Khamenei: “Don’t masturbate during Ramadan” (& Iran’s persecution of Arabs)

October 11, 2006

* BBC announces new Iranian TV channel, to add to Arabic one
* In the last year, Iran has arrested 25,000 Ahwazis, executed 131 and 150 have disappeared

 

CONTENTS

1. “Khamenei: Don’t masturbate during Ramadan” (Yediot Ahronot, Oct. 4, 2006)
2. “Iran ‘using British banks to channel money to terrorists’” (Observer, Oct. 8, 2006)
3. “Fury as St Andrews honours Hizbullah backer” (Sunday Times, Oct. 8, 2006)
4. “Iran seeks to fingerprint all U.S. visitors” (Agence France Presse, Oct. 3, 2006)
5. “An old letter casts doubts on Iran’s goal for uranium” (NY Times, Oct. 5, 2006)
6. “Lavrov says Russia still against Iran sanctions” (Reuters, Oct. 5, 2006)
7. “The six-million person question” (Wall Street Journal, Oct. 4, 2006)
8. “Tehran’s secret war against its own people” (Times of London, Oct. 10, 2006)



[Note by Tom Gross]

“TOM & JERRY”

Attached below are eight articles on Iran. There are summaries first for those who don’t have time to read the articles in full. It should also be noted that Iran was the only country in the world that welcomed North Korea’s claim yesterday to have exploded a nuclear device. Two million people have starved to death in North Korea as the Communist government diverted resources into the development of nuclear weapons. This has barely been reported in the mainstream liberal-left western media, which instead scoffs at President Bush’s description of Kim Jong-il’s regime as “evil”.

Meanwhile, while many in the world may be worried about Iran’s nuclear program, Iran is worried about “the Jewish Walt Disney company.” In an Iranian TV broadcast (translated by Memri), the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” was attacked as “ammunition” in Disney’s “Zionist” conspiracy to exert cultural influence. Iran said Walt Disney himself was a “Jewish Zionist,” ignoring the fact that Disney, who was not Jewish, was often condemned for his mild anti-Semitism. Iranian viewers were also told that Disney created “Tom & Jerry” to make “dirty” mice seem clean after Nazis compared Jews to rodents. In fact, Hanna-Barbera, not Walt Disney, created “Tom & Jerry”. But then the truth is not of much concern to the Iranian regime, nor to those who apologize for it in the West, most prominently the BBC, as witnessed by the BBC’s most recent series on Iran.

BBC TV GOES IRANIAN

British Jews last week officially complained to the BBC about “blood libels” about Jews contained in the BBC Radio 4 “Uncovering Iran” series. Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer is Jewish. But then several extreme left-wing Jews in media and universities have helped stir up anti-Semitism recently, though I am not suggesting Damazer is one of them.

A few minutes ago, the BBC world service announced it will set up a new Farsi language TV station, to be funded by the British Foreign office. Plans for a 24-hour BBC Arabic TV station are already well under way. This list/website will monitor the content of the BBC Arab language channel. The BBC already broadcasts extensively on radio and online in Arabic and Farsi; some have accused its broadcasts of inciting hatred of Israel and America while soft peddling the excesses of dictatorships in the Middle East.

Here is the notice posted in Farsi: www.bbc.co.uk/persian/iran/story/2006/10/061010_mf_tv.shtml

It says that the channel will initially broadcast for eight hours each day – from 1700 to 0100 Iranian time. The BBC claims about 2 million Iranians already listen daily to its existing Farsi radio service, and that its Persian website attracts 19 million page impressions per month.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

KHAMENEI: NO MASTURBATION DURING RAMADAN

“Khamenei: Don’t masturbate during Ramadan” (By Yaakov Lappin, Yediot Ahronot, October 4, 2006)

Responding to a question he was asked on his website, Iranian Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Khamenei has ruled that “masturbation during the month of Ramadan renders a fast invalid.” “It is a ḥaram (forbidden) act,” the Iranian leader said, posting the reply on his website.

Another reader asked: “Once in the holy month of Ramadan, I forgot to brush my teeth, and some tiny bits of food remained in my mouth. I swallowed the bits unintentionally. Do I have to perform the qaḍa (repent) for that day’s fast?”

Khamenei, who is Iran’s most powerful political and religious figure, also tells Iranians on the website that only jockeys are permitted to gamble on horse races.

He is asked too whether it is permissible for a man to marry a woman only in order to be able to live in his wife’s country. “There is no problem in that if they are serious in contracting marriage and it is done with her father’s permission if she is virgin,” Khamenei ruled.

The Iranian leader also told readers they were allowed to “to drink water while standing” at nights. It was “not permissible” to take part in meetings attended by both men and women, he told another reader.

 

IRAN “USING BRITISH BANKS TO FUND TERRORISTS”

“Iran ‘using British banks to channel money to terrorists’” (By Conal Walsh, The Observer, October 8, 2006)

The Financial Services Authority is urgently scouring Britain’s banking system for evidence of Iranian funding of terrorism following an alert from the U.S. authorities.

The move comes after officials at the FSA were shown American intelligence indicating that suspicious Iranian funds were being funnelled through the City of London and other financial centers. Hank Paulson, the US Treasury Secretary, claimed last month that Iran was using the western banking system to sponsor international terrorism and nuclear procurement. Paulson warned that “blue chip banks” were being unwittingly used by a network of “more than 30 front companies” controlled by Tehran…

America also recently accused the Iranian bank Saderat of channelling hundreds of millions of dollars to Hizbullah and Palestinian groups…

NATWEST, CREDIT LYONNAIS, ALSO SUED

Tom Gross adds: relatives and survivors of Palestinian suicide bombs have been granted permission by U.S. District Court Judge Charles Sifton to sue the British bank, NatWest, for enabling UK-based charity Interpal to raise funds for Hamas. The plaintiffs, representing families of 15 Americans killed or injured in Hamas suicide attacks, including the August 2003 bombing of a bus in Jerusalem that killed 20 Jews, alleged that NatWest knew the money was going to Hamas.

Other banks already being sued in the U.S. include Jordanian-based Arab bank and Credit Lyonnais of France.

 

STUDENTS TO PROTEST ST ANDREWS HONOR FOR KHATAMI

“Fury as St Andrews honours Hizbullah backer” (The London Sunday Times of London, October 8, 2006)

Student leaders are organising a protest over [Scotish] St Andrews University’s decision to award an honorary degree to a former Iranian president who praised Hizbullah.

Muhammad Khatami is to be made an honorary doctor of laws by Sir Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat leader who is also the university’s chancellor. Khatami will open the university’s Institute for Iranian Studies…

The decision to confer the honour on Khatami has provoked criticism from human rights groups who claim thousands of Iranian citizens were jailed and tortured for their political beliefs during his eight-year term that ended last year with the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The National Union of Students wants his invitation withdrawn unless Ahmad Batebi, a student jailed in 1999 during a pro-democracy protest, is freed… The Board of Deputies of British Jews and Lord Janner, its past president, have criticised Campbell for agreeing to meet Khatami, who likened Hizbullah, the Lebanese terror group, to a “shining sun which warms up all oppressed Muslims”…

Iranian exiles are drawing up a petition demanding St Andrews withdraw the invitation. “Thousands of people are seething about this,” said Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi, a New York-based Iranian organising the petition. “How can a man who imprisoned and oppressed thousands of students in Iran be given a degree by an academic institution?”…

DEFENDING HIZBULLAH

* Tom Gross adds: Khatami is “widely admired” (according to The Guardian’s article, which doesn’t mention his human rights record) in the west for his attempts to liberalize Iran’s theocracy during his eight-year presidency. He will be the most senior Iranian political figure to visit Britain since the last shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, came 34 years ago. Khatami’s visit to Britain follows his trip last month to the U.S. where he met with former President Jimmy Carter. The trip was criticized both by opponents of the Iranian regime and by American Jewish groups. During his visit to the U.S., he gave a 30-minute speech at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, where he condemned Osama bin Laden and suicide bombings but defended Hizbullah.

Khatami, who spoke in Farsi and had his speech relayed through a translator, described Hizbullah as “a symbol of Lebanese resistance.”

 

IRAN SEEKS TO FINGERPRINT ALL U.S. VISITORS

“Iran seeks to fingerprint all U.S. visitors” (AFP, October 3, 2006)

Iran’s conservative-controlled parliament is to debate a bill that would make digital fingerprinting compulsory for all U.S. citizens seeking to enter the country, lawmakers said…

“This law comes in response to the American practice of taking digital fingerprints of sportsmen, political officials and other Iranians, sometimes with an insulting attitude,” he added. Until now, only U.S. journalists have been subjected to digital fingerprinting on arrival in Teheran…

 

LETTER WRITTEN BY KHOMEINI CITES DESIRE FOR NUCLEAR WEAPONS

“An old letter casts doubts on Iran’s goal for uranium” (By Nazila Fathi, The New York Times, October 5, 2006)

A forgotten letter in which the founder of the Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, cited a need for nuclear weapons has stoked a debate over whether to negotiate with the West and raised questions about Iran’s nuclear intentions today.

Within hours after the letter appeared Friday on the Web site of the news agency ILNA, the word “nuclear” was removed, apparently after a call from the Iranian National Security Council…

The letter, which had been previously published elsewhere, was written in 1988, near the end of Iran’s eight-year war with Iraq. It was brought to light again on Friday by the former Iranian president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, to defend himself against hard-line critics who accuse him of ending the war when Iran was on the brink of victory…

 

RUSSIA: “IRAN SANCTIONS WOULD BE TOO RADICAL”

“Lavrov says Russia still against Iran sanctions” (Reuters, October 5, 2006)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated that his country opposed sanctions against Iran… “I believe that until diplomatic means are exhausted, sanctions would be too radical… The issue needs to be resolved diplomatically”… Iran insists it only wants to master nuclear technology to make electricity.

 

THE PERSECUTION OF AHWAZI ARABS

“Tehran’s secret war against its own people” (By Peter Tatchell, The Times of London, October 10, 2006)

“Never again” is, I fear, a phrase that we may hear again all too soon – but too late to warn people, let alone save lives. Under the cover of secrecy the fundamentalist regime in Tehran is waging a sustained, bloody campaign of intimidation and persecution against its Arab minority. These Arabs believe that they are victims of “ethnic cleansing” by Iran’s Persian majority…

Securing information about the impending hangings has been difficult. The authorities are notoriously secretive, often withholding information about charges, evidence and sentences. Foreign journalists are severely restricted and local reporters are intimidated with threats of imprisonment. Despite this official obfuscation, human rights groups confirm a new wave of repression against Ahwazi Arabs who accuse Tehran of “ethnic cleansing” and racism…

Tehran’s latest tactic is to hold Ahwazi children as hostages. According to Amnesty International, children as young as 2 have been jailed with their mothers to force their fugitive, political-activist fathers to surrender to the police. Protests against these abuses are brutally suppressed. Ahwazi political parties, trade unions and student groups are illegal. In the past year, 25,000 Ahwazis have been arrested, 131 executed and 150 have disappeared, reports AHRO. The bodies of many of those executed have been dumped in a place that the Government calls lanat abad, the place of the damned. They are buried in shallow graves; dogs dig up and eat the bodies…

Ironically, the Hizbullah in Lebanon – the supposed embodiment of Arab resistance in the Middle East – is complicit in the displacement of Ahwazi Arabs. On confiscated Arab land Tehran has set up training camps for Hizbullah and for the Badr Brigades, the Iraqi fundamentalist militia. Badr death squads in Iraq are murdering Sunnis, unveiled women, gay people, men wearing shorts, barbers, sellers of alcohol and people listening to Western music.

Tehran has a grand plan to make the Ahwazi a minority in their own land through “ethnic restructuring”… Ahwaz produces 90 per cent of Iran’s oil and Tehran expropriates all the revenues…

Contrary to Tehran’s nationalist propaganda most Ahwazi Arabs just want a measure of self-government; they are not hellbent on independence or in league with the CIA or plotting for an American invasion. Quite the contrary, they fear that Western sabre-rattling will be used as a pretext by Tehran’s hardliners to crack down savagely on dissent. Which makes it all the more disturbing that one of the few bodies with diplomatic muscle – the Arab League, which professes pan-Arab solidarity – is so silent in the face of Iran’s persecution of Arabs.

 

THE SIX-MILLION PERSON QUESTION

“The six-million person question” (By Mark Bowden, The Wall Street Journal, October 4, 2006)

When Mr. Ahmadinejad visited the U.S. last month, he backed off slightly from his earlier position that the Holocaust was a myth… The president of Iran is a man for whom facts are mere fodder for political purposes, so he has now retreated to the last refuge of all intellectual scoundrels, calling for “more research.” In Time it went like this: “I said that during World War II, around 60 million were killed. All were human beings and had their own dignities. Why only six million?”

Here, if I understand it correctly, he is asking: Why, in a war where 60 million were killed, has the West made such a big deal out of the deaths of six million Jews? Were the other deaths not equally terrible? Was the world not equally impoverished by each of these losses? ...

The Holocaust haunts us more than these others for a good reason. The Final Solution was the deliberate act of a government to exterminate a portion of its own people. It employed the resources of the state – its policy makers, planners, intellectuals, legal system, police and military, industry, transportation system and to a large extent its people – to single out a particular group of citizens, systematically demonize and isolate them, and then count them, label them, strip them of everything, round them up, ship them to concentration camps, kill them and incinerate them. It attempted to squeeze some last value out of the most fit among those doomed, by employing them as slave labor or subjecting them to medical experimentation before killing them, and even then looked for ways to make saleable products out of their remains.

This horror began in peacetime, so the nation was not lashing out in self-defense, nor was it being threatened in any concrete way… The Holocaust disturbs us so deeply because it demonstrates that none of the things we associate with the advancement of civilization – peace, prosperity, industrialization, education, technological achievement – free us from the dark side of the human soul. Just as there is evil in the heart of every man, there is evil at the heart of even the most “civilized” human society…

The lives lost in the firebombing of Dresden or the nuclear flash over Hiroshima are no less significant, and the military choices that brought about those deaths remain profoundly disturbing, but they at least took place in the context of war. Whole societies were caught up in a life-or-death struggle. What the Holocaust demonstrates is the danger of a one-party state… Like, say, the mullahs in Iran.



FULL ARTICLES

“ONLY IF SHE IS VIRGIN”

Khameini: Don’t masturbate during Ramadan
Iran’s supreme leader answers questions on masturbation and other topics on his website
By Yaakov Lappin
Yediot Ahronot
October 4, 2006

www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3311189,00.html

Deliberate masturbation during the month of Ramadan renders a fast invalid, Iranian Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Khameini has ruled.

Khameini, who is Iran’s most powerful political and religious figure, was asked on his website: “If somebody masturbates during the month of Ramadan but without any discharge, is his fasting invalidated?”

“If he do not intend masturbation and discharging semen and nothing is discharged, his fasting is correct even though he has done a ḥaram (forbidden) act. But, if he intends masturbation or he knows that he usually discharges semen by this process and semen really comes out, it is a ḥaram intentional breaking fasting,” the Iranian leader said, posting the reply on his website.

Another reader asked: “Once in the holy month of Ramadan, I forgot to brush my teeth, and some tiny bits of food remained in my mouth. I swallowed the bits unintentionally. Do I have to perform the qaḍa (repent) for that day’s fast?”

“If you did not know that some bits of food remained between the teeth, or you did not know that they would reach the throat, and they were swallowed unknowingly and unintentionally, then you are not liable to make (repent) of the fast,” said Khameini.

‘Drink water while standing’

On the website, Khameini also tells Iranians that only jockeys are permitted to gamble on horse races.

He is also asked whether it is permissible for a man to marry a woman only in order to be able to live in his wife’s country. “Can a man conclude a marriage contract for a year with a European girl after getting her agreement with the purpose of going to her country?” A reader asked.

“There is no problem in that if they are serious in contracting marriage and it is done with her father’s permission if she is virgin,” Khameini ruled.

The Iranian leader also told readers they were allowed to “to drink water while standing” at nights. It was “not permissible” to take part in meetings attended by both men and women, he told another reader.

“In Islam’s view, rulers and governments exist just to serve people and carry out works in the interest of the public and this is what God demands us, as authorities, to fulfill,” Khamenei was quoted Tuesday telling Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

 

IRAN “USING BRITISH BANKS TO CHANNEL MONEY TO TERRORISTS”

Iran ‘using British banks to channel money to terrorists’
The Financial Services Authority is urgently scouring Britain’s banking system for evidence of Iranian terrorism funding
By Conal Walsh
The Observer (London)
October 8, 2006

observer.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,,1889972,00.html

The Financial Services Authority is urgently scouring Britain’s banking system for evidence of Iranian terrorism funding following an alert from the U.S. authorities.

The move comes after officials at the FSA were shown American intelligence indicating that suspicious Iranian funds were being funnelled through the City of London and other financial centres.

Hank Paulson, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, claimed last month that Iran was using the western banking system to sponsor international terrorism and nuclear procurement.

Paulson warned that ‘blue chip banks’ were being unwittingly used by a network of ‘more than 30 front companies’ controlled by Teheran. America also recently accused the Iranian bank Saderat of channelling hundreds of millions of dollars to Hizbullah and other violent Palestinian groups.

The FSA declined to comment on its communications with U.S. agencies this weekend, but expressed confidence that its normal regulations were effective in detecting money-laundering.

UBS and Credit Suisse are among the western banks reported to have faced U.S. government pressure to cut their links with Iran, although there is no suggestion that either has been used as a conduit for illegitimate funds. Other international banks and some EU countries are thought to consider Paulson’s warning alarmist.

 

FURY AS ST ANDREWS HONORS HIZBULLAH BACKER

Fury as St Andrews honours Hizbullah backer
The Sunday Times (of London)
October 8, 2006

www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2090-2394209.html

Student leaders are organising a mass protest over St Andrews University’s decision to award an honorary degree to a former Iranian president who praised Hizbullah.

Muhammad Khatami is to be made an honorary doctor of laws by Sir Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat leader who is also the university’s chancellor.

Khatami will open the university’s Institute for Iranian Studies, which will house 12,000 books donated by Sadegh Kharazi, Iran’s former ambassador to France. The collection of Iranian texts, the largest of its kind in Europe, is estimated to be worth more than £100,000.

The decision to confer the honour on Khatami has provoked criticism from human rights groups who claim thousands of Iranian citizens were jailed and tortured for their political beliefs during his eight-year term that ended last year with the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The National Union of Students wants his invitation withdrawn unless Ahmad Batebi, a student jailed in 1999 during a pro-democracy protest, is freed.

“There will definitely be a protest,” said Sofie Buckland of the students’ national executive. “We have a duty of solidarity with the democratic opposition in Iran.”

Stephen Brown, the union’s national secretary, said: “We are appalled that Batebi continues to suffer imprisonment for his role in the student movement. We hope that academics and students at that institution will urge Khatami to use his influence to have Batebi released.”

The Board of Deputies of British Jews and Lord Janner, its past president, have criticised Campbell for agreeing to meet Khatami, who likened Hizbullah, the Lebanese terror group, to a “shining sun which warms up all oppressed Muslims”.

Although Khatami has a reputation as a reformer, observers say he maintains close links with Ahmadinejad’s hardline regime. “It’s clear Khatami is being used as a tool of diplomacy which is designed to capitalise on his reputation as a reformist president,” said Mark Thomas of the Royal United Services Institute.

Iranian exiles are drawing up a petition demanding St Andrews withdraw the invitation. “Thousands of people are seething about this,” said Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi, a New York-based Iranian organising the petition. “How can a man who imprisoned and oppressed thousands of students in Iran be given a degree by an academic institution?” Ali Ansari, director of the Institute for Iranian Studies, insisted last week that the decision to honour Khatami was in recognition of his efforts to encourage closer relations between Christians, Jews and Muslims.

“I have no problem with him coming. He was toying with the idea of coming to the UK so we invited him because we wanted to tie his visit in with the opening of our institute,” he said.

St Andrews said: “The honour was conferred only after the widest consultation with experts in modern Iran, both in academia and beyond.” Campbell was unavailable to comment.

 

IRAN SEEKS TO FINGERPRINT ALL U.S. VISITORS

Iran seeks to fingerprint all U.S. visitors
Agence France Presse (AFP)
October 3, 2006

Iran’s conservative-controlled parliament is to debate a bill that would make digital fingerprinting compulsory for all U.S. citizens seeking to enter the country, lawmakers said.

According to the bill, which is expected to be voted on in the next days, “all U.S. citizens should be controlled and subjected to digital fingerprinting when they enter Iran,” said lawmaker Kazem Jalali in a debate broadcast on state radio Tuesday.

“This law comes in response to the American practice of taking digital fingerprints of sportsmen, political officials and other Iranians, sometimes with an insulting attitude,” he added.

Until now, only U.S. journalists have been subjected to digital fingerprinting on arrival in Teheran.

Diplomatic relations between the United States and Iran have been frozen since Washington broke off ties in 1980 in the wake of the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Teheran in 1979.

According to Jalali, the bill is also a reaction to the law voted on Saturday by the U.S. Congress for sanctions against foreign countries which assist in Iran’s nuclear programme and supply sophisticated missile technology.

 

OLD LETTER CASTS DOUBT ON IRANIAN GOAL FOR URANIUM

An old letter casts doubts on Iran’s goal for uranium
By Nazila Fathi
The New York Times
October 5, 2006

A forgotten letter in which the founder of the Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, cited a need for nuclear weapons has stoked a debate over whether to negotiate with the West and raised questions about Iran’s nuclear intentions today.

Within hours after the letter appeared Friday on the Web site of the news agency ILNA, the word “nuclear” was removed, apparently after a call from the Iranian National Security Council.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly insisted that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful, sharply criticized the release of the letter. “Those who think they can weaken the will of the people for construction and development by questioning their values will fail,” he said Sunday, “and they only show their lack of wisdom and commitment.”

The letter, which had been previously published elsewhere, was written in 1988, near the end of Iran’s eight-year war with Iraq. It was brought to light again on Friday by the former Iranian president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, to defend himself against hard-line critics who accuse him of ending the war when Iran was on the brink of victory.

But the letter has also been used by moderates to bolster the case for nuclear talks with the West. Iran faces sanctions for defying the United Nations Security Council’s demand that it halt its uranium enrichment, which the United States says is part of a weapons program.

In the letter, Ayatollah Khomeini outlined the reasons Iran had to accept the bitter prospect of a cease-fire in the war, which had ground down to a stalemate, with about 250,000 Iranians dead and 200,000 disabled. It did not specifically call for Iran to develop nuclear weapons, but referred indirectly to the matter by citing a letter written by the officer leading the war effort, Mohsen Rezai.

“The commander has said we can have no victory for another five years, and even by then we need to have 350 infantry bridges, 2,500 tanks, 300 fighter planes,” the ayatollah wrote, adding that the officer also said he would need “a considerable number of laser and nuclear weapons to confront the attacks.”

Ayatollah Khomeini determined that the nation could not afford, politically or economically, to continue the war, and in a famous public statement compared the decision to “drinking a chalice of poison.”

ILNA, the Iranian Labor News Agency, removed the word “nuclear” within a few hours of putting the letter on the Web, after receiving a call from the Iranian National Security Council, according to a reporter with the agency. The reporter insisted on anonymity for fear of retribution.

The letter was released as part of a debate about who was most instrumental in persuading Ayatollah Khomeini to end the war. That argument, in turn, reflects growing tensions between moderates, led by Mr. Rafsanjani, and military figures, who are expanding their power in the government of President Ahmadinejad.

“The letter is purely part of a domestic argument,” said Mohammad Atrianfar, the director of the daily Shargh, an opposition paper that was shut down last month, and a close aide to Mr. Rafsanjani. “Mr. Rafsanjani is very worried because he feels that military and intelligence figures are coming to power and want to alienate the clergy by blaming them for the damages caused during the war.”

Hard-liners have criticized Mr. Rafsanjani for disclosing what they said was a classified document and casting doubt over what was termed by many a holy war. He has denied the accusations, saying the letter was made public in 1988 and later published in a book.

But the letter has provided an opportunity for moderate voices to warn about the risks Iran takes in defying the United Nations, comparing the consequences to what happened during the war with Iraq. They argue that, when confronted with the realities of the war, Ayatollah Khomeini decided that the confrontation was not sustainable.

On Saturday the daily Kargozaran, a paper aligned with Mr. Rafsanjani, called the letter evidence of “Iran’s realistic understanding of the international situation,” and concluded that the “experience should become a basis in the decision makings, including Iran’s nuclear plans.”

Mohsen Armin, a reformist politician, said hard-line politicians who welcomed confrontation with the West should learn a lesson from the letter so they would not have to “drink a chalice of poison” themselves, ILNA reported.

 

LAVROV: RUSSIA STILL AGAINST IRAN SANCTIONS

Lavrov says Russia still against Iran sanctions
Reuters
October 5, 2006

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated on Thursday that his country opposed sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program ahead of a meeting of major powers in London this week.

“I believe that until diplomatic means are exhausted, sanctions would be too radical,” Lavrov told a news conference in Warsaw. “We have to do everything to persuade Iran to begin negotiations... The issue needs to be resolved diplomatically.”

Leaders from the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany are planning to meet on Friday or Saturday to discuss Iran.

The European Union said on Thursday Iran was close to triggering sanctions by refusing to halt uranium enrichment, a process that can make fuel for nuclear power plants or material for atomic bombs.

Iran insists it only wants to master nuclear technology to make electricity.

 

“WHAT THE HOLOCAUST DEMONSTRATES”

The six-million person question
Ahmadinejad and the Holocaust
By Mark Bowden
The Wall Street Journal
October 4, 2006

www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110009037

“As to the Holocaust, I just raised a few questions. And I didn’t receive any answers to my questions.” – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, interviewed in Time magazine in September 2006.

When Mr. Ahmadinejad visited the U.S. last month, he backed off slightly from his earlier position that the Holocaust was a myth. The systematic extermination of six million Jews by Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, an atrocious historical fact that is as thoroughly documented as a fact can be, remains a living memory for thousands of survivors. My guess is that someone in Mr. Ahmadinejad’s circle has pointed this out to him since he publicly doubted it last December.

The president of Iran is a man for whom facts are mere fodder for political purposes, but there is little political advantage in making a fool of yourself on a world stage. So he has now retreated to the last refuge of all intellectual scoundrels, calling for “more research.” And he has adopted a slightly different critical tack, which he repeated in numerous forums during his recent trip to New York. In Time it went like this: “I said that during World War II, around 60 million were killed. All were human beings and had their own dignities. Why only six million?”

Here, if I understand it correctly, he is asking: Why, in a war where 60 million were killed, has the West made such a big deal out of the deaths of six million Jews? Were the other deaths not equally terrible? Was the world not equally impoverished by each of these losses?

This seems a fair question, and I can think of a good answer. I’m sure others can think of even better ones than mine. But since Mr. Ahmadinejad has complained about not receiving any, for what it’s worth, I’m happy to offer this one:

It is a tricky business, rating the moral depredations of the human species, because just when you have settled on the worst, somebody somewhere achieves a new low. In the 20th century alone, communism and its variants in the Soviet Union, China and Cambodia have been responsible for the slow and rapid execution of millions. Millions more perished in the saturation bombing campaigns and the atom bomb blasts of World War II. Conflict and murderously misguided idealism were big players in the atrocity game, and accounted for the deaths of many times more innocents than Adolf Hitler and his Final Solution.

The Holocaust haunts us more than these others for a good reason. The Final Solution was the deliberate act of a government to exterminate a portion of its own people. It employed the resources of the state – its policy makers, planners, intellectuals, legal system, police and military, industry, transportation system and to a large extent its people – to single out a particular group of citizens, systematically demonize and isolate them, and then count them, label them, strip them of everything, round them up, ship them to concentration camps, kill them and incinerate them. It attempted to squeeze some last value out of the most fit among those doomed, by employing them as slave labor or subjecting them to medical experimentation before killing them, and even then looked for ways to make saleable products out of their remains.

This horror began in peacetime, so the nation was not lashing out in self-defense, nor was it being threatened in any concrete way. In the early 1930s, when the state-driven process of isolating and demonizing Jews began, Germany had rebuilt itself after its defeat in World War I, and was the most powerful nation on the European continent. Indeed, it would soon sweep across its borders and conquer every country within its reach. Its science, medical and technological prowess were the envy of the world.

The Holocaust disturbs us so deeply because it demonstrates that none of the things we associate with the advancement of civilization – peace, prosperity, industrialization, education, technological achievement – free us from the dark side of the human soul. Just as there is evil in the heart of every man, there is evil at the heart of even the most “civilized” human society. It is a humbling recognition. Man and society are both capable of the most appallingly depraved behavior. Only in the case of society, it occurs on an industrial scale.

The lives lost in the firebombing of Dresden or the nuclear flash over Hiroshima are no less significant, and the military choices that brought about those deaths remain profoundly disturbing, but they at least took place in the context of war. Whole societies were caught up in a life-or-death struggle.

What the Holocaust demonstrates is the danger of a one-party state. It shows what can happen when a group of true believers, convinced of the superiority of their own ideas, have unchecked power. They are then free to rewrite history to suit their political ends, and crush those who disagree or protest... or who worship God in a different way.

Like, say, the mullahs in Iran.

 

TEHRAN’S SECRET WAR AGAINST ITS OWN PEOPLE

Tehran’s secret war against its own people
By Peter Tatchell
The persecution of Ahwazi Arabs and the takeover of their land has led to accusations of “ethnic cleansing”
The Times of London
October 10, 2006

www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,6-2395978,00.html

“Never again” is, I fear, a phrase that we may hear again all too soon – but too late to warn people, let alone save lives. Under the cover of secrecy the fundamentalist regime in Tehran is waging a sustained, bloody campaign of intimidation and persecution against its Arab minority. These Arabs believe that they are victims of “ethnic cleansing” by Iran’s Persian majority.

Sixteen Arab rights activists have been sentenced to death, according to reports in the Iranian media. They were found guilty of insurgency in secret trials before revolutionary courts. But most of the defendants were convicted solely on the basis of confessions extracted under torture. Ten are expected to be hanged in a couple of weeks, after the end of Ramadan. Amnesty International says that two of those sentenced to die, Abdolreza Nawaseri and Nazem Bureihi, were in prison when they were alleged to have been involved in bomb attacks. Three others – Hamza Sawa- eri, Jafar Sawari and Reisan Sawari – say that they were nowhere near the Zergan oilfield the day it was bombed.

The death sentences seem designed to silence protests by Iran’s persecuted ethnic Arabs. They comprise 70 per cent of the population of the south-west province of Khuzestan, known locally as Ahwaz. Many Ahwazis believe that the 16 were framed and that their real “crime” was campaigning against Tehran’s repression and exploitation of their oil-rich homeland.

Further show trials are planned – 50 Ahwazi Arab activists have been charged with insurgency since last year. They are accused of being mohareb or enemies of God, which is a capital crime. Other allegations include sabotage and possession of home-made bombs. No material evidence has been offered to support the charges. All face possible execution.

Securing information about the impending hangings has been difficult. The authorities are notoriously secretive, often withholding information about charges, evidence and sentences. Foreign journalists are severely restricted and local reporters are intimidated with threats of imprisonment. Despite this official obfuscation, human rights groups confirm a new wave of repression against Ahwazi Arabs who accuse Tehran of “ethnic cleansing” and racism. Ali Afrawi, 17, and Mehdi Nawaseri, 20, were publicly hanged in March for allegedly participating in insurgency. Amnesty International condemned their trial as “unfair”. They were denied access to lawyers. The Ahwazi Human Rights Organisation (AHRO) says that seven other Arab political prisoners were secretly executed at around the same time.

Tehran’s latest tactic is to hold Ahwazi children as hostages. According to Amnesty International, children as young as 2 have been jailed with their mothers to force their fugitive, political-activist fathers to surrender to the police. Protests against these abuses are brutally suppressed. Ahwazi political parties, trade unions and student groups are illegal. In the past year, 25,000 Ahwazis have been arrested, 131 executed and 150 have disappeared, reports AHRO. The bodies of many of those executed have been dumped in a place that the Government calls lanat abad, the place of the damned. They are buried in shallow graves; dogs dig up and eat the bodies.

Nearly 250,000 Arabs have been displaced from their villages after the Iranian Government’s confiscation of more than 200,000 hectares of farmland for a huge sugar-cane project. Dozens more towns and villages will be erased, making a possible further 400,000 Ahwazis homeless, by the creation of a military-industrial security zone, covering more than 3,000 sq km, along the Shatt al-Arab waterway, which borders Iraq.

Ironically, the Hezbollah in Lebanon – the supposed embodiment of Arab resistance in the Middle East – is complicit in the displacement of Ahwazi Arabs. On confiscated Arab land Tehran has set up training camps for Hezbollah and for the Badr Brigades, the Iraqi fundamentalist militia. Badr death squads in Iraq are murdering Sunnis, unveiled women, gay people, men wearing shorts, barbers, sellers of alcohol and people listening to Western music.

Tehran has a grand plan to make the Ahwazi a minority in their own land through “ethnic restructuring”. Financial incentives, such as zero- interest loans, are given to ethnic Persians to settle in Ahwaz. New townships are planned, which will house 500,000 non-Arabs. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of displaced Ahwazis eke out a subsistence existence in shanty towns on the outskirts of Ahwaz city. Others have been forcibly relocated to poverty-stricken, far-flung northern regions of Iran.

Ahwaz produces 90 per cent of Iran’s oil and Tehran expropriates all the revenues. An attempt by Ahwaz MPs to secure the repatriation of 1.5 per cent of these earnings back to the region for welfare projects was rejected this year. Yet it is the third poorest region of Iran: 80 per cent of the children suffer from malnutrition, and the unemployment rate of Arabs is more than five times that of Persians.

Arab language newspapers and textbooks have been banned to crush Arab identity further. In Ahwaz schools, all instruction is in Farsi (Persian), resulting in a 30 per cent drop-out rate at primary level and 50 per cent at secondary level. Illiteracy rates among Arabs are at least four times those of non-Arabs.

Contrary to Tehran’s nationalist propaganda most Ahwazi Arabs just want a measure of self-government; they are not hellbent on independence or in league with the CIA or plotting for an American invasion. Quite the contrary, they fear that Western sabre-rattling will be used as a pretext by Tehran’s hardliners to crack down savagely on dissent. Which makes it all the more disturbing that one of the few bodies with diplomatic muscle – the Arab League, which professes pan-Arab solidarity – is so silent in the face of Iran’s persecution of Arabs.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.