Date: Mar 10, 2000 [ 0: 0: 0]
Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 8 Mar 2000 to 9 Mar 2000
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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 8 Mar 2000 to 9 Mar 2000
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There are 8 messages totalling 570 lines in this issue.
Topics of the day:
2. Czechs agree to halt exports for Iran power plant
3. Murder by decree
4. Ex-police boss blames vigilantes for Iran violence
5. Iran Replaces Dissident Case Judge
6. Iran may lift ban on ancient fire festival -papers
7. Iran Seeks To End U.S. Trade Ban
8. Iran Court To Assign Jews Lawyers
Date: Thu, 9 Mar 2000 04:16:51 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
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TEHRAN, March 8 (Reuters) - Hundreds of Iranian workers demonstrated outside
parliament on Wednesday against a new labour law exempting small companies
from strict regulations, the official IRNA news agency said.
It said workers from across Iran gathered to demand the scrapping of the
measure, under which firms with up to five workers would be exempt from rule=
that make it nearly impossible to fire workers and impose a wide range of
benefits, including mandatory bonuses and generous severance payments.
It was the second such protest in as many weeks.
The bill was passed last month as part of reforms to encourage investment in
small enterprises, which critics say is hampered by the high costs of doing
business under the existing labour law.
Iran introduced the earlier law after the 1979 Islamic revolution, reflectin=
the socialist mood of the era and general support for the economic
underclass, whose cause the revolutionary government championed.
Already, several labour groups have threatened to go on strike if the new
bill is not revoked. Parliament suspended action, in the face of strong
labour opposition, on a similar bill last June.
Analysts say the newly elected parliament, to begin work in June, is likely
to be more sympathetic to organised labour, which helped elect many of the
Visit our web page at:
Date: Thu, 9 Mar 2000 04:21:30 EST
Subject: Czechs agree to halt exports for Iran power plant
Czechs agree to halt exports for Iran power plant
By Klara Gajduskova
PRAGUE, March 8 (Reuters) - The lower house of the Czech parliament, fearing
potential reprisals from Washington, agreed on Wednesday to block the export
of air conditioning equipment for an Iranian nuclear power plant.
Members approved the measure in an emergency session after Czech-born U.S.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright indicated her department would consider
unspecified sanctions against the Czech Republic if the deal went forward.
U.S. officials have said the Iranian plant at Bushehr has potential to be
used in a nuclear arms programme and it was the Czech Republic's
responsibility as a new member of NATO not to provide any assistance.
The planned exports from local manufacturer ZVVZ Milevsko (ZZVV.PR) were
valued at one billion crowns ($26.85 million).
The legislation enforces a ban on any Czech exports or services for the
Bushehr plant. The measure must still win approval in the Senate upper house
but that is widely expected.
Several companies in the Czech Republic which make nuclear and conventional
power plant components have identified Iran as a potentially lucrative
ZVVZ has demanded 500 million crowns in damages from the Czech government
should the supplies not be delivered to Iran.
The cabinet voted on Tuesday to compensate the company by swapping 92 million
crowns in state credits to ZVVZ for equity, and to grant contracts worth 115
million crowns for it to supply air conditioning to state-controlled
Prime Minister Milos Zeman has warned that U.S. sanctions could cost the
country more than five times what the air conditioning component deal was
The opposition Communists argued that an independent nuclear expert should
have been appointed before Washington's ``dual-use'' argument about the
equipment was accepted.
($1-37.24 Czech Crown)
Date: Thu, 9 Mar 2000 18:19:09 GMT
From: Arash Alavi <arash@MY-DEJA.COM>
Subject: Murder by decree
8 March 2000
Murder by decree
By Robert Fisk, Foreign Correspondent of the Year
The untold story of President Rafsanjani of Iran and the
killing of the intellectuals
They say that up to a hundred men and women were officially
murdered between 1987 and 1997, in the 10 years that Ali
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani held the presidency of Iran. There
were writers and intellectuals injected with potassium
cyanide or knifed to death; a married woman rumoured to
have had an affair with a senior Iranian intelligence
officer - she was silenced lest her story become public; a
priest; a homosexual; and criminals who had made enemies of
Iran's leadership. The names of some of the murderers, many
linked to the Iranian Intelligence Ministry and printed for
the first time in The Independent today, are known to many
in Tehran but - even in the astonishing breeze of press
freedom that drifts across the city in the aftermath of
last month's parliamentary elections - no Iranian
journalist has yet revealed their identities.
One of the bravest of Iranian reporters, the investigative
journalist Akbar Gangi who writes for Sobi-Emrous, asked
ex-president Rafsanjani's influential daughter Faiza if her
father knew of the suspected judicial executions. She told
Gangi that her father had "no control" over the
Intelligence Ministry and "no information" on the murders.
Gangi recalls their conversation with a smile. "I told her
that if we accepted this argument, then Mr Rafsanjani would
be Cardinal Richelieu," he says. "I said it was
unacceptable that Hashemi Rafsanjani had no control over
the Intelligence Ministry. I wrote in my paper that if
Rafsanjani really had no control, then how did he once
manage to fire one of Fallahian's deputies - in a case that
involved Rafsanjani's family?"
Ali Fallahian was a name uttered with fear only a decade
ago in Tehran. As the head of Iranian intelligence, he held
the power of life and death over thousands; and in a regime
which had hanged perhaps 20,000 - some say 30,000 - of its
young male and female opponents in the immediate aftermath
of the Iran-Iraq war, Fallahian was not a man to be
crossed. Along with at least six other named officials,
some still holding positions in the clerical judiciary in
Iran, he is said to have agreed to secret fatwas, ordering
the murder of journalists, writers, clerics and crooks.
Gangi's new book, The Dungeon of Ghosts, talks of a secret
committee - its members unnamed - that met regularly to
decide which of the regime's internal enemies should be
liquidated. "They were the ‚minence grise, a grey power
which approved religious fatwas for killing people," Gangi
says. "Everyone knows who they are. A month ago, I wrote an
article about this. I mentioned the committee and pointed
out that Rafsanjani was president at the time. It exploded
like a bomb. But I also wrote in the article that there
were some questions about the relationship of Rafsanjani
and the members of the committee."
So was Rafsanjani one of the judicial killers during his
decade-long presidency of Iran? Was he a man who had only
to nod his Hojatolislam's turban - how we in the West loved
Rafsanjani, thought he was a moderate chap, a "reformer"
before real reformers existed in Iran - for the needle to
be filled with poison, the car "accident" arranged, the
knife sharpened? And if he did not sign a death warrant,
did his silence not give consent? Certainly, he wanted us
all to believe that he was a man who controlled events. Was
it not Rafsanjani who, in 1988, told Ayatollah Ruhollah
Khomeini that the eight-year war with Iraq must end? Did he
not reveal the Iran-Contra scandal? Was this not the man
who tried to liberalise the economy of Iran?
True, it was he who told Khomeini that the war was lost,
that Iraqi tanks were driving through the Iranian lines
unhindered, that the Islamic Republic's troops were unable
to withdraw their armour for lack of petrol. The old Imam
remarked, after listening to Rafsanjani, that he had been
forced to "eat poison". And I recall well the glee - pure,
unadulterated schoolboy delight - with which Rafsanjani
produced photocopies of the Irish passports used by John
MacFarlane, Oliver North and the other American
super-spooks when they turned up in Tehran to trade
anti-aircraft missiles for American hostages in Beirut.
Rafsanjani even handed one of the photocopies to me; it was
a real passport - Macfarlane used the first name Sean -
stolen from the Irish embassy in Athens.
But I remember another Rafsanjani who took exception to a
mild biographical profile I wrote of him in 1987. I had
concentrated on his origins - his father was a pistachio
farmer - and the next time I arrived in Tehran, I was
coldly informed that I should not stay long because "some
officials from the Islamic Republic would like you to
leave". How soon, I asked? And an equally cold man from the
Islamic Guidance ministry answered chillingly: "I cannot
protect you. But I think I would probably leave tonight." I
slunk out of Mehrabad airport a few hours later on a flight
to Europe, watched through the window of the departure
lounge by the then Irish ambassador to Tehran. A few weeks
later, I was back. Whoever it was, they told me, was no
longer angered by my article.
In those days, when Rafsanjani was the darling of our
Western leaders - we thought he was fighting off the
radical clergy, not collaborating with them - all talk of
his personal wealth was banished from the headlines. Not a
single Western reporter bothered to dig into the story of
his friends and relatives. How come his son Yasser worked
in the procurement office of the National Iranian Oil
Company? Or his nephew Ali was deputy minister of oil? Or
his son Mehdi was employed in the main Iranian gas company?
Was it true, they are now asking in Tehran, that Rafsanjani
had large business interests in Germany, that his family
had residence cards in the West?
One of Rafsanjani's close relatives currently controls 47
per cent of an airline link between Iran and Saudi Arabia,
22 per cent of the profits of which would go into his
pocket. After one oil-and-gas deal six years ago, an
investigation into internal corruption led to the arrest of
several close friends of Mehdi Rafsanjani. They were forced
to return up to $5m to state coffers. But Mehdi was not
questioned about the extent of his involvement, let alone
arrested. Did no one dare to tangle with the family of
Iranian journalists who question Rafsanjani's presidential
role are regularly threatened - by fax or telephone - while
at least one insists that Western journalists must formally
sign documents promising to send all of his interview
quotations for approval before publication; The Independent
declined to do so. Gangi himself admits that he does not
wish to get close to the private life of Rafsanjani,
although he notes that it was the former president who
personally set the exchange rates between the US dollar and
the Iranian riyal when he claimed to be introducing a
market economy to Iran.
Gangi's theory is that a key must be found and a light
shone into the "Dungeon of Ghosts" to find out who sat
inside, who issued the fatwas and who approved them. Gangi
does not identify them but The Independent's investigation
has discovered that Fallahian, Ali Razini (who is currently
a member of the Special Clerical Court in Tehran), Mustafa
Pourmahamadi (the former deputy intelligence minister for
international affairs) and Ruhollah Hosseinian (the head of
Iran's "documentation centre"), all sat in that dark room.
Said Emami, another former intelligence ministry operative,
was among them, too; though he - and readers must here
stifle all cynical remarks - "committed suicide" last year
while awaiting a murder trial. Was he going to name
Or - and here we reach the darkest of all questions - was
he going to name other, even higher figures in the regime?
Was Emami's evidence of the Dungeon of Ghosts going to call
into question the very practice of clerical rule, the
leadership whom Iranians have been forced to follow
unquestioningly for so many years? The election of
"reformers" last month appears to have placed President
Mohamed Khatami in an unchallenged position and his brother
Reza, leader of the largest winning reformist party, is now
speaking of investigations into the murders of Rafsanjani's
decade of power.
No wonder, then, that Akbar Gangi is a frightened man.
"Sources I trust told me that at a meeting it was approved
that I should be murdered with a knife," he told me in his
Tehran office. "There was a plan to kill me if I went to
make a speech in a city outside Tehran." Other journalists
share these fears. They may be looking for the key to the
Dungeon of Ghosts. But the ghosts may still be ready to
murder their enemies.
Date: Thu, 9 Mar 2000 15:14:20 EST
Subject: Ex-police boss blames vigilantes for Iran violence
Ex-police boss blames vigilantes for Iran violence
TEHRAN, March 9 (Reuters) - A top Iranian police official, on trial for a
bloody raid on student dormitories last year, on Thursday blamed the incident
on unnamed plainclothes vigilantes.
But former Tehran police chief Brigadier-General Farhad Nazari resisted
attempts by the students' lawyer to force him to name those behind the July
assault, in which one person was killed and more than 200 hurt.
``Their dossiers are now in Revolutionary courts. They create problems for
police, and on that night they were present and organising things,'' Nazari
told the court's fourth session.
Seven other police officers and 12 conscripts were also in the dock on
charges of illegally entering the Tehran University hostels, assaulting
students and destroying their property.
The students and their supporters among Iran's pro-reform movement allege
that the police played a secondary role in the attack, which they blame on
hardline Islamic vigilantes backed by powerful conservatives opposed to
President Mohammad Khatami.
Witnesses earlier told the court the worst of the violence was carried out by
armed hardliners, abetted by police.
Reformist deputies, elected to the next parliament, have vowed to pursue the
case against these so-called pressure groups if the judiciary fails to act.
Nazari, the top commander on the scene that night, denied ordering the attack
on pro-democracy student demonstrators, and suggested the defendants had been
``If I have been sacked and am now unemployed, it is because I defended my
personnel,'' said Nazari, who was fired from his post weeks after the attack.
However, he deflected attempts by cleric Mohsen Rohami, lawyer for the
student plaintiffs, to pin down responsibility for the assault, which touched
off the worst civil unrest since the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic
The trial marks a rare prosecution in open court of members of the powerful
security forces, who have often been seen as a law unto themselves.
More than 1,500 students were detained for their part in the unrest, and at
least one person was sentenced to death.
Besides criminal charges, some 400 students have sued police for theft and
damage to personal property.
Hearings will resume on Sunday.
Date: Thu, 9 Mar 2000 15:14:48 EST
Subject: Iran Replaces Dissident Case Judge
Iran Replaces Dissident Case Judge
.c The Associated Press
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - The government has replaced the judge and investigators
looking into the 1998 murders of five political dissidents, an Iranian
newspaper reported Thursday.
No reason was given for the decision, the Hamshahri daily said, quoting an
official Islamic Republic News Agency report that said the investigation has
taken more than a year because of its complexity and ``sabotage.''
Three writers and a husband and wife who belonged to a minor opposition party
were found dead in Tehran in the last two months of 1998, some of them
stabbed or strangled.
The Intelligence Ministry admitted about a year ago that the killings had
been carried out by ``rogue'' agents. The revelation shocked the nation,
where Iranian officials routinely blame evils on the outside world.
The mystery deepened after officials claimed that the main suspect, Saeed
Emami, a senior Intelligence Ministry official, had committed suicide in
jail. Several newspapers have suggested Emami was killed to protect others in
Date: Thu, 9 Mar 2000 15:15:27 EST
Subject: Iran may lift ban on ancient fire festival -papers
Iran may lift ban on ancient fire festival -papers
TEHRAN, March 9 (Reuters) - Iran may allow residents in the capital Tehran to
celebrate an ancient festival that has been frowned on by authorities since
the 1979 Islamic revolution, newspapers reported on Thursday.
The decision could put an end to annual clashes between police and youths who
set off firecrackers and jump over bonfires to celebrate the pre-Islamic
festival of fire.
The daily Hamshahri quoted Tehran's deputy governor as saying a municipal
security council had asked police not to interfere in the festivities on
Tuesday, provided celebrations are orderly and only legally manufactured
firecrackers are used.
Many people are injured or maimed by home-made firecrackers during the
festival which dates back to Iran's Zoroastrian past. It is held on the eve
of the last Wednesday of the Iranian year, which this year ends on March 19.
Moslem hardliners see the ceremonies as pagan rites, while secular-minded
youths are keen to have fun and keep alive the popular pre-Islamic tradition.
Authorities have tried, with little success, to curb the festivities on
grounds of safety, citing numerous fires and injuries. The celebrations
include public dancing, deemed immoral under Iran's Islamic laws.
Although formally led by a reformist interior minister appointed by President
Mohammad Khatami, the Iranian police are commanded by officers who are close
to powerful Islamic conservatives opposed to the moderate president.
Date: Thu, 9 Mar 2000 15:15:55 EST
Subject: Iran Seeks To End U.S. Trade Ban
Iran Seeks To End U.S. Trade Ban
By AFSHIN VALINEJAD
.c The Associated Press
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran's foreign minister said today his government sought
better trade relations with the United States, particularly the removal of
bans on Iranian goods.
``We would welcome the lifting of U.S. sanctions on Iranian goods and would
consider it as a positive move,'' Kamal Kharrazi told a Tehran news
He was responding to this week's Los Angeles Times report that Washington was
considering lifting its ban on Iranian carpets, pistachios and caviar - its
three biggest exports after oil and gas - following the victory of Iranian
reformists in last month's legislative polls. Many reformists welcome better
ties with the United States.
``We have always said that Iran is interested in trade with U.S. firms. When
the United States eased sanctions (last April) to allow sales of wheat and
medicines to Iran, we made that conditional on the opening of the U.S. market
to Iranian goods. Trade is a two-way street,'' Kharrazi said.
In Washington, State Department spokesman James P. Rubin told reporters
Wednesday that Iran has been trading with the United States.
``Iran has been purchasing U.S. agricultural and medical products since
(April),'' Rubin said.
Rubin declined to comment on the newspaper report, but said ``we're looking
at ways to engage Iran in a dialogue and to recognize the important changes
that are taking place there.''
Kharrazi said that if U.S. trade sanctions were to be lifted, ``it would be a
big victory'' for Iran.
The abolition of the ban would be a major step of reconciliation between the
United States and Iran. The two nations broke relations in April 1980, five
months after Iranian militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held
its occupants hostage.
Besides barring trade with Iran, the United States has legislation that
imposes sanctions on foreign companies that invest $20 million or more a year
in Iran's oil and gas sectors
The United States accuses Iran of sponsoring terrorism, trying to sabotage
Middle East peacemaking and seeking to amass weapons of mass destruction.
Iran rejects the accusations. Its government says there can be no talks with
Washington until it treats Iran with respect and releases Iranian assets,
valued at $12 billion, frozen in American banks since the 1979 Islamic
On the Net: Center for Middle Eastern Studies Web site on Iran:
Date: Thu, 9 Mar 2000 15:16:22 EST
Subject: Iran Court To Assign Jews Lawyers
Iran Court To Assign Jews Lawyers
.c The Associated Press
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - A judge investigating charges against 13 Iranian Jews
accused of spying has asked a provincial bar association to assign lawyers to
the case, Tehran radio reported Thursday.
The accused and their families had failed to hire lawyers ``despite repeated
notices,'' the radio quoted judiciary spokesman Hossein Mir Mohammad Sadeqi
With time running out before the trial starts next month, the investigating
judge asked the Fars Province Bar Association to assign lawyers, the radio
quoted Sadeqi as saying.
Manouchehr Eliassi, who represented Iran's small Jewish community in the
outgoing parliament, said last week that the trial would begin April 13 in
Shiraz in the southern Fars province.
The suspects were arrested last March in Shiraz, 550 miles south of Tehran.
They are accused of having spied for the United States and Israel, but both
countries have denied that. If convicted, the suspects could face the death
Iran has been under intense international pressure to free the Jews or ensure
they receive a fair trial. The government says their faith has no bearing on
the case and that some Muslims have also been arrested on the same charges.
At its height, Iran's Jewish community numbered 100,000. Since the 1979
Islamic revolution, the community has dwindled from 80,000 to about 25,000.
Iran's Jewish community remains the Middle East's largest outside Israel.
Iranian Jews are allowed to practice aspects of their religion, but are
forbidden to teach Hebrew, the liturgical language.
End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 8 Mar 2000 to 9 Mar 2000