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November 2000, Week 2
|Iran's Top Journalist Accuses Authorities of Torture||Nov 11|
|Clinton Letter on National Emergencies Act with Respect to Iran||Nov 10|
|Iranian Dissident Denounces Pre-Trial 'Abuse'||Nov 9|
|Death Sentence Looms in Iran's Big Political Trial||Nov 8|
Iran's Top Journalist Accuses Authorities of Torture
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's top investigative journalist accused security forces of torturing him while he was in detention and showed reporters bruises on his face and body during a court appearance Thursday.
Akbar Ganji walked into the courtroom packed with journalists escorted by two policemen. "I was tortured," he shouted. "They kicked me in the head because I refused to wear the prison uniform," he said pointing to bruises on his forehead.
Ganji then tore the top of his gray prison uniform, placing it under his seat, and sat shirtless in Tehran's Revolutionary Court in front of the judge. |
He is accused of harming Iranian security by taking part in a conference on Iran in Berlin in April. He is one of 17 people on trial on charges stemming from the conference, which hard-liners condemned as hostile to Iran and its Islamic principles. Judge Hassan Moqaddas asked Ganji to file a complaint on the torture and promised to take action.
Ganji, 40, said he would begin a hunger strike to protest his mistreatment. He opposes wearing a prison uniform because he says he is a political prisoner and not a common criminal. He also said he had been tortured throughout his seven-month detention, placed in solitary confinement for more than three months and not allowed basic rights. He angered hard-liners when he accused top officials of involvement in a spate of killings of reformists in 1998. The Intelligence Ministry later admitted that some of its agents were involved in the murders, but said they were rogue operatives. The reformists won control of Iran's Majlis, or parliament, in the February legislative elections, but hard-liners still run the judiciary, military and the broadcast network.
The conservative judiciary has closed about 30 reformist newspapers and jailed more than 25 reformist writers and political activists over the past six months. They oppose President Mohammad Khatami's program of social and political reform, arguing that they are not in line with the principles of the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Clinton Letter on National Emergencies Act with Respect to Iran
WASHINGTON, /U.S. Newswire/ -- The following was released today by the White House: |
AND THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE
November 9, 2000
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)) provides for the automatic termination of a national emergency unless, prior to the anniversary date of its declaration, the President publishes in the Federal Register and transmits to the Congress a notice stating that the emergency is to continue in effect beyond the anniversary date. In accordance with this provision, I have sent the enclosed notice, stating that the Iran emergency declared by Executive Order 12170 on November 14, 1979, is to continue in effect beyond November 14, 2000, to the Federal Register for publication.
Because our relations with Iran have not yet returned to normal, and the process of implementing the January 19, 1981, agreements with Iran is still underway, the national emergency declared on November 14, 1979, and the measures adopted pursuant thereto to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond November 14, 2000. Therefore, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency with respect to Iran for 1 year.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
Iranian Dissident Denounces Pre-Trial 'Abuse'
TEHRAN, (Reuters) - Iran's top dissident journalist disrupted the start of his trial in the Revolutionary Court on Thursday, charging he was beaten by guards and forced to wear the uniform of a common criminal. |
Akbar Ganji, a former revolutionary turned investigative reporter, shouted to the judge and waiting reporters that he had been kicked and punched by four guards, including the warden, to force him to adopt the "zebra stripes." He also announced a hunger strike to protest against alleged mistreatment, including some 80 days in solitary confinement and lack of access to his family and his lawyer.
"I was beaten by four people today in the room of the prison director and they forced these (prison) clothes on me," said Ganji, who later tore off his prison jacket in defiance. Reformist political prisoners have refused to wear the official prison uniform, saying they do not recognise acts of dissent as crimes. In response, the authorities have cancelled family visits and imposed other sanctions.
Ganji, who has outraged conservatives with allegations of high-level complicity in the 1998 serial murders of secularist dissidents, showed reporters what he said was the mark of the warden's boot on his forehead and bruises on his arms. "They also took away my notes before I entered the court, and they told me that if I tell you these things, they would hold the session behind closed doors," he said. br> WITNESSES SOUGHT
Judge Hassan Moqaddas denounced the beating and promised prompt action. But he also called on Ganji to produce witnesses to the assault. "How do you expect the torture victim to have witnesses with him?" Ganji shot back, prompting sharp warnings from both the judge and the prosecutor. Acting prosecutor Ahmad Sharifi then accused Ganji of acting against national security, spreading propaganda against the Islamic system and insulting religious sanctities. Other charges in the indictment included gathering classified documents and insulting the late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. If convicted on all charges, Ganji could face many years in prison.
The allegations stem from Ganji's part in a conference in Berlin last April on the future of Iran's reform movement. Some 18 other Iranians, including the country's most popular woman politician, face related charges after the conference dissolved into protest demonstrations. Exile opposition groups disrupted the seminar in a bid to embarrass the reform movement back home. At one point, a woman danced in short sleeves, a violation of Iran's Islamic norms. Conservatives jumped on the ensuing scandal, replaying tapes of the affair on state television and accusing the reform movement of being "un-Islamic." Participants were arrested on their return home.
Even before the Berlin conference, Ganji had emerged as one of the leading targets of a conservative backlash set in motion by reformists' gains in last winter's parliamentary polls. That campaign, highlighted by the mass closure of the pro- reform press, saw Ganji jailed since April on various dissent charges, including a separate case in the hardline Press Court. Plaintiffs in that latter case include the elite Revolutionary Guards -- where Ganji was once a chief ideologist -- and the police intelligence service. Ganji first outraged his critics with a series of newspaper articles alleging that top officials were behind the killings of dissident intellectuals dating back many years. The essays later became best-selling books.
Death Sentence Looms in Iran's Big Political Trial
TEHRAN, (Reuters) - Iran's most popular woman politician went on trial in a Revolutionary Court on Tuesday, a day after the prosecutor said he was seeking a possible death penalty for a co-defendant. |
Jamileh Kadivar, the number two vote-getter in this year's parliamentary elections, faces charges of violating state security and insulting Islam for her part in a conference in Berlin last April on the future of Iran's reform movement. Also in the dock with Kadivar -- second only to President Mohammad Khatami's brother in the polls, with 1.37 million votes -- were student leader Ali Afshari and authors Mahmoud Dowlatabadi and Mohammad Ali Sepanlou.
"The conference was held with the aim of changing Iran's system of religious government, insulting the sanctities, and rejecting Islamic judgments," Ahmad Sharifi, acting prosecutor, told the court's opening session.
The defence was expected to begin its case later on Tuesday.
A total of 17 people, including newspaper editors, writers, and lawyers, face trial in a case that has dealt a heavy blow to the reform movement.
The Berlin conference, on April 7-8, was organised by the Heinrich Boell Foundation to assess Iran's parliamentary elections, which saw the electoral defeat of hardline conservatives.
None of the five is currently in Iran and all will be tried in absentia, IRNA said. In the only case completed to date, cleric Yousefi-Eshkevari was convicted last month by the hardline Special Court for Clergy, which is independent of the main judicial system. Charges filed against the mid-ranking Shi'ite Muslim cleric, who has advocated greater pluralism and tolerance, included apostasy, spreading corruption on Earth and waging war against God. All three carry the death penalty.