Date: Oct 6, 1998 [ 0: 0: 1]

Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 5 Oct 1998

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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 5 Oct 1998
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There are 4 messages totalling 197 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. "Radio Free Iran" to launch this month
2. Canada seeks end to Baha'i oppression
3. U.S. Accuses Iran of Persecution
4. Iranian FM says position unchanged on Rushdie

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Date: Tue, 6 Oct 1998 01:58:51 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: "Radio Free Iran" to launch this month

PRAGUE, Oct 2 (AFP) - A Farsi-language service of Radio Free
Europe/Radio Liberty is to begin broadcasting from Prague by the end
of October, despite protests by Tehran, officials said Friday.
Dubbed "Radio Free Iran", the US-funded service will beam one
hour of news reports, interviews and analysis to Iran daily from
RFE/RL's headquarters in Prague, said service head Jan Obrman.
A similar service destined at Iraq will begin broadcasting about
three weeks after the launch of the Iranian service, he confirmed.
Both Tehran and Baghdad protested to Prague about the
broadcasts.
There has been some question about whether the Czech Republic's
new government, which took office after June elections, would
approve the broadcasts.
It was approved by the previous conservative Czech government,
but the Social Democrat-led successor administration, and
particularly Prime Minister Milos Zeman, was less happy about the
project.
The government was especially concerned about the possible
negative effects on its economic and political relations with Iran
of the broadcast, which has been vehemently denounced by Tehran as
internal meddling and a blatant attempt by the United States to
incite Iranians to overthrow the regime.
RFE/RL was launched during the Cold War and was aimed at the
Soviet bloc in particular. It moved its headquarters from Munich to
Prague in 1995.


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Date: Tue, 6 Oct 1998 01:59:09 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Canada seeks end to Baha'i oppression

OTTAWA, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd
Axworthy has expressed concern about the arrest of 32 Baha'i academics
in Iran, and has called on Tehran to end its oppression of the religious
minority.
Axworthy's remarks today came a day after reports from the Middle
East said Iranian authorities had arrested 32 faculty members of the
Baha'i Institute of Higher Education, also known as the Baha'i Open
University.
Axworthy says in a statement, ``These arrests are especially
troubling as they occurred in the same week that two Baha'i men had
death sentences confirmed.''
He says, ``The men were convicted of crimes against the state but
these crimes amounted to practising their faith.''
Gerald Filson, a spokesman for the Baha'i Community of Canada, says
the two men, convicted by a religious court, were found guilty of
converting a Muslim woman to the Baha'i faith. The woman says she was
brought up as a Baha'i.
Axworthy says the new arrests, carried out by intelligence and
security officials in 14 citiies across Iran, ``are an affront to the
human rights of Iranian Baha'is.''
He said he raised the issue with Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal
Kharazi, whom he met in New York on Thursday.
The Canadian official says, ``We have seen some positive changes in
Iran under President (Mohammad) Khatami, but it is time for the judicial
authorities to end their oppression of the Iranian Baha'i community.''
Baha'is are not permitted to complete high school or attend
universities in Iran.
In July, Baha'i prisoner Ruhollah Rowhani was executed, after a
religious court in Mashad, some 500 miles (800 km) east of Tehran,
sentenced him to death for converting a Muslim woman to the Baha'i
faith.
Six other Baha'is are now facing execution in Iran.


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Date: Tue, 6 Oct 1998 01:59:56 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: U.S. Accuses Iran of Persecution


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Accusing Iran of persecuting the Baha'is, the
State Department said Thursday two members of the faith were in
imminent danger of execution in Khorasan province and 32 others had
been arrested throughout the country.
Spokesman James P. Rubin urged the Islamic Republic not to carry
out the executions, to ease restrictions on religious practices
``and to recognize and uphold the fundamental human right to
freedom of conscience and belief.''
``We have urged that in the past, and we are urging it again
today,'' Rubin said.
The minority Baha'is, who draw their beliefs from the Muslim,
Christian and Jewish religions, are considered heretics by the
Muslim fundamentalist government in Iran.
They have been prohibited from teaching in Iranian schools. The
32 people arrested in 14 cities had taught in their own schools.
According to a spokeswoman for the American Baha'is, Kit Cosby,
four Baha'is were sentenced to death early this year in Mashhad on
grounds of conducting family life classes and converting a Muslim
to the Baha'i faith.
One was executed in July, Two recently had their death sentences
reconfirmed and the fourth's sentence was commuted to 10 years in
prison.
For months, the Clinton administration has been trying to engage
Tehran in a dialogue, based on the judgment by some senior U.S.
officials that President Mohamad Khatami represents a moderate
strain in Iranian policy-making.
The overture was brushed aside Monday by Foreign Minister Kemal
Kharrazi. He called for a change in U.S. policies first.
The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is in the United
States said in July that more than 200 elected community leaders
had been executed in Iran since 1979, solely on account of
religion.
Baha'i students have been barred from universities since the
early 1980s.
-=-=-
AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service
Copyright 1998 by The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

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Date: Tue, 6 Oct 1998 01:58:08 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian FM says position unchanged on Rushdie

TEHRAN, Oct 3 (AFP) - Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi
insisted on Saturday that there had been no change in his country's
stand on the British author Salman Rushdie, and that it was London
that had decided to put the affair behind it and normalise ties.
"As far as Salman Rushdie is concerned, we did not adopt a new
position. Our position was the same as our officials had repeatedly
stated in the past," Kharazi told Tehran radio on his return from a
session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
"Indeed, it was the British who decided to boost relations to
the level of ambassador. This was another testimony to Iran's might
and rightful position on the international scene," he said.
In New York on September 24, Kharazi pledged that the Iranian
government would not track down Rushdie, who was sentenced to death
in a fatwa, or religious decree, issued in 1989 by Iran's late
supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini for his book: "The
Satanic Verses," deemed blasphemous by many Moslems.
After talks with his British counterpart Robin Cook, Kharazi
also said the government would distance itself from a
2.5-billion-dollar bounty placed on Rushdie's head by a radical
religious foundation here.
Kharazi's announcement immediately led to a decision by the two
countries to exchange ambassadors, for the first time since 1989.
And the European Union's current president, Austria, hailed it
as "a very positive gesture on the part of the Iranian government
which removes an obstacle to improving its relations with the EU."
But his statements, the bluntest made ever by an Iranian
official on Rushdie, provoked sharp reaction from Iranian hardliners
with several senior clerics vowing that the fatwa will continue to
stand, regardless of the views of the government.
"We will not let the fatwa be subjected to the mundane demands
of foreign policy," said Ayatollah Mohammad Fazel-Lankarani.
"All Moslems are duty-bound to execute the decree, even if the
government does not want to cooperate," he said.
The hardline Jomhuri Islami newspaper said Kharazi had expressed
his personal opinion on the affair and that it did not reflect the
position of the Islamic regime.
Even the foreign ministry itself made clear three days after
Kharazi's statements in New York that the fatwa remained
"irrevocable."
Its spokesman Mahmud Mohammadi, who Tehran newspapers say will
be Iran's new ambassador to Britain, implicitly denied that the
improvement in relations had anything to do with Rushdie.
"The improvement in Anglo-Iranian relations should be analysed
within the framwork of international developments and the new
understanding the world community has reached on the realities in
the Islamic republic," he said.
Mohammadi also expressed irritation at expressions of triumph by
Rushdie after Kharazi's comments, warning the writer to stop making
"offensive remarks."
"Such offensive remarks would certainly result in further
indignation among the Moslem community," he said.
In reality Kharazi's statement hardly contained more concessions
than those offered by his predecessor, although it marked the
bluntest attempt by Tehran to distance itself from the affair.
Seeking to resolve the issue, officials of the the previous
government in Iran had repeatedly stated that Tehran had no
intention of carrying out the sentence, although they insisted they
had no authority to lift the fatwa.
The Islamic republic had also long insisted that the bounty,
offered by the Khordad-15 foundation, was a private matter which did
not reflect the official position of the government.


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End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 5 Oct 1998
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