Date: Nov 7, 1998 [ 0: 0: 0]

Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 5 Nov 1998 to 6 Nov 1998

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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 5 Nov 1998 to 6 Nov 1998
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There is one message totalling 176 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. INF on Freedom of Expression


Date: Fri, 6 Nov 1998 11:30:28 EST
Subject: INF on Freedom of Expression

Iran National Front (INF) Condemns Crackdown on the
Freedom of Expression

Over the past tow months a number of events have taken place in Iran which
point to a government campaign against the Freedom of Expression:

- September 8: Mr. Abbass Amir-Entezam, the deputy Prime Minister in the
provisional government and a long-time political dissident, was detained for
criticizing president Mohammad Khatami. Mr. Amir-Entezam had criticized Mr.
Khatami for heaping praise on the late Assadollah Lajevardi, former head of
Iran's notorious Evin prison (in which Mr. Amir-Entezam was jailed for many
years), and regarded by many as responsible for the torture and execution of
countless political prisoners. Since Mr. Amir-Entezam's arrest, his court date
has been twice delayed to indefinite date.

- September 15: Ayatollah Khamene'i, the Supreme Leader, called on
officials to
act against newspapers which were "abusing" the limits of freedom.

- September 16: the newspaper Tous was shut down by a revolutionary court for
allegedly publishing articles that the judiciary considered detrimental to the
security of the nation (Tous started publication only in July of 1998, as a
continuation of the daily Jame'eh after the latter was banned). Furthermore,
arrest warrants were issued for the editor, Mahmoud Shams-ol-Va'ezin, the
publishing director, Hamid-Reza Jalaeipour, a leading columnist, Ebrahim
Nabavi, and a journalist, Mohammad-Sadeq Javadi-Hesar, all of them were
arrested and detained. Hamid-Reza Jalaeipour was released on bail after a
in prison, in an interview with the weekly journal Aban, he said that he had
been held in solitary confinement and not told of the charges against him,
"Indirect psychological torture during 27 days through solitary confinement...
cannot be justified by any civil, legal or religious principles." . Other
journalists were released on bails few days after release of Mr. Jalaeipour.
There were even calls by a judge, Gholam-hossein Mohseni-Ejei, to try them for
`fighting god, a charge which carries the death penalty.

- September 17: two more newspapers, Tavana and Rah-e-Now, were ordered to
down, apparently due to publishing articles critical of some clerics. It
appears that one reason for which both Tous and Rah-e-Now were banned was
because of their decision to publish the views of the late Grand Ayatollah
Kho'i on the concept of Supreme Jurisprudence. This concept is one of the
pillars upon which the Islamic Republic is based (on September 27, the
Information Minister, Hojatoleslam Dorri-Najafabadi, commented that some of
detained [Tous] writers wanted a secular government to come to power in Iran).

- September 22: Mohammad-Reza Sadeq, the deputy director of IRNA, and Ali-Reza
Khosravi, the editor-in-chief of IRNA's social department, were arrested and
interrogated for five hours at Tehran's Evin prison. They were reportedly
detained after complaints made by Mohsen Rafiqdoost, the head of the Bonyad-e
Mostazefan va Janbazan (Foundation for the Disinherited and Disabled War
Veterans). They were released the next day, apparently after Mr. Rafiqdoost
dropped the charges.

- September 23: Mr. Ataollah Mohajerani, the minister of Culture and Islamic
Guidance, supported the action to shut down Tous, claiming that the latter was
a mouthpiece for the Iran Freedom Movement (a charge denied by the IFM) and
pre-Revolutionary writers and journalists.

- September 27: the newspaper Zan reported that 265 journalists in Iran
protested the government campaign against the country's press. The journalists
protested the recent moves against the press and "demanded respect for the
country's law in approaching press violations." The journalists also demanded
the appointment of lawyers for the detained Tous reporters as well as visiting
rights for their families.

- September 27: The closure of Tous was formalized with the announcement that
the Press Supervisory Board, a body operating under the ministry of Culture
Islamic Guidance, had revoked the license of the newspaper because Tous "had
insulted Ayatollah Khomeini by publishing an interview with former French
President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, in which he said Khomeini had sought
political asylum in France in 1978" (IRNA). According to Hamshahri
newspaper, a
newspaper's license can be revoked, when a Media Court in a public hearing,
in the presence of jurors, finds the medium guilty. Thus, it seems that the
action of the press supervisory board is beyond its authority according to the
Islamic Republic's legal system.

- September 29: Ms. Faezeh Rafsanjani appeared in court to answer charges of
publishing "lies" in her newspaper, Zan.

- September 29: a court in Tehran banned the monthly Jame'eh Salem after
finding it guilty of charges including insulting the late Grand Ayatollah
Khomeini. The magazine's publisher, Siavash Bouran, also received a suspended
jail sentence, and was fined three million rials ($1,000).

- October 1: Navid-e-Esfahan, a weekly newspaper published in Esfahan, was
temporarily closed on charges of "acting against the country's security,
publishing lies and disturbing public opinion as well as promoting opposition
groups," (Salam newspaper).

- October 4: a court warned Iranian writers not to reactivate the Kanoon-e
Nevisandegan, an independent professional association of Iranian writers.

- October 5: Asr-e-Ma, a bi-weekly publication, was suspended for six
months by
the Tehran public court branch 1410 on charges of fabrication and
of insults. The managing director, Mohammad Salamati was also fined Rls 3
Million. The public relations office of the court also announced that Mehdi
Nassiri, the managing director of the bi-weekly Sobh, was suspended from
directorship of Sobh or any other publication for four months, and fined Rls 3
Million, for making accusations against a person by the name of Ali Vakili.

Iran National Front, strongly condemns the unjustified arrest of Mr. Abbas
Amir-Entezam. INF view Mr. Amir-Entezam as a representation for all of
those in
prison for exercising their right of Freedom of Expression. The right that is
given to all of human-kind by the god and through the United Nation's Human
Right regulations. We also condemns government's decision to shut down the
above publications and to arrest the journalists nationwide. INF view these
decisions as clear violations of the Iran's constitution and international
Human Right regulations on Freedom of Expression, one of the most cherished
human rights. The closure of such a large number of publications in such a
short period of time, and on such preposterous charges, following the comments
of Ayatollah Khamene'i, leads us to believe that a campaign, by the government
authorities, against the Freedom of Expression is underway in Iran.

INF strongly protest to the remarks made by both Ayatollah Khamene'i and Mr.
Mohajerani in which they accuse the press of abusing its freedom, and of
compromising national security. Public officials in a civil society are
expected to act in a responsible manner and they must be held responsible and
accountable for their words and deeds while in office. Arrest based on vague
and unspecified charges and any form of tortures are not acceptable to the
public in general, and the human rights community in particular. Charges need
to be clearly stated and proven in open courts, otherwise anyone in a position
of authority can act with impunity.

INF remind the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran that it is the
right of all Iranians to criticize and question both their leaders and their
government and to freely express their opinion on both matters. The Freedom of
Expression becomes meaningful only when it is accorded to one's opponents as
well as one's supporters.

Iran National Front demands the immediate release of Mr. Abbas Amir-Entezam,
and all of the journalists and the political prisoners. INF also demand that
all suspended newspapers be allowed to resume publication. Furthermore, INF
demands the government authorities to stop the discriminatory licensing of
syndicates, groups and political parties based on their affiliations to some
religious leaders. INF has been denied the basic right to assembles activities
or right of having any publication, in last eighteen years.

Iran National Front strongly demand, the authorities of the Islamic
Republic of
Iran to respect the Freedom of Expression of all Iranians, regardless of their
political and social views. The authorities should encourage journalists, and
the press in general, to provide a forum where people can air their views
candidly and honestly, instead of harassing, arresting or torturing them based
on false charges.

Iran National Front (INF), USA
Dept. of International Affairs
Director: Shahram Kheyltash
P. O. Box 447
Falls Church, VA 22040-0447 USA
Tel: (703) 266-4114
Fax: (703) 471-1101


End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 5 Nov 1998 to 6 Nov 1998