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August 99, Week 1
|Iranian Paper Banned for Five Years||August 6|
|U.S.-Iran Relations Remain Stagnant||August 5|
|Americans Astronomers to Observe Eclipse in Iran||August 4|
|Reformist Student Leader Arrested in Iran||August 2|
Iranian Paper Banned for Five Years
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- Iran's liberal Salam newspaper, the closure of which sparked major riots in Tehran last month, was banned Wednesday for five years, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported. |
It said the Special Clerical Court also suspended the paper's publisher, Mohammad Musavi Khoiniha, from working as a managing director of a newspaper for three years. He was convicted last week of defamation and spreading false information.
The court also sentenced Khoiniha, a former prosecutor general, to lashes and three years in prison. Both sentences were suspended in light of his ``pre- and post-revolutionary background.''
Instead, he was ordered to pay fines of $7,600, according to IRNA, monitored in Cairo.
Khoiniha led a group of students who seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held diplomats hostage for 444 days.
Salam, an outspoken daily and a staunch backer of moderate President Mohammad Khatami, was shut down on July 7 after it published a secret document by the Iranian Intelligence Ministry outlining moves to curb press freedom. Last month, the conservative-led Parliament approved tough new press restrictions.
The closure of Salam and the new press restrictions led to protests by university students, and a subsequent police crackdown on the students at their dormitory snowballed into nationwide protests against hard-line clergymen.
In announcing its verdict, the court said Wednesday that Khoiniha was ``guilty of disseminating untruthful and distorted news aimed at harming the public opinion.''
U.S.-Iran Relations Remain Stagnant
By George Gedda|
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Rarely in the long estrangement between the United States and Iran has there been even a glimmer of hope for a more normal relationship.
One such moment occurred two years ago with the election of a new Iranian president, Mohammad Khatami, a bookish intellectual who seemed more open to the West than his predecessors during the period of conservative Islamic rule in Iran.
But as Khatami prepares to observe his second anniversary in office on Tuesday, not much has changed in U.S.-Iranian relations despite American eagerness for a fresh start. Protests on Tehran streets have dimmed prospects even more.
Under Khatami, ``The only thing that has changed is an improvement in the atmosphere, which is a prerequisite for better relations in the future,'' said Richard Murphy, a former top State Department aide on the Middle East, who envisions a long evolutionary process between Washington and Tehran.
At times, Khatami's remarks have tantalized American officials. He has expressed regret over the hostage-taking at the American Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and he has appealed for a ``crack in the wall of mistrust'' between the two countries. He has said the Muslim world can learn from the West.
Yet, the Iranian president has stood firm in his opposition to the key American goal of a direct dialogue between the two governments.
The U.S.-Iran alienation troubles the Clinton administration as it has previous American governments. For two decades, the United States has been without influence in a country whose physical size, population, oil reserves and geographic location give Iran a significance few others can match.
Before the 1979 revolution, Iran was a key U.S. partner for almost three decades. The seizure of power by anti-American clerics that year was perhaps the most significant strategic setback for the United States in the post-World War II era.
The administration sometimes seems to go out of its way not to offend the Iranian leadership. When students weary of political and social restrictions took to the streets in large-scale protests in early July, the administration maintained strict silence. Officials were mindful that vocal support for the students by the administration could be seen by hardliners in Iran as evidence that the protests were covertly orchestrated by the CIA.
Be that as it may, there has been nothing covert about the American role as Iran's ardent suitor in the past two years. Clinton, in his most direct public appeal to the longstanding enmity between the United States and Iran, has said he wants ``genuine reconciliation with Iran.'' And in a speech a year ago, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright urged Iran to join the United States in drawing a ``road map leading to normal relations.''
The administration has eased sanctions to allow the sale of U.S. food and medicine to Iran, and has removed Iran from the official list of countries which are either sources or transit points for U.S.-bound narcotics. It has encouraged cultural and academic exchanges and expedited the visa-approval process.
Iran has not responded to these initiatives. It is unclear whether Khatami prefers the current stalemate or whether he is being thwarted by conservative mullahs who are loyal to Iran's ``supreme leader,'' Ayatollah Ali Khamenei within whose Islam-based strictures all Iranians must operate, Khatami included. Just this past week, Khatami saw fit to swear his ``full obedience'' to Khamenei.
In its approach to the United States, Iran considers itself the aggrieved party. It has acknowledged a change in U.S. rhetoric toward Iran but points out U.S. sanctions remain in place. U.S. trade with Iran was barred in 1995. In 1996, a new law was approved requiring mandatory sanctions against any country that invests more that $40 million in Iran's energy sector.
On other points of friction with the United States, fewer instances of international terrorism are traceable to Iran these days than in the pre-Khatami era. As for the Middle East peace process, Khatami has modified Iran's earlier opposition to it but he disappointed U.S. officials earlier this year by meeting with an anti-Israeli Arab ``rejectionist'' group in Syria.
On human rights, personal freedoms have been expanded significantly under Khatami but the government has drawn strong international criticism for its arrest of 13 Iranian Jews this year. The 13 are accused of passing secrets to Israel and will be tried for espionage.
Meantime, private arms control analysts have raised concerns about Iran's potential for developing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. The Khatami government denies it has any such programs. But on the nuclear front, Michael Eisenstadt of the Washington Institute on Near East said, ``There is a clear pattern of procurement which signals non-peaceful intent.''
Americans Astronomers to Observe Eclipse in Iran
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Some 100 international astronomers, including Americans, will attend a conference in Iran next week to observe the last total solar eclipse of the millennium.
Astronomers from the United States, the Netherlands, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, France and Japan will participate in the Aug. 8-12 conference, the Islamic Republic News Agency said Tuesday.
More than 1,000 university students and Iranian astronomers will also take part in the gathering, the official Iranian agency said in the report monitored in Dubai.
The total solar eclipse will be visible in 12 Iranian provinces in the afternoon of Aug. 11, The Tehran Times said.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon crosses between the Earth and sun, casting a shadow on Earth.
There was no confirmation from Washington that any American astronomer would be attending the conference. The news agency did not identify the American astronomers or say how many would attend.
The visit by the American astronomers, if confirmed, would be part of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami's effort to encourage cultural and scientific exchanges between American and Iranian people.
The United States broke ties with Iran after militants stormed its embassy in Tehran in 1979 and took Americans hostage for 444 days.
Reformist Student Leader Arrested in Iran
TEHRAN,(Reuters) - A leader of Iran's biggest student group has been arrested in connection with last month's social unrest in the Islamic republic, newspapers reported on Tuesday.
Ali Tavakoli, a member of the central council of the Office to Consolidate Unity (OCU), was detained on Monday after being summoned to a revolutionary tribunal for questioning about his role in student demonstrations which led to riots in mid-July.
The government daily Iran quoted a spokesman for the pro-reform OCU as saying Tavakoli was being held at Tehran's Evin prison.
The conservative Qods newspaper said several other OCU activists had also been imprisoned in past days. It gave no other details.
"Tavakoli faces charges of fanning the unrest through his speeches..," Qods said.
Gholamhossein Rahbarpour, the head of Tehran's revolutionary courts, said last week 1,500 people had been arrested in connection with the unrest. He said most were later released on bail pending trial.
The unrest, provoked by a police attack on a student dormitory on July 8-9, has led to a conservative backlash against president Mohammad Khatami's reform policies.
Newspapers quoted a university official as saying on Tuesday that the authorities were seeking to regulate political activities in universities in an effort to avoid further unrest.
Ali Qomi, representative to the universities of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said The High Council of Cultural Revolution, which sets guidelines on cultural and educational matters, had passed new regulations on student activities.
"Sometimes undesirable events take place in society because boundaries are not clear for cultural and political activities," he said.