January 99, Week 1
|Iran Slaying Admission Draws Praise||January 7|
|Iran Officials Arrested in Slayings||January 7|
|Iran releases backers of dissident cleric||January 7|
|Few Candidates Enter Iran Elections||January 5|
|Iran bans hardline weekly, paper with Monica photo||January 5|
|Iran Dissident Supporters Nabbed||January 4|
|Ex-Tehran Mayor Appeals Case||January 3|
|Iranian hard-liners clash with mourners of slain dissident||January 2|
Iran Slaying Admission Draws Praise
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- The Intelligence Ministry's admission that its agents were involved in the slaying of dissidents drew praise and surp
rise Wednesday on the streets of Tehran. |
The ministry announced Tuesday ``with regret'' that some of its agents -- ``irresponsible, devious and obstinate persons'' -- were among t hose arrested in connection with a spate of killings.
Iranians stopping by newspaper kiosks and standing in bus lines chatted about little else Wednesday. They were amazed that the dreaded Int elligence Ministry had admitted that its own officials had committed such acts.
However, none of them would give a reporter their names for fear of retribution.
The moderate newspaper Khordad commended President Mohammad Khatami for ordering the investigation into the killings, which led to Tuesday night's disclosure.
``This event, including confronting and reviewing ... their staff, is a result of the favorable developments since Khatami's election'' in May 1997, the newspaper said.
The five writers and opposition figures killed late last year were all critical of the government's hard-line clergymen, who are trying to stymie Khatami's social and political reforms.
Political analyst Saeed Leilaz said the authorities' ability to admit to involvement in the killings was ``a great step forward.'' He also paid tribute to Khatami, a moderate who has promised that the ``rule of law'' will prevail in Iran.
The killings began Nov. 22 when Dariush Foruhar, the leader of a minor opposition party, and his wife were found stabbed to death in their Tehran home.
After the bodies of two opposition writers, Mohammad Jafar Pouyandeh and Mohammad Mokhtari, were found separately dumped on a roadside, Kh atami ordered an investigation.
The Intelligence Ministry did not give the number of detained officials, nor their names or titles. Instead it called them ``traitors'' wh ose deeds were ``quite contrary to the holy mission of the Intelligence Ministry, and we condemn it.''
The embarrassing confession also prompted questions about government involvement in other dissident slayings.
Before the recent killings, at least nine other political activists were killed during the past decade. No one has been arrested in connec tion with those cases.
Foreign governments have often accused Tehran of killing Iranian dissidents outside the country. More than 60 Iranians have been slain in exile since the Islamic Republic was founded in 1979. But Iran has always denied involvement.
Among the more-prominent foreign killings where government involvement is suspected:
-- Mohammad Hussein Naghdi, a representative of the Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen Khalq, was shot in March 1993 in Italy by gunmen o n a motorcycle. An Iranian and two Algerians were charged with murder, but the charges were dropped for lack of evidence.
-- Iranian Kurdish leader Sadiq Sharafkindi and three colleagues were shot in September 1992 in a Berlin restaurant. In April 1997, a Germ an court ruled that the killing was ordered at the highest level in Iran and implicated the outgoing Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahiyan. The court convicted an Iranian, allegedly an intelligence agent, and a Lebanese accomplice of murder and two other Lebanese as accessorie s.
-- Shapour Bakhtiar, the last prime minister under the Shah and a leader of Iranian exiles, was stabbed in August 1991 in his Paris home. In December 1994, a French court convicted an Iranian of the murder and a former official of the Iranian broadcasting network as an accomp lice.
-- Kasem Rajavi, the brother of the leader of the Mujahedeen Khalq, was killed in Switzerland in April 1990. Two years later France arrest ed two Iranian suspects but declined to extradite them to Switzerland.
-- The Iranian Kurdish leader Abdul-Rahman Ghassemlou and two colleagues were shot in July 1989 in Vienna while attending secret peace tal ks with the Iranian government.
Iran Officials Arrested in Slayings
By Afshin Valinejad|
Associated Press Writer
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- In a rare admission of official complicity, Iran has arrested several Intelligence Ministry officials in the slayings of five dissidents, the government acknowledged.
In a statement given to the official Islamic Republic News Agency, the Intelligence Ministry announced ``with regret'' on Tuesday that it had arrested a number of ministry officials. It did not say how many.
``A few of our colleagues -- irresponsible, devious and obstinate persons -- were among those arrested,'' it said.
The five writers and opposition figures killed late last year were all critical of the government's hard-line clergymen, who are trying to stymie the social and political reforms of moderate President Mohammad Khatami.
Thousands of students and intellectuals had demonstrated to protest the killings and called for the dismissal of Iranian intelligence offi cials.
The ministry also accused foreign countries of being involved in the killings, but did not say which ones.
``With no doubt these criminals were acting for the interests of foreigners and the actions of these traitors are quite contrary to the ho ly mission of the Intelligence Ministry and we condemn it,'' the ministry said.
The first of the five victims, Dariush Foruhar and his wife Parvaneh, belonged to a minor opposition party. They were found stabbed to dea th in their Tehran home on Nov. 22.
In the following weeks, writers Mohammad Jafar Pouyandeh and Mohammad Mokhtari disappeared and their bodies were found dumped on the outsk irts of Tehran. They appeared to have been strangled. Both men had tried to set up a writer's association. A third writer, Majid Sharif, w as found dead after disappearing from his home.
Khatami has ordered a top-level investigation into the killings.
Also Tuesday, a senior hard-line judge was wounded in the leg, chest and abdomen after a man on a motorcycle fastened explosives to his ca r, the official Islamic Republic News Agency said.
Earlier reports said Hojatolislam Ali Razini was wounded only in the leg. He was in intensive care today after undergoing surgery, the new s agency said.
An Interior Ministry official blamed the banned opposition group Mujahedeen Khalq Organization for the attack, which reportedly killed ano ther judiciary official and wounded four other people.
Iran releases backers of dissident cleric
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iranian authorities have released four backers of dissident Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri who were detained for
protesting against the senior cleric's house arrest, a weekly magazine reported.
The moderate weekly Aban said Hadi Hashemi, Montazeri's son-in-law, and Abbas Ali Fateh, an official at the senior cleric' office, wer e among the freed. It did not elaborate.
Fateh was reportedly held last month along with six students of Montazeri who had distributed pro-Montazeri leaflets.
Hashemi had been arrested in May for alleged involvement in unrest in the central city of Isfahan and Montazeri's nearby hometown of N ajafabad.
The region has been a hotbed of strikes by shopkeepers and other protests since Montazeri was put under house arrest and prevented fro m teaching after he questioned the authority of Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 1997.
Few Candidates Enter Iran Elections
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Only 327,000 candidates have signed up to contest Iran's crucial municipal elections in February, far less than expected for the first such elections since the 1979 Islamic revolution. |
The figure could shrink further after the candidates are vetted by the Interior Ministry to make sure they are qualified, Iranian radio reported.
Voters will choose more than 200,000 candidates for mayors and municipal councils to manage local affairs. The weeklong registration for the Feb. 26 poll ended late Sunday, Iran's state-run Tehran radio reported.
The elections will present a fresh test of popularity for politicians aligned with the reformist President Mohammad Khatami and his hard-line rivals in the ruling clergy.
The Interior Ministry had earlier estimated that 800,000 candidates would register.
The daily Iran News blamed the low registration on state-run radio and television for not publicizing the elections and urged that the elections be postponed to April or May to ensure wider participation.
But analysts said the Interior Ministry estimates were unrealistic.
``Out of a population of 60 million, you cannot expect almost a million people to register as candidates,'' political analyst Saeed Leilaz said.
A victory by moderate candidates would be seen as an endorsement of Khatami and create a broad base of support for his efforts to create a less restrictive society.
Since Khatami took office, hard-liners have resisted his efforts to grant more freedom to the press and the arts and to reduce Islamic strictures on average Iranians -- reforms that seem to have widespread public support.
Iran bans hardline weekly, paper with Monica photo
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- An Iranian court on Monday banned a hardline magazine for insulting a late senior Moslem cleric, and a tabloid which printed pictures of former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, Iran's news agency IRNA reported.
It quoted senior Culture Ministry official Issa Saharkhiz as saying the special press court had issued the ban against the leading hardline weekly Shalamcheh for accusing the clergyman of having had ties to the secret police under Iran's late ruler Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi who was deposed by the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The court's decision was a rare move against a hardline publication. Most of its earlier rulings targeted publications backing moderate President Mohammad Khatami.
Shalamcheh was a mouthpiece of hardline conservative Islamic militants linked to attacks on moderates and dissidents.
The cleric it accused, Iranian-born Grand Ayatollah Abolqassem al-Khoei, was the world's highest-ranking Shi'ite scholar before his death at the age of 92 in neighbouring Iraq in 1992.
Saharkhiz said the court had also banned the tabloid Fakour, copies of which were seized last year for carrying photographs of Lewinsky and other women named in U.S. President Bill Clinton's sex scandal.
Authorities said the women's photographs were indecent, apparently because their clothes did not meet Iran's Moslem standards of modesty.
Women in Iran have to cover all their body except their face and hands under a strict dress code. The few photographs of Western women that Iranian magazines carry often show them wearing hats and long dresses.
Iran Dissident Supporters Nabbed
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Eight supporters of a moderate religious leader who challenged the clergy's right to rule Iran have been arrested, the weekly paper Aban reported Sunday. |
Seven of the supporters of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri were detained for distributing pamphlets calling for his release from house arrest, the paper said. It did not specify why the other was arrested.
All eight are clerics, the paper said. It did not say when they were detained.
In November 1997, Montazeri was publicly repudiated after he questioned the legitimacy of rule by the clergy, including Iran's powerful spiritual leader Ali Khamenei.
Khamenei accused him of treason and, days later, hard-liners attacked Montazeri's home and office in Qom, forcing him to flee under police protection.
Montazeri has been confined to his house in the holy city of Qom since the middle of last year. He is allowed no visitors, and in February, a court ordered the freezing of his bank account.
Montazeri was once heir apparent to the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. But he fell from grace for being too critical of Khomeini's hard-line policies.
Ex-Tehran Mayor Appeals Case
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- The jail sentence imposed on Tehran's former mayor was put on hold after his lawyer filed an appeal to the prosecutor general, state-run Iranian radio reported Monday. |
A statement from the prosecutor general's office said that Gholamhossein Karbaschi will not be sent to prison before further investigation of the case, the radio said.
Karbaschi was convicted in July of embezzlement during his eight years as Tehran's mayor, and was sentenced to five years in prison. However, an appeals court on Thursday reduced the prison sentence to two years.
Karbaschi, a key ally of moderate President Mohammad Khatami, had been a target of political rivals, and many Iranians saw the trial as a political settling of scores by the hard-line judiciary.
During his trial, Karbaschi admitted to making mistakes but denied stealing public money.
Iranian hard-liners clash with mourners of slain dissident
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iranians protesting the murders of a dissident and his wife clashed with hard-line militants in the capital Thursday.
Riot police broke up the confrontation outside the Fakhr Mosque in central Tehran, arresting a number of protesters. The police did not explain why no militants were detained.
About 2,000 protesters had attended a two-hour service in the mosque to mark the 40th day after the death of Dariush Foruhar and his wife, found stabbed to death in their Tehran home Nov. 22.
Foruhar, 70, was the leader of the Iran Nation Party, a small opposition group that is tolerated by the government. He was a member of Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan's Cabinet immediately after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Emerging from the mosque, the mourners began chanting pro-democracy slogans such as "Freedom, security -- that is the slogan of the nation" and "Death to autocracy!"
Despite the presence of 200 riot-police, who had cordoned off the mosque, dozens of militants charged the protesters and fist-fights broke out.
No one was seriously injured during the 20 minutes it took for police to restore order.
Hard-line militants have attacked a number of leading moderates and democracy activists this year. They are believed to enjoy the backing of powerful conservatives in the ruling hierarchy.
In addition to the Foruhars, three dissidents have died in mysterious circumstances over the past two months. They were all critical of the government's hard-line clergymen, who are trying to stymie the social and political reforms of President Mohammad Khatami.
Two other political activists remain missing. Khatami and the judiciary have set up committees to investigate the deaths.
Police say they have arrested several suspects, but have not provided details.
Meanwhile, members of a second small opposition party, the Iran Freedom Movement, submitted a letter to Khatami's office Thursday urging him to publicize the results of the investigations so far.