|Cannes Fights Censorship With Films(May 19, 1997)|
By CHRISTOPHER BURNS |
Associated Press Writer
CANNES, France (AP) -- The Cannes Film Festival named Wong Kar-Wai of Hong Kong best director for a kind of cinema he fears he may not be able to make in a few months, when China takes back the British colony.
Iranian Abbas Kiarostami's film about suicide almost didn't make it to Cannes. It won the Golden Palm on Sunday night.
``Our role is always to defend freedom of expression,'' said festival president, Pierre Viot. ``By presenting films that are not always welcome in their country, we contribute to freedom.''
But even for Cannes, the censorship conflict played a big role this year.
China pulled the film ``Keep Cool'' from the festival competition. Directed by Zhang Yimou, it's the story of a bookseller who pines for a liberated, sexy young woman who is going out with a nouveau riche, an implied critical commentary of China in the '90s.
Beijing also barred Zhang Yuan from attending the festival, where his film ``East Palace, West Palace'' showed in the festival's Certain Regard selection after being secretly shot in China. The film's title refers to two Beijing restrooms that are gay meeting sites.
``The authorities are massacring their own cinema,'' said Christophe Jung, who co-produced the film. ``It'll get worse with Hong Kong. What's going to happen with Wong Kar-Wai?''
Wong said uncertainty about what will happen after the July 1 handover of Hong Kong to China pushed him to finish up ``Happy Together,'' a story of two homosexual men and their love-hate relationship as a metaphor for Hong Kong and China.
``It's one of the reasons. I'm not sure if it's OK or not OK after the first of July,'' he told The Associated Press while taking a break from round-table interviews to walk on Cannes beach.
Wong said the poster used at the festival -- showing the two men lying entwined -- was banned by the British-led government in Hong Kong.
He said he was not using homosexuality to challenge the censors. ``It's more than a gay issue. It's a love story between two persons, and it happens to be between two men.''
Asked about ``Happy Together'' as a metaphor for China's reunification, he said it can be taken that way, ``but I won't say it.''
``People say it's about 1997. I can't answer that,'' he said. ``But it's a wish that people from the two territories can live happy together.''
The 38-year-old director's French New Wave-inspired cinematography (``Chungking Express'' and ``Fallen Angels'') has drawn critical acclaim and become the rage among many young Asian filmmakers.
Kiarostami, who filmed the bleak outskirts of Tehran, Iran, for ``The Taste of Cherry,'' was cautious when talking to the Western media about his film after Tehran grudgingly and at the last moment allowed it at Cannes.
Despite a film that portrays desperate living and appears to poke fun at the Iranian military, ``my intention was not not to talk about Iranian society,'' he told a beach club luncheon.
Kiarostami tells the story of Mr. Badii, who is tired of life and looking to hire someone to bury him alive in a shallow grave. He finds a man willing to help, but who insists on knowing why he wants to commit suicide in a world full of small pleasures.
``You want to deprive yourself of the taste of the cherry? Then do it!'' he defies Badii.
The audience never learns whether Mr. Badii follows through.
Kiarostami denied he was challenging Iran's religious leadership and the Muslim taboo against discussing suicide.
``All religions condemn suicide,'' he said, adding, ``We as artists are to develop an idea, not to condemn it.''
© Copyright 1997 The Associated Press
|Iran, Japan Films Win Cannes Prize(May 18,1997)|
By MATT WOLF|
Associated Press Writer
CANNES, France (AP) -- In a ceremony full of surprises, the 50th Cannes Film Festival awarded Golden Palms on Sunday to Japanese director Shohei Imamura for ``Unagi'' (The Eel), and Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami for ``The Taste of Cherry.''
Sean Penn took best actor for his role in ``She's So Lovely'' and Cathy Burke best actress in ``Nil by Mouth,'' the directing debut by actor Gary Oldman. Best director went to Hong Kong's Wong Kar-Wai for ``Happy Together,'' and Egyptian director Youssef Chahine, whose ``Al Massir'' (The Destiny) was in competition, was awarded the special 50th anniversary prize.
Imamura, who is 70, is a past winner of the Golden Palm. He won the film festival circuit's most prestigious prize in 1983 for ``The Ballad of Narayama.'' The prize for Kiarostami carried a particular charge inasmuch as it was only added to the competition at the eleventh hour when it became clear that the director would be allowed by Iran to travel with a movie dealing with delicate topic of suicide.
The jury prize went to Manuel Poirier for his offbeat road movie ``Western,'' a film many in the French press thought might take in the top prize. Best screenplay went to James Schamus for ``The Ice Storm.'' Directed by Ang Lee, it is a cool, inquiring dissection of 1973 American suburbia, starring Kevin Kline and Joan Allen.
Canada's Atom Egoyan won the grand prize for directing ``The Sweet Hereafter.'' In other prize-giving ceremonies earlier in the week, he won the International Critics' Prize for best film. Films took a back seat to celebrity fanfare at this year's Cannes festival. The Spice Girls, Sylvester Stallone, and other stars all passed through, as did as a who's who of legendary directors -- Michelangelo Antonioni, Constantin Costa-Gavras, Francis Ford Coppola, and Mike Leigh -- who honored an absent Ingmar Bergman in an emotional tribute during the festival's first weekend.
But as limousines came and went as randomly as the sun, so did filmgoers' hopes for an agreed-upon stellar film to match a 1996 line-up hailed as the best in years. There was vocal English and American support for ``Welcome To Sarajevo,'' British director Michael Winterbottom's unflinching and compassionate look at the conflict in Bosnia, though many French critics loathed the film, arguing that the event was too close historically to be rendered properly on screen. The Gallic contingent was leaning toward Chahine's ``Al Massir'' (``Destiny'').
In competition were three past winners of the Golden Palm -- Imamura, Germany's Wim Wenders, and Italian director Francesco Rosi. Roundly panned films include Johnny Depp's directing debut, ``The Brave,'' co-starring Depp and Marlon Brando, and ``Assassin(s)'' the new film from self-proclaimed French maverick, Mathieu Kassovitz, who had a previous Cannes prize-winner with ``La Haine'' (``Hate'').
|Iran Velayati: New President Won't Change Foreign Policy(May 18,1997)|
Dow Jones Newswires|
TEHRAN -- Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati said Sunday that the election of a new president in this week's polls won't change Iran's tough stance toward the U.S.
'The principles of our foreign policy definitely will not change,' he said at a news conference in Tehran. Velayati said this was because the country's foreign policy was set by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, not by the president. Asked specifically about tense relations with the U.S., Velayati said Tehran's policies 'will remain the same.' Iranians go to the polls Friday to choose a successor to President Hashemi Rafsanjani, a moderate who must step down by law at the end of his second four-year term in August.
Four candidates are running for president, but the two main contenders are Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri, the hard-line speaker of parliament, and Mohammad Khatami, a former culture minister who is seen as less conservative.
Velayati said that 'as an Iranian citizen,' he believed Nateq-Nouri to be the best choice. Rafsanjani, whose moderate faction has formed a loose alliance for the election with Khatami, warned officials Friday against vote tampering. At the news conference, Velayati also suggested that a diplomatic row with Germany could be solved if Bonn would 'correct' past mistakes. 'What we say in relations between Iran and Europe is that if a mistake has been made, it must be corrected. ... If it is corrected, the problem will be solved,' Velayati said. He didn't elaborate.
|Khobar Bombing Suspect May Cooperate With U.S.(May 17,1997)|
Saudi Man Held in Canada Awaits Deportation Decision|
By Pierre Thomas , and David B. Ottaway
The Washington Post
A suspect held in Canada in connection with last summer's deadly bombing attack against American servicemen in Saudi Arabia has expressed interest in cooperating with U.S. authorities, federal law enforcement officials said yesterday.
Hani Abdel Rahim Sayegh and federal authorities began secret communications this week in an Ottawa prison where the Saudi man is being held pending a decision on the country to which he will be deported, according to these sources. Sayegh's cooperation would mark the first investigative breakthrough for FBI officials in the June 1996 attack on the Khobar Towers compound that housed U.S. military personnel in Dhahran in eastern Saudi Arabia. The bombing killed 19 Americans and injured hundreds more.
Should a deal be worked out, Sayegh would be the first alleged participant in the attack to speak directly with U.S. law enforcement agents. Because he spent considerable time in Iran, Sayegh may be in a position to provide valuable information regarding possible links between Tehran and the Saudi Shiite Muslim group that Saudi authorities suspect was responsible for the bombing. Sayegh studied in the Iranian religious center of Qom, where U.S. and Arab sources say he first established ties to Iranian intelligence officials.
Sayegh's Canadian lawyer, Doug Baum, said in a telephone interview yesterday that he could not confirm or deny the report that Sayegh was in contact with U.S. federal officials. But he insisted there was "no settlement, arrangement or agreement" yet over Sayegh's deportation to the United States. "There is no arrangement from his part over anything," Baum added.
Sayegh has been identified in Canadian court documents as the driver of a car that gave the go-ahead signal for the bomb-laden truck involved in the attack at Khobar Towers. Sayegh has denied any involvement and said he was in Syria at the time of the bombing. Sources said yesterday that Sayegh has agreed to discuss cooperating with the FBI investigation and the possibility of coming to the United States because he fears that torture and a chopping block await him in his native Saudi Arabia.
On May 5, Canada's Federal Court ruled that Sayegh was a terrorist and constituted a threat to that country's national security. The ruling was the first step in the legal process leading to deportation. The negotiations between Sayegh and U.S. federal law enforcement officials began in mid-week just as the Canadian government was issuing a deportation order for Sayegh and indicating it wanted him to leave the country as soon as possible, sources said. "We are certainly going to pursue this to deport him as quickly and efficiently as we can," news service reports quoted David Olson, a Canadian immigration officer, as saying Wednesday.
The same day, Sayegh's attorney announced that he would urge Canadian officials not to send him to Saudi Arabia out of concern that he would likely be executed without a fair trial. Saudi officials have said they want Sayegh sent home, but they have not formally asked for his extradition yet. Such a request could be complicated by the fact that Saudi Arabia and Canada have no extradition treaty. "I would be quite surprised if he didn't go to the United States," Baum said yesterday. "He doesn't get to choose. If the United States wants him, he'll be going to the United States."
Baum said it was up to Canada's immigration minister, Lucienne Robillard, to decide whether Sayegh would be sent back to Saudi Arabia or deported to the United States. On his way to Canada last August, the Saudi passed through Boston, and that provides a legal basis for Canadian authorities to send him to the United States. CNN reported yesterday that Sayegh's passport contains a stamp indicating he was officially admitted to the United States on Aug. 16. Before Sayegh is sent anywhere, his request to remain in Canada as a refugee still has to be resolved. Baum said this would likely take another two weeks.
In one scenario under consideration by U.S. authorities, Sayegh would be flown to the United States and then arrested on a warrant identifying him as a "material witness." Then U.S. officials could use the time while court hearings are set up to see what, if any, information Sayegh might provide before ultimately bringing him before a federal grand jury. Some U.S. officials had earlier expressed concern about trying to force Sayegh to come to the United States, in part because the bulk of their evidence against him was based on confessions and statements from Saudi suspects detained by Saudi Arabian officials. Law enforcement officials worried about how the evidence against Sayegh would bear up in U.S. court, given allegations that the Saudi government tortures suspects.
But if Sayegh agrees not to fight deportation to the United States, some authorities believe they would have more flexibility. The prospect of pain and almost certain death in Saudi Arabia were their primary leverage, sources said.
|Rumors Send Energy Futures To Highest Levels in Weeks (May 16,1997)|
The Wall Street Journal |
An INTERACTIVE EDITION News Roundup
Energy futures settled sharply higher Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, posting their sharpest gains in nearly two months. Some traders said that news of a downed alkylation unit at Maraven's Cardon refinery in Venezuela allowed crude oil to push through resistance on the back of a surging June gasoline contract. Others said there was additional support for June crude at the end of the day by an unconfirmed rumor that a suspect in last year's bombing of U.S. barracks in Saudi Arabia had implicated Iran in the attack that killed 19 U.S. servicemen.
If the rumor is true, traders speculate that the U.S. will act militarily against Iran, which could lead to the attempted closure of the Strait of Hormuz, gateway to one-fifth of the world's oil supply, by Iranian forces.
June crude soared 82 cents to finish at $22.12 a barrel; June gasoline gained 1.83 cents to settle at 65.87 cents a gallon, and June heating oil jumped 1.99 cents to settle at 58.47 cents a gallon.
|Iran To Build Engines for Russia(May 16, 1997)|
MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia will license Iran to build 60 passenger
aircraft engines in a $145 million deal signed Friday.
The contract between the Russian MAPO aircraft design bureau and Iran's State Industrial Aerodesign Co. will permit Iran to build TV7-117 turboprop engines, the ITAR-Tass news agency said, citing MAPO officials.
According to the report, the engines will be installed on Ukrainian An-140 passenger jets. Iran has already signed an agreement with Ukraine to assemble the planes in Iran.
Russian and Iranian officials signed a military and scientific cooperation agreement in Moscow last month, the report said. The airplane engine contract was signed Friday in Tehran.
|Germany Won't Press Iran Leaders(May 15,1997)|
KARLSRUHE, Germany (AP) -- Germany will not investigate Iran's
top leaders in the 1992 assassinations of four exiled Iranian
dissidents, the state prosecutor's office said Thursday.
Such an investigation now ``would not be in the public interest,'' the office said in a statement.
The decision could improve relations between Germany and Iran, which have been strained since a Berlin court in April accused Iran's top leaders of ordering the assassinations.
An Iranian and four Lebanese were convicted in the killings of the four Iranian Kurdish leaders, who were assassinated in 1992 while dining in a Berlin restaurant.
The state prosecutor's office did say, however, that the arrest warrant against Iranian Information Minister Ali Fallahian, who heads the Islamic republic's intelligence apparatus, remains in force.
But other top officials, such as President Hashemi Rafsanjani and religious leader Ali Khamenei, will not be placed under investigation, prosecutor Kay Nehm's office said.
Nehm's office has issued arrest warrants for three alleged members of the Iranian intelligence service VEVAK who are suspected in the Berlin assassinations.
Abdolrahman Banihashemi, known as ``Sharif,'' is suspected of leading the assassination team and firing a machine gun at the four Kurds.
The other two suspects have been identified as Asghar Arshat and Ali Kamali. Their whereabouts are unknown.
|German prosecutors have issued arrest warrants (May 14,1997)|
BONN (Reuter) - German prosecutors have issued arrest
warrants for three Iranian intelligence officers over the 1992
killing of four Iranian Kurdish dissidents in Berlin. |
But, lifting a cloud hanging over Germany's relations with Iran, they said Thursday they would not pursue a Berlin court judgement that Iran's leaders ordered the shootings. A month after the court convicted one Iranian and three Lebanese for the killings, badly straining relations between Bonn and Tehran, the Federal Prosecutor's Office said it ruled out fresh investigations into the Iranian leadership.
Laying to rest media speculation that an even higher profile investigation could be in the offing, angering Iran again, it said such an inquiry would not serve the public interest. The Berlin judge had said a secret ``special operations committee'' whose members included Iran's president, religious leader, intelligence minister and head of foreign policy, ordered the killing of the four Iranian Kurds.
He stopped short of explicitly naming Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who had been accused by prosecutors of ultimate responsibility for the shooting. Prosecutors believe two of the latest suspects helped to prepare the attack and the third led the hit squad.
They said a warrant issued last year against Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahiyan on suspicion of ordering the attack would remain in force but it was not clear to what extent other leaders enjoyed immunity under international law.
``There is no basis for investigating the precise circumstances of the committee's decision or to prove the concrete participation of the committee members, apart from Fallahiyan,'' the prosecutor's office said in a statement. ``In this situation it is not in the public interest to start an investigation against the committee members.''
|Message from President Clinton regarding Iran(May 13,1997)|
REPORT CONCERNING THE NATIONAL EMERGENCY WITH RESPECT TO IRAN|
--MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT--PM 34
To the Congress of the United States:
I hereby report to the Congress on developments since the last Presidential report of November 14, 1996, concerning the national emergency with respect to Iran that was declared in Executive Order 12170 of November 14, 1979. This report is submitted pursuant to section 204(c) of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, 50 U.S.C. 1703(c) (IEEPA). This report covers events through March 31, 1997. My last report, dated November 14, 1996, covered events through September 16, 1996.
1. The Iranian Assets Control Regulations, 31 CFR Part 535 (IACR), were amended on October 21, 1996 (61 Fed. Reg. 54936, October 23, 1996), to implement section 4 of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, as amended by the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, by adjusting for inflation the amount of the civil monetary penalties that may be assessed under the Regulations. The amendment increases the maximum civil monetary penalty provided in the Regulations from $10,000 to $11,000 per violation.
The amended Regulations also reflect an amendment to 18 U.S.C. 1001 contained in section 330016(1)(L) of Public Law 103-322, September 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147. Finally, the amendment notes the availability of higher criminal fines for violations of IEEPA pursuant to the formulas set forth in 18 U.S.C. 3571. A copy of the amendment is attached. 2. The Iran-United States Claims Tribunal (the ``Tribunal''), established at The Hague pursuant to the Algiers Accords, continues to make progress in arbitrating the claims before it. Since the period covered in my last report, the Tribunal has rendered eight awards. This brings the total number of awards rendered to 579, the majority of which have been in favor of U.S. claimants. As of March 24, 1997, the value of awards to successful U.S. claimants from the Security Account held by the NV Settlement Bank was $2,424,959,689.37.
Since my last report, Iran has failed to replenish the Security Account established by the Algiers Accords to ensure payment of awards to successful U.S. claimants. Thus, since November 5, 1992, the Security Account has continuously remained below the $500 million balance required by the Algiers Accords. As of March 24, 1997, the total amount in the Security Account was $183,818,133.20, and the total amount in the Interest Account was $12,053,880.39. Therefore, the United States continues to pursue Case A/28, filed in September 1993, to require Iran to meet its obligation under the Algiers Accords to replenish the Security Account. Iran filed its Rejoinder on April 8, 1997.
The United States also continues to pursue Case A/29 to require Iran to meets its obligation of timely payment of its equal share of advances for Tribunal expenses when directed to do so by the Tribunal. The United States filed its Reply to the Iranian Statement of Defense on October 11, 1996. Also since my last report, the United States appointed Richard Mosk as one of the three U.S. arbitrators on the Tribunal. Judge Mosk, who has previously served on the Tribunal and will be joining the Tribunal officially in May of this year, will replace Judge Richard Allison, who has served on the Tribunal since 1988.
3. The Department of State continues to pursue other United States Government claims against Iran and to respond to claims brought against the United States by Iran, in coordination with concerned government agencies. On December 3, 1996, the Tribunal issued its award in Case B/36, the U.S. claim for amounts due from Iran under two World War II military surplus property sales agreements. While the Tribunal dismissed the U.S. claim as to one of the agreements on jurisdictional grounds, it found Iran liable for breach of the second (and larger) agreement and ordered Iran to pay the United States principal and interest in the amount of $43,843,826.89. Following payment of the award, Iran requested the Tribunal to reconsider both the merits of the case and the calculation of interest; Iran's request was denied by the Tribunal on March 17, 1997.
Under the February 22, 1996, agreement that settled the Iran Air case before the International Court of Justice and Iran's bank-related claims against the United States before the Tribunal (reported in my report of May 17, 1996), the United States agreed to make ex gratia payments to the families of Iranian victims of the 1988 Iran Air 655 shootdown and a fund was established to pay Iranian bank debt owed to U.S. nationals. As of March 17, 1997, payments were authorized to be made to surviving family members of 125 Iranian victims of the aerial incident, totaling $29,100,000.00. In addition, payment of 28 claims by U.S. nationals against Iranian banks, totaling $9,002,738.45 was authorized. On December 12, 1996, the Department of State filed the U.S. Hearing Memorial and Evidence on Liability in Case A/11. In this case, Iran alleges that the United States failed to perform its obligations under Paragraphs 12-14 of the Algiers Accords, relating to the return to Iran of assets of the late Shah and his close relatives. A hearing date has yet to be scheduled. On October 9, 1996, the Tribunal dismissed Case B/58, Iran's claim for damages arising out of the U.S. operation of Iran's southern railways during the Second World War. The Tribunal held that it lacked jurisdiction over the claim under Article II, paragraph two, of the Claims Settlement Declaration.
4. Since my last report, the Tribunal conducted two hearings and issued [[Page S4392]] awards in six private claims. On February 24-25, 1997, Chamber One held a hearing in a dual national claim, G.E. Davidson v. The Islamic Republic of Iran, Claim No. 457. The claimant is requesting compensation for real property that he claims was expropriated by the Government of Iran. On October 24, 1996, Chamber Two held a hearing in Case 274, Monemi v. The Islamic Republic of Iran, also concerning the claim of a dual national.
On December 2, 1996, Chamber Three issued a decision in Johangir & Jila Mohtadi v. the Islamic Republic of Iran (AWD 573-271-3), awarding the claimants $510,000 plus interest for Iran's interference with the claimants' property rights in real property in Velenjak. The claimants also were awarded $15,000 in costs. On December 10, 1996, Chamber Three issued a decision in Reza Nemazee v. The Islamic Republic of Iran (AWD 575-4-3), dismissing the expropriation claim for lack of proof. On February 25, 1997, Chamber Three issued a decision in Dadras Int'l v. The Islamic Republic of Iran (AWD 578-214-3), dismissing the claim against Kan Residential Corp. for failure to prove that it is an ``agency, instrumentality, or entity controlled by the Government of Iran'' and dismissing the claim against Iran for failure to prove expropriation or other measures affecting property rights. Dadras had previously received a substantial recovery pursuant to a partial award. On March 26, 1997, Chamber Two issued a final award in Case 389, Westinghouse Electric Corp. v. The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (AWD 579-389-2), awarding Westinghouse $2,553,930.25 plus interest in damages arising from the Iranian Air Force's breach of contract with Westinghouse.
Finally, there were two settlements of claims of dual nationals, which resulted in awards on agreed terms. They are Dora Elghanayan, et al. v. The Islamic Republic of Iran (AAT 576-800/801/802/803/804-3), in which Iran agreed to pay the claimants $3,150,000, and Lilly Mythra Fallah Lawrence v. The Islamic Republic of Iran (AAT 577-390/381-1), in which Iran agreed to pay the claimant $1,000,000.
5. The situation reviewed above continues to implicate important diplomatic, financial, and legal interests of the United States and its nationals and presents an unusual challenge to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. The Iranian Assets Control Regulations issued pursuant to Executive Order 12170 continue to play an important role in structuring our relationship with Iran and in enabling the United States to implement properly the Algiers Accords. I shall continue to exercise the powers at my disposal to deal with these problems and will continue to report periodically to the Congress on significant developments.
William J. Clinton.
The White House, May 13, 1997.
|Relief supplies reach victims of Iran quake(May 13,1997)|
The Article in Austin American Statemen|
Austin groups join international efforts to help survivors
By Afshin Valinejad
HAJIABAD, Iran-The first international aid supplies trickled into Iran_s earthquake-devastated northeast Monday, and the government vowed to help survivors of Saturday_s quake rebuild their homes and their lives. -Trucks rumbled into the devastated mountain villages carrying tents, blankets, clothes and food for many of the homeless by the disaster, which the government said killed at least 2,400. A pro-government newspaper in Tehran and the Red Cross said the death toll could reach 4,000.
-President Hashemi Rafsanjani toured the area Monday, promising to start rebuilding homes within a month and pledging interest-free loans and grants to surviving families. -"We have no other choice but to surrender to our fate," Rafsanjani said. "There are some things that we can do. But there are things that we cannot do, like compensate (for) the lives of your relatives." -Hardest hit by the 7.1-magnitude quake was a 60-mile stretch between the towns of Birjand and Qaen, near the Afghan border. Many of the mud huts that dot the region collapsed in the quake or during the scores of aftershocks.
-In Austin, those of Iranian descent are looking to help the relief efforts. -The association of Iranian Professionals of Austin,AIPA, a group of about 100 members, is collecting funds for the earthquake victims as it has for past disasters in Iran, said board member Afshin Taghechian. - How to help:
Donations for Iranian earthquake victims may be sent to the Association of Iranian Professionals of Austin, P.O. Box 180202, Austin, TX 78718.
|U.S. Gives $100,000 for Iran Aid (May 12,1997)|
By BARRY SCHWEID |
AP Diplomatic Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- While trying to isolate the rulers of Iran, the United States contributed $100,000 to the Red Cross on Monday to assist victims of the strongest earthquake to strike the country in nearly seven years.
Announcing the decision by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright after a brief meeting with her Near East staff, spokesman Nicholas Burns said: ``We've had our disputes with the government of Iran for many, many years, but we don't have any arguments with the people of Iran. The people of Iran obviously are in need of support.''
The earthquake shattered northeastern Iran on Saturday, killing at least 2,400 people, according to Iranian officials. About 50,000 people were made homeless and 6,000 were injured.
The United States accuses Iran of sponsoring terrorism and has tried to organize an international economic boycott of the oil-rich country. FBI investigators are trying to determine whether Iran was involved in a bombing last June that killed 19 American troops in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
A German court last month implicated senior Iranian officials in the 1992 slayings of three Kurdish dissidents. European governments temporarily withdrew their ambassadors from Tehran, but trade with Iran has not been halted.
Critics of the U.S. policy would prefer a more flexible approach. They would permit some business deals and try to influence Iran to moderate its views. But Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Near East subcommittee, is calling for a tougher policy toward Tehran and its supporters.
Burns, recalling a U.S. contribution of $25,000 after an earthquake in March, said humanitarian assistance ``has nothing to do with the government of Iran, everything to do with the fact that thousands of people have been killed and are wounded and are homeless ...
''It's the right thing to do, to try to help people out in an emergency like this.''
However, the U.S. official said, ``we are going to maintain our policy of containment and isolation of Iran.''
|Relief Effort Under Way in Iran(May 12, 1997)|
ABIZ, Iran (AP) -- On the foothills of the Shaskooh Mountain,
hundreds of villagers, many covered in dirt and blood, gathered
around rubble where an old man said he heard a cry for help.
They dug frantically for an hour, only to find a chicken that had somehow survived. Then they dragged out a mangled corpse to the wails of relatives who beat their chests and pulled their hair.
Suddenly they heard something -- a desperate cry.
Alireza Rayee, 32, was pulled from the rubble barely conscious Sunday, trapped for 27 hours. A man rushed to bring him water. Another wiped dirt from his face and fanned him with cardboard.
``God has given my son a second life!'' shouted his mother, Fatemeh, crying and holding her son's head in her arms.
Rayee's rescue was a rare example of joy across a landscape shattered by Saturday's earthquake that killed at least 2,400 people. In Abiz, none of the 700 mud houses were standing. One-third of its 1,200 people were killed, villagers said.
A huge relief effort was under way in the 60-mile stretch between Birjand and Qaen, a region dotted by poor villages and mud huts near the Afghan border. Convoys of buses, trucks and pickups rushed hundreds of volunteers over narrow dirt roads to the the remote mountains in northeastern Iran.
Iranian military aircraft -- U.S.-made C-130s and helicopters -- flew food, clothes and medicine to the stricken region. Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani was expected to cut short a trip to Turkmenistan to visit the area hit by the earthquake, which struck less than two weeks before Iran's May 23 presidential elections.
More than 155 aftershocks shook what was left standing, forcing tens of thousands of people to camp amid the rubble in the dusty streets of villages. About 50,000 people were homeless and at least 6,000 people were injured by the magnitude-7.1 earthquake, said the Iranian Red Crescent, which is helping direct relief.
In most villages, the streets had been transformed into rows of rubble. Survivors washed the bodies of their loved ones and buried them in mass graves. Volunteers handed out aid or dug through the collapsed structures with their bare hands to look for bodies.
In Abiz, a poor village about 55 miles east of Qaen, Rayee said he thought he would die beneath the rubble.
``But I prayed all the time that I was under there, and God answered my prayers,'' he said, grimacing from a broken shoulder.
His rescue was matched with tragedy elsewhere. In another village, an elementary school collapsed, killing 110 girls who were buried under jagged slabs of concrete and steel.
Villagers in Zohan, 60 miles southeast of Qaen, sat on dusty carpets at a mosque to pray for the dead today. They then set up tents and collected food and water for survivors.
Iranian officials estimated the damage at $67 million and appealed for international aid, which had not arrived in the region by this morning, said Bijan Daftari, deputy chief of the Iranian Red Crescent in Qaen.
From Tokyo, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged other countries ``to respond promptly and with generosity.''
France sent a cargo plane carrying 39 tons of blankets, tents, clothes and food Sunday. Switzerland sent a rescue team and trained dogs to help search for survivors.
In Washington, presidential spokeswoman Mary Ellen Glynn said the United States customarily would send any aid through an organization like the Red Cross. ``If it's necessary, we would certainly contribute,'' she said.
The Iranian Red Crescent sent 9,000 tents, more than 18,000 blankets and canned food, rice and dates.
Iran also rushed at least 80 tons of aid to the region aboard four U.S.-made C-130 planes and six helicopters, presumably to the provincial capital of Mashhad. From there, it is still a five-hour drive over rough terrain to the villages.
``Much needs to be done. The priority is to remove the dead bodies and bury them as soon as possible,'' said Reza Alavi, a civil servant leading relief efforts in one of the villages.
Most of the villagers in the region are subsistence farmers who either tend camels or sheep or grow wheat and saffron.
Saturday's quake was the strongest to strike Iran since June 21, 1990, when quakes of magnitude 7.3 and 7.7 hit the northwestern part of the country, killing 50,000 people and injuring 60,000.
The Islamic Republic News Agency said there was also considerable damage in neighboring Afghanistan.
In the Afghan capital of Kabul, international aid workers said at least four teams had set out to assess the wreckage in remote western Afghanistan. The workers, who spoke on condition they not be identified, knew of only five fatalities so far.
``There seems only to be small-scale damage,'' said Sarah Russell, U.N. information officer in neighboring Pakistan.
|Some of the world's worst earthquakes this century(May 11, 1997)|
May 10, 1997, Iran -- Nearly 2,400 people were killed and thousands injured when an earthquake measuring 7.1 magnitude rocked rural areas of eastern Iran. The quake leveled 11 villages and inflicted heavy damage on the towns of Qaen and Birjand near its epicenter.
January 17, 1995, Japan -- At least 6,055 people were killed after a strong earthquake ripped through central Japan. Measuring 7.2 magnitude, the earthquake, centered near the port of Kobe, was the biggest quake to hit Japan in half a century.
September 30, 1993, India -- Up to 22,000 people were killed in 36 villages destroyed after a series of powerful earthquakes which rocked western and southern India. The first of the five tremors measured 6.4 magnitude. The epicenter was in the region where the states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka meet near Latur. Two weeks after the earthquake the number of bodies recovered was just under 10,000 and officials said the true death toll may never be known.
July 16, 1990, Philippines -- at least 2,000 killed, 3,500 injured. Magnitude 7.7, epicenter the city of Cabanatuan. About half the deaths were around the tourist center of Baguio. An estimated 148,000 were displaced or made homeless.
June 21, 1990, Iran -- 50,000 dead, 100,000 injured, The worst recorded disaster in Iran. Registering 7.7 magnitude, devastated Caspian regions of Gilan and Zanjan. Some 500,000 were made homeless.
December 7, 1988, Soviet Union -- More than 25,000 killed, 18,000 injured in northwest Armenia. 6.9 magnitude. The town of Spitak almost totally destroyed and Leninakan half-destroyed.
September 19, 1985, Mexico -- Between 6,000 and 12,000 killed, 40,000 people injured. 8.1 magnitude. The earthquake hit Mexico City and adjoining region.
December 13, 1982, Yemen -- 3,000 people killed and 2,000 people injured. 6 magnitude. The earthquake devastated Dhamar province 60 miles southeast of San'a.
November 23, 1980, Italy -- 2,735 people killed and more than 7,500 injured. 7.2 magnitude. The epicenter was at Eboli but damage was reported over a huge area to Naples. More than 1,500 people were reported missing.
October 10, 1980, Algeria -- Provisional figures issued by the United Nations said 2,590 killed. It registered up to 7.3 magnitude. The earthquake centered on the town of El Asnam and left 330,000 people homeless.
September 16, 1978, Iran -- 25,000 people killed by the earthquake which measured between 7.5 and 7.9 magnitude. It leveled the town of Tabas and many other villages.
November 24, 1976, Turkey -- In Van Province 5,291 confirmed dead with more than 5,000 injured. 50,000 people left homeless with the destruction of the town of Muradiye and hundreds of villages.
August 16, 1976, Philippines -- An earthquake followed by an 18-foot tidal wave struck and swamped the islands of Mindanao, Sulu, Basilan and Tawi Tawi. 8,000 people were killed and 150,000 people were left homeless.
July 28, 1976, China -- The city of Tangshan was devastated by an earthquake which measured 7.8 magnitude. The China Morning Post on May 1, 1977, quoted a report saying 655,237 had died with about 779,000 injured. However the New China News Agency released figures following the inaugural Congress of the Chinese Seismological Society in November 1979 which claimed 242,000 dead and 164,000 injured. This is the 20th century's worst earthquake.
February 4, 1976, Guatemala -- A rash of quakes and resulting mudslides caused much destruction just north of Guatemala City. 23,000 people were killed in the quake which measured 7.5 magnitude. 80,000 people were injured and 1.5 million people were made homeless.
September 6, 1975, Turkey -- An earthquake devastated the town of Lice and surrounding villages which measured 6.8 magnitude. At least 2,350 people were killed and 3,000 injured.
December 28, 1974, Pakistan -- A quake measuring 5.5 magnitude destroyed villages over 100 square miles in the Karakom mountains leaving 5,200 dead and more than 16,000 injured.
December 23, 1972, Nicaragua -- A massive earthquake struck Managua measuring 6.5 magnitude. Between 5,000 and 7,000 people were killed.
April 10, 1972, Iran -- An earthquake over a 250-mile radius struck southern Iran around Ghir Karzin. 5,374 people were killed.
May 31, 1970, Peru -- An earthquake measuring 7.9 magnitude struck the towns of Yungay, Huaraz and Chimbote, destroying all three as well as surrounding villages. This resulted in more than 70,000 dead and 600,000 left homeless.
March 28, 1970, Turkey -- 1,100 people were killed and 3,000 injured when an earthquake struck the town of Gediz in western Anatolia, almost completely destroying the town and surrounding villages.
August 31, 1968, Iran -- More than 12,000 people were killed in the northeastern province of Khurasan.
September 1, 1962, Iran -- An earthquake struck northwest Iran near Ghazvin resulting in the deaths of 12,000 people and the destruction of more than 300 surrounding villages.
May 21, 1960, Chile -- An earthquake struck Santiago and Concepcion, the after effect of which was tidal waves and volcanic eruptions. The Chilean death toll was more than 10,000 dead and missing.
April 24, 1960, Iran -- An earthquake measuring 5.75 magnitude struck the southern town of Lar, reducing it to rubble. More than 3,500 people were killed.
February 29, 1960, Morocco -- The port of Agadir was destroyed in an earthquake. 12,000 people, out of a population of 40,000, were killed.
December 13, 1957, Iran -- A severe earthquake in western Iran killed more than 2,000 people.
August 5, 1949, Ecuador -- An area of some 1,500 square miles was struck by an earthquake measuring 6.75 magnitude. 6,000 people were killed and about 100,000 people were made homeless from the area at Ambato and four other towns.
October 4, 1948, Iran -- An earthquake measuring 7.3 magnitude killed 3,000 people in Turkmenistan.
June 28, 1948, Japan -- An earthquake measuring 7.3 killed 3,769 people at Fukui 28 miles northeast of Kyoto.
January 15, 1944, Argentina -- 5,000 people were killed in an earthquake that struck San Juan.
January 25, 1939, Chile -- Between 25,000 and 30,000 people were killed when an earthquake measuring 8.3 magnitude virtually destroyed the town of Concepcion. The town of Chillan was struck in the same earthquake, causing 10,000 of the casualties.
May 13, 1935, India -- 30,000 people were killed in an earthquake that struck the hill station of Quetta in British-ruled Baluchistan.
September 1, 1923, Japan -- An earthquake estimated at 7.9 magnitude struck Tokyo and Yokahama, leaving 2.5 million people homeless. Floods followed as the rivers Fukuro Chiyo and Takimi burst their banks. At least 142,000 people were killed, although unofficial estimates say as many as 300,000 may have died.
December 16, 1920, China -- An earthquake measuring an estimated 8.6 magnitude struck Jiangsu province killing 180,000 people.
January 13, 1915, Italy -- The town of Avezzano in central Italy was struck by an earthquake killing 30,000 people. December 28, 1908, Italy -- More than 82,000 people were killed in an earthquake that reduced Messina, Sicily's second town, to rubble. A tidal wave followed, causing more devastation, also to the town of Reggio across the straits. April 4, 1905, India -- 19,000 people were killed in an earthquake that struck the province of Lahore. The earthquake, which measured 8.6 magnitude, demolished the towns of Kangra and Dharmsala.
|Iran Quake Kills At Least 2,400(May 11, 1997)|
By AFSHIN VALINEJAD |
Associated Press Writer
QAEN, Iran (AP) -- Military planes rushed food, clothes and medicine Sunday to remote mountains in northeastern Iran, where a powerful earthquake killed at least 2,400 people. About 130 aftershocks shook what was left standing, forcing tens of thousands to camp in the streets of stricken villages. By Sunday, thousands of volunteers from unaffected areas had poured into the stricken villages and towns in a convoy of trucks, pickups and buses to help. They dug through the rubble with bare hands to look for bodies. Others distributed aid.
In most villages, streets had disappeared into rows of rubble. Survivors beat their chests and wailed in anguish. Others washed the bodies of their loved ones and buried them in mass graves.
At least 6,000 more were injured in Saturday's earthquake, and Iranian officials appealed for international aid for the dozens of stricken villages and towns, many of them cut off by landslides. The earthquake struck at 12:28 p.m. (4:58 a.m. EST) with a magnitude of 7.1 and was centered 65 miles north-northeast of Birjand, near the town of Qaen, about 70 miles west of the Afghan border.
Most of the damage occurred in the 60-mile stretch between Birjand and Qaen, a region dotted by poor villages and mud huts. In the village of Ardakul, about 60 miles east of Qaen, more than 500 of the village's 1,600 residents were killed by falling homes or buildings. In another village, 110 girls were killed when their school collapsed. In the town of Hajiabab, the mangled frames of Toyota pickup trucks poked out of the collapsed building of a used car shop. Tens of thousands of villagers camped in the streets, fearful that one of the 130 aftershocks reported since Saturday would topple what was left standing. Some aftershocks had a preliminary magnitude of 5.5, strong enough to cause considerable damage. Temperatures dropped to 41 degrees overnight in the villages, but then soared to 84 degrees, raising concern that bodies under the rubble might begin putrefying and spread disease.
``Much needs to be done. The priority is to remove the dead bodies and bury them as soon as possible,'' said Reza Alavi, a civil servant leading relief efforts in one of the villages. In makeshift hospitals, beds were filled with injured in blood-soaked bandages, many of them suffering cuts and broken bones. Intravenous sacks hung from donated coat hangars. ``I can't deal with this alone,'' Dr. Mohammad Hossein Mozaffar said as he put a cast on the leg of a wailing 5-year-old boy clinging to his mother in hard-hit Qaen. Four U.S.-made C-130 planes and four helicopters flew at least 80 tons of aid to the region Sunday, the news agency said, quoting the deputy interior minister for natural disasters, Rasul Zargar.
The agency did not say where the planes landed, but Mashhad, the capital of Khorasan province and 75 miles north of Qaen, has the nearest modern airport. However, it is a five-hour drive over rough terrain, and there was no immediate word on when the aid would arrive in the villages, where an estimated 10,000 houses had been destroyed.
France, apparently the first country to respond to Iran's appeal, sent a cargo plane carrying 39 tons of blankets, tents, clothes and food Sunday, the French Foreign Ministry said. The Iranian Red Crescent said it has sent 9,000 tents, more than 18,000 blankets and canned food, rice and dates to survivors.
Most of the villagers in the region are subsistence farmers who either tend camels or sheep or grow wheat and saffron. Many of the injured looked weak and malnourished. ``I was outside when I heard the mountain roar like a dragon, and suddenly the air became dark as night from the thick cloud of dust,'' said one survivor, Gholamreza Nowrouz-Zadeh. The quake destroyed the elementary school, burying 110 girls under jagged slabs of concrete and steel. By nightfall Saturday, only three bodies had been extricated from the rubble. The earthquake also was felt in neighboring Afghanistan and the Iranian provinces of Sistan-Baluchestan, Kerman and Semnan. The official Islamic Republic News Agency said there was considerable damage in Afghanistan, but Red Cross and U.N. officials there said they had not yet received any reports.
It was the strongest earthquake to strike Iran since two powerful temblors hit northwestern Gilan and Zanjan provinces on June 21, 1990. About 50,000 people were killed and 60,000 injured in the quakes, which had magnitudes of 7.3 and 7.7. The last major quake to hit Khorasan struck on Sept. 16, 1978, killing 25,000 people. That temblor, one of the most powerful to hit Iran, measured 7.7.
|US Ready To Send Aid to Iran(May 11,1997)|
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (AP) -- The United States stands ready to send assistance to
Iran in the wake of yesterday's devastating earthquake.
However, the aid won't go directly to the Iranian government.
White House spokeswoman Mary Ellen Glynn says it would likely go through the Red
Cross or some other third party. However, there's been no request for aid yet.|
|Iran Tests Its Persian Gulf Defense(May 11,1997)|
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- About 4,000 troops staged mock air and naval battles in the Persian
Gulf on Sunday to test Iran's defense against a surprise attack. |
The war games began a day after the United States warned that it would take action against Iran if it carried out a threat to close the Strait of Hormuz on the southeastern end of the gulf. Such an action, which Iran said it would take if it felt threatened by the United States, would block the exit for oil tankers that carry one-fifth of the world's oil supply from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries.
Helicopter gunships, fighter jets, destroyers and missile-firing vessels participated in the military exercise, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported Sunday. The exercise will last until May 17 across a large part of the gulf and Sea of Oman, IRNA said. Iran considers some 20 U.S. warships that regularly patrol the gulf as a potential threat ever since reports last year that the United States was considering missile strikes against Iran if it was proven that Tehran was behind a bombing in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 U.S. servicemen. Iran has denied involvement.
|Iran Quake Turns School Into Grave(May 11,1997)|
By AFSHIN VALINEJAD |
Associated Press Writer
ARDAKUL, Iran (AP) -- Like any other day, Mohammad Alijan kissed his 9-year-old daughter, Mahbubeh, on both cheeks before she raced down the road to her village school. Ten minutes later, she was crushed to death, one of 110 girls killed when a powerful earthquake Saturday turned their school into a mound of jagged slabs of concrete and steel. ``My flower, my flower, why did you leave me?'' Alijan wailed as he lifted the corpse of his daughter, wrapped in a dirty brown blanket specked with dried blood and mud. ``I wished to see your marriage -- now I see your dead body.''
Once a pleasant town of pastures and trees, Ardakul has become a graveyard: More than 500 of the village's 1,600 residents were killed by falling homes and buildings that left little standing in this oasis on the barren Shasd Kuh mountain. The worst hit was the elementary school, which had just disgorged hundreds of clamorous boys after morning classes.
Soon, the two-story building was packed with girls aged 5 to 12 for the afternoon shift. In keeping with Islamic tradition, boys and girls study separately in Iranian schools, and classes are held on Saturday. In the neighboring village of Zohan, near the earthquake's epicenter, tragedy again struck the young. At least 60 pupils were killed while offering their midday prayers at the school. Most of the survivors among the 400 families in Ardakul were men who were out in the fields or grazing cattle.
The women, the old and children had little chance of escaping the fury of the 7.1-magnitude tremor. After a daylong effort to dig out bodies, Ardakul was in mourning Sunday. The village was filled with tears and cries for the dead. ``God, God, why are you punishing us?'' cried one man, carrying a body to a newly dug grave.
Like him, dozens of men washed bodies in a village pond, wrapped them in shrouds and carried them on broken doors -- there were no stretchers -- to a hilltop where others had dug graves. Alijan and his two young sons -- who went to the same school but emerged just minutes before the quake -- dug through the rubble for 10 hours before finding Mahbubeh's body. For Hossain Mohammad Zadeh, a 45-year-old farmer, there was little consolation. His wife, two daughters and one son were dead.
Zadeh was tending his cattle when the quake struck. ``I saw some rocks falling from the mountain. The mountain was roaring. It seemed angry. Everything was shaking,'' Zadeh said in between racking sobs. He was too distressed to bother with his youngest daughter, an 8-year-old who sat on the rubble of their home, weeping for her dead mother.
Unlike many other villages struck by the quake, Ardakul was fairly prosperous. The homes were made not of mud, but concrete, bricks and steel. But after Saturday, no structure in the village was standing. Relief workers found no streets still passable. They climbed on top of brick-and-cement hillocks to look for survivors.
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