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Iranian Elections - Student News Service


Iran Daneshjoo Organization News Service - http://www.iran-daneshjoo.org

Welcome to this edition of the News provided by the "Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran".

There are 11 articles in this news edition:
1) SMCCDI: Released on bail students re-called by the Islamic republic judiciary
2) Asr E Azadegan (Iran): How Five Lives Were Lost
3) AFP: Post-election unrest leaves three more dead, two wounded
4) Azad (Iran): Where Have Reformists Gone?
5) Asr E Azadegan (Iran): Nationalist Warnings
6) AFP: Triumphant reformers set out program for more open Iran
7) Iran News (Iran): Rafsanjani's Declining Political Fortune
8) AFP: Parliament convenes in wake of shock elections
9) Ha'aretz (Israel): The revolution won't begin today
10) Christian Science Monitor (US): The young seek a freer, less clerical Iran
11) USA Today (US): U.S. discusses way to reward Iran

A) More news: http://www.iran-daneshjoo.org/news

Released on bail students re-called by the Islamic republic judiciary

SMCCDI News Service February 22, 2000

Several students arrested after the July's uprising and released, on bail, after several months of captivity have been asked to present themselves at the Revolutionary court #8 of Tehran.

These students have received a convocation signed by Haj-Agha Kavoossi acting as the Islamic prosecutor.

The Student Associations and the United Student Front (USF) are intending to organize a protest demonstration and have warned the judiciary power about the issuance of any sentence against the called students.

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How Five Lives Were Lost

Asr E Azadegan 2/22/2000

Unrest still continues in Shush Danial city after a day of tension over the election results.

On Friday evening, reports say, the city's reformist candidate was comfortably ahead of his right-wing rivals, but with the arrival of many new ballot boxes the trend reversed and the conservative candidate pulled ahead.

The protesters then demanded that the governor attends the gathering and comment on the issue.

However, the official failed to come and the angry crowd began to set tires on fire.

The unrest resulted in five deaths and over 30 injured.

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Post-election unrest leaves three more dead, two wounded

TEHRAN, Feb 22 (AFP) - Post-election unrest has left three more dead, including one child, and two injured, across Iran, the evening daily newspaper Kayhan said Tuesday.

Two people were killed and two others injured in the first incident when a coach hired by supporters of one candidate passed through a village near the southern city of Lordeghan where the locals supported a rival candidate, the paper said.

As the coach drove through the village, the driver was provoked by a group of locals shouting hostile abuse. The driver lost his temper and started a fight which left two dead and two injured.

The second incident happened in the village of Abriz near Sardasht in the north-west of the country, when a local man, ecstatic at his candidate's success, fired off gunshots, one of which went astray and fatally wounded a child.

A series of similar style incidents have been reported during the last three days in confrontations between supporters and opponents of local candidates.

Eight people, including an eight-year-old child, were killed and two others wounded Saturday in incidents in Shush and Shadegan in the south-western province of Khuzestan after the election results were announced.

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Where Have Reformists Gone?

Azad 2/22/2000

Unified Students Front (USF) released a statement congratulating the nation on high turnout in the polls.

Elsewhere, it said the latest sentences handed down for the students arrested in relations to the last July's demonstrations are: Mohammad Reza Kasrani, five years in jail; Alinejad 1.5 years; Ahmad Batebi 10 years; Shafie, 2.5 years; Abdolbaqi, 9 years and Arya 7 years.

It added that the death sentence for Akbar Mohammadi has been approved by the court. Moreover, the daily pointed out that Nemati, Fakhrzadeh and Mostofi have been released from prison.

The statement next asked: "Do the reformist groups want to remain indifferent to the fate of these brave sons of the nation." .

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Nationalist Warnings

Asr E Azadegan 2/22/2000

The Nationalist-Religious Coalition issued a statement in which it expressed concern over the rumors going around regarding vote rigging.

The statement said the coalition is worried about, among others, the interference of militia forces in counting votes, the attempts made by some to raise the number of votes cast for certain Tehran candidates in order to eliminate from the race the remaining nationalist-religious candidates who may still have a chance to get into the Majlis in the first round.

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Triumphant reformers set out program for more open Iran

TEHRAN, Feb 22 (AFP) - Hot on the heels of their landslide victory in parliamentary elections, Iran's reformers Tuesday set out their programme for a more open society, vowing to open up to the foreign media and even the long-hated United States.

Emboldened by their capture of parliament, long a bastion of their conservative opponents, the reformers also pledged to end a five-year-old ban on satellite dishes aimed at shutting out the foreign media.

Their leader, Mohammad-Reza Khatami -- brother of Iran's reformist president -- promised to create a "new atmosphere" with the United States and to get to the bottom of some of the murkier scandals to have hit the Islamic Republic in recent years.

"We support the free flow of information -- that's why, once we're in parliament, we're going to change the law which bans satellite dishes," said Rajbali Marzrui, newly elected MP from the central city of Isfahan for the main reformist faction, the Islamic Iran Participation Front.

He promised the new majority in parliament would swiftly repeal the ban on dishes imposed in 1995 by hardliners intent on preventing the Islamic Republic being invaded by "Western depravity."

Standing alongside him, Khatami -- the top vote-getter in Friday's polls -- promised that parliament would also work to create a better atmosphere for Iran's long-troubled relations with the United States.

"Parliament doesn't have a direct role but it will be able to create a new atmosphere which may help to eliminate tensions," President Mohammad Khatami's younger brother said.

=====================================================================

Rafsanjani's Declining Political Fortune

Iran News Editorial

2/22/2000

A Persian proverb says: "Winners have large families, but losers are orphans." It means that everyone wants to ride the coat tail of a winner, and no one wants to be associated with a loser.

Following the release of the preliminary results of the parliamentary elections in Tehran, former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has become the target of severe criticism by both the rightist and reformist newspapers. The reformists reject his economic, social and political policies, while the rightists blame him for playing the democratic president and allowing Seyed Mohammad Khatami to run for presidency almost three years ago which led to Khatami's landslide victory and dealt a fatal blow to the rightist politicians.

Newspapers maintain that Hashemi Rafsanjani should not have entered the race at all. They claim that his defeat was caused by the fact that, while in power, he ignored his revolutionary comrades and colleagues, and distanced himself from the people.

Rafsanjani repeatedly stated in the last few weeks that his decision to stand for parliament was based on the urging of President Khatami.

In our editorial a few weeks ago we stated that President Khatami's urging Rafsanjani to participate in the elections was not so much because of the President's desire to have him in the 6th Majlis, as it was to drag him into competition where the people would show their support, or lack thereof, for the former president.

In fact, President Khatami was being faithful to his own principle of promoting a Civil Society when he invited Rafsanjani to throw his hat in the ring, but he knew full well that the people will not back the veteran politician.

President Khatami could not compete in the traditionalists' domain, so he lured his competitors and opponents into a fight on his own home turf, and beat them easily.

Fighting on the President's turf needs special tools including a knowledge of the press and their influence, proper use of publicity campaigns, and being down to earth and in touch with the masses, as well as utilizing modern and democratic tools instead of outdated traditional methods. Former president Rafsanjani did not recognize the value of these modern and democratic tools, and his advisers failed to explain them to him.

This, of course, is not the only reason for Rafsanjani's defeat. The preliminary results show that the voting trend has changed. It proved that the people wanted a proper house cleaning in Parliament. There are less clerics elected, and almost 70% of incumbent MPs failed to secure a seat in the 6th Majlis. These two developments also worked against the veteran politician.

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Parliament convenes in wake of shock elections

TEHRAN, Feb 22 (AFP) - The Iranian parliament convened Tuesday with many of its members knowing it would be their last session following the weekend election results which wiped out the conservative majority in the assembly.

The gathering was presided by speaker Ali Akbar Nateq-Nuri, a leading conservative who did not stand in the Friday polls which saw reformist supporters of President Mohammad Khatami score a landslide victory.

In an opening statement Nateq-Nuri called the elections a victory for Iran's supreme spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, for the people and the Islamic regime.

He praised the electorate for turning out in unprecedented numbers and had words of sympathy for the beaten candidates.

"Those who were beaten should not consider the result a defeat because the blow is to our enemies who did not want a heavy poll," he said.

He called on the press, which played a leading role in backing the reformist cause, to encourage "calm, solidarity and the spirit of cooperation and unity."

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The revolution won't begin today

The Ha'aretz By Zvi Bar'el

February 22, 2000

The international community's enthusiasm over the results of the recent parliamentary elections in Iran resembles, to a great extent, the joy expressed by the world's leaders when nations in Africa obtained their independence. Here we see a country - and not just any country, but the owner of one of the world's largest oil reserves - that has freed itself from the shackles of religious occupation and has adopted the democratic way of life. Since democracy is immediately identified with a Western outlook, Iran can apparently be considered part of the Western world. Thus the umbrella of the "family of nations" can now be spread over Iran as well, and we can now get ready to strain our necks as we watch the American president award the Iranian president the certificate of official membership in this family.The West can derive great satisfaction from the fact that the exporter of the Islamic revolution has run out of inventory. In fact, it is even quite possible that Iran is not even interested in exporting its ideas to the world. In this context, however, it should be recalled that the West has not found it difficult in the past to establish ties of friendship with harsh, dictatorial regimes. Saudia Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya (before Lockerbie), Pinochet's Chile and, of course, Iran under the shah are just a few examples. Iran's parliamentary elections were not intended to please the West in general or the United States in particular; they should instead be seen, first and foremost, as an internal Iranian declaration of principles.

The outcome of these elections indicates that Iran has undergone a major transformation, but it would be premature to say that a revolution has taken place there. Iran is not a Western nation, it has only a limited form of democracy, and absolute rule is in the hands of a spiritual leader who has the authority to approve domestic and foreign policies and who controls the judicial system, the army and the country's military intelligence. This spiritual leader, who has not been elected by the people but has been chosen by a small group of Muslim clerics - a council of experts whose first criterion in the selection process is the candidate's religious credentials - can, with this council of experts, dissolve the very same parliament that has just been elected.

Therefore, we must harbor no illusions: The will of the people (which has been expressed in these elections) has not changed the nature of this regime nor does the presence of a declarative democracy eliminate the existence of a powerful religious dictatorship.

Although it has a precise and well-known date, the Islamic revolution in Iran underwent a long incubation period under the shah's pro-Western dictatorship. The religious fundamentalists were the standard-bearers, but their strength was based on broad support from the public, which was fed up with the corruption of the shah's regime, with the iron-handed methods of the Savak security police and with the unfair distribution of wealth. The dissatisfaction was so great that the accelerated pace of development, the modernization and the extensive educational and health systems that the shah nurtured could not save his regime when the public decided that it had had enough.

In contrast with Iran of 1979, the year of the Islamic revolution there, Iran of 2000 - or, to be more precise, Iran of 1997 (the year of Khatami's election as president) - is a country that has expressed its disgust with its leaders, not with its regime. Iranians have not rejected Islam as the country's constitution, nor have they done away with the vilayat al-faqih - the system of absolute obedience to the country's spiritual leader.

It is quite possible that the next struggle in Iran will focus on the nature of the regime and will express a demand for a new constitution and for a separation of the various branches of government. In the meantime, however, Khatami's Iran is moving forward with slow, careful steps. Thus the outcome of the general elections expresses one phase in an evolutionary process, but it cannot be seen as a counterrevolution.

Now that he has greatly increased his political power, President Khatami can, in the initial stage, only implement policies; he cannot, at this point in time, lay the foundations of a new ideology.

Even in the area of policy implementation, he will have to tread very warily. The wholesale privatization of government corporations could, for example, weaken his position if the process adds millions more to the ranks of the nation's jobless. Excessively liberal legislation could lead to parliament's dissolution, while an extremely open-minded attitude toward the United States still runs counter to Khomeini's principles. Khatami has never declared that these principles have ceased to be valid. Furthermore, there is no way of knowing - and, of course, absolutely no way of proving - that America's sanctions against Iran have played any role whatsoever in the pattern of voting.

The United States wants to return to Iran just as much as Iran wants to return to America's banks. Iran's new parliament, if the election results so far indicate what it will look like, has admittedly removed several major obstacles on the road to a conciliation between the two countries; the pace of progress along that road, however, will be determined by Khatami, in accordance with the latitude that he and the nation's supreme religious leader will agree upon.

===================================================================== The young seek a freer, less clerical Iran

The Christian Science Monitor Scott Peterson

February 22, 2000

DIZIN, IRAN - When young Alireza Mahfouzian stops mid-schuss and bends his head to steal a kiss from his girlfriend, he quickly looks up - like a child caught stealing sweets - to see if anyone is watching.

Holding hands in public is rare enough, because it risks rebuke from watchful morality police. But open flirting in the Islamic Republic? Well, that's nearly revolutionary.

"There is more freedom here than anywhere else," says Mr. Mahfouzian, a teenager with gelled hair and dark sunglasses who looks as at home here on the pristine slopes north of Tehran as he would on any in Colorado.

"Don't worry, this is my wife," he jokes, introducing his Western-looking girlfriend, Golnar Akasheh.

The pair and their circle of young friends are apt symbols of the powerful social forces that are transforming Iran - the ones that delivered a crushing blow to hard-line conservatives in elections on Friday, and handed control of parliament to reformists for the first time.

The United States - estranged from Iran for two decades - declared the election result "historic." But the growing demands for freedom and tolerance - manifest in the unexpected victory of President Mohamad Khatami in 1997 - first germinated in places like Dizin, in the Alborz mountains north of Tehran.

>From the summit, Mahfouzian slices down the mountain, the sun and bright blue sky glinting off the spray of snow crystals as he slaloms back and forth. Miss Akasheh follows, her long, light brown hair - completely covered by a headscarf anywhere but here - flowing with little restraint out from under her dark beret. Her dark blue spandex leggings and matching fleece jacket appear to redefine Iran's social code for acceptable length.

Mahfouzian stops on a hillside knoll. Akasheh bumps into him playfully, and then swings an arm around his neck. With other skiers whooshing past, they steal a kiss. As time goes by here, inhibitions seem to disappear as quickly as snowflakes on a warm spring day.

Like most of Iran's youths - 60 percent of the population is below the age of 25 - they didn't live through the 1979 Islamic Revolution. And well aware of the outside world by watching satellite TV, bootleg Western films, and being Internet savvy, the children of Iran's revolution don't feel especially bound by its most stringent social restrictions.

On Friday, dissatisfaction with the slow pace of reforms - Mr. Khatami's efforts at change until now have been blocked often by conservatives in parliament - was translated into a transfer of power in Iran.

The gap that caused this seismic change is evident at Dizin. "Tehran is really controlled, and you can't wear these clothes there," says Shadi Peyda, a student wearing a loose, white scarf. "Here it is different - everyone is happy, everything is good, the colors are so bright."

Skiing was once the province of the rich and powerful during the era of the pro-West Shah Reza Pahlavi, whose personal resort complex is nestled on a mountainside facing the Dizin ski area. But today anyone can buy a pass and rent skis for the equivalent of $6.

And skiing has powerful sanction. A billboard near the parking lot shows a picture of Iran's spiritual "supreme leader," Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, smiling, next to these words: "I consider sport as a necessity for the health of everyone's mind and body, and I agree with it."

In keeping with rules elsewhere, Dizin was divided until a few years ago into men's and women's ski runs. But even as free-wheeling teenagers and amorous couples take advantage of the lure of fun on the slopes these days, risks still exist.

Just 1-1/2 weeks ago, 30 to 40 uniformed Basijis - security forces - took to the slopes in a major crackdown. They ensured compliance with Islamic rules and harassed unmarried couples.

"If they catch you, they take you away and say your coat is too short, your hair is out, and you wear too much make-up," recalls Mehnaz, a teenage student.

On most days, though, the Basijis keep a low profile, and Iran's youths are left to themselves in the high mountain air.

"Look: girls, girls, girls!" shouts Milad, a baby-faced friend of Mahfouzian, while banging his ski pole on the inside of the plastic gondola, pointing toward a pair of lady skiers going up on another lift.

He says he has been "very successful" meeting girl skiers, and exchanges phone numbers with them. One in five, he says, see him again in Tehran. He thanks President Khatami for hearing the message of the youths and women, and for making such openness possible.

And so does the lift operator, who volunteers: "He's made this country blossom."

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U.S. discusses way to reward Iran

USA Today By Barbara Slavin

February 22, 2000 Page 16A

WASHINGTON -- The Clinton administration is weighing how to show its pleasure at the resounding defeat in Iran's parliamentary elections of candidates who demonized the United States.

State Department spokesman James Rubin called the preliminary results, which gave reformers more than 70% of decided seats, ''historic'' and a triumph for those advocating ''openness and engagement with the rest of the world.''

Other U.S. officials said Monday that the administration, no longer concerned about harming Iranian reformers by embracing them, was considering several gestures:

* A new conciliatory message by President Clinton on the occasion of the Persian New Year in March.

* Granting media requests for a high-level U.S. interview -- akin to Iranian President Mohammad Khatami's CNN interview in 1997.

* Further easing a 1995 trade embargo. Though Iran's oil industry remains off-limits because of U.S. concern about Tehran's support for Lebanese guerrillas and efforts to develop nuclear weapons, Iran might be permitted to resume exports of traditional products, such as carpets and pistachio nuts.

''People here are aware that the Iranian moderates need something to work with'' to make it easier for them to begin official talks with the United States, said a U.S. official speaking on background.

Analysts say a restoration of ties, broken after Iran seized U.S. hostages in 1979, is a relatively low priority for the new parliament. Lawmakers will focus on domestic political and economic reform. But as ''part of a grand strategy for getting the economy going,'' Iran would like to improve the climate for foreign investment, says Bernard Lynch, a former Australian diplomat in Iran.

Accepting U.S. overtures is on ''nobody's priority list unless the United States does something that catches our attention,'' says Hedi Semati, a political scientist at Tehran University. Iran would most like to see the United States stop blocking the movement of Caspian Sea oil through Iran. U.S. analysts believe that is unlikely. The Clinton administration has pushed hard to exclude Iran from an expected Caspian bonanza and to build a new oil pipeline to the West through a U.S. NATO ally: Turkey.

Still, some U.S. officials concede they underestimated the potential for change in a country that, despite the primacy of a ''supreme religious leader,'' now ranks as the most democratic in the region next to Israel.

''This election is not only an endorsement of reformers, but a wholesale rejection of the ruling establishment,'' says Shaul Bakhash, a history professor at Virginia's George Mason University.

Among those repudiated by the voters were the former head of Iran's feared intelligence ministry, the former head of its Revolutionary Guards, the spokesman for conservatives in the last parliament and the daughter of former president Hashemi Rafsanjani. The former president, until recently considered the second or third most powerful man in Iran, did so poorly he may have to face a runoff election this spring.

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Rooz Khosh..! Good Day..!

Don't forget that any protest against the Death sentences might save the Students...

They need your help.......

The SMCCDI News Service has been created in order to inform the World about the Student Movement and the struggle of the Iranian People to establish a Secular and Democratic Regime in Iran based on the choice of the Iranians in a Free Election under International Observation.

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