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By Barry May
TEHRAN, June 15 (Reuters) - President Mohammad Khatami is preparing to announce the most comprehensive shake-up of Iran's economy since the 1979 revolution, economists say.
They expect him to disclose the outlines of his reform package shortly in a declaration of principles setting the course for a post-revolutionary economy beset by low oil prices, a falling currency and double-digit inflation.
Khatami has called the structure of the Iran's highly centralised command-style economy ``sick.''
``I hope to have good news concerning the economy soon,'' he told supporters recently.
``The president is still consulting his advisers,'' said economist Fariborz Raisdana, one of those who has been asked to present his ideas. ``They come from many different groups, some right wing, some left wing.''
VAST POTENTIAL, BUT CHANGES COULD BE PAINFUL
Khatami, a reform-minded Shi'ite Moslem clergyman elected by a landslide in May 1997 on the crest of a popular tide of demand for change, has no economic background.
``His only point of reference is the people through his huge mandate,'' Raisdana said.
Iran's potential is immense. It is the world's third largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia and Norway and controls about 90 billion barrels of crude -- 10 percent of the world's proven reserves.
``There is a huge potential, in gas as well as oil, but the country is going to have to go through a lot of pain before it gets out of its problems,'' said a Western diplomat.
Inflation was officially put at 17.3 percent in the Iranian year which ended in March, although independent economists and diplomats say the figure is at least 20 percent. They say unemployment is much higher than the official 9.5 percent.
DEPENDENT ON PETRODOLLARS
Iran relies on petrodollars for about 80 percent of its hard currency earnings and up to 40 percent of state revenue.
But with oil prices unable to break out of 10-year lows, the government has been forced to curb its ambitions and reckon its budget on the basis of $12 for each of the 2.2 million barrels exported from the estimated 3.6 million it pumps each day. The budget originally assumed a price of $16.
Iran cut production in April in concert with Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest exporter, and other producers both inside and outside the international oil cartel OPEC and last week pledged a further reduction from July 1.
On Monday, Iranian heavy crude was trading at $9.50 per barrel in Europe.
Khatami has stressed the importance of reducing dependence on oil, boosting industrial production, increasing privatisation, and improving the climate for foreign investors.
But the scope for increasing non-oil exports -- chiefly Persian carpets and pistachio nuts -- is restricted.
``The capacity for carpets is limited. We cannot compete with Chinese carpets. And how many pistachios can you eat?'' Raisdana said.
COMMAND ECONOMY VS FREE MARKET
Khatami faces a choice between staying with the revolution's tightly-controlled command economy dedicated to ensuring social justice or opening up a free market for production and exports in order to attract foreign investment.
Economists say he has before him two rival proposals -- a centralised model backed by the Economy and Finance Ministry and the Commerce Ministry, and a free market plan supported by the Central Bank and the state Plan and Budget Organisation.
Whichever one he finally settles on will be implemented in Iran's third five-year development plan due to begin in 2000 -- 1380 by the Iranian calendar.
Khatami is not fully in agreement with either of the two rival proposals, says economist Amir Houshang Amini.
Amini, senior adviser to the Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines, says a third way has been put forward by the president's advisers with the chamber's help.
Titled ``Nationwide Ownership,'' it includes a six-point interim short-term solution requiring only changes to some rules and regulations.
Its longer term proposals would require amendments to some articles of the Islamic republic's constitution. These include a ban on foreign ownership and a requirement that all all major industries and international trade are run by the government.
``My personal view is that the problem with the Iranian economy is not a shortage of funds. It is a flawed structure,'' Amini told Reuters.
``All the economic potentials of the country are at the disposal of government institutions. They absorb all the imports. They do not pay for insurance because most of them are loss-making, and most of them are exempt from taxation. They receive the major part of funds predicted in the budget -- around 90 percent -- and running the country with the rest is impossible.
``Even in the former Soviet Union the share of the private sector in GDP was around 25 percent -- and that in a country without a private sector. In Iran the figure is between 14 and 15 percent.''
Tehran Mayor Challenges Judge
By Afshin Valinejad Associated Press Writer Tuesday, June 16, 1998; 9:27 a.m. EDT
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- The mayor of Tehran sparred with a judge during his corruption trial today, accusing him of improper questioning and giving credence to confessions extracted under pressure.
``It's not fair that you are interrupting me. Why are you not allowing me to defend myself?'' Gholamhossein Karbaschi told the judge in a packed courtroom on the third day of his trial.
``When your remarks are off the point, I will not allow you to speak,'' said a visibly irritated Judge Hojatoleslam Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejaei. ``I will not allow you to discuss issues with me as you please. This is a courtroom and you are a defendant here.''
Karbaschi's trial is widely seen as an attempt by hard-line elements in the ruling clergy to topple key officials allied with moderate Iranian President Mohammad Khatami. Karbaschi ran Khatami's election campaign last year.
He was arrested April 4 on the orders of the chief justice, a known hard-liner, on charges of embezzlement, fraud and mismanagement of public funds.
He was released on bail on the orders of Iran's spiritual leader, Ruhollah Khamenei, after Karbaschi's supporters took to the streets and clashed with security forces.
The court case has generated hundreds of newspaper stories about the mayor. The walls of Tehran are covered with spray-painted graffiti, in equal parts for and against the mayor. ``Karbaschi must be convicted,'' and ``Karbaschi is the hero of construction,'' are among the slogans.
When the judge asked Karbaschi today if money had left the city's coffers without documentation, the mayor said such a question was improper for a judge.
At one point the judge quoted incriminating confessions from former city council employees who had been interrogated in detention.
``I do not accept anything written while these people were in prison, under pressure,'' said Karbaschi, implying the confessions were false.
The judge adjourned the case to June 25.
If convicted, Karbaschi faces up to 10 years in jail, a fine and banishment from public office.
© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press
Don't forget to put the sand in a ZipLock bag, and wrap a letter-size paper around it, even if you're not sending an accompanying letter.
>Hello all you fellow Iranians, > >Some of you may have already read about the "Sand Soccer" >comment on the LA Times. If not here it is: > >http://www.latimes.com/HOME/SPORTS/WORLDCUP/NEWS/TIMES/t000053843.html > > >As I have said before, I do not get insulted easily, but after reading the >rest of the "Forecast", it became clear to me that it was only Iran and
>Iranians who were singled out for a derogatory comment. And that is >wrong. If we keep quiet on this, we are in actuality giving them a green >light for any future insults. I encourage all of you to:
>2) I strongly recommend mailing two table spoons of sand >with your letter. Let them get a ton of it so they can play >their own game of "Sand <whatever>" in the LA Times >headquarters. Even if you are emailing them, try to get >an envelope, and a 32 cent stamp and mail them the sand. >It will take you only a few minutes, but it will send a >strong message to them. Letting them know that they can >not insult us and expect us to seat quiet. > > >Here is the LA Times E-Mail address: > >firstname.lastname@example.org > >And here is their mailing address and the names of the editor and the >author of this insult: > >Employee Name) >(Department Name) >Los Angeles Times >Times Mirror Square >Los Angeles, CA 90053 > > >If you want to mail it to the guy who wrote it: > >Employee name = MIKE PENNER, Times Staff Writer >Department = Sport > > >If you want to go higher up: > >MARK H. WILLES >Publisher, Los Angeles Times >Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Times Mirror > >DONALD F. WRIGHT >President and Chief Executive Officer, Los Angeles Times >Senior Vice President, Times Mirror > > >Regards; > >--- >--- MrMojoMan >--- > > >
-----== Sent via Deja News, The Discussion Network ==----- http://www.dejanews.com/ Easy access to 50,000+ discussion forums
Amnesty International: Justice Now Time for an Effective International Court
M2 Communications 16-JUN-98
JUN 16, 1998, M2 Communications - ROME -- A minority of governments are threatening to undermine the United Nations conference to establish a permanent international criminal court, effectively blocking justice for victims of crimes against humanity, Amnesty International said today.
The conference, which opens today in Rome, is expected to agree on the text establishing a permanent international criminal court which would have global jurisdiction to try individuals accused of committing genocide, crimes against humanity and serious war crimes.
"In the aftermath of the Second World War, humanity said "never again", and in 1948 the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- promising a world without injustice and cruelty. Yet, fifty years on, genocide and crimes against humanity continue unchecked," said Pierre Sane, Secretary General of Amnesty International.
"When the cold war ended, there was real hope that this would mean the end of governments protecting and covering up for their allies or own nationals accused of the worst crimes in the world. Victims of these violations hoped that finally they would see justice done on their behalf and the killers brought before a court."
"Instead, certain governments are continuing to obstruct the creation of a fair, just, independent and effective international criminal court. What message does that send about their commitment to ending human rights violations as we enter the 21st century?"
China, Russia, and the US have opposed an independent prosecutor able to initiate criminal investigations based on information from victims, their families and other reliable sources without waiting for politically selective Security Council referrals or state complaints. France and the UK have hinted that they might support an independent prosecutor, but have so far failed to take this essential step.
Moreover, each of the five permanent members of the Security Council still want to be able to stop or delay a criminal investigation of genocide, other crimes against humanity and war crimes. Other states, such as Colombia, Mexico, India, Iran, Japan and Turkey, have advocated positions which would seriously weaken the court's effectiveness.
The continuing crimes against humanity the world has witnessed since 1948 are partly the result of impunity for the perpetrators. Those who have killed, tortured and raped on a massive scale are still likely to escape punishment. Bosnia, Cambodia, Chile, Iraq and Rwanda are just some of the countries to have suffered the horrors of mass human rights abuses. Yet virtually no-one who ordered or carried out those atrocities was ever brought to justice.
Amnesty International believes a permanent international criminal court will have a deterrent effect, prod national prosecutors into fulfilling their responsibilities and give justice to victims and their families.
It will send a clear message that the international community will not tolerate these crimes, and the full weight of the law will be brought to bear on perpetrators. It will help to end the cycle of impunity that has helped fuel continuing violations by making anyone planning to commit these crimes think again, knowing they will be brought to justice. Victims and their families will have the chance to secure justice and truth, and begin the process of reconciliation.
Louise Arbour, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda said last year "I believe that a permanent international criminal court will be the long awaited realization of the goals expressed already in the Genocide Convention of 1948... However, such a court should be strong and well equipped.. Should it be a weak and powerless institution, not only will it lack legitimacy, but it will betray the very human rights ideals that will have inspired its creation." Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General has called the court "the missing link in the international legal system."
Finally, after years of intense preparations, the international community is gathering in Rome where the statute establishing a permanent international criminal court is expected to be adopted. Yet still, some states are thwarting efforts to establish a strong, independent court and seriously undermining its effectiveness.
"A minority of governments gathered in Rome who publicly support an international criminal court are shamefully blocking the creation of a court which could prevent another Bosnia or Cambodia," Mr Sane said. "If they refuse to support an effective international court, they will have future crimes against humanity on their conscience."
Amnesty International believes that there are certain core principles for the court to be effective and that these should not be watered down. These 16 principles include the belief that the court should have automatic and universal jurisdiction over three core crimes: genocide, war crimes and other crimes against humanity and that no added state consent is needed. The court -- not states -- should be able to determine when state courts are unwilling to bring perpetrators to justice and then act to do so, and that states should agree to comply fully with the court's orders.
In order for the court to be fair, it must ensure justice for women, it must ensure that rights of victims are respected and that they receive adequate redress and it must develop effective victim and witness protection programs. At the same time, the accused should also be guaranteed a fair trial in line with the highest international standards.
Finally, the court must be independent and free from political interference -- for example political bodies such as the UN Security Council or individual governments should not be able to delay or stop investigations or prosecutions. An independent prosecutor should be able to initiate investigations based on information from victims, their families or any other reliable source, and the court should be funded from the regular UN budget to ensure financial independence and stability.
"Half a century on from the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UN member states have a chance to help bring the rights it contains towards being a reality for the people of the world," Mr Sane said. "Governments gathered in Rome should seize this momentous anniversary and establish a truly effective permanent international criminal court. Future generations will not forgive failure."
*M2 COMMUNICATIONS DISCLAIMS ALL LIABILITY FOR INFORMATION PROVIDED WITHIN M2 PRESSWIRE. DATA SUPPLIED BY NAMED PARTY/PARTIES.*
(C)1994-98 M2 COMMUNICATIONS LTD
Iran Daily (Journal of Islamic Republic News Agency) June 16, 1998
Abrar wrote that a publication belonging to the outlawed Fadayeen Khalq Organization (majority branch) wrote that during last year Iran has undergone drastic changes. According to the daily, Kar (the name of the publication) has called for free political exercises by political parties and workers' associations, as well as other institutions. It went on to say that the group sent a letter to President Khatami, requesting him to let them return to Iran and resume their activities.
Iran Daily (Journal of Islamic Republic News Agency) June 16, 1998
By Muhammad Goudarz Goudarzi
All those conversant with environmental issues know what the following poem by Wallace Stevens means. It goes:
There is not any haunt of prophecy, Nor any old chimera of the grave, Neither the golden underground, nor isle Melodious, where spirits get them home, Nor visionary south, nor cloudy palm Remote on heaven's hill, that has endured As April's green endures, or will endure
We are not to adapt but to broaden a humane cause that refutes absolute materialism. We are not trying to be utopians of our times either. We all choose to live in heaven and nowhere else.
Furthermore, individual rights constitute the society's body of rights at large and national unity arises out of grace. Now, the question remains; given the impact of a strong Iranian environmental consciousness on global geopolitics, what range should a relevant establishment cover?
We are not after token environmental activists. Our environmental establishments should not act like apprentices either. Instead, the culture of critical thinking has to be promoted among all social strata so we can truthfully declare that we know nuclear energy, in particular nuke weapons and its consequences, and we say 'No' to it all. This seems to be the only rational path a nation like ours could pursue in its environmen-tal preservation guidelines.
We should preach love of the first degree. This is exactly what true Muslims should do. We should say 'No' to nuclear dangers and enlighten the world with our devotion. We can, in fact, initiate the elimination of nuclear programs from our scientific and strategic agenda.
Our environmental policy should decisively rule out the need for the Atomic Energy Organization (AEO) and anything nuclear affiliated in the name of humanity. Those concerned should disseminate peace in a nuclear- free atmosphere.
We need spiritual motivation in our style of politics. The two are insep-arable. The above-mentioned task needs the highest levels of sophistica-tion. It would certainly be welcomed by humanity at large. And it should be remembered that time flies.
iran daily: dropping jame-e down the well
tehran, june 16, irna -- the english 'iran daily' says in a commentary on the trial of the publisher of the persian daily jeme-e in its wednesday issue that it is a relatively easy thing to close the daily.
however, the daily added, to do so would mean to repeat the story of the village idiot who, with the slightest effort, dropped a huge rock down a well that 100 wise men could not extract.
the daily said that it is evident that jame-e has struck a deep chord within the society, adding that to discover this and respond by trying to cut it off at the knees is short-sighted.
"one high official has complained that jame-e always deals with questions of social hypocrisy, somehow related to the system. a partisan of the paper has rejoined that if hypocrisy is being written about, then it should be acknowledged that it actually exists.
"any rational media at best is a mirror that reflects the reality of a society--warts and all. it is natural that some people will take offense. what is dangerous is keeping too tight a whip hand poised over the industry." the daily said.
::irna 17/06/98 00:25
irna denies affiliation of gozaresh-e rouz daily to agency
tehran, june 16, irna -- the public relations department of the islamic republic news agency (irna) tuesday denied affiliation of 'gozaresh-e rouz' newspaper to the agency.
''irna correspondents can work at other mass media at the termination of their working shift at irna and this does not mean the papers they work for are being published by irna,'' said the department.
ali mohammad mahdavi-khorrami, managing director of the persian daily gozaresh-e rouz voluntarily stopped publishing the paper after he was summoned to court last week. mahdavi-khorrami, in detention since june 9, was released on sunday after introducing a surety and posting bail.
irna said that mahdavi-khorrami is in charge of the paper and the activities of irna correspondents at other mass media on their spare time does not bring any responsibility for the news agency.
the agence france presse (afp) reported on saturday that iranian authorities have detained the director of a moderate newspaper published by journalists of the official news agency irna.
::irna 16/06/98 13:19
Iran Daily (Journal of Islamic Republic News Agency) June 16, 1998
A Different View
By Hussein Hejrian
Tehran - The editor-in-chief of the newly published Farsi daily Gozaresh-e Rooz, Mohammad Aghazadeh, in an exclusive interview with IRAN DAILY (conducted before the newspaper was voluntarily shut down) said, "Freedom means an opportunity to make mistakes and enter are-nas that others have not entered so far."
He added, "Freedom provides the opportunity to create new windows that open on the future. If we do not open the windows, we will not know about the good or the bad outside. Therefore, we should boldly indulge ourselves in new perspectives."
"History recalls that those who have the guts to be original are successful and those who only maintain the status quo, can never brighten the future," IRAN DAILY was told.
Regarding the objective behind publishing Gozaresh-e Rooz which is only a few weeks old he noted, "Nowadays, we are far behind in effective dissemination of information. We cannot imme-diately overcome this shortcom-ing even if we move with the speed of light. Therefore, given the circumstances, we felt that we had many new ideas and we could initiate something new without using government funds.
"We live in a multicultural soci-ety. None of its constituent trends are covered in-depth by the existing print media or even the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB)."
He added, "We believe that the element of graphics is not ade-quately used in our press. That is, photographs and page-making, do not really impress anyone greatly. The lay-outs are not attractive and the photographs do not express their subjects effec-tively. For the first time ever, we want to show that photographs can be expressive without any use of headlines or captions."
"The print media should have the courage to be original. That is exactly what we need in our press culture," noted Aghazadeh.
He said, "Journalism has a cul-tural orientation and is not finan-cially rewarding. We have a pas- sion for it and we feel that our readership has already gotten the message. They keep talking about us. Now, it is up to us to further elaborate our cause, so we get accepted by more mem-bers of our society."
Regarding the reprimanding of the few first issues of the daily he noted, "We believe the society's wounds have to be healed. Our youth have been self-defeated and the danger lies in ambush. We only meant to warn about the hazards involved before any-thing severe came up. Some peo-ple did not go for that. There is a remedy for any kind of pain when it is actually observed. We have to find out why our society does not want to see the pain. That picture we printed was not vulgar. Some people claimed it was not in conformity with the conventional trends and we sim-ply accepted. We will try to reflect the same theme through ways more compatible with our people."
"Our critics should allow us make mistakes. This way we can learn to create a brighter future. Those people that are always brave gain the most in life. We should provide some room for creativity as our society is satu-rated with cliches. We have been trying to be different. Why should we not put up with a different view? " concluded Aghazadeh.
Iran Daily (Journal of Islamic Republic News Agency) June 14, 1998
Hamshahri wrote that a pre-planned scenario staged a long time ago for the purpose of defeating the popular government of President Khatami has exceeded its ordinary boundaries and taken shape for the last phase of the scenario. According to the paper, the opposition faction has done all in its power to defeat President Khatami. They falsely believe that by propagating against Khatami's government in the print media being administered by governmental funds, they could take certain advantages. It went on to say that pre-venting the publication of those print media supporting President Khatami and bringing their managers to the courts were undertaken by President Khatami's opponents. The last part of the scenario is nothing more than destroying the most important base of President Khatami which is his popular support, especially among the younger generation.
Iran Daily (Journal of Islamic Republic News Agency) June 14, 1998
Kar-o-Kargar in its editorial objected to the revoking of Jameah's license and wrote that the incidents which led to action against Jameah will result in indifference of the intel-lectuals towards what will be going on in the society in the future. According to the daily, although Jameah during its short life, did not look at things from the viewpoint of the leaders of the Islamic system and didn't consider the dominant political atmosphere within the soci-ety, nevertheless its presence among other print media could address people from different walks of life. It went on to say that it is not to the benefit of the system to close down Jameah at the present time, and it isn't fair either.