Rejecting Amnesty, Iranian diaspora suggests Reconciliation

PARIS 5TH Sept. (IPS) Iranians opposed to the Islamic Republic one again rejected a bill aimed at granting amnesty to all Iranians outside except those who took arm against the regime.

According to the draft, all Iranians, including members of the outlawed political groups would be granted amnesty except for those who took up arms against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

"40 MPs proponents of the draft said they sponsored the amnesty to mark Imam Ali Year, designated by the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution in the advent of the current Iranian year, 1379 (started March 2000)", the official news agency IRNA reported Monday.

The advocates of the draft urged the parliament to enforce the law, if passed, not later than the end of the current Iranian year.

But leaders of the Iranian Diaspora, estimated at more than 3 millions, with most of them living in the United States rejected the proposal, as they had done before, repeating that "if, between those who have left the country and the clerical leaders of the present regime, one has to pardon the other, it is the expatriate community".

Almost a year ago, the government of President Mohammad Khatami had come out with a similar proposal that was immediately rejected on the same ground, with the expatriates objecting to the word "amnesty".

"The immense majority of those who have fled Iran, for one reason or another, have done absolutely nothing to be pardoned of. If the regime is serious in its intentions towards us, it must propose a national reconciliation instead of amnesty", said Mr. Dariush Homayun, a former Minister under the former Monarchy, summing up the feeling of the expatriate community.

Observers said though the bill has gone one step forward, stressing that the bill says clearly that the amnesty would include all Iranians except "those who took arms", which means members of the outlawed Baghdad-based, Iraqi supported, armed and financed Mojahedeen Khalq Organisation (MKO), yet it contains basic contradictions.

In fact, according to the proposal, the amnesty would be grand to all Iranians "including members of the outlawed political groups" and this while inside the country, even some "tolerated" political organisations like the Iran Freedom Movement (IFM) are banned from open political activities.

Asked to comment about the new bill, Mr. Bizhan Hekmat, a member of the Iranian Nationalist Republicans Central Committee said one has to define the very meaning of "crime", in other word, opposing peacefully the regime is a crime or not? If it is, then the great majority of Iranians outside are criminals and as such must be arrested on their return and if the answer is negative, then why amnesty? he pointed out.

Iranian commentators and journalists inside and outside said if approved by the reformist-dominated parliament, the bill would have to be also cleared by the conservatives-controlled Council of Guardians, a body that is basically opposed to the unconditional return of Iranians.

While Mr. Khatami has realised that the key to prosperity, to foreign investments, even to reforms he has promised is in hands of the Iranians outside, Mr. Khameneh'i considers the same expatriate community as "mentally corrupted by the West and basically un-Islamic folks" that if they return, the whole Islamic system would be corrupted and liable to perish.

Pressed by worsening economic situation and badly short of brains and investments, the regime is struggling hard to pleases the Iranian expatriate community that includes hundreds of wealthy investors, entrepreneurs, internationally acclaimed experts in banking and scientific institutions as well as renown doctors, researchers and scholars, journalists working advanced nations such as the US, UK, Germany, France, Canada, Japan, Italy etc.

Considering the present chaotic situation prevailing in Iran, the presence of exceptional tribunals such as Islamic revolutionís courts, uncontrollable pressure groups such as the Hezbollah and other Islamic vigilante, rules and laws based on rigid, undemocratic Islamic principles dating from 1400 years ago, humiliating discrimination against women and minorities, concentration of all powers in the hands of one single, ultra orthodox, unpredictable leader etc, none of these people would dare to go back.

Most of the elderly who have difficulty adapting with Western culture have already managed to get a foot inside Iran, but keep another foot outside and as for the young ones, they have no reason to go and live in a country where not only they have no future, but prohibits all form of social, cultural and, political freedoms they are used to.

More over, many young Iranian entrepreneurs who had returned in the hope to serve their "beloved mother country" had faced so many difficulties on all kinds, from bureaucratic practices to humiliating harassments by Islamic vigilante.

However, the new bill has the advantage of narrowing the gap between the Iranian expatriates with their brethren inside. More bricks have been taken from the wall of mistrust between the two sides. Remains one stumbling block: That of making the difference between offering an unconditional national reconciliation with amnesty.

Source: Iran Press Service

BERLIN, Sept 4 - At least 100 Iranians demonstrated before the Iranian embassy here Sunday for the release of over 1,500 protesters reportedly arrested in the western Iranian city of Khoramabad this past week.

Iran's outlawed armed opposition, the Iraq-based People's Mujahedeen, said Friday that at least 1,500 protesters had been arrested over seven days of unrest in Khoramabad.

"We angrily denounce the scandalous repression of the demonstrators by (Iranian President) Mohammad Khatami's regime," said Massumeh Bolurchi, a People's Mujahedeen spokeswoman in Berlin.

"Over 1,500 people have been arrested and 700 have disappeared. Among protesters here are family members of the arrested, and many sympathise with the People's Mujahedeen," she said.

The Iranian authorities said Thursday they had brought the situation in Khoramabad under control after several days of violent confrontations between Islamic militia and student reformists, which led to the death of one policeman and left dozens of people injured.

The violence was sparked on August 23, when conservatives physically prevented two well-known liberals from attending a student meeting in the town.

Berlin police estimate that about 100 people appeared before the embassy, while those who organised the demonstration said that there were over 200.

The Khorram-Abad uprising was a Popular movement without any link to MKO other than MKO trying to take credit for this action of part of the Iranian people exasperated by 21 years of Theocracy.

The Uprising started as the Local residents protested against the repression of part of the Iranian Student Movement.