Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 14 Dec 1999

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Date: Tue, 14 Dec 1999 21:39:18 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>

By Safa Haeri, IPS Editor

BERLIN 11th Dec. (IPS) Two Iranian intellectual women who are to
receive Germany's most prestigious awards for human rights and
democracy expressed here their hopes to see the prize serving promote
the cause of freedom and democracy in Iran.

Speaking during a press conference held on Saturday in the Berlin's
Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt (House of World's Cultures), Mrs. Simin
Behbhani and Mrs. Monireh Baradaran also urged world leaders to give
more attention and encouragement to human rights organisations world-

Both women are to receive the 1999 Carl von Ossietzky Medaille for
their "civil courage and their struggle for human rights, democracy
and freedoms" in Berlin on Sunday during ceremonies sponsored by the
German League of Human Rights.

"There is no doubt that such prestigious awards going to Iranians not
only will encourage young Iranian artists, poets, writers and
intellectuals but also have impact on the violent atmosphere of our
country", Mrs. Behbhani said.

Answering questions from journalists, she said though the general
political and social ambience had change since the victory of Mr.
Mohammad Khatami in the May 1997 presidential elections, yet
dissidents have paid a very heavy price that includes the
assassination of popular and prominent writers and politicians last
"As a result of the elections that brought Khatami to power, the
dictatorship killed some of the nicest sons of the nation, but it does
not know what to do with the corpses", she pointed out, referring to
the pressures applied on the authorities by the reformist and
independent press and the public opinion for the identifications of
all those who ordered the murders.

She said the regime did not opposed her getting her award, but added
immediately that under the present regime, difficulties always happens
afterward, not before.

Asked if she was not afraid of being threatened once back to Tehran
where she lives and works, she said sarcastically "if a threat fails,
it is not a threat and if it succeeds, then there is no room for

In fact, she did escape an attempt made on her life last year by
unideentified terrorists believed to belong to the same group of
agents of the Information (Intelligence) Ministry who murdered Dariush
and Parvaneh Foruhar, the leaders of the secularist Iranian People's
Party, Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad Ja'far Pouyandeh, two writers
members of the IWA and Piruz Davani, a leftist activist.

As an active member of the newly elected of the Council of the Iranian
Writers Association (IWA) that is not recognised by the Islamic
regime, Mrs. Behbahani recalled that the one cardinal principle of the
Association was and is complete rejection of any kind under any form
of censorship.

"It is better to have a de facto association that fights against any
form of censorship than one that has obtained its recognition by the
authorities out of some bargaining over principles", she pointed out.

Mrs. Behbhani also objected to ideas like the backing of the IWA by
foreign governments, but welcomed support from similar organisations,
saying the same as it was the duty of Iranian writers and
intellectuals to support any writer in difficulty anywhere in the
world, it was the duty of other writers to assists their Iran

Asked to compare the situation of censorship before and after the
Islamic revolution of 1979, she said though censorship always existed
in Iran, yet, since the present regime is a religious one, therefore,
there are much more taboos and forbidden than before.

As for Mrs. Baradaran who spent nine years in Islamic prison as
political prisoner, she said the award she is receiving was in fact a
prize given to all Iranian political prisoners.

Of the nine years she was in prison, she wrote a book entitled "Simple
Truth" inwhich she depicts, with amazing impartiality and detachment,
the daily life of her inmates, the inhuman tortures, the summary
executions, the disappearance of the loved ones, the laughers and
tears, the hopes and despair, the treason of ones and solidarity and
friendship from others.

With a voice choked by emotion, she said now that she has got the Carl
von Ossietzky medal for human rights, she no more feels the burden of
all the horrible years she spent in jail, lonely and frightened. "This
award goes to all Iranian political prisoners who's voice is now being
heard world over", she observed.

In her opinion, and noting that the ruling clerics do not give the
correct number of prisoners, between 14.000 to 17.000 political
prisoners have been executed by the Islamic regime, with at least 5000
of them in the one year of 1988 she described as the "blackest" of the
years for political prisoners.

The none monetary Carl von Ossietzky medal for Human Rights is offered
by the German League of Human Rights each year to person, persons or
organisations for their outstanding achievement in favour of the
respect of human rights and democracy.

Among former winners of he award are literary and political popular
figures such the German poet Gunter Grass, Heinrich Boll, Aziz Nesin,
the famous Turkish writer, Ms. Madjiguene Cisse and les Collectif
Sans-Papiers (Association of French immigrants without legal

This is the first time that the prize goes to two Iranian women who
have been picked among 13 proposals received by the award board for
1999 as a tribute to their courage and struggle for democracy and
freedom, said the Liga President Professor (Mrs) Doctor Fanny Michaela
"By giving the award to Mrs. Baradaran, one is also giving a voice to
all Iranian political prisoners while Mrs. Behbahani represents the
courage and uninterrupted fight of Iranian intellectuals and writers
for freedom", she observed in interview with IPS. ENDS AWARDS 111299

End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 14 Dec 1999