's liberal press moves to maintain the momentum of
the victory of
pro-reform candidates in last week's parliamentary elections, journalists
in the neighborhood are
looking for lessons.

The freedom enjoyed by Iran's newspapers ever since an obscure
pro-reform cleric, Mohammed Khatami, scored an upset victory in
presidential polls in 1997 has
made international headlines.

Media openness in Iran stands in contrast with the experience of many
other Gulf countries,
where the hand of the state is omnipresent. But there are visible signs of
change, more
pronounced in countries like Kuwait and Qatar.

While Iran's liberal newspapers were building public opinion in favor of
the reformists' agenda in
the run-up to the polls, a clash over press freedom between Kuwait's
cabinet and parliament
almost brought down the government.

In Qatar, Al Jazeera television has built up a large audience in the Arab
world ever since it went
on the air three years ago. Its probing news and commentaries have
redefined the boundaries of
journalistic inquiry -- and has annoyed several governments.

Press freedom challenged

Saudi Arabia's press rarely ventures beyond officially sanctioned
positions and newspapers in
Oman and Bahrain are careful to tread the middle ground. Dubai in the
United Arab Emirate
(UAE) recently established a press club to promote itself as a regional
media center and the
country's journalists have formed a union ''to preserve press freedom''.

Kuwait was caught in one of its worst political crises earlier this week
when some legislators
demanded the cabinet's resignation over a controversy involving press
freedom.

The government was believed to have wanted to close 'Al- Siyassah' and
'Al-Watan' newspapers
for publishing a story that the emir, Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, had
issued a decree
ordering a 20 to 35 percent pay raise for army personnel.

MPs launched scathing attacks on the government, accusing it of throttling
the press. Prime
Minister Sheikh Saad Al-Sabah, who is also the crown prince, and his
cabinet immediately
threatened to resign in ''indignation at derogatory statements directed at
ministers by MPs''.

Intervening to defuse the crisis, the emir reversed the ban order before
it could be formally
announced.

The chief editors of Kuwait's five daily Arabic newspapers published a
joint statement censuring
Information Minister Saad bin Teflah and said he should have resigned in
protest against the
cabinet's move.

The editors said they ''feared for the march of Kuwaiti press'' as long as
the cabinet and the
information minister retained the right to withdraw the licenses of
newspaper or suspend them.

A court released on bail two editors of 'Al-Siyassah' who were detained
for publishing the story,
which the government insisted was ''fabricated''.

Hand of state is omnipresent

In the UAE, too, newspapers are venturing into uncharted waters such as
uncovering instances
of corruption and ineptitude among civil servants. Policy differences
between the country's
health minister and a senior woman official in the ministry recently
spilled over into the
newspapers.

Government officials, many of them members of the ruling families, have
urged newspapers to
come out with ''constructive criticism''.

The region's moves towards media openness may have been inspired by
Jazeera television.
However, the search to redefine the ground rules of journalism in a region
where conformity is
often preferred over creativity has prompted stern reactions from official
quarters.

Jazeera bureaus were temporarily ordered closed in Kuwait and Jordan
because the station
carried programmers deemed offensive by those governments.

Jazeera managers say the station has also struggled to attract
advertisements because of
political pressure exerted by Arab governments on major business groups.

Some commentators have questioned whether the Kuwaiti experience would
help to promote a
freer press. ''Whether or not the cabinet had overstepped its legal
boundaries is a separate
matter altogether and would need to be handled as such,'' UAE- based
political analyst Hamoud
Salhi said.

Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 12:41:33 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: TIME EUROPE: Iran's Conscience Ignoring death threats

TIME EUROPE MARCH 6, 2000 VOL. 155 NO. 9

Iran's Conscience Ignoring death threats, a muckraking journalist takes
on the high and mighty By SCOTT MACLEOD Tehran

Akbar Ganji is no pop idol or sports champion. But nearly everywhere he
goes, Iran's No. 1 muckraking journalist is mobbed. When he attended a
lecture at Tehran University recently, students whistled and chanted his
name until he went on stage and gave a speech. Afterward, a throng of
admirers, some asking for his autograph, swept him to his car. When he
covered an election rally featuring the country's most popular reform
politicians, it was Ganji, not the pols, who brought down the house.
"Ganji! Ganji!" the crowd roared when he arrived. "You're our hero!"

He is an unlikely one. Once a functionary in the Revolutionary Guards
and Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance, Ganji, 40, is now calling
Iran's Islamic authorities to account for human rights violations and
political mistakes as no other Iranian journalist has ever before dared
to do. He has exposed death squads and has broken the taboo, observed
even by most of the growing number of pro-reform newspapers, on
challenging high authorities by name. His barbs, in fact, helped cause a
major setback in last month's parliamentary elections for one of the
Islamic regime's sturdiest figures, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

After Ganji led a barrage of unprecedented questioning of Rafsanjani's
decades in power, the former Iranian President ran a weak 30th in the
contest for Tehran's 30 seats, jeopardizing his bid to become the next
powerful Majlis speaker. If nothing else, the humiliation of a top
conservative gave an added psychological boost to President Mohammed
Khatami's reform camp: the latest vote count gives it some two-thirds of
290 seats.

But Ganji's writings carry risks. He regularly receives anonymous
threats, but continues his daily routine of passing by the Tehran
newspapers Sobh Emrouz, Fath and Asr-e-Azadegan that publish his
stories. "I guess I'm a troublemaker," Ganji says with a laugh. But in a
more sober vein he adds: "I call it playing with death. One day
something might happen to me. This fight for reform is lawful, but it
has its price." In addition to the outpouring of public support, Ganji
is encouraged by the steady flow of leaks he receives about the death
squads. He won't name his sources, but likens them to the insiders who
provided Woodward and Bernstein with information for their Watergate
exposés.

Ganji's scoops began appearing early last year with articles tying
Iran's feared Intelligence Ministry to the serial murders of dozens of
intellectuals, organized crime figures and people killed apparently
because they knew too much. In what Ganji calls "disclosure by drips,"
he published one article after another explaining how shadowy operatives
selected their victims and executed them, like the university professor
whose body was dumped on the outskirts of Tehran after he was killed
with skull-fracturing blows to his head. Ganji avoids accusing specific
officials of ordering the murders, tantalizing readers by allegorically
pinning the blame on "Mr. Master Key" and the "grey eminences"--widely
seen in Tehran as references to a former Intelligence Minister and other
Iranian leaders who protected him.

Ganji gleefully cast such devices aside, however, when former President
Rafsanjani joined the race for parliament earlier this year. Intent on
bringing the powerful Rafsanjani "down to earth," he embarked on a
searing campaign in his newspaper columns, demanding that the candidate
explain what he knew about the killings as well as why the eight-year
war with Iraq, which killed more than 300,000 Iranians, was prolonged
"unnecessarily." In confronting Rafsanjani so brashly, Iranian
journalists agree, Ganji almost single-handedly removed the taboo on
demanding accountability of Iranian leaders. "In the history of Iranian
journalism, there is hardly a precedent for Ganji's bravery," says Ahmed
Bourghani, a former Islamic Culture Ministry official. "He has pulled
back the curtain."

Not surprisingly, Rafsanjani has denounced Ganji's writings as lies.
Even some of Iran's liberals, fearing a hard-line backlash, believe that
Ganji often goes too far. "We need to make sure that our approach is
measured," says Morteza Mardihah, a columnist for Asr-e-Azadegan. "With
Ganji, it is like passing a car accident. Sometimes reality is too
harsh--and unnecessary to look at."

To the delight of most reformers, however, Ganji, the son of a service
station attendant, refuses to avert his eyes. A street activist during
Khomeini's revolution, an avid reader of Western philosophy and an
unabashed partisan of President Khatami, he now insists that building
Iran's democracy entails acknowledging the Islamic regime's past
mistakes. Whether Ganji is able to continue his campaign is a crucial
test for Iran's reformers against the hard-line conservatives who
maintain tight control over the security forces and judicial system. Few
in Iran will be surprised if he runs afoul of the Islamic courts--he has
already served a jail term in 1997 for a speech that the religious
authorities said branded Iran's Islamic system as a form of fascism. As
Ganji is well aware, that sort of talk is not music to an ayatullah's
ears.

With reporting by Azadeh Moaveni/Tehran

Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 12:44:04 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: LA Times: Striving to be Both a Theocracy and a Vibrant Democracy

Striving to be Both a Theocracy and a Vibrant Democracy

By ROBIN WRIGHT

WASHINGTON--A generation after its Islamic revolution, Iran is
witnessing a transformation that could be as profound as the upheaval
that ended 2,500 years of monarchy. The world's only modern theocracy is
becoming a democracy. Like many countries in the throes of transition,
Iran still has a long way to go. But the once unthinkable is now
possible. Imagine this: The country that the West once feared most
because of its fiery Muslim militancy could evolve into a model of what
the West would actually like to have happen elsewhere in the Islamic
bloc, a group of 50-plus countries with the world's last functioning
monarchies and the largest number of authoritarian regimes. But the
stunning sweep by reformers in Iran's elections on Feb. 18 shouldn't
have come as a surprise. First, Iran has followed the natural rhythm of
all revolutions. Each passes through stages like the course of a
disease: from early delirium to a convalescence, often set back by
relapses and, finally, recovery. Iran is now in that final stage of
returning to political health and normality--or at least trying to. It's
visible today not only at the ballot box. Since President Mohammad
Khatami's election in 1997, which marked the first turning point, Iran's
feisty new alternative press has run scoops on intelligence-ministry
misadventures; exposes on state corruption; editorials against practices
such as stoning for adultery; critiques of the loftiest clerics,
including former President Hashemi Rafsanjani; and even interviews with
U.S. officials. Despite harassment, trials on charges of un-Islamic
activities and some forced newspaper closures, the press has persevered.
Iran's bold movers have dared to tackle such issues as the regime's
failure to address poverty, women's rights, racial bias and child
exploitation. One movie with three endings challenged the idea of a
single truth--or a "single path," the term invoked by conservative
clerics in justifying their singular vision of an Islamic state. Second,
and with special irony, Iran's revolution created the very conditions
that eventually unseated the clique of conservative clerics who hijacked
the revolution after the shah departed and crafted an authoritarian
theocracy. The Islamic Republic bred a huge generation of young people,
now coming of age, and gave them the vote at age 15. It educated
females, for which it won U.N. commendation for closing the gender
literacy gap. It brought traditional religious families into the
political system, once considered anathema because politics were scorned
or distrusted by most Iranians during the monarchy. A new generation is
now reclaiming the revolution and putting it back on its original
course. In the past two years, thousands of youths risked their lives to
protest the banning of newspapers, arrests of their peers and
persecution of reformers. Last summer, they took to the streets of
Tehran and a dozen other cities in the most extensive unrest since the
revolution. The scope of change is reflected in that many of those
youths belong to an offshoot of the student organization that held 52
U.S. hostages from 1979 to 1981. Two decades ago, they blamed the United
States for blocking the course of empowerment because of its support for
the shah. Today they blame their own government. Women, too, have
campaigned against theocratic rules, with particular effect on
employment and divorce. They packed a courtroom to protest the death of
an 8-year-old girl--weighing only 35 pounds and with a battered head,
two broken arms and burn marks all over her body--at the hands of her
father, who had a long record of child abuse. Islamic law requires that
children of divorce must be given to the father, a boy after age 2, a
girl after age 7. The women's campaign led parliament to change
child-custody laws, giving precedence to human rights over Islamic law.
Third, Iran's revolution was always part of a global trend that defined
the modern era: the quest for individual rights such as free choice,
free speech and the sharing of power. Intellectuals in the Islamic
world, from Egypt to India, have been struggling for a century to
reconcile Islam with modernity, or blend political freedom with
religious thought, to create an Islamic democracy. But the effort was
limited to elites until Iran's 1979 revolution converted it into a mass
movement. During the revolution's first decade, conservative clerics
managed to preserve their purist vision of an Islamic state courtesy of
crises, particularly the eight-year war with Iraq, the U.S. hostage
standoff and the death edict against "Satanic Verses" author Salman
Rushdie. Each was manipulated to invoke Persian nationalism and divert
attention from the real issues that provoked the revolution. But
increasingly during the second decade, Iranian thinkers and reformers
have pushed for the Islamic Republic of Iran, the country's full title,
to be more of a republic and less rigidly Islamic. Again with special
irony, clerics are now taking the lead in challenging their peers. The
emergence of a wide political spectrum is reflected in the groups that
ran for parliament. Within the reformist camp, there are 18 different
factions. Conservatives have 15 of their own. There are other parties,
such as the Freedom Movement, that belong to neither. For all the
euphoria over the reformers' overwhelming victory in parliamentary
elections, however, there's still no guarantee they will succeed.
Indeed, Iran's nascent democrats face greater pressures today than
during the years they faced down the conservatives. The first problem is
runaway expectations--from the very people who elected them. President
Khatami has had one of the longest political honeymoons of any head of
state because, until now, the vast majority of the population unhappy
with the system blamed conservatives for their woes. Now Khatami and the
reformers are the majority in power. They will be expected to deliver.
The second challenge is the state itself. The Islamic republic has a
unique and unwieldy political system with a parallel power structure:
Every political body is mirrored by a religious body, controlled by
clerics who invoke powers bestowed by God, that has the last word. Thus,
the president is mirrored by the supreme leader, who is also
commander-in-chief and in charge of intelligence and, to some degree,
foreign policy. The parliament is mirrored by the Council of Guardians,
which can veto both candidates for parliament and laws parliament
passes. And the civil and criminal courts are mirrored by revolutionary
courts run by the clergy, who can haul anyone up on almost whimsically
defined un-Islamic activities. In other words, concrete reforms can be
blocked at every turn--unless the balance of power is realigned. That's
where conservatives are virtually certain to draw the line. Finally, the
regime faces its biggest problem on the issue that eventually undid the
Russian revolution: the economy. In the world's third-largest oil
producer, the average income today is less than half what it was before
the revolution. Many people hold two and sometimes three jobs to make
ends meet, and they're the lucky ones. Unemployment is officially
between 15% and 20% but may be twice as high, according to diplomats.
The economic morass is complicated by disagreement among the factions
under the reform umbrella about the best policy to reverse the cycle. In
other words, the outside world should have no illusion about what lies
ahead. Iran's reformers still face enormous obstacles. The West should
also have no illusions about the reformers' intent. The main message
from the election is that the vast majority of Iranians want the
benefits of modern democracy. But that doesn't necessarily mean a
secular state. The chador is a symbol. While many women are ready to
shed the restrictive dress, large numbers of female activists would
still opt for some form of modest Islamic attire. The same is true in
politics. The reformers' mission from the beginning has been to reform
Islam and make it compatible with democracy. And for the foreseeable
future, Iranian politics will continue to be defined by the values of
the faith. Just as at the time of the revolution, Iranians are intent on
creating their own model--not copying anyone else. - - -

Robin Wright, Who Covers Global Issues for The Times, Is a Former Middle
East Correspondent and the Author of "The Last Great Revolution: Turmoil
and Transformation in Iran."

Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 12:43:00 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: CSM: Iran bends its ways to fight drugs

Iran bends its ways to fight drugs

Britain helps with night-vision goggles, by easing a ban on military
equipment.

Scott Peterson Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

TEHRAN, IRAN

The unsuspecting Iranian airline passenger sends his luggage through an
X-ray machine at the Tehran airport, only to have a drug-sniffing
Alsatian wrestle his briefcase to the floor on the other side.

"C'mon, we're Muslims," the man complains with disgust, as the dog
slobbers excitedly over the leather case. "Look what this dog is doing
to my bag!"

Iran sits on a major throughway between what is now the world's No. 1
opium-producing nation, Afghanistan, and the markets of Europe. Iranian
security forces clashed with narcotics smugglers nearly 1,500 times this
past year. And the new use of drug-sniffing dogs, which are considered
unclean by Muslims, is an indication of how seriously officials here
take the drug war.

Iran's ruling clerics recently took the unprecedented step of issuing a
fatwa, a religious edict, approving the use of dogs.

"Do you want to see the fatwa?" the uniformed dog handler asks the
unsettled passenger. The man grabs his brief case and leaves. But
several bags later, Hans, one of five dogs donated by the French
government late last year, pounces on another bag. The face of its owner
droops, as guards pull him aside and find a stash of opium.

The fatwa on dogs is one of several surprising steps taken by Iran - and
matched by European donors, who have also provided bullet-proof vests -
to stop the flow of drugs from Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, which last
year doubled its poppy crop.

DRUG SMUGGLING GOES TO THE DOGS: Man's best friends, drool and all, are
the latest addition to Iran's fight against opium brought from
Afghanistan. Officials seized 253 tons of narcotics in 1999. SCOTT
PETERSON/LIAISON

That, in turn, has made Iran the world leader in drug seizures, with the
confiscation of 253 tons of narcotics last year. The 6 tons of heroin
seized alone is equal to the entire annual street consumption of Britain
and Italy.

Iran has demonstrated its commitment to stopping the flow - in both cash
spent and lives of law-enforcement officers lost.

"Iran is extremely serious, but the extent of the problem is
overwhelming them," says Neil Crompton, the deputy head of the British
Embassy in Tehran.

So far, Britain has donated $2.5 million to Iran's drug-enforcement
program, most of it through the UN Drug Control Program (UNDCP). The
funds have been spent on, among other things, 1,000 bullet-proof vests
and 170 sets of night-vision goggles, which - because of prohibitions on
selling military equipment to Iran - required approval from the British
Parliament.

"There has been a tangible change in the last six months, as people saw
how serious the problem was," says Mr. Crompton. "These are not
skirmishes - the [Iranians] are up against better armed forces, so we
have asked other donors to keep an open mind about their needs.

"It's a big step for the Iranians too," he adds. "They have not
cooperated with the outside world that much."

Some analysts suggest that if the US wanted to "break the ice" after its
two-decade estrangement with Tehran - despite US accusations that Iran
is a state-sponsor of terrorism - it could support the antidrug effort.

Though Iran is not known to produce narcotics itself, officials justify
the $200 million annual budget of the drug-control programs by noting
that there are as many as 1.5 million addicts in Iran, by UN estimates.

"We are convinced that we shouldn't allow this menace to go to other
countries - our Islamic religion does not allow us to ignore the flow of
drugs," says Esmaeil Afshari, head of the international-relations office
of Iran's drug control headquarters. "But we have problems - how can we
justify the cost to our people?"

Outside his offices, that cost is evident. There are a series of fading
pictures of uniformed "martyrs," among 36 border guards killed in a
battle last November.

The unit was cut off by 100 drug traffickers who were armed with heavy
machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and mortars. Their slaughter -
bringing Iran's total death toll in the drug wars to nearly 3,000 since
1979 - shocked the country.

"People ask: 'Why are you sacrificing our families and sons, for the
Europeans?' " Mr. Afshari says. Security forces last year were engaged
in 1,445 armed confrontations, with up to seven battles in a day.

While praising the UN and European donors, others could do more. "The US
government is doing a lot for other countries, such as giving billions
to Colombia," says Afshari. "They shouldn't ignore Afghan production."

During the reign of Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, Iran was a major
producer of drugs, and opium was openly available in pharmacies. Opium
production in Iran was halted in 1979, after the Islamic Revolution.

The 1997 election victory of reform-minded President Mohamad Khatami
ushered in a new era of transparency that helped expose Iran's domestic
drug-abuse problem. "The drug issue is one that the government has
pushed as hard as possible" says Antonio Mazzitelli, the UNDCP
representative in Tehran. It's seen as a way to build bridges with the
international community.

Foreign governments must tread a fine line in helping a nation widely
identified in the West as a sponsor of terrorism. But few here question
Iran's readiness, and point to the fatwa permitting Muslims to handle
dogs as a sign of an interpretive, modern agility when it comes to
Islamic strictures.

"They don't have a pet culture, and this is a country where for 2,000
years, the dog was supposed to be impure," says a senior European
diplomat. "But here the dog is being used for a religious purpose, and
in the Shiite Muslim tradition, there is a hierarchy of religious rules.
They haven't said that it's OK to touch dogs, but ruled that it is more
important to fight drugs."

Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 12:49:23 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: (Reuters)Iran Asks West's Help With Nuclear Safety

Tuesday February 29 7:53 AM ET

Iran Asks West's Help With Nuclear Safety

By Mehrdad Balali

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran, vowing it has no ambition to develop nuclear
weapons, wants Western experts to help ensure its nuclear power plants
conform to top international safety standards.

Asadollah Sabouri, vice president of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization,
said Tuesday Iran's first nuclear power plant, under construction with
Russian help in the Gulf port of Bushehr, had been deprived of
top-quality supervision because of Western sanctions on ``dual-use''
technology.

``Unfortunately, pressures and limitations prevent us from having access
to nuclear specialists. Western consultants refuse to cooperate with
us,'' he told Reuters in an interview.

``We are deprived of quality supervision. Otherwise, we could have
assured ourselves and the world of our operations' safety.''

The United States and Israel are leading a campaign to undermine Iran's
pursuit of nuclear technology, fearing it would lead to manufacture of
nuclear arms by a country they see as a threat.

Last week, the U.S. Senate voted to impose sanctions on any country that
supplies nuclear, biological or chemical weapons equipment or technology
to Iran.

Sabouri flatly denied Iran was after nuclear weapons: ``I assure the
world we are not doing anything against international conventions. Our
operations are fully open and transparent.''

Iran has signed the Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation treaty and a
similar one against the spread of chemical arms.

Russia Under Pressure To Scrap Deal

``Nuclear plants have no relation to military purposes. A country can
produce atomic weapons without having a nuclear plant. They are two
different stories, and Israel and the U.S. know it full well,'' Sabouri
said.

Russia has been under immense pressure to scrap a deal to complete the
Bushehr project, initiated in 1970s by German firms when a pro-Western
monarchy was in power in Iran.

Germany left the project after the 1979 Islamic revolution, and refused
repeated pleas from Iran to finish it, prompting Tehran to turn to
Moscow for help.

Sabouri said Iran pursued the project partly to avoid wasting billions
of dollars invested before the revolution.

``German firms had charged us 5.7 billion marks ($2.85 billion) for the
project. We could not give it up. We tried to convert it into something
else, but it was not possible.''

He refused to disclose the cost of the deal with Russia, but the figure
has been estimated at $800 million. In the first phase of the project,
Russia has agreed to provide a 1,000 megawatt pressurized light water
reactor and supply initial fuel for testing and commissioning.

``There is nothing secret or illegal about the project. If the terms of
the contract would allow it, we would have disclosed it for everyone to
see,'' Sabouri said.

He said some 700 Russian experts were presently at work in Bushehr, and
the number would increase to 1,500 in a year.

Talk Of Second Project

He said the project was about one-third finished. ``It took some work
because we have to modify the existing foundation to accommodate
Russian-made equipment being installed.''

Iran and Russia are also negotiating for a second reactor, to be
installed either in phase two at Bushehr or at another site.

``We are after a new generation of enhanced-quality reactors for the new
plant: a 1,000 megawatt if in Bushehr and smaller ones if in another
site -- possibly two 640-megawatt (units).''

Sabouri said his country was determined to pursue nuclear technology as
an alternative source of energy: ``We cannot ignore the science in our
strategic energy studies. We have to be ready for the day fossil fuel
runs out.''

But he said Western sanctions had hampered a drive to supply 10 percent
of the country's energy needs from nuclear sources two decades from now.

He accused the West of denying Iran its right to advanced technology:
``They do not sell us equipment for medical, agricultural and industrial
application. Is that how you promote a peaceful use of nuclear
technology?''

Sabouri said the International Atomic Energy Agency, which regularly
inspects Iranian nuclear facilities, was more cooperative but had
limited resources.

``We are not the one imposing the restrictions. We would love for
Western consultants to come here so we can learn how to run our plants
safely,'' he said.

Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 12:50:41 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: BBC: Tehran police trial opens

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_661000/661084.stm

Tehran police trial opens

Students injured in the raid gave evidence Twenty police officers have
gone on trial in Iran accused of taking part in an violent attack on a
student dormitory last July.

The night-time raid provoked some of the worst riots in Iran since the
1979 Islamic revolution.

The main defendant is Teheran's former acting police chief, Brigadier
Farhad Nazari.

He was dismissed after the raid, and strongly criticised in a government
report into the attack, which was aimed at breaking up a student protest
over the closure of a reformist newspaper.

Brig Nazari is charged with ordering the unauthorised entry of riot
police into Tehran University grounds, disobeying orders and damaging
the reputation of the security forces.

Alongside him, 19 other police officers face charges of assaulting and
injuring students and destroying property. They face jail sentences of
unspecified lengths, depending on the discretion of the judge.

The case marks a rare prosecution of members of the powerful security
forces.

The BBC's Jim Muir at the military court in Tehran says the fact that
proceedings are being held in public is a big step forward for reformist
President Mohammad Khatami's new spirit of accountability and the rule
law.

Hostel raid

At least, three people were killed in Tehran and the north-western city
of Tabriz in the six days of unrest which followed the police action.

At least one person died and 20 were injured in the attack on the
dormitory itself.

A succession of students testified in court on Tuesday that riot police,
accompanied by right-wing vigilantes, stormed their sleeping quarters
last July.

One, Raamin Karimi, said he was beaten, then thrown out of a third-floor
window, before being beaten and kicked again, despite having broken his
right leg and an arm in more than a dozen places.

'Rogue agents'

In addition to the criminal charges, court officials say some 400
students have filed complaints against the police for injuries and
damage to personal property.

"Only some of the culprits have been pursued but others have been left
alone," Mohsen Rohami, a pro-reform cleric acting as lawyer for the
student plaintiffs, told the court.

Some 300 people, including relatives of students allegedly assaulted,
were present at the trial.

Reformists, fresh from victory in recent parliamentary polls, have
contrasted the slow progress of proceedings against the police with the
speedy prosecution and conviction of student demonstrators.

Dozens of demonstrators have already been brought before the courts and
death sentences have been confirmed on one of their alleged ringleaders.

Presiding Judge Akbar Tabatabai said the court would reconvene on
Saturday to hear further testimonies

Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 12:54:48 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: The Economist: The Iranian opportunity

The Iranian opportunity

America should seize the chance of Iran’s election to improve its sour
relations

“AN EVENT of historic proportions,” was the Clinton administration’s
judgment on the reformists’ victory in Iran’s parliamentary election
last Sunday (see article). Can the United States now build on this
historic, but still fragile, event by improving its own bad relations
with the Islamic republic? It would be the waste of a chance if it
failed to do so.

Over the past couple of years, the Americans have made tentative efforts
to start a political dialogue with the Iranian government. These have
been spurned. President Muhammad Khatami has welcomed people-to-people
talk, but has not felt strong enough, in the face of the hostility of
his implacably Great-Satan-hating adversaries, to extend this welcome to
official negotiations. Now Mr Khatami and his supporters are on a roll,
able to override crude sniping. A resumption of relations would please
most Iranians. Nonetheless, the reformers’ attitude towards the United
States remains defiant. The door is open, they say, but it is up to
America to walk through it, carrying gifts.

Although the years in which the United States tried to “contain” Iran
are long gone, American laws or rules prohibit virtually all commercial
transactions between the two countries. However, since the ban on
investment in, and trade with, Iran dates from a 1995 executive order,
Mr Clinton can, if he so decides, modify it without congressional
approval. American oilmen, frustrated as their competitors grab
contracts with Iran, are hungry for an easing of the regulations. For
their part, the Iranians would be happy if they were allowed to export,
say, their carpets or caviare to America. Even more important to Iran
would be a U-turn in America’s determination to block it from any
Caspian pipeline deal: Iran aspires, not unreasonably, to be one of the
principal corridors bringing Caspian oil and gas to market.

Iran is also insistent that America should show some give on what it
calls its “frozen assets”. The shah ordered, and paid for, American
military goods and services which, after the 1979 revolution, were not
delivered. The dispute is before the American-Iranian claims tribunal in
The Hague, an arbitration body set up in the early 1980s. Although some
of the claims have been settled, Iran is still trying to claim amounts
that go into billions of dollars. It would be good to tie up all this
business, maybe with a unilateral American offer of a lump sum, even if
that involved congressional approval.

If America were to tempt Iran to negotiation with juicy titbits, what
should Iran offer in return? Some years ago, Iran stopped slinging money
around the world to terrorist groups. It still supports Lebanon’s
Hizbullah guerrillas and will continue to do so as long as Israel
occupies south Lebanon. But it could commit itself to stop, once Israel
has left Lebanon. Iran could also commit itself to supporting Yasser
Arafat in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, thus taking the
vitriol, and much of the danger, out of its traditional anti-Israeli
stance.

Just sign here, please

All this is important. But a main reason behind America’s sanctions is
to deny Iran the money that it might otherwise spend on weapons of mass
destruction. Iran, once the victim of Iraqi aggression, lives in a rough
neighbourhood, surrounded by people who not only have ballistic missiles
but also nuclear capacity (Russia, India, Pakistan, American forces in
the Gulf). It has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but
remains suspect. It is bound to look to its own security. But it would
lessen suspicion if it subscribed to the newly tightened nuclear
safeguards—which would cost it nothing if, as it claims, it has no
military nuclear ambitions.

Iran is on the cusp of reformation. There are still powerful forces bent
on keeping it in the darkness of petty rules and a harsh clerical
judiciary. Its reforming leaders, rejecting any hint of patronage, still
feel they have to move with great caution in their dealings with the
United States. But the election gives America an unusual opportunity to
help the reformists and further its own strategic interests. It should
seize it.

End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 28 Feb 2000 to 29 Feb 2000 - Special issue