AIJ demands release of jailed journalists

Tehran, Sept 3, IRNA -- The Association of Iranian Journalists (AIJ) called on Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi to give imprisoned journalists the right to a "due process of law" and to see to their release.
In a letter, a copy of which reached IRNA, the association reiterated the loss of the journalists' job security, a severe blow to this segment of society in recent months.

"In recent months, Tehran's judicial courts have issued summons to columnists while the provisions of the press law which was approved 15 years ago do not empower them to do so," the letter read in part.

The law further stipulates that articles for which the defendants have been charged were published before the amendments to the press law were approved in April and which should have no retroactive effect on those articles.

Among journalists who have been indicted and jailed under the new press law are Akbar Ganji, Mohammad Qouchani and Ahmad Zeidabadi.

The fifth conservative-dominated Majlis (parliament), in its waning days, passed amendments to the then press law which expanded grounds on which journalists could be held accountable.

Moves by the new reformist-dominated Majlis to roll back those restrictions were halted by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who said such amendments to the current press law are not in the interest of the nation.

Iran Daneshjoo International Committee (SMCCDI) Public letter to Mr. Kofi Annan


Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran

His Excellency Kofi Annan Secretary General- Your Excellency: We wrote to you on the occasion of the 54th session of the UN General Assembly to let you know of our profound regret that the people of Iran have been illegitimately represented by the government of the Islamic Republic during the UN session and to bring your attention to the repression the Iranian people have been and continue to be subjected.

The honorable institution placed under your responsibility is going to host Mr.

Mohammad Khatami, the President of such regime, while as of today, the situation has not changed. In fact, conditions in Iran have worsened.

Mr. Khatami is calling for a dialogue among civilizations while he has surely forgotten his promises to establish a dialogue with his own people.

Only occasionally do we hear from him--usually following bloody riots--and then only through the "official" government media.

Surely you are aware that the rapidly unfolding sequence of events in Iran substantiates the fact that the Islamic Republic--while trying to put on its best face, merely a facade, by talking up "Reforms" for the world leaders--is facing a general wave of protests spreading to the four corners of Iran.

Riots in Eslamshahr, Abadan and Khorram-Abad are the latest of these.

The numerous reports produced by the UN Commission for Human Rights and other international organizations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, demonstrate beyond a shadow of doubt, the disregard of human dignity and international law by the Islamic Republic.

Mr. Khatami represents a brutal regime that over the past two decades has executed 120,000 persons on political charges; and imprisoned and severely tortured hundreds of thousands more.

During Mr. Khatami's tenure alone, 670 public executions have taken place,and 13 persons have been stoned to death. Inhuman medieval punishments, such as gouging out eyes and amputation, are routine.

He publicly endorsed the crackdown on a Student movement which ironically had been comprised of some of his most ardent supporters. His pre-election promises of "Establishing dialogue with his people" was nothing more than empty rhetoric.

As of today, hundreds of prisoners of conscience including University students Ahmad Batebi (pictured on the cover of the London Economist), Hamid Alizadeh, Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, Manouchehr Mohammadi, Saeed Kashiloo, Behie Gilani, Hassan Zare-Zade, Akbar Mohammadi, Koorosh Sehati, Mohammad Yekta, Mehran Abdolbaghi, Ali Deldari, Yaghoob Salimi, Mohammad-Reza Kasrani and many others are still captive and have done nothing more than denounce the bloody crackdown on the Iranian Student Movement in July, 1999.

As you are aware, another peaceful gathering of the Iranian students in Khhorram-Abad was transformed into a bloodbath just this week.

The request by the people of Abadan for drinkable water was answered with bullets while the rest of the world was simultaneously learning of the Islamic Republic's plans to export good water to a neighboring country.

The persecution of religious and ethnic minorities has continued unabated.

On June 10, ten members of the Jewish community were sentenced to long prison terms on bogus charges of "spying." This regime has consistently refused to allow a visit by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to Iran.

A President who boasts, writes and speaks of "civil society" must be answerable to its citizenry who witness the persecution of its journalists and the shutting down of nearly two dozen newspapers and magazines.

Based on these facts, we can claim with absolute certainty that the Islamic Republic representative attending your session truly is not representative of the Iranian people who are bravely trying to do everything they can under their circumstances to expose the atrocities of this regime within the Iranian borders and in the international arena.

Under these conditions, Mr. Khatami's presence at a prestigious institution such as the United Nations created to promote democracy contradicts the very principles upon which both our nation and the United Nations were founded to protect human rights and democracy.

Pressure exerted by the UN Members on the present government in Iran would go a long way to uphold the true UN spirit and would be the most effective means of showing support for the Iranian people in their legitimate aspirations for human rights and democracy.

Such a regime, having a seat in the most respectable world institution, must be compelled to follow the entire UN charter and to fully comply with International rules and regulations or to vacate the seat that belongs to the people of Iran.

Welcoming the President of such a regime without condemning the situation in Iran, is tantamount to ignoring the UN values and sanctioning the atrocities committed by the theocracy ruling Iran.

Looking for your prompt action, Respectfully Yours, SMCCDI (International Committee) 4151 Beltline Rd. #124-157 Addison, TX-75001 (USA) Phone: (972) 504-6864; Fax: (877) 381-7504 Email: Iranstudents@hotmail.com www.daneshjoo.org; www.iran-daneshjoo.org; www.smccdi.org