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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 27 Mar 2000 to 28 Mar 2000

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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 27 Mar 2000 to 28 Mar 2000
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There are 10 messages totalling 516 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. (AFP)Reformers stepping up charges that "shadow government" in control
2. FYI: Amnesty: Saudi Arabia 'buys silence' on abuse
3. (AP)Iran Lawmaker Likes U.S. Gesture
4. IRNA -- Fire breaks out in historical market in Isfahan
5. (AP)Iranian Newspaper Prints U.S. Flag
6. IRNA --Doctors awaiting Hajjarian's fever to subside for transfer to
Germany
7. Iranian Newspaper Prints U.S. Flag
8. Iran's foreign minister starts Bahrain visit
9. Dubai upholds two death sentences for drugs offence
10. Iran exiles in Iraq say they foiled mortar attack

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 16:19:08 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: (AFP)Reformers stepping up charges that "shadow government" in control

Reformers stepping up charges that "shadow government" in control

Iran - Monday, 27 March 2000 - Agence France Presse

TEHRAN, March 27 (AFP) - Iranian reformers behind President Mohammad
Khatami are mounting charges that the nation is being run by a
bloodthirsty "shadow government" after an attempt on the life of a close
Khatami ally.

They say a murky network of secret agents is operating inside the
police, intelligence services, state media and the elite Revolutionary
Guards, functioning as a parallel power that controls the Islamic
republic.

The charges -- which themselves mark a new freedom to speak out since
Khatami's election three years ago -- come after pro-Khatami reformers
trounced their conservative rivals in last month's parliamentary
elections.

"Operatives from several different state organisations have created a
para-governmental power network," says Emadeddin Baghi, a journalist
also considered to be one of the leading activists in the reform
movement.

The accusations have also been leveled in the popular pro-reform daily
Sobh-e Emruz which is headed by Said Hajarian, the 47-year-old reform
leader who was critically wounded in an assassination attempt earlier
this month.

Hajarian was gunned down March 12 outside the offices of the Tehran city
council by two men who sped off on a kind of high-powered motorbike
normally restricted here only to government agencies.

Several people have been arrested in the case and authorities have named
the gunman as a student at a Tehran university.

But the shocking shooting, coming in the weeks after the stunning reform
victory, has given rise to charges that conservatives were behind the
assassination bid.

In a further twist to the story, Hajarian was shot just weeks after
publishing stories linking conservatives to the high-profile murders of
several intellectuals and political dissidents in late 1998.

Those articles appeared in the run-up to the parliamentary elections in
which reformers resoundingly swept aside the conservatives who have
dominated Iranian politics since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Thousands of people have come to Hajarian's hospital to show their
solidarity, including reform hero Abdollah Nuri -- who was briefly out
on leave from prison, where he is serving a five-year term for spreading
"anti-Islamic" propaganda.

One of Hajarian's colleagues on the Tehran council, Ahmad Hakimipour,
said Monday that one of the accomplices in the shooting was a former
security policeman for parliament.

He said the man had applied for a job at the council offices and had
once worked for Mohsen Rezai, the former head of the powerful
Revolutionary Guards -- considered one of the pillars of the Islamic
clerical regime.

Khatami has appealed for full transparency in the investigation into the
shooting of his friend and ally, warning that terrorist acts were
threatening to engulf Iran and destroy the nation "like termites."

But some reformists claim that one of Khatami's ministers, Ali Yunesi,
in charge of Iran's powerful intelligence services, is helping the
conservatives by trying to cover up the murder.

Yunesi said Saturday that the alleged ringleader, Said Asghar, and five
accomplices did not belong to any organised political group or faction.
Baghi said that it was impossible for the attack to have been the work
of individuals.

It is not the first time that Khatami has faced a public crisis over
political unrest.

Last year Tehran was torn apart by six days of bloody riots after police
brutally crushed a student demonstration to protest the closure of a
pro-Khatami newspaper by the conservative-run courts.

It was the worst unrest here since the aftermath of the revolution and,
according to official figures, three people were killed and several
others wounded.

But the pro-reform press challenged the official version of events,
saying that dozens had been killed or wounded, many of whom they said
were later abducted from hospital by the secret police.

------------------------------

Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 16:26:05 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: FYI: Amnesty: Saudi Arabia 'buys silence' on abuse

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_693000/693513.stm

Saudi Arabia 'buys silence' on abuse

Amnesty: Saudis suffer under "secret justice system" Saudi Arabia is
guilty of widespread human rights abuses and spends a fortune on US
public relations firms to cover up violations, the UK-based human rights
group Amnesty International (AI) says.

The group is launching a six month worldwide campaign against "arbitrary
arrest, torture and executions" in the kingdom coinciding with a report
published on Tuesday entitled Saudi Arabia: A Secret State of Suffering.

The suffering, according to AI, stems primarily from the secrecy that
shrouds the Saudi criminal justice system, while an oil-dependant
international community sits back in silence.

The kingdom - which is the world's biggest oil producer - spent more
than $1m in 1999 on public relations firms to ensure secrecy about
abuses of human rights.

AI says the state structure in Saudi Arabia is permeated by secrecy and
fear. Victims and witnesses are too scared to talk and anyone who dares
voice dissent is harshly punished.

"Anyone not in a position of power or influence caught in the web of the
criminal justice system is at risk of state abuse of power," the group
says.

"Once trapped in this web, there is only one guaranteed outcome - their
basic human rights will be violated."

The most common violations occur against migrant workers, religious
minorities and women, the group says.

Saudi Arabia has in the past rejected previous Amnesty reports. There
has been no response to Tuesday's report so far.

Washington march

Amnesty supporters are planning to march between the Saudi Embassy in
Washington, the US State Department and public relations firms employed
by the Saudi Government and the US State Department.

A week ago the group lobbied the United Nations human rights commission
to put aside political and economic considerations and scrutinise the
kingdom's human rights record.

Punishments in Saudi Arabia include death by beheading, amputation and
flogging, and AI says these can be handed down "after trials that make a
mockery of justice".

Saudi Arabia is said to have one of the highest rates of execution in
the world, averaging two a week, but AI says it provides no information
on how victims had been tried.

According to reports the group has compiled over the last two decades,
some defendants were tortured into signing a confession, then beheaded.

"Incommunicado detention, a criminal justice system which from the
outset treats suspects as guilty, and the lack of independent mechanisms
for reporting torture and investigations into allegations, all foster a
climate of impunity," it says.

Abused minorities

AI says Christians, Sikhs and other minorities are subject to
discrimination and are targeted by security forces.

"Political and religious opponents of the government, migrant workers,
women and other powerless individuals emerge as consistent victims of
discrimination," it added.

Amnesty accuses Saudi Arabia of failing to meet international human
rights obligations despite having signed several treaties.

Political groups and trade unions are banned in the kingdom and the
authorities do not tolerate any form of public dissent.

------------------------------

Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 16:21:28 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: (AP)Iran Lawmaker Likes U.S. Gesture

Iran Lawmaker Likes U.S. Gesture

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran should have a ``positive and wise'' response to
American gestures for improving ties after more than two decades of
estrangement, an Iranian legislator said in remarks published today.

Hussein Ansari-Rad said Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's March 17
speech was a ``wise and diplomatic show of respect'' that requires a
positive response from Iran, according to the daily Sobh-e-Emruz.

``Albright's acknowledgment requires a positive response at the same
level. Our foreign policy of detente requires that the response from the
Iranian authorities be in the same direction, containing positive
aspects,'' Ansari-Rad said.

Although the right thing would have been for Albright to offer an
apology, Iran should adopt a ``realistic position'' in its relations
with the United States to safeguard its own interests, said Ansari-Rad,
a reformist member of Iran's Majlis, or Parliament.

In her March 17 speech, Albright acknowledged that the United States had
been shortsighted in its involvement in a 1953 coup, and its support for
the dictatorial shah, who was ousted in Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.

Saying that Washington sought a new relationship with Iran, she
announced the lifting of a ban on U.S. imports of Iranian rugs,
pistachio nuts and caviar.

The Iranian legislator's comments come two days after Iran's supreme
leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, slammed the gesture as ``deceitful.''

``The Iranian nation and its authorities consider the United States to
be their enemy because America's past behavior is full of acts of
hostility and treason,'' he was quoted as saying Saturday.

Ansari-Rad, who won a seat in the Feb. 18 election on the ticket of the
Islamic Iran Participation Front - Iran's strongest political party -
supported holding a referendum to decide the future of Iran-U.S.
relations.

Iran's Foreign Ministry had earlier given a cautious welcome to
Albright's speech.

The contradicting reactions from Iranian officials reflect differences
between anti-American hard-liners led by Khamenei, and reformers led by
President Mohammad Khatami. The president's faction wants better ties
with the United States, and Albright's gesture followed a resounding
reformist victory in last month's legislative elections in Iran.

------------------------------

Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 16:23:27 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: IRNA -- Fire breaks out in historical market in Isfahan

Fire breaks out in historical market in Isfahan

Isfahan, Isfahan prov., March 27, IRNA -- Fire broke out in the
historical market in the city of Isfahan on Tuesday. Fire fighters
managed to contain spread of flames, and extinguished it quickly.

The market is located on the western part of Naqsh-e-Jahan square (built
during the Safavid dynasty, 1500-1736) where 28 shops caught fire.

Naqsh-e-Jahan square is a large rectangular arena encolsed with monments
on all sides, and is a popular tourist site.

Eye-witnesses said negligence or short-circuit caused the fire whose
flames spread to the neighboring areas due to existence of gas-fittings
in the market.

The shops in the market sell scores of typical handicrafts of the
province.

------------------------------

Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 16:20:35 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: (AP)Iranian Newspaper Prints U.S. Flag

Iranian Newspaper Prints U.S. Flag

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - An Iranian newspaper broke a taboo by printing a
color picture of the U.S. flag on its front page today, underscoring
growing calls within the country to end more than 20 years of
estrangement between the former allies.

The daily Hammihan, which often endeavors to project the viewpoints of
both the hard-liners and reformers inside the Islamic government,
carried pictures of the U.S. and Iranian flags above an editorial
entitled, ``Iran-U.S. ties: dark and bright aspects.''

It was the first time in more than 20 years that the U.S. flag, which
the hard-line clergy has portrayed as a symbol of hatred since the 1979
Islamic revolution that ousted the U.S.-backed shah, was published with
respect in a mainstream Iranian daily.

``Political activists, politicians and party leaders in Iran do not
seriously oppose resumption of ties with the United States,'' the
editorial said. What divided politicians, it said, was how far Iran
should go to re-establish ties.

Earlier this month, the United States eased sanctions on some Iranian
goods and called on Tehran to help start a new relationship. Washington
severed ties with Tehran after militants loyal to the new revolutionary
government stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held Americans
hostage for 444 days.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's call on March 17 for a better
relationship has provoked a mixed response in Iran.

Reform lawmakers, and newspapers that back the moderate President
Mohammad Khatami, have welcomed the U.S. gesture. But hard-liners,
including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have slammed it as
``deceitful.''

Hammihan said that American leaders were similarly divided because they
appeared to favor ties, but were unsure about the terms.

The U.S. flag was displayed with respect rather than revulsion for the
first time during a 1998 visit to Iran by a group of U.S. wrestlers.

Although there is no written rule, prior to Khatami's 1997 election
printing the U.S. flag in a respectful manner could have led to the
permanent closure of a newspaper and heavy fines for its editors.

------------------------------

Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 16:19:44 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: IRNA --Doctors awaiting Hajjarian's fever to subside for transfer to
Germany

Doctors awaiting Hajjarian's fever to subside for transfer to Germany

Tehran, March. 28, IRNA -- Doctors overseeing Saeed Hajjarian await a
dropping of his fever so that he may safely be taken to Germany for
further medical care, said Mohssen Hajjarian the son of the injured
Tehran city councilor.

He also said that a final decision by doctors would be pending
Hajjarian's pulling through his present fever, and added there had been
no special complications after the Sunday night operation to remedy his
abdominal adhesion.

First deputy president Hassan Habibi visited Hajjarian at Sina hospital
of Tehran Tuesday.

Ten persons, including Hajjarian's attacker Saeed Assgar, have been thus
far been arrested in connection with the attempt on his life.

------------------------------

Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 21:22:02 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iranian Newspaper Prints U.S. Flag

Iranian Newspaper Prints U.S. Flag

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI
.c The Associated Press


TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - An Iranian newspaper broke a taboo by printing a color
picture of the U.S. flag on its front page today, underscoring growing calls
within the country to end more than 20 years of estrangement between the
former allies.

The daily Hammihan, which often endeavors to project the viewpoints of both
the hard-liners and reformers inside the Islamic government, carried pictures
of the U.S. and Iranian flags above an editorial entitled, ``Iran-U.S. ties:
dark and bright aspects.''

It was the first time in more than 20 years that the U.S. flag, which the
hard-line clergy has portrayed as a symbol of hatred since the 1979 Islamic
revolution that ousted the U.S.-backed shah, was published with respect in a
mainstream Iranian daily.

``Political activists, politicians and party leaders in Iran do not seriously
oppose resumption of ties with the United States,'' the editorial said. What
divided politicians, it said, was how far Iran should go to re-establish
ties.

Earlier this month, the United States eased sanctions on some Iranian goods
and called on Tehran to help start a new relationship. Washington severed
ties with Tehran after militants loyal to the new revolutionary government
stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held Americans hostage for 444
days.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's call on March 17 for a better
relationship has provoked a mixed response in Iran.

Reform lawmakers, and newspapers that back the moderate President Mohammad
Khatami, have welcomed the U.S. gesture. But hard-liners, including Supreme
Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have slammed it as ``deceitful.''

Hammihan said that American leaders were similarly divided because they
appeared to favor ties, but were unsure about the terms.

The U.S. flag was displayed with respect rather than revulsion for the first
time during a 1998 visit to Iran by a group of U.S. wrestlers.

Although there is no written rule, prior to Khatami's 1997 election printing
the U.S. flag in a respectful manner could have led to the permanent closure
of a newspaper and heavy fines for its editors.

------------------------------

Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 21:22:54 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iran's foreign minister starts Bahrain visit

Iran's foreign minister starts Bahrain visit


MANAMA, March 28 (Reuters) - Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi began a
two-day visit to the Gulf Arab state of Bahrain on Tuesday to boost
once-tense ties between the two countries.

The official Gulf News Agency said Kharrazi, who was invited by his Bahraini
counterpart Sheikh Mohammad bin Mubarak al-Khalifa, would meet senior
officials and attend the first meeting of the Bahraini-Iranian joint
political committee.

Bahrain and Iran agreed to set up the political committee and a joint
economic commission during a visit to Tehran by Sheikh Mohammad last year.

The Iran's official IRNA news agency quoted Kharrazi saying before leaving
Tehran that he hoped ``joint measures taken by Bahrain and other Persian Gulf
states will lead to further cooperation, stability and economic development
of the region.''

Bilateral ties soured in 1996 after Bahrain accused Iran of training
``terrorists'' to overthrow its government, a charge denied by Tehran.
Relations have improved since Iran's moderate President Mohammad Khatami came
to office in 1997.

------------------------------

Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 21:23:21 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Dubai upholds two death sentences for drugs offence

Dubai upholds two death sentences for drugs offence


DUBAI, March 28 (Reuters) - A Dubai appeals court has upheld death sentences
against a Pakistani man and an Iranian man for possessing and selling drugs,
a newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The daily Khaleej Times said the 50-year-old Iranian and the Pakistani, aged
41, were arrested after an undercover police operation in 1997 in Dubai,
trading hub of the United Arab Emirates. In 1995, the UAE, which enforces
Islamic sharia law, made dealing in drugs a capital offence. Death sentences
in the Gulf Arab state are usually carried out by firing squad.

------------------------------

Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 21:23:58 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iran exiles in Iraq say they foiled mortar attack

Iran exiles in Iraq say they foiled mortar attack


BAGHDAD, March 28 (Reuters) - The main armed Iranian opposition group, the
Mujahideen Khalq, said on Tuesday they had foiled an Iranian mortar attack on
their office in Baghdad.

``This morning at 7 a.m (0400 GMT) our security patrols ran into terrorist
agents of the mullah regime who were trying to fire mortars at the central
office of the Mujahideen in downtown Baghdad,'' spokesman Farid Soleimani
said.

``The terrorists fled when they saw the Mujahideen security guards and left
behind a 60mm mortar launcher and some ammunition.''

Soleimani also said that Iranian agents had opened fire on Monday on a
Mujahideen vehicle driving along the Kut-Baghdad highway. But he reported no
casualties.

There was no immediate confirmation of the reports from Iraqi authorities.

Soleimani said the group ``reserves the right to defend itself and respond to
such attacks.''

Iraq and the Mujahideen have blamed Iran for several recent attacks on the
Mujahideen in Iraq, including a mortar attack on a district of Baghdad
inhabited by Palestinian refugees which killed six people.

Iraq said on Saturday that its air defences had shot down an Iranian
pilotless plane over its territory for the second time in a month. Tehran has
blamed the Mujahideen for several attacks inside Iran recently.

The Mujahideen use Iraq as a springboard for attacks on Iran and have several
bases equipped with tanks, heavy guns and helicopter gunships close to the
Iranian border.

Their office in Baghdad, ringed by a concrete wall, has survived several
mortar and bomb attacks.

------------------------------

End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 27 Mar 2000 to 28 Mar 2000
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