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There are 2 messages totalling 389 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

2. Edward Said: The gap grows wider


Date: Sun, 5 Mar 2000 11:49:02 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>

March 2, 2000

PARIS 2ND Mar. (IPS) Mr. Akbar Mohammadi, a student condemned to death
charged prison authorities of physical and mental
torture, ill-treatment and gross violations on his person

In a letter sent from the notorious Evin prison to the Iranian Islamic
Judiciary Chief, the Iraqi-born
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi, Mr. Mohammadi, a student condemned on
charges of "fighting
God" and "rebellion against the Islamic Republic", Mr. Mohammadi denounces his
conditions and
asking him to intervene before it is too late.

The letter, large excerpt of which was published by reformist press and
by the conservative publications is a
typical example that despite efforts made by the government of President
Mohammad Khatami, savage, inhuman
practices against political prisoners continue in Iranian prisons.

Mr. Mohammadi's death sentence had been confirmed last week by an Islamic High
Court, rejecting an appeal motion for clemency that was
introduced in January by Mr. Ne'mat Ahmadi, the Mohamadi's lawyer.

The Supreme Court has as well confirmed sentences issued against Mr. Ahmad
Batebi, the young students who's picture holding the bloodied T-shirt of a
friend wounded by the Law Enforcement Forces that became the Cover of many
international newsmagazines to 10 years, Mr. Ali Shafe'i to 2 years and 6
months, Mr. Mehran Abdolbaghi to 9 years and Mr. Arya to 7 years of firm

Mohammadi was the only one of three students sentenced to death. His only
recourse now is to seek an amnesty from Iran's lamed leader, Ayatollah Ali

Mr. Akbar Mohammadi, the younger brother of Manouchehr Mohammadi, the general
secretary of the Association of Nationalist Iranian Students (ANIS)
was condemned to death after he was identified in pictures published by the
press throwing cocktail Molotov at members of pressure groups during
anti-regime, anti-leader demonstrations waged by angry students last July.

But he says what looked being like a cocktail Molotov was in fact nothing
but a
bottle of water he was tending to demonstrators.

The riots, the worse the Islamic Republic had to face, sparked after Law
Enforcement Forces and conservatives-controlled Ansar Hezbollah
thugs savagely attacked a peaceful demonstrations by students in their dorms
protesting the closure of the reformist daily "Salam".

The attack lasted several hours. LEF and members of the pressure groups in
civilian clothing charged the students, burned their rooms, beat them up and
occasionally threw one of them out of the window.

Mr. Manouchehr Mohammadi, 37, portrayed a the student's ringleader, was
sentenced to 13 years of imprisonment on charges of collaboration with
foreign-based Iranian opposition personalities and groups.

He was condemned after he "confessed" on television to the charges, admitting
he had received money, assistance and equipment from
organisations opposed to the Islamic Republic.

In his letter, distributed to the press by his parents who live in Amol, near
the Caspian Sea the younger Mohammadi says he was "physically tortured and
whipped from the beginning".

To mark the authenticity of the letter, the press said it was written from
93 of block 209 of Evin.

"Specifically, I was hung upside down while being flogged at the bottom of my
feet with metal cables as a result of which, I have suffered the
loss of two toe nails. Because of severe punches and kicks to the facial area,
I' have lost most of my hearing on my right ear".

"The prison doctor ordered me to hospital but up until now I have not been
taken there and I continue to suffer," he said.

According to Akbar, his "only crime" was to be the brother of Manouchehr
Mohammadi. "I have always honestly and genuinely stated that I
had nothing to do with these events except to hand out water to the students
and even to the security forces", he further said in his letter.

He also insists that prison authorities tried to force him into signing a
confession and to identify and accuse individuals whose pictures were shown to
"Because of my belief in the almighty and the fact that I have not witnessed
any wrong doing by people whom I' have never seen, I never signed the
confession", he added in his letter.

One year after the bloody demonstrations and while at least 1.500 students had
been detained and jailed, 20 policemen went on trial on Tuesday
in a military court for their role in the demonstrations.

The 11 officers and nine men, including former Commander of the LEF for
Revolutionary Guard's Brigadier-General Farhad Nazari, were
charged with assaulting students at the dormitory complex.

General Nazari was accused of having ordered the attack against the orders of
the Interior Ministry.

At his appearance, he was offered flowers by some Islamic vigilante and
dismissed officers, but as the trial went in and students describing the
treatment they received, he lost his arrogance, yet did not show any

The contrast between the slowness of the court martial of the police and the
speed with which the courts prosecuted and convicted student
demonstrators sparked criticism from reformers here.

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.

One student, Ramin Karimi described how the Islamic vigilante and the
revolutionary guards had thrown out him from the window, saying "O
Hossein (the tird and much venerated imam of the Sh'ia Muslims) this is a gift
for you". "One I touched the earth, wounded, legs and arms
broken, I heard other vigilante shouting he is alive, let's finish him off".

Another student, Mr. 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.

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

Student's lawyer, Hojatoleslam Mohsem Rahami, who also acted as lawyer for
former Interior Minister Abdollah Nouri said while one hear talking
about damages to the installations, rooms and other properties, I don't hear
anything about damages caused to the students dignity.

Mr. 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.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Revolution Court in Tehran sentenced Wednesday three
leaders of the Iranian People's Party (IPP) to long term prison terms.

The IPP's top leaders, Dariush Foruhar and his wife, Parvaneh Eskandari were
savagely murdered in November 1998 at their residence in
Tehran by high ranking officers of the Islamic Republic's Intelligence

The leader-controlled Iranian Broadcasting reported that Mr. Bahram Namazi, 65
was condemned to 15 years, Mr. Khosro Seyf, 68 and Mr. Farzine
Mokhber, 58 to 13 years and Mr. Mehran Abdolbaqi to 5 years prison terms for
"forming illegal political party, anti-government propaganda and rebellion
against the Islamic Republic."

The men were arrested in July 1999 after student demonstrations in Teheran and
held in Evin prison before being tried on an unknown date, the
group said.

Mr. Namazi, the Party's interim general secretary was sentenced to 15 years as
he was also accused of having insulted the leader of the Islamic regime,
Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i.

The small but outspoken organisation is one of Iran's oldest political
formation that calls for the separation of the State from Religion and the
replacement of the present theocracy by a secular system.

Though considered as "illegal", yet the IPP, like the Iran Freedom Movement is
tolerated by the Islamic regime.

In a statement released from Paris where it is based, the League for the
Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDHRI) said it was "extremely concerned"
about the conditions in which the (sentences) were handed down and demands the
immediate and unconditional release of the three men, whom the League
considers as "prisoners of conscience".

Noting the bitter defeat suffered by the conservatives and their leader,
ayatollah Khameneh'i at the recent Legislative elections, observers
both in Iran and outside generally regard the recent sentences as the
conservatives last shots against the reformists who won the absolute
majority if the next 290 seats Majles (parliament). ENDS AKBAR MOHAMADI 2300


Date: Sun, 5 Mar 2000 23:37:27 -0500
From: Rahim Bajoghli <rbajoghli@JUNO.COM>
Subject: Edward Said: The gap grows wider

Al-Ahram Weekly
2-8 March 2000
Issue No. 471
The gap grows wider

By Edward Said

On his visit to Birzeit University, Lionel Jospin had the gall to speak
of the Hizbullah fighters as terrorists, also expressing his
"understanding" of Israel's actions against Lebanon. As is now widely
known, he was greeted after his speech by many hundreds of students, who
stoned his car and that of his escort, Minister Nabil Shaath. Jospin's
visit to the Palestinian territories (still under occupation by Israel,
which is aided in its occupation by the Palestinian Authority) was under
the supposed auspices of the Authority, which was exposed for its
unpopularity and incompetence.

Embarrassed and angry, the Palestinian boss, Yasser Arafat, condemned the
attack, paying no heed to the justice of what the students were saying,
which was that there was one common front of resistance against Israeli
occupation from Beirut to Birzeit, and using his security forces to beat
the students and perhaps later imprison and torture some of them.
Threatened by the wave of discontent, the panicky Birzeit administration
closed the university for three days, more or less acting under the
Authority's injunctions.

Like dictators everywhere, Arafat has no real support anymore and has
lost sight of what it is he is supposed to be doing, namely liberating
his people. Far from that, he is colluding with Israel to confine them
still more, all the while fattening himself and his cronies on the
ill-gotten gains provided by his monopolies, casinos, skimmed-off-the-top
businesses, extortion and protection money.

Without any law or real civil institutions Arafat is the perfect partner
for Israel and the US, who now have a native sub-contractor in the
oppression of Palestinians and in the furtherance of their interests:
therefore, they could not be happier. Even though "peace" isn't a step
closer to realisation than under Netanyahu -- in fact, I had predicted
that Barak would be a good deal worse, and he has confirmed that by
allowing or encouraging more settlement building than his predecessor --
the various rulers and "peace" professionals seem not to have taken
notice of a widening gap between the people ruled and the justly-maligned
process. Typically though, it isn't the seasoned politicians or the
intellectuals who have taken the lead in opposing the enslavement of the
so-called peace, but rather the students.

In Beirut, at the American University, students have been demonstrating
against US policy, which is nothing less than full support for Israel's
bombing of civilian targets, a crime punishable according to the Fourth
Geneva Convention. But whereas the US government and organisations like
Human Rights Watch have been agitating to bring Saddam Hussein to trial
for crimes against humanity (few deserve it more, by the way), nothing is
said about Sharon, Barak, Peres, and all the other leaders whose routine
assaults on civilian and human rights constitute the longest-standing and
longest-unpunished set of war crimes in history. These go back to 1948,
when Palestine was ethnically cleansed.

The invidiousness of such a policy enraged the Beirut students, and they
made life a little difficult for the US ambassador, who was attending
some public function at the AUB. One would wish there was a similar
policy of peaceful resistance taken against those rulers in the Arab
countries who either take no favorable notice of the demonstrations or
who pander openly to the Israelis and the Americans.

As for Lionel Jospin, he follows in the long tradition of bad faith and
duplicity of the European Left, which has always actively supported
Zionism with scarce regard for the tenets of socialism, much less of
liberal humanism. It is a strange thing indeed, but the Western Left has
basically been blind to what Zionism did to the Palestinians, so
carefully did the publicists of that movement cultivate the totally
fraudulent notion that Zionism was essentially a socialist and
progressive movement.

In fact, as several Israeli historians have shown, Zionism was profoundly
anti-socialist, and was very much in favour of capitalism so long as it
could be put to what was then characterised as "Jewish" purposes and aims
in Palestine.

This was as true of Ben Gurion as it was of Weizmann, as it
was of all their followers in the Israeli Labour Party. It is a
breathtaking prevarication, this pretence of socialism, but has been
sustained successfully for almost a century: Israel's Labour Party is a
member of the Socialist International; the kibbutz, which was a sort of
window-dressing operation constituting less than one per cent of the
population, became the symbol of socialist Zionism; and a whole
generation of European politicians from Crossman to Jospin have followed
along unquestioningly.

In Jospin's case, he is a member of the Protestant minority and likely to
feel pangs of identification with Israeli Jews (forgetting totally the
Palestinian minority, for racist reasons), as well as some sense of
collective guilt for the Holocaust.

As to why it should be allowable for Israel to bomb Lebanon as an aspect
of its illegal occupation of the South, that is left unexplained. Perhaps
it is also worth mentioning that Jospin's sudden expression of enthusiasm
was kindled by the fact that ElAl, the Israeli airline, is in the process
of refurbishing its fleet of aircraft, and Aerospatiale, the French
producers of the AirBus, are Boeing's chief competitor for the enormous,
multi-billion dollar deal.

Jospin must have accordingly felt that a little cost-free French support
(I think he and Mrs. Albright call it "understanding") for Israeli
bombing would be an extra incentive for ElAl to buy French products.
Besides, he supposed, where more convincingly could he make his point
sincerely than under Palestinian noses, so to speak. They would never
object, poor little brown people that they are.

French racism and condescension, hand in hand.

Thank heavens for the students, who were more courageous than their
professors and their so-called leaders, who probably (I have no
information) just sat on their hands politely and let the villainous
Jospin blather on. But that has been the Arab elite habit for some time
now: taking it imperturbably on the chin when a white man insults and
humiliates them, all of this abjection as a way of demonstrating to the
world that we are not the terrorists and fanatics that we have sometimes
seemed to be. Boss Arafat and Nabil Shaath, who was at Birzeit and was
pummeled by the students as a symbol of collaboration, went out of their
way to express anger at the students, instead of refusing to speak to
Jospin at all.

Any other leadership worth its salt would have done exactly that. But
ours is too far gone to notice that "peace" to most people is a cynical
game and the shameless pandering to Israel's bankrupt and ruthlessly
arrogant leadership will get them no further than exactly as far as they
have come to date, which isn't much of a distance at all.

Thus the gap between the interests of the preponderant majority of the
people and the ruling juntas (Arab as well as Israeli) increases. In
whose interest exactly is Israel's quasi-insane military spending?
Certainly not that of the urban masses or the Mizrahim, who are forced to
swallow insult upon insult, to say nothing of grinding poverty and
discrimination, while the Ashkenazi elites go on their merry way
regardless, acquiring bigger cars and apartments while the majority

This is not to mention the present suicidal course of Israel's foreign
policy, whose result is to lay up more and more hatred among Arabs who
are conceived of as only "understanding the language of force." What
blindness and what moral obtuseness this is, as if more and more
gratuitous punishment and humiliation of the Arabs will make Israel more
acceptable and more popular instead of more hated and more likely to be
the target of indiscriminate Arab violence. The Israelis seem to have
learned nothing from the history of cruelty, which simply breeds
counter-responses that prolong the dialectic of force, instead of the
other way round.

They are no less unwise than their Arab counterparts, who somehow
doggedly believe that the Americans will protect them in the long run
from the wrath of their long-suffering people. There will be no escape
from that so long as the gap widens between the rhetoric and institutions
of the false peace, on the one hand, and the appalling distortions of
reality on the other. Peace in the Palestinian world has meant more land
taken, houses demolished, corruption, continued political prisoners and
torture, despotism, and no land really liberated to speak of.

At this point it doesn't matter who does the oppressing, Israeli or
Palestinian security men. Torture can't be justified if it is done by a
Palestinian policeman, any more than it could be justified when an
Israeli did it. Torture is torture, occupation is occupation. And above
all, injustice is injustice and will be perceived as such, whether it is
uttered by a French politician or an Arab one. As Fanon said, it cannot
be the aim of liberation simply to replace a white policeman by a
non-white policeman. Liberation must go a great deal further.

The important thing for now is to keep hammering away at the phony
rhetoric and promises of the peace process, showing relentlessly not only
that it hasn't worked and has created a gap between rulers and ruled, but
also, and more importantly, that in its present form it cannot work.

Human, political and civil rights are indivisible: they cannot be
partially achieved by one people and fully enjoyed by another living in
the same territory. This is the deep flaw of Oslo. The only way to
overcome it is to raise the cry "equality or nothing, for Arabs and
Jews". If one people enjoys a right of return, the other one must also.
Otherwise the conflict continues -- in the real interests of no one at
all. No one, not even those who seem to be profiting in the short run.

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End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 4 Mar 2000 to 5 Mar 2000