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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 7 Apr 2000 to 9 Apr 2000
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There are 12 messages totalling 866 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Seized Russian tanker in Gulf carried Shell oil
2. Oman air force chief in Iran for military talks
3. Iran says detained Panama ship smuggling Iraq oil
4. Iran Reformists Stage Sit-In
5. Iraqi POWs freed 12 years after war with Iran
6. AFP: Fardin's funeral
7. BBC: Iranians riot after vote annulled


Date: Sun, 9 Apr 2000 18:27:59 EDT
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Seized Russian tanker in Gulf carried Shell oil

Seized Russian tanker in Gulf carried Shell oil

DUBAI, April 9 (Reuters) - A Russian tanker seized in the Gulf on suspicion
of smuggling Iraqi oil in defiance of U.N. sanctions was actually
transporting Iranian fuel oil purchased by Shell, a company official said on

``It was Iranian fuel oil purchased by Shell and was being transported to the
Gulf and then Singapore,'' said Paddy Briggs, public affairs manager at Shell
Companies Dubai.

The tanker, the Akademik Pustovoyt, was boarded on Thursday in the Gulf by
the U.S. navy enforcing an international embargo to check the cargo to see if
it was from Iraq.

A U.S. naval team took oil samples from the vessel for analysis to see if the
fuel was Iraqi.

``Some of the fuel oil has been shipped to Singapore on a VLCC (very large
crude carrier) and the rest is still on the Akademik,'' Briggs said.

U.N. sanctions were imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Iraqi
crude oil is sold in exchange for necessities under a closely supervised U.N.
``oil-for-food'' programme.


Date: Sun, 9 Apr 2000 18:29:10 EDT
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Oman air force chief in Iran for military talks

Oman air force chief in Iran for military talks

MUSCAT, April 9 (Reuters) - Oman's air force commander is in Iran for talks
on furthering military links between the two countries, an Omani military
spokesman said on Sunday.

``The visit of the air force chief is to strengthen military ties between
Oman and Iran,'' the spokesman told Reuters.

He said Mohammad bin Mahfoudh al-Ardhi travelled to Iran on Thursday and was
due to stay there for several days.

Iran is in dispute with the United Arab Emirates over three strategic islands
near key shipping lanes in the Gulf.

The UAE and Oman are allies in the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, a
regional alliance which also comprises Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and

Iranian media reported last year that Iran and Oman were planning to hold
joint military exercises in the Gulf. Oman denied the claim.


Date: Sun, 9 Apr 2000 18:30:25 EDT
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iran says detained Panama ship smuggling Iraq oil

Iran says detained Panama ship smuggling Iraq oil

TEHRAN, April 5 (Reuters) - Iran's Revolutionary Guards intercepted a
Panamanian-registered ship on Sunday allegedly carrying Iraqi oil in
violation of the U.N. embargo against Baghdad, the Iranian news agency IRNA

The ship first ignored repeated warnings from naval patrols in the Gulf and
tried to escape to Iraq, where ``it had loaded the cargo,'' the official news
agency said.

But it was forced to stop after patrols pursued it and fired shots in the air
and was now in the possession of the Revolutionary Guards' naval forces, it

The Guards intercepted a Honduran-registered ship last week carrying 500
tonnes of smuggled Iraqi fuel. The United states, which does not have
diplomatic relations with Iran, welcomed the interception.

However, Shell said on Sunday the Russian tanker Akademik Pustovoyt seized in
the Gulf by the U.S. Navy on Thursday on suspicion of smuggling Iraqi oil was
carrying Iranian fuel oil purchased by Shell.

``It was Iranian fuel oil purchased by Shell and was being transported to the
Gulf and then Singapore,'' Paddy Briggs, public affairs manager at Shell
Companies Dubai, said.

Washington has repeatedly urged Tehran to crack down on smuggling of Iraqi
oil, which it says enables the government of President Saddam Hussein to
obtain hard currency outside the U.N-supervised oil-for-food programme.

Washington has also complained of Iraqi smuggling of oil products through
Iranian waters, where a Multinational Interception Force, empowered to stop
and search vessels in the Gulf suspected of carrying contraband, cannot
follow them.

Iraq has been under U.N. sanctions since it invaded Kuwait in 1990.


Date: Sun, 9 Apr 2000 18:31:06 EDT
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iran Reformists Stage Sit-In

Iran Reformists Stage Sit-In

.c The Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Thousands of people in northern Iran staged a sit-in
Sunday against the disqualification of a reformist candidate who won in
recent parliamentary elections, witnesses said.

Iran's Guardian's Council, which oversees elections, provoked a riot Friday
in the town of Khalkhal, 300 miles northwest of Tehran, when it canceled the
election of reformist Keikavous Khaknejad and awarded the seat to Mottahar
Kazemi, a hard-liner who came in second. Residents poured into the streets
and hurled stones at government buildings and public buses.

Khaknejad was one of scores of candidates supporting changes introduced by
President Mohammad Khatami who swept to an overwhelming majority in the
nationwide elections, winning control of parliament for the first time since
the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The Guardian's Council said in a statement published Sunday in the newspaper
Aftab-e-Emruz that it had disqualified Khaknejad because he had won the Feb.
18 election through voter ``intimidation,'' ``buying of votes'' and
``violation of neutrality by executive officials.''

The demonstrators in Khalkhal said they would continue their protest in and
around the Jame Mosque until the council reversed its decision.

An aide to Khaknejad told The Associated Press that police arrested about 50
people in Khalkhal on Saturday after similar protests, but released them
Sunday. The aide said Khaknejad was among those who participated in Sunday's

``The protesters will continue their peaceful sit-in until their demand is
met by the council. They want the council to reconsider its decision and
respect their vote,'' the aide said, contacted by telephone.

A similar protest took place Saturday in Damavand, 60 miles east of Tehran,
where thousands of people gathered at the local mosque to demand that the
council reverse its annulment of a reformist's victory.

The council has not given reasons for its annulment in Damavand, but has
ordered another election. No date has been set. The new parliament is
scheduled to convene in June.

Since the election, the government has been caught in a power struggle
between the reformists who won at the polls and hard-liners, who still
control certain influential bodies, including the Guardian's Council.

A leading reformist party expelled former President Hashemi Rafsanjani's
brother and two children Sunday. The Executives of Construction Party removed
Rafsanjani's younger brother, Mohammad, his son Mohsen, and daughter Faezeh
in order to distance the party from the Rafsanjani name, said a party
official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The three were expelled for backing ex-reformist Rafsanjani, who was once a
leading force in the party, but he has fallen increasingly out of step with
reformers since he was succeeded by Khatami in 1997. They were found to have
tarnished the party's image and made statements that contradicted party
policy, the official said.

Most Iranians have been clamoring for change after 21 years of strict Islamic
rule by the hard-liners. Khatami has relaxed many of the restrictions,
granting media freedoms and social liberties to women and the young.

In the first such move since the February election, the state-run Islamic
Republic News Agency reported Sunday that Khatami will reshuffle his Cabinet.

The news agency quoted Cooperatives Minister Morteza Haji as saying the
president will take into account whether the ministers have lived up to the
promises they made before joining his government and their contribution to
Cabinet decision-making.

``Certainly, the president will study the difference between the ministers'
performance and platforms and he would examine whether the difference, if
any, is the result of external factors,'' Haji said.


Date: Sun, 9 Apr 2000 18:29:43 EDT
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iraqi POWs freed 12 years after war with Iran

Iraqi POWs freed 12 years after war with Iran

MUNTHIRIYA, Iraq, April 9 (Reuters) - Relatives hugged their menfolk and wept
on Sunday when 500 Iraqi prisoners of war arrived home from Iran nearly 12
years after the end of the 1980-88 war between the two Gulf neighbours.

Iran announced on Wednesday that it would release 2,000 Iraqi POWs
unilaterally within a week as a ``humanitarian gesture.''

Reporters who saw the POWs cross the border from Iran to an emotional welcome
said many seemed ill and exhausted.

Relatives often had difficulty recognising the freed prisoners, some of whom
had spent 18 years captive in Iran. Some of the prisoners' hair had turned
grey during their prolonged captivity.

``I cannot express anything, just I have been born again,'' said Khalid
Khalil Ismael while meeting his family after 12 years of prison in Iran.

Hundreds of relatives sang and danced to welcome the prisonershome as heroes
of an eight-year war with Iran which claimed a million lives from both sides.

The POWs were handed to Iraqi authorities under the supervision of the
International Committee of the Red Cross.

``It has taken a very long time for those prisoners to come home; some of
them have been detained since 1982,'' the ICRC representative in Iraq Beat
Schweizer told reporters.

``We will debrief them when they have settled down a little bit and if there
are individual cases needing assistance they will get it from us,'' Schweizer

The fate of thousands of POWs is among the thorniest issues hindering
Iraq-Iran ties.

Fahmi al-Qassi, head of the Iraqi POWs committee, said that Iran was still
holding 9,000 of its soldiers, some of whom have languished in Iranian camps
for almost two decades. He said there were other prisoners who are not
registered by the ICRC.

Iran says Iraq still holds more than 5,000 POWs, and has repeatedly called
for their release.

Tehran says thousands of Iraqi prisoners have sought asylum in Iran through
the Red Cross.


Date: Sun, 9 Apr 2000 21:18:06 -0400
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: AFP: Fardin's funeral

TEHRAN, April 9 (AFP) - A crowd of over 20,000 mourners gathered in central
Tehran on Sunday to pay their final respects to pre-revolution film star and
world-class wrestler Mohammad-Ali Fardin, who died aged 70.

"I have seen contraband videos of his movies, I liked him very much. My
mother and I came today to let his family know that we share in their loss,"
high-school student Bahareh, 17, told AFP.

A native of Tehran, Fardin won the silver medal at the 1944 World freestyle
wrestling championships in Tokyo.

He began his acting career in 1960 with "Fountain of Youth" and is best
remembered for his starring role in "King of Hearts." His family announced
his death from an apparent heart attack Saturday.

Traffic in central Tehran came to a virtual halt Sunday as mourners followed
his funeral procession through the streets, chanting "the king of our hearts
is with God today."

"Fardin was a champion athlete and a hero who died in isolation," said
Mohammad-Reza Taleghani, former president of the Iranian wrestling

Unable to appear before the camera after the 1979 Islamic revolution, he
opened a bakery in northern Tehran.

Mourners dressed in black gathered outside his shop Saturday to light
candles, lay flowers, and offer condolences.


Date: Sun, 9 Apr 2000 21:17:43 -0400
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: BBC: Iranians riot after vote annulled

Friday, 7 April, 2000, 22:35 GMT 23:35 UK
Iranians riot after vote annulled

Reformists scored a huge victory in February

Thousands of people have rioted in a north-western Iranian town after a
conservative-led election body disqualified a reformist as the local member
of parliament.
The Iranian news agency IRNA said police restored order in Khalkhal, 500km
(310 miles) north-west of Tehran, on Friday after demonstrators stoned
government buildings from late on Thursday.

They were protesting at a decision by Council of Guardians to annul the
election of Mostafa Khanzadi.

The council cancelled results from 21 polling stations in the town, awarding
the seat to the runner-up, Keykavous Khaknezhad, a known supporter of

Residents told news agencies that the protesters had damaged at least 10
buses and smashed windows throughout the town.

New parliament

It was not clear on what grounds Mr Khanzadi had been disqualified.
Reformists want to free up strict Islamic laws
Correspondents say he is the sixth reformist backer of President Mohammed
Khatami to have had his election overturned.
Last month a gunman seriously wounded a leading reformist figure in an
assassination attempt.

President Khatami's supporters won an overwhelming majority in the February
elections, gaining control of parliament for the first time since the 1979
Islamic revolution.
They want to reform the strict Islamic rules that govern the day-to-day
lives of Iranians.
The council, the top election supervisory body, has recently confirmed the
results that were made public last month.
The new parliament is scheduled to convene in June.


Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000 02:51:52 -0400
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>


By Safa Haeri, Editor of IPS

BERLIN 6TH Apr. (IPS) This reunited Capital of the reunified Germany is
becoming as from tomorrow and for three days the centre of the largest
ever meeting of leading Iranian reformists actors between themselves
with both their opponents as well as Iranians from Diaspora backing and
opposing the democratisation process in Iran.

Organised by the Heinrich Boel Stiftung and the Haus Der Kulturen Der
Welt in Berlin, the Conference on Civil Society and Reform Process in
Iran will review "burning" subjects as the impact and the consequences
resulting from the recent Majles (parliament) elections that saw the end
of 20 years of control of the Legislative by the conservatives, the deep
and much necessary reforms that Islam is undergoing in Iran and the
situation of women in Islamic societies.

"What is happening in Iran is something unprecedented in the history of
Islam. The reforms proposed by both clergymen and philosophers are to
revolutionise the whole of the Islamic world. It is about reconciling
this religion with modern world and its implications on traditional
societies. It is about a new reading of Islam, its reconciliation with a
secular society, separating religion from the state, preparing the path
for modernisation and democracy", the organisers of the conference
pointed out.

Ever since the victory of the Islamic revolution in 1979 but
particularly since the triumph of Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami in the
May 1997 Presidential elections, a hot, passionate but serious debate on
a wide range of vital subjects such as the definition of the State,
relations between state and Religion, faith and Science is opposing
tenors and baritones of reforms and orthodoxy in Iran, argumentation
that would transform the future of Islamic societies.

"The aim of the conference is to bring together for the first time both
reformists and those opposed to reforms from all sides, civilians as
well as clerics, journalists and political analysts, economists and
thinkers, helping them to debate in public issues that in the view of
all Iran watchers, not only are shaping the Iranian society, but also
shaking traditional societies, paving the way for genuine
democratisation", explained Mr. Bahman Niroumand, one of the Iranian
organisers of the venue.

But reforms suggested by these modern clergymen, all of them ardent
supporters of the Islamic revolution, their proposals for separating
religion from politics of the state, their argumentation that new
reading of old principles are needed for adapting Islam with present day
realities are opposed and condemned by conservative clerics as heresy.

The same, the role played by Iranian women, their active participation
in all strata of the society and politics, their fight for the equality
of rights between men and women, all demonstrating the duality and
contradictions of Islam with modernity are watched not only by Muslim
women and scholars, but also by none Muslim researchers and historians.

"The Berlin conference creates an occasion for the Islamist-nationalist
reformist inside Iran to open an open dialogue with Iranian dissidents
outside opposed to the Islamic Republic and the system of Velayate
Faqih, (or the absolute rule of Tutor)", added Mr. Niroumand, himself a
former leftist opposed to the deposed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

Leading investigative journalist and writer Akbar Ganji, prominent
reformist cleric Hojatoleslam Hasan Yusefi-Eshkevari, secular lawyer and
human rights activist Mrs. Mehranguiz Kar, economist Fariborz
Ra'is-Dana, Publisher Mrs. Shahla Lahiji, newly elected MP and
journalist Mrs. Jamileh Kadivar, the sister of the imprisoned Islamist
reformist Hojatoleslam Mohsen Kadivar, outspoken Editor Hamid Reza
Jala'ipour of the reformist daily Asre Azaadegan, witers and poets
Mahmoud Dolatabadi and Mohammad Ali Sepanlou, Mrs. Shahla Sherkat, the
Editor of the feminist weekly Zanan, political analyst and Central Asian
affairs expert Changuiz Pahlavan and Mr. Alireza Alavi-Tabaar, Editor of
Sobhe Emrouz, the liberal daily published by Mr. Sa'id Hajjarian who was
shot by gunman believed to be a member of the Revolutionary Guards three
weeks ago in Tehran are among the party that came from Tehran.

As the participants to this meeting are converging to Berlin, hard line
opponents to the Islamic Republic led by the Stockholm-based Iranian
Communist Workers Party (ICWP) are also gathering for an "Alternative
Conference" in the same place and at the same time.

In a statement signed by some fifty leading intellectuals, artists,
journalists, political activists, writers, poets and scholars, the ICWP
denounce the Heinrich Boel Institute and the Iranians and Germans who
organised the Berlin meeting as a "plot" by both the Islamic Republic
and western governments, particularly Germany to "undermine Iranian's
real opposition" by implying that "situation has effectively changed in
Iran under Mr. Mohammad Khatami whom they portray as reformist".

Asked about this "Alternative Conference", Mr. Niroumand regretted that
some well known leftist activists with "broad experience" refuse to
accept that Iran is undergoing deep changes.

"Those who insist on seeing everything as a plot or a play between some
men sitting behind the curtains directing according to a scenario wrote
by themselves or others, those who refuses to accept the realities and
considers the millions of Iranians as sheep, those who do not accept the
fact that Khatami is not the initiator, but the product of a process
that is being put into motion by the people have no place in the
society, no matter they live inside or outside Iran", Mr. Niroumand

"The fear of both the conservatives and the radical left is the
convergence of views between reformists of all walk, between theologians
with secular forces struggling for bringing evolution in Islam as well
as in the political system. My hope is that this meeting serve as a
starter for such a dialogue", he concluded.


Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000 02:53:22 -0400
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>


By Safa Haeri

BERLIN 9TH Apr. (IPS) The Berlin Conference on "Iran after the
Parliamentarian Elections" ended Sunday amid protest from the audience
to the participants for keeping silence on a wide range of issues such
as the violation of human rights, the execution of thousands of
political prisoners, the exile of millions of Iranians, the fate of
minorities, the absence of freedom and condemnation of the abuses the
clerical regime commits against Iranians.

"We heard speakers lecturing on relations between Palestinians and
Israelis but remained silent on the rights of we Iranians, we who have
no rights in our homeland, the three millions of Iranians in exile, the
millions of Iranians who have suffered from this regime, who have been
tortured and forced to leave their ancestral land", one member of the
audience told the panel.

With demonstrators kept under tight police control outside the central
building of the Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt and letting people inside
"drop by drop", the Conference reached it's end after hearing speakers
explaining the shortcomings of the Islamic Republic in matters of
freedom and democracy, women and intellectuals, press and publication.

Professor Changuiz Pahlavan, a political analyst and expert of Central
Asian affairs questioned the validity of the last elections, pointing
out that because of the rejection of many political personalities,
including some who support the regime, only "illustres inconnus" or
people who belongs, in one way or another, to the establishment have
been elected.

"If some got into the Majles it was just because others had been
rejected. One is elected because his brother is in jail and another
because is the brother of the president", he said, referring to Dr
Alireza Nouri, the brother of the former Interior Minister Hojatoleslam
Abdollah Nouri, Mrs. Jamileh Kadivar, the sister of Hojatolelslam Mohsen
Kadivar or Dr Mohammad Reza Khatami, the younger brother of President
Mohammad Khatami

"The question is that Iranians aspire for something different, for,
anytime we held an election, people reject those they regard as symbols
of the regime. In the Presidential elections they rejected Mr.
Nateq-Nouri and in the recent Majles polls they dropped to the last
place Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani, the number two man in the political
hierarchy", he observed.

He compared the Islamic Republic to a mentally retarded child who not
only is always late in doing things but also when it does respond, it is
done clumsily and he turned to Mr. Hamid Reza Jala'ipour and other
"star" journalists like Mr. Akbar Ganji or Masha'allah Shamsolva'ezin
who supports the reform process, saying "you work for saving the regime
and we to save Iran".

"Even prisoners are not equal as the regime has its "insider and
outsider" in all the strata. IN this way, we have some prisoners who
have their mobile telephones, go to their families on week ends,
continue their activities as if they were not in jail while thousands of
others we no information on them, including Mr. Khosro Seif, the 70
years old leader of the Iranian People's Party", he added.

Latter in the afternoon, Mr. Pahlavan continued his challenge with the
pro-government participants, including Mrs. Kadivar, explaining that
isolation of the present Iranian regime had nothing to do with America
or Israel but to it's own clumsy foreign policy.

"The Iranian people accept Israel as a reality the same as it recognise
the rights of the Palestinians" he noted during a debate on Iranian
foreign policy by defending the idea of a denucrealised Middle East
"provided Israel to be stripped of its atomic arsenal".

Mrs. Shahla Lahiji, the owner of the Roshangaran Publishing House is not
optimistic as the future of the regime.

She observed that in order to protest and reject the tight censorship
the regime imposes on books and works of art, people demonstrates
indifference towards reading and that, not economic considerations,
explains the very low circulation for books in Iran, a print she put at
between 2000 to 3000 copies in a country of more than 60 millions where
the majority are educated.

She partly shared the views expressed by Mr. Pahlavan noting while
people like Mr. Jala'ipour could replace one suppressed newspaper title
by another in less than 24 hours others are waiting for years for
authorisation of publishing a book or a monthly.

"Only regimes that have not popular legitimacy apply censorship", she
said, telling the authorities back home that "the time of chastity belt
is over".

She accused the regime of being afraid of books since book means
learning and learned and educated people are always dangerous for
totalitarian systems, she went on.

Mr. Hamid Reza Jala'ipour the Executive Director of pro-reform daily
Asre Azadegan explained that what the Second Khordad (23 May, or
reformist) newspapers are after is not the destruction of the government
or changing the regime, but a very slow motion walk towards reforms.

But he draw sharp protest when he acknowledged that when he was Governor
of the Kurdish city of Mahabad in the early years of the new regime 59
Kurdish fighters were executed against 500 pasdars martyred , refusing
to place on the same footing the dissidents and the revolutionary

A prominent and outspoken secular lawyer and human rights activist, Mrs.
Mehranguiz Kar does not see any solution for the problems Iranian women
faces under Islamic Constitution.

"Voting does not mean having rights and speaking frankly, I do not see
any solution to end the constant violation of women's basic rights" she
said in a sad tone, noting that despite the fact that Iranian women have
massively voted for Mr. Khatami, but so far he failed to present the
Majles "one single bill" to the benefit of women, she went on calling
for a "complete revision" of the Constitution.

One of the last and the most attentively lessened to and acclaimed
speaker was Hojatoleslam Hasan Yusefi-Eshkevari who, after explaining
different levels of Islamic Canons, said in his interpretation, there
are laws in Islam that could be changed, among them laws concerning
women's dress, Talion, cutting hands and fingers.

"Hejab (Islam imposed dress for women) is a personal matter and as such,
it is subject to change", he said, reiterating that what Islam "needed
more was a revision in what can and must be revised".


Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000 02:52:55 -0400
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>


By Safa Haeri in Berlin

BERLIN 8TH Apr. (IPS) The Berlin conference on "Iran after the
Elections" that started Friday in Berlin almost ended in chaos Saturday
after hundreds of Iranians opposed to the Islamic Republic who saw the
meeting as a ploy by Germany to give the Mullahrchy a human visage
prevented with noisy cacophony and continued shouts of "death to Islamic
Republic" and "Mercenaries, go home" the participants from speaking.

The protests started before the conference's morning session, with
demonstrators more numerous and more determined to prevent the venue,
organised by the Heinrich Boll Institute and some Iranian organisations
and personalities backing the reform process in Iran, to continue.

For the first time, 17 prominent Iranian reformists personalities,
including secular human rights activist and lawyer Mrs. Mehr Anguiz Kar,
newspaper Publisher Hamid Reza Jala'ipour of Asre Azadegan, the
newspaper that replaced three earlier titles all closed by the Islamic
Judiciary, Hojatoleslam Hasan Yusefi-Eshkevari, an outspoken liberal
cleric, Alireza Alavi Tabar, Editor of Sobhe Emrouz, Mrs. Jamileh
Kadivar, elected MP from Tehran and a journalist, Akbar Ganji, the
acclaimed investigative journalist and researcher, Dr Changuiz Pahlavan,
a professor of Political Sciences and expert on Central Asia, Mahmoud
Dolatabadi and Mohammad Ali Sepanlou, nationally respected writers and
poets were invited to debate wide range issues of today's Iran,
including the impact of reforms on the Iranian and Muslim societies, the
impact of the recent elections on the future of Iran and the role of
women in Islamic world etc.

But several Iranian intellectuals and political activists led by the
Iranian Communist-Workers Party and supported by other leftists groups
immediately denounced the initiative as soon as it was announced.

Though the ICWP had announced it will organise a parallel conference,
but it became obvious from the outset that it had lost the control of
the situation, due to both the complexity of the situation in the one
hand and the variety of the leftist groups on the other.

As Hojatoleslam Hasan Yusefi-Eshkevar, a reformist cleric took to the
podium, on one corner of the 1000 seat grand auditorium of the Haus Der
Kulturen Der Welt (House of World Cultures) a band of protesters, among
them some pretty women, were dancing Iranian sexy dances.

Earlier, a girl appeared on the main tribune and stripped to almost her
last piece except for an Islamic scarf and latter, a man climbed on a
chair and fully undressed, exhibiting pictures of the clerical leaders
of the regime.

An attempt by the orgaisers to encourage representative and leaders of
the demonstrators to take part at the conference and sit next to the
participant failed under pressure from the audience that wanted the
conference to be stopped at once.

That was done in the afternoon when, after the demonstrators continued
their protest action unabated, the organiser announced it's closure,
accepting by the same token the fiasco of their grandiose enterprise.

Observers at the conference noted the extremely poor preparation of the
organisers, both German and Iranians in taking such an important
initiative and their lack of forecast and prevision.

The secrecy they had maintained around and about the initiative had led
to rumours of all kind, including the one that the conference had the
blessing of Germany to better prepare the forthcoming visit of President
Mohammad Khatami to Berlin.

Observers also noted that not only inviting such a great number of
Iranians, all well known in their homeland, by a German organisation had
led to misinterpretation, but also the initiators had probably taken
their desire for reality thinking since the participants from Iran are
tagged as "reformists" therefore they would be welcomed by all Iranians
outside, forgetting the fact that the majority of the Iranian Diaspora
is basically against the Islamic Republic, a regime defended by the
guests who, contrary to the protresters, genuinely think it can be
reformed and democratised.


Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000 02:52:21 -0400
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>


By Safa Haeri

BERLIN 7TH Apr. (IPS) The Conference on "Iran after the Elections and
Dynamics of Reforms" started Friday in Berlin amid noisy protests,
demonstrations, shouts and denunciation by tens of Iranians opposed to
the Islamic Republic.

Organised by the Heinrich Boll Institute and some Iranian pro-democracy
groups in Germany, the meeting was disrupted for more than an hour due
to protests and demonstrations that led to violent clashes between
demonstrators and police.

At least three protesters, including one woman, were arrested briefly
while many others were beaten up by plain cloth police and security men.

With shouts of "death to Islamic Republic" or "Akhound, go to Hell" or "
Down with Murderers" the demonstrators were denouncing some of the
participants to the first panel that included outspoken reformist cleric
Hojatoleslam Hasan Yusefi-Eshkevari, secular Lawyer and human rights
activist Mrs. Mehranguiz Kar, leading investigative journalists and
researcher Akbar Ganji.

The demonstrators were protesting against the conference as the first
speakers were hoping to see the venue serve as a "meeting point" between
reformists Iranians of all walk living in Iran or outside.

All five participants at this evening's debate would agree that the
reform process that is underway in Iran is "irreversible".

Mrs. Kar warned about new tensions, explaining that since it is unlikely
that the next Majles could not responds to demands for democracy and
human rights generated from the landslide victory of the reformists in
the last legislative elections, conservatives may use the occasion to
stir more trouble for the government.

According top Mrs. Kar, the next Majles priorities should concentrate of
the most urgent problems Iranian women are facing in an Islamic society
mixed with elements of republicanism.

Pointing to the noisy demonstrations, Hojatoleslam Yusefi-Eshkevari told
the demonstrators what they were doing with their turbulence was a
reeminder of "the violence we face every day back in Iran".

He pointed out that the last three elections that benefited the
reformists and surprised the world proved that contrary to one may
think, Iranians are keen about elections, knowing this is the only key
in their hands with which they can open the door to a better life.

"The elections, he said, were not votes to this one or that one
candidate, but to reforms, to democracy, to freedom and to
independence", he added calmly as the small but noisy crowd of opponents
would shout "Akhound (cleric) go to hell".

"Inside Iran, we are the victims of violence. Our hope was pinned on our
brithers living abroad, thinking that they have learned the fundaments
of democracy and they can teach us. However, what we see here is the
replica of what we have in Iran", he told the demonstrators among
cheering applaudes from the great majority of the packed auditorium.

Organisers said near one thousand people attended the opening of the
three days confernece, the largest ever organised outside Iran.

"The future of Iran is bright, for the people have entered not the
shortest but the most safe road to democracy", Mr. Eshkevari said,
warning that growing division among the reformists, the absence of plans
and projects and auto satisfaction from therecent victories are the
dangers that menaces the reform camp.

Mr. Kazem Kardavani of the Committee for the Defence of the Chain
Murders said not only the last elections proved the aspiration of the
Iranians for freedom and democracy, it also showed clearly that they
considers the present regime as "alien".

Like Mr. Ezzatollah Sahabi, the Editor and Publisher of the "Iran Farda"
bi-weekly, Mr. Kardavani said one the most dramatic outcome of the
Iranian Islamic revolution was the close co-operation, collaboration and
common struggle of secular and clerical forces.

Astonishingly, Mr. Akbar Ganji, the journalist who with his relentless
and daring investigations forces the authorities to admit that senior
employee of the Information (Intelligence) Minister had murdered at
least five Iranian dissident politicians and intellectual was jolted
more than other four participants.

According to Mr. Ganji, the newly shaped civil society in Iran faces two
dangers, coming from the conservative opposition inside and the
terrorist organisation outside, as the two extremes joins, we see that
mortars are fired at exactly the same time that apostles of violence in
Iran mount new campaign against reformists.

Turning to the demonstrators, he said democracy can not be built with
mortars. "those who denounce and condemn the reform in Iran are outside
of the democratisation process, as experience has proved that revolution
do not breed democracy, but violence", he observed.

The oppositon to the conference argued that the meeting is to help
Germany strengthen further its relations with Iran. They also insisted
that most of the participants have been hand picked as to project to
Western opinion a positive image of the Islamic Republic, a regime that,
they claim, has executed thousands of political prisoners and send more
than three millions outside their homeland.


Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000 02:59:12 -0400
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>


PARIS 2ND Apr. (IPS) Iranians expressed outrage and indignation against
Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani after he compared the
killing of Assadollah Lajevardi, a former director of the Islamic
Organisation of Iranian Prisons with the attempt assassination on the life
of Mr.
Sa'id Hajjarian, the outspoken Publisher of the reformist daily "Sobhe

Conducting the last Friday sermon in Tehran, the former president pointed
to the assassination of Lajevardi and General Sayyad Shirazi, Deputy
Commander of the regular Armed Forces as well the failed attempts of the
lives of Hojatoleslam Ali Razini, the President of the controversial
Special Tribunal and Mr. Sa'id Hajjarian in order to advise the moderate
press not to print any unfounded accusation based on wild guesses or on

What shocked most Iranians was that the Head of the Expediency Council most
disgracefully and deliberately compared the killing of a man who
is known as the "Butcher of Evin" because of his role in the execution of
thousands of political prisoners with of a man who is the victim of
Islamist extremists.

Furthermore the assassination of both Lajevardi and General Shirazi were
claimed by the the Baghdad-based, Iraqi financed and equipped Mujahedeen
Khalq Organisation, while the suspects in the case of Mr. Hajjarian
allegedly belongs to the Revolutionary Guard.

Since his humiliating defeat in the last Majles (parliament) elections, Mr.
Hashemi Rafsanjani not only has systematically sided with the
conservatives against the reformists, but he is thought to have taken the
leadership of the ultra-orthodox forces from the lame and badly
embattled Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i.

In his Friday sermon, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani joined the leader in urging
the independent press and reformist personalities not to add to the present
situation of the country in speculating about the failed assassination of
Mr. Hajjarian, a close friend and adviser of President Mohammad Khatami who
shot at close range on 12th march as he was entering the Tehran City Council.

Though officials in charge of the case say the killers acted on their own,
without any link to any military or political organisations, investigations
carried by independent journalists shows that the terrorist belong to the
Intelligence Department of the Revolutionary Guards.

"One must be sick and psychologically deranged to make such a comparison",
one of Mr. Hajjarian's colleague said, referring to Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani's
Friday sermon.

Reformists politicians, newspapers and organisations have protested to the
handling of the case by the authorities, including the Intelligence Ministry.

"By making such a shameful comparison, Mr. Rafsanjani has lost the little
credit and respect he would still have with some ordinary people,
becoming definitely the most hated man in Iran, but also showed that he
genuinely deserved the new nickname of "Akbar Copperfield", one
journalist pointed out, explaining that the new sobriquet was bestowed to
the former president who is considered as a master manipulator, like
the famous American prestidigitator David Copperfield. ENDS RAFSANJANI


End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 7 Apr 2000 to 9 Apr 2000