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Author Topic:   Ali Afshari,Jailed student activist "confesses" to plot against ruling system
Vatandoost
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posted May 21, 2001 11:00     Click Here to See the Profile for Vatandoost   Click Here to Email Vatandoost     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
BBC Monitoring Service
May 18, 2001

Source: Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network 1, Tehran, in Persian 1630 gmt 16 May 01

[Unidentified presenter] In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate. Dear viewers, as you have been informed in news bulletins Mr Ali Afshari, the head of the Political Committee of the Office for Fostering Unity, was arrested on the orders of the Islamic Revolution Court. During his detention Mr Afshari asked to be interviewed in order to express his views on radio and television.

Mr Afshari! This interview is an opportunity for you to express your views. Could you please tell us when and where you began your political activities?

[Afshari] In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate. I would like to thank you for having given me this opportunity. I began my political activities in 1374 [1995] at Amir Kabir University. I was a member of the central council of the Islamic Association of Amir Kabir University for three terms. I was a member of the central council of the
Office for Fostering Unity for three terms. For two terms and until my arrest I was in charge of the Political Committee.

[Presenter] What was your objective when you asked the Voice and Vision Organization for an interview?

[Afshari] I had a personal interest. I wanted an opportunity to speak about my mistakes particularly because there are many other people who are in a similar position and they could make a similar mistake.

[Presenter] Who are you referring to?

[Afshari] University students. They could follow a similar route. I wanted an opportunity to correct my mistakes and to warn them.

[Presenter] What were your mistakes?

[Afshari] Mistakes such as politicization, radicalism, extreme egocentricity and not clearly defining my stances and opinions.

[Presenter] Could you please tell us whether these were your own mistakes as a person and a member or were they collective mistakes?

[Afshari] Well, these were mainly my own mistakes, but there were also some collective mistakes which I would like to point out.

[Presenter] Please.

[Afshari] Before mentioning these collective mistakes, I would like to refer to one point, which was part of my motive for this interview, and that is my concern about the forces seeking the overthrow of the system
and the destructive threats posed by these forces to the national interests of the country, the interests of the states and to our people. The issues of politicization and pragmatism were among the main mistakes.
In recent years or during the period since Khordad 1376 [1997 when President Khatami was elected as president] under the influence of the strategy of pressure from below and bargaining from the top and seeing society as divided into reformist and conservative, university was being used as bandwagon to create social pressure. This means that students were asked to realize their demands by political pragmatism, and participation
in the process of creating social pressure. This strategy, in addition to causing politicization and superficiality in universities, had other negative consequences such as political and social unrest. The atmosphere in universities, in view of the concept of creating pressure, also
affected rallies and meetings, the objectives of which were to exert pressure on the Judiciary concerning journalistic-political activists or attacks against conservative groups or individuals and their stances. It
has also caused political groups and parties to look at universities as clubs and environment to further their own interests, that is to use students and universities as tools for achieving their aims and
objectives.

[Presenter] What method of approach was adopted by the groups and parties
that you mentioned? We realize that you are now opposed to these groups and do not endorse their methods.

[Afshari]As an example, we can mention the events in Teheran University's dormitory. There are other examples such as the prosecution of the file concerning the Law-Enforcement Force and the cancellation of the proposal to debate the press reform law in the Majlis [the proposed debate was
abandoned following instruction of the leader Ali Khamene'i]. These were some of the problems pursued by the said political parties.

[Presenter] Mr Afshari! you mentioned that a group was planning to topple [the state]. What was the method adopted by this group and what was its affiliation?

[Afshari] The said group was trying to separate universities from the Islamic state and the Islamic doctrine of the system.

[Presenter] You yourself were demanding certain things via the Office to Foster Unity and you were also proposing and directing issues through the Office to Foster Unity. Now you have come to the conclusion that you made grave mistakes as you observed the negative consequences of your proposals. Can you please give us some examples of your activities?

[Afshari] I can specifically mention our meeting in Gorgan where we discussed various issues.

[Presenter] Did you plan the said meeting?

[Afshari] Yes I did at the Gorgan meeting.

[Presenter] What other issues did you discuss at your meetings in the Office to Foster Unity?

[Afshari] For example, during our meeting in Mashhad we discussed a proposal to call for a strike in universities. Another example concerns the performance of the Office to Foster Unity during the events in Teheran
University's dormitory.

[Presenter] Do you mean that you were the main element in the Office to Foster Unity?

[Afshari] Yes, I had such a role.

[Presenter] Did everyone in the Office to Foster Unity agree with you?

[Afshari] No there were some people who opposed me.

[Presenter] How did you treat your opponents?

[Afshari] There were always some members opposed or in-favour of various proposals. We did not treat anyone differently. Of course, over the last issue [that is, to call for a strike in universities] there was major
opposition. I made the proposal, but the meeting decided that the matter would undermine the country's national security. Moreover, [the meeting decided that] foreign powers would have exploited the issue for propaganda purposes in their media. That is, the foreign media would have exaggerated
the issue for their own propaganda.

[Presenter] Can you tell us how foreigners have engaged in propaganda against the system?

[Afshari] By reporting the slogans being shouted on the sidelines, which were harsh and offensive, they magnified them in order to sow discord in the system. For example, saying that the student movement is against the system. They gave it extensive propaganda coverage.

[Presenter] How did they reflect it inside the country?

[Afshari] By way of their media.

[Presenter] For example?

[Afshari] Radio. For example the BBC, Voice of America, etc.

[Presenter] Was it reflected by the mass media inside the country?

[Afshari] Yes. They covered it through some of the press.

[Presenter] Considering their stances, how did the press act with regards to the goals of foreigners?

[Afshari] In my opinion, knowingly or unwittingly, some of the press fed canon fodder to the enemies and foreigners.

[Presenter] Where, for example?

[Afshari] For example, one can specifically name the university dormitory incident. Also through the coverage of meetings. Or the press were silent in the face of the insults to the faith and beliefs of the people, or they covered material which could be about the same issues.

[Presenter] In your remarks you referred to the subversive movement. First, in your opinion, in what form is that subversion in the country at present?

[Afshari] The subversive movement has many aspects at present. First, it is non-military. The main reason for it is that military clashes and armed methods against the system have faced defeat throughout the history of the revolution, and the system has shown to be invincible in that respect.
Also, basically, military methods are on the decline in the world today. Cultural change, political subversion and infiltration of the pillars of government, or a combination of all of them, make up the practical methods
of the subversive movement.

[Presenter] Could you discuss the cultural metamorphosis [estehaleh]? How did they use this method?

[Afshari] They used cultural metamorphosis and cultural strategy to attack the religious and the Islamic elements of the system. They spread doubt about the effectiveness of religious government. They said religious
government is unable to meet people's demands or solve the problems faced by the modern progressive world, or that secularism in the modern world is inevitable. In view of the fact that the founder of religious revival in
modern world is his eminence, the Imam [Khomeyni], he has been the target of these attacks. There is a project to eradicate the memory of the Imam through the propagation of views opposed to him. These were the various
types of effort to overthrow the system. There was also an effort to use the media, in particular the press, and the universities and the student movement. They created a certain kind of climate in the press, inside and outside the country. For the administration of this project they tried to
use the students.

[Presenter] How was this done? For example how did they attack the Imam? How did they behave?

[Afshari] The main objective was to spread doubt about religious government and the ineffectiveness of jurisprudence. These acts were contrary with the teachings of the Imam. Basically they questioned the ideas of the Imam. For example in the 13 Aban ceremonies [marking the 4 November take over of the US embassy in Tehran] we didn't chant "Down with
America", we didn't go in front of the embassy, we didn't deal with foreign issue, we only dealt with domestic issues. These were all contrary with the teachings of the late Imam.

[Presenter] Why did the subversive movement attack certain organizations or people in Iran? Can you explain clearly? What is you own opinion, basically? What was the precise goal of the subversive movement, and what
was the level of you collaboration in that respect?

[Afshari] The strength of the system, which has defeated its enemies, lies in its basis in the principle of the supreme jurisconsult, and basically our system is renowned in the world today for its religious nature. For
that reason the subversive movement opposes it. Of course, it is also aligned with global imperialism. After the downfall of the Eastern Bloc the only obstacle in the way of the total domination of liberal-democracy
has been religious thinking and the growth of the Islamic movement in the Middle East. And, therefore, in line with global imperialism, the subversive movement has attempted to weaken it, and ultimately to pave the
way for a secular government.

[Presenter] Mr Afshari. On the whole, what methods did this subversive movement, which is being discussed, adopt?

[Afshari] In order to become operational they had adopted methods such as civil disobedience or active resistance. However, before I explain the operational concept, I will refer to the preparations that lead up to such methods. As I have said before, the aim of the subversive movement is to
separate the Islamic revolution from its ideology, to terminate the socio-political life of the system of the supreme jurisconsult. Therefore, it first points out the impracticality of the religious government with false arguments about the contradiction between the Islamic and republican concept and between religion and freedom. Then unreasonable expectations,
outside the capacity of the constitution, are encouraged and publicized. Therefore, all the cases mount up. And since organizations which support the Islamic aspect of the system resist expectations which are outside the
framework of religion and the religious culture of society, and do not allow them to be fulfilled, the wave of expectations and their lack of fulfilment will naturally make the atmosphere favourable for the movement
to go beyond the framework of the system.

Here, by way of interviews inside and outside the country, the way is paved for planting the seeds of doubt about the constitution; that, basically, the expectations of the people are not fulfilled by the constitution; that it [the constitution] lacks the capacity for reform in order to fulfil the expectations of youngsters of today, in particular. Unreasonable expectations are publicized. Clashes between the various
sectors of the system are followed up, as it were. And so is hostility in factional rivalries. These are issues that are followed up, and theories are formulated for the overthrow plan to become operational.

For initial operational requirements it was necessary to declare that there was a political deadlock in the legal and political structures of the system. In other words, reforms were said to be impossible because of
the system's legal structure. Then they tried to use public opinion to advance their objectives. This was done through various means such as active resistance which called for the involvement of the people, particularly the young people. But to have civil disobedience or active resistance you need to have a social movement. The only existing active social movement in Iran was the student movement. Therefore, we tried to attract students as the elements for this social policy. The students were supposed to provide the support for the active resistance and the civil disobedience.

[Presenter] What were the subversive elements - the so-called national-religious movement, the Freedom Movement of Iran - expecting to gain from the student movement?

[Afshari] Their objective was to encourage mistrust towards religious government, the legal and political structures of the system, and the history of the system in particular the teachings of the late Imam and the war period. They said these were the dark ages. They wanted to say that the system could not become democratic. They wanted to radicalize the student movement and to push it outside its legal framework. They wanted to encourage social disturbances. This is what they wanted from the student movement. Their ultimate objective was to separate the student movement from the system and to use the students as pawns in their game.

[Presenter] What was the aim of the subversive tendency in changing the constitution? How far did they want to go?

[Afshari] They wanted to change the character [of the system] into a non-religious one. To reduce the Islamic characteristic of the system. They didn't want a role for the Guardian Jurisconsult in the system. They didn't believe in this principle and said so openly. They encouraged mistrust in system and said Guardianship was a principle in connection with minors and not ordinary people. They said that people don't need a guardian and, thus, the principle of Guardianship is irrelevant.

[Presenter] Could you tell us something about the relationship between the student movement and the political parties?

[Afshari] The student movement always followed the parties and was misused by them.

[Presenter] Mr Afshari! You took a radical position at a meeting in Gorgan. Could you tell us what were the aims of the meetings. Furthermore, who was the architect of the meeting and what was the agenda?

[Afshari] The Gorgan meeting involved the political officials of the Islamic Associations of Students. I was the organizer and the agenda was to formulate a new strategy for the reforms. Prior to that meeting there was the impression of a deadlock because the Majlis had failed to be
effective and because the press laws were changed. There was the idea that the new strategy could deal with this problem. At the Gorgan meeting the border between reforms and revisionism, i.e. metamorphosis, was destroyed. It was said that the reform movement could contain revisionism and metamorphosis. Structural reforms were accepted. In other words it was not only some aspects of the structure, for example a change among Majlis deputies or a change of the heads of the executive power that were being sought. It was said that the structures themselves should change on the basis of a balance between the elected and non-elected bodies. It was said that the elected bodies don't have sufficient weight in comparison with the non-elected bodies. Other issues which were discussed were the nature and the speed of the reforms as well as constitutional change.

In the newly formulated strategy there was a stress on the use of public opinion and its mobilization for the cause of the reforms. This was done within the context which I have already explained. The reforms were said to be the manifestation of the opinion of the various social classes. There were criticisms of idea that the leaders of the system, i.e. the heads of the three branches and the leader, could sit together and interpret the reforms. People were said to be legitimate interpreters of the reforms. Reform from the top was said to be a failed experiment. There was a wrong analogy, and I was responsible for it, that there was a resemblance [between the reforms from the top] and the White Revolution of the Shah and the People. I should use this opportunity to apologize to the eminent leader and the brave Iranian people, particularly the honourable families of the martyrs. The Gorgan meeting had an important impact on the country's political climate. It radicalized the universities. It also prepared the way for aggressive measures by those seeking to overthrow the system because it approved certain policies such as the need for structural reforms, opposition to reforms from the top, non-distinction
between reforms and metamorphosis.

[Presenter] Mr Afshari! Prior to the Gorgan meeting the Office for Fostering Unity organized a meeting in Mashhad. Could you tell us something about the objectives of this meeting? Who was the architect of this meeting?

[Afshari] On the basis of its charter the Office for Fostering Unity has to hold a meeting every month for all the officials of the Islamic Associations. The Mashhad meeting was routine. But it coincided with the leader's speech about the press. His excellency's speech created an extraordinary climate at the meeting and it focused everyone attention on the press. There I suggested the closure of universities as a countermeasure to the closure of the press. Initially these issues were discussed in the political committee of the meeting. Furthermore the main part of the open discussions were in criticism of the leader's stance. Unfortunately, some of these criticisms took an extremist position and an insulting nature.

[Presenter] This was at the official meeting?

[Afshari] Yes this was at the official Mashhad meeting. After discussions and decisions about the various suggestions we openly argued about the recommendations that were made in connection with the closure of the newspapers. The aim of the recommendations was to encourage protests in favour of the press and to make the closure of the press costly [for its opponents]. This was to be implemented through agitation on university campuses and collection of signatures in defence of press freedoms. Once this phase was successfully implemented the following phase was to have been implemented at a particular time with the coordinated closure of classes. Meetings were to have been held on the campuses in defence of the press freedoms. Free student discussions were to have been organized in defence of the post-2-Khordad newspapers and in criticism of the stances taken by the leader towards the press. These methods and the subsequent social pressures were aimed at promoting resistance against the closure of the newspapers.

[Presenter] What would have happened if this [policy] had been implemented?

[Afshari] It would have had dangerous consequences if it was implemented. It would have encouraged a confrontation between the student movement and the leadership of the system. This would have weakened the leadership and, subsequently, the national security and the strength of the system. Furthermore, in view of the propaganda policy of the forces seeking the overthrow of the system and their effort to encourage confrontation between the universities, the system and the person of the leader, it would have strengthened these forces and the enemies of this country. It would have disturbed the tranquility and the academic atmosphere of universities. It would have also damaged the students themselves.

[Presenter] Mr Afshari it is known that you had a meeting with the political officer of the Canadian Embassy. Could you elaborate?

[Afshari] Yes. A meeting was held with the political officer of the Canadian Embassy upon her request. The lady made a telephone contact. It was after the sixth Majlis elections at the beginning of the new year. In early Farvardin 1379 [month beginning 20 March 2000]. We had a short meeting and she asked some questions about the sixth Majlis and the election plans of the Office for Fostering Unity.

[Presenter] Were these issues the main axis of your discussions?

[Afshari] Yes. This was it: The policies of the sixth Majlis, the policies of the Office for Fostering Unity. I answered the questions.

[Presenter] Why did they invite you?

[Afshari] Her motives are not known to me.

[Presenter] Mr Afshari, how do you feel about this [TV] interview?

[Afshari] As I said at the beginning I requested it.

[Presenter] Is there any issue that hasn't been discussed?

[Afshari] No I don't think so.

[Presenter] Is there any other particular point?

[Afshari] No there isn't.

[Presenter] Thank you.

[Afshari] Thank you.

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Vatandoost
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posted May 21, 2001 11:25     Click Here to See the Profile for Vatandoost   Click Here to Email Vatandoost     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mr. Afshari's Televised confessions backfired on the regime

By Safa Haeri with reports from IPS Correspondent

PARIS-TEHRAN 19 May (IPS) Iranians reacted with utter dismay, disgust and indifference at what the clerical authorities presented as "confessions" made by Mr. Ali Afshari, a popular students leader and broadcast on the leader-controlled Radio and Television on Wednesday night.

In a meeting with Mr. Afshari's family, classmates from the Amir Kabir Technical University described the confessions as "worn out" while families of the detained prisoners accused the authorities of "eating a dead man's flesh".

Experts who saw the broadcast said Mr. Afshari seemed to be under the effects of tranquillisers or sedatives, as he spoke softly, his eyes looked absent, repeating at intervals that he asked for the interview and trying to give satisfactory answers to the questions of the interrogator while sending the message that he was speaking under duress.

Prison mates who had contacts with Mr. Afshari in Evin confirmed that both he and Mr. Ezzatollah Sahhabi, a veteran politician and journalist associated with the Iran Freedom Movement (IFM) and the Islamist-nationalists were targeted by the authorities for the new series of televised confessions called "hoviyyat (Identity) II", prepared on orders from Ayatollah Ali Khamenehe'i, the fundamentalist leader of the Islamic Republic.

In the past months, some sixty members of the IFM and personalities affiliated with the Nationalist-religious groups have been rounded up by the Islamic Judiciary and imprisoned, on orders from Mr. Khameneh'i, who consider these forces as the most dangerous for his survival.

"Hoviyyat" was the name of a series prepared jointly by the Information Minister, the revolutionary Guards and the Voice and Visage (Radio and Television) under the presidency of Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani aimed at mugging, slandering, degrading and shattering the image of prominent intellectuals, scholars, politicians and journalists.

Mr. Sa'id Eslami, the senior Deputy Intelligence Minister and Mr. Hoseyn Shariatmadari, a professional interrogator appointed by Mr. Khamenehe'i as the Editor of the evening daily Keyhan were among the series producers.

Mr. Emami committed suicide in prison, after being arrested with some other senior members of the Intelligence Minister found involved in the assassination of several leading intellectuals and politicians in November 1998.

Mr. Afshari was jailed last April on his return from Berlin, where he had participated at a meeting the conservatives said was organised by German Jewish circles and sponsored by the United States.

All the seventeen Iranians, among them journalists, lawyer, scholar, publisher, intellectuals and a cleric were charged of activities and propaganda against the Islamic state, offending the leader and insulting Islam.

Hojjatoleslam Hasan Yusefi-Eshkevari was even condemned to death, accused of apostasy and fighting God.

He, alongside Mr. Sahhabi and Afshari were latter transferred to Prison number 59 where prisoners are kept in individual cell, totally incommunicado, subject of intense psychological and physical tortures.

The Prison belongs to the Revolutionary Guard's Intelligence and is under the direct supervision of Ayatollah Khamenehe'i himself, informed sources said.

In a letter written to the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, the children of Mr. Sahhabi said when they last met their father, they found him absent minded, out of touch from realities, not even capable of recognising his family.

In the so-called "interview", Mr. Afshari "confessed" that he had participated in a campaign aimed at peacefully "overthrowing the regime and the velayat faqih system" by using the students movement to "polarise society", and "prepare the ground for the establishment of a non-religious government".

The leader-controlled Islamic revolution Tribunal announced Thursday that other television confessions would follow soon, but did not say when and with whom.

But prison sources said they expect to see Mr. Sahhabi and Hojjatoleslam Yusefi-Eshkevari confessing to similar charges brought against Mr. Afshari. Jurist, lawyers and some MMs (Members of the Majles) as well as families of detained members of IFM and Nationalist-religious vigorously contested the televised confessions.

Mr. Afshari's own lawyer said since his client had been in jail, he was not authorised to meet him nor have access to his files.

Dr. Karim Lahiji, the President of the Paris-based Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights denounced the "Stalinist" methods of torturing and forcing political prisoners to degrading confessions that have "no credit".

"When someone is in solitary confinement for a long period of time and he is interviewed in jail, with no other witnesses than the prison guards or interrogators, it is obvious what sort of thing he is expected to say", observed Mrs. Fatemeh Haqiqatjoo, an outspoken reformist deputy".

Mr. Ali Akbar Mo'infar, a former minister under Mr. Mehdi Bazargan, Islamic Iran's first Premier and founder of the now banned IFM noted that none of the points Mr. Afshari confessed to could be described as illegal activities.

"Debating problems of the nation in students gatherings, even discussing role and position and powers of the leader is not against laws", he pointed out.

Mr Afshari has been arrested in December after having called for a "referendum" to review the responsibilities and privileges of the leader, in this case the narcissist and ego-centrist Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i.

Since then, referendum has become the battle cry of Iranian dissidents and some reformists deceived by Mr. Khatami.

Mr. Afshari's televised confessions reminded that of Mr. Manoochehr Mohammadi, another students leader also jailed for plotting against the regime and contacting Iranian "counter-revolutionaries" during a trip to Europe and the US.

In the broadcast, Mr Afshari agreed that the reformist publications "willingly or not" were feeding foreign enemies of the Islamic Republic and accused the IFM and the Islamist-nationalists of having "penetrated" the Office of Consolidating Unity, Iran's largest students organisation, in order to change the regime.

On orders of Mr. Khamenehe'i, more than 50 publications, almost all of them have been closed since last April and a dozen of journalists, editors and commentators jailed.

Mr. Afshari also "confessed" that the Islamist-nationalists and some members of the OCU were propagating that a theocratic system is unfit to rule in modern world, incapable of solving complex problems of modern-day and must be changed, with the clergy going back to the mosques, ending dealing with politics.

After having confessed to questioning the tenets of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran's late revolutionary leader, and of seeking to "distance students from religious government and the Islamic element of the regime", Mr. Afshari apologised to the "Supreme Leader ... and the people of Iran".

The National Union of Journalists in Britain and Ireland joined other international organisations to condemn as "accessory to torture" the broadcast on Iran's state TV of "confessions" of Mr. Ali Afshari, arrested five months ago during university protests against dictatorship.

NUJ's General Secretary John Foster said in the statement that: "This broadcast was a travesty of journalism. This young man has been imprisoned is likely to have suffered psychological torture. Those journalists who presented this interview as fact are acting as accessories to the abuse of judicial and human rights.

"All journalists should be concerned about this type of behaviour -the more so since Iran's independent media has suffered large-scale repression, making it impossible for journalists to present an opposite point of view", the statement said, adding that at not only the NUJ had expressed support for those Iranian journalists struggling to re-establish a free media, but also was looking at the issue of organising a boycott of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, "the only treatment they deserve from honest journalists the world over".

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Ardalan
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Soviet-style confession of student activist condemned by former
colleague

BBC Monitoring Service
May 20, 2001

Text of report by Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) web site

Tehran: It seems that [the head of the Political Committee of the Office for Fostering Unity, Ali] Afshari did not willingly participate in his [recent television] interview, Sarajjodin Mirdamadi, a former member of the Central Council of the Office for Fostering Unity and a member of the editorial council of Hayat-e Now daily told our political correspondent.

He said: Such methods [of confession] have lost their effectiveness. An interview with a young 25-year old after months of solitary confinement is unfair and unsound.

He stressed: Fortunately members of the public have reached such levels of maturity that they no longer believe in these things. I believe that Mr Afshari did not willingly participate in the interview, and that he only accepted it because of certain circumstances.

On why Ali Afshari may have been under pressure to conduct the interview, Sarajjodin Mirdamadi said: If Mr Afshari had really wished to conduct an interview why didn't he ask other reporters to be present at the interview? Furthermore, the interview was edited which could mean that his statements were censored. The Voice and Vision correspondent insistently persuaded him to say things. I know Mr Afshari and what he said was not a part of his language. The words, the expressions and the phrases that he
used were those used by the Kayhan newspaper. It seems to me that he did
not willingly make those remarks.

Mirdamadi added: The things which Ali Afshari said had been written down. The statements were prepared before hand and handed to him. Referring to the significance of the interview he said: On the eve of the [presidential] election campaigns there are co-ordinated moves to damage the reform movement. The conservative faction should understand that people are well aware of this. Interviews which have been conducted after long solitary confinements and difficult psychological conditions are legally worthless.

Mirdamadi added: Interviews conducted under such circumstances were practised during the communist regime in the Soviet Union. The opponents of the Soviet leaders were put on television to say things which were in total contradiction to their own beliefs. But such methods were never successful.

Mirdamadi also spoke about Ali Afshari's image in the interview. He said: When Afshari was free he always had a beard. But in the interview he had the image of a communist activist from the 1350s or the 1360s [1970s, 1980s]. His looked shabby, his eyes were hollow. These are indications of his condition.

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Ardalan
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Khamenehe'i and Hashemi-Rafsanjani behind "Hoviyyat II" series

TEHRAN-PARIS 21 May (IPS) As the wave of protests and condemnations against the broadcast by the leader-controlled "Voice and Visage of the Islamic Republic" (the State-run Radio and Television) of a so-called "confessions" made by Mr. Ali Afshari mounted both in Iran and outside, informed sources revealed that the "punishment" reserved to the young student's leader was demanded by Ayatollah Ali Khamenehe'i on the "recommendations" from former president Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani. In the so-called "interview' broadcast late Wednesday night without prior announcement, Mr. Afshari, an outspoken and influent member of the Office to Consolidate Unity (OCU), the largest of Iranian students organisations, admitted that the Office, in co-ordination with the now outlawed Islamist-nationalists, was debating ways and means of changing the present theocratic system.

On several occasions, Mr. Afshari, looking pale, sick and tired, apologised to the "Great leader" and repeated that he personally had requested the interview in order to "enlighten the brave and noble people of Iran about plots by enemies".

The OCU, several MMs (Members of the Majles), journalists, layers and jurists as well as international journalists and human rights organisations strongly condemned the broadcast, describing it as a "wholly fabricated parody, a bad TV show void of any legal credit".

Meeting Saturday at the Amir Kabir Technical University in Tehran on the invitation of the OCU, hundreds of students studied the film and concluded that not only Mr. Afshari's confessions were "utterly baseless", but also nowhere he had "confessed" that the OCU was planning to overthrow the regime.

"After seeing the film, almost all the students present at the meeting, some of them weeping, reached the conclusion that the interview was a disgusting montage and obtained under intense psychological pressures", one OCU member told Iran Press Service on condition of anonymity.

Sources told Iran Press Service that "angered to the bones" by Mr. Afshari's speeches and public statements contesting the role of the leader in a republican system and proposing to limit both the absolute powers concentrated in the hands of the leader as well as his mandate, the ego-centric Khamenehe'i, on suggestions from his close ally Hashemi-Rafsanjani, ordered his own intelligence and security machine to "teach" Mr. Afshari and other dissidents opposed to the absolute rule of the leader the "lessons they merit".

"From organisation and institutions that are under the control of the leader and pretend defending the system, one would expect a more logical move, particularly in view of past experiences that worked against them", one student said, referring to the VVIR, the Islamic revolution tribunal, the Revolutionary guards and "Keyhan" newspaper that co-operated closely in the production of the controversial interview.

Mr. Afshari's televised "confessions" are thought to be part of a new series named "Hoviyyat (Identity) II" aimed at humiliating and discrediting dissidents opposed to both the concept of "velayat faqih", or the rule of absolute leader, the cornerstone of the present Iranian Islam-based system of which Mr. Khamenehe'i is the symbol and the "unicity" of religion and state.

The new series is a "remake" of "Hoviyyat" that was broadcast under the presidency of Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjani, mugging and slandering hundreds of Iranian intellectuals and politicians, confessing to their "sins", including indulging in drinking, smoking opium, womanising, homosexuality, liberalism, secularism etc.

In a statement, the Office protested to the VVIR for the "abject" interview and rejected allegations that it was aiming at toppling the regime.

Meeting latter with Mr. Afshari's family, representatives from the OCU assured them of their "full support" for the jailed student, insisting, "no one had been impressed or influenced by the broadcast".

In the meeting, Mr. Afshari's father, Naqi, also a journalist and under investigation by a press tribunal, observed that if the interview reflected the views of his son, why then he waited 160 days in solitary confinement to express them now?

Joining the protest movement, Mr. Afshari's lawyer said the interview was recorded while the judicial authorities did not allow him one single meeting with his client or even to have access to his file.

"One's confessing against himself, recorded in an undisclosed prison under dubious and strange conditions are totally ridicule and not credit worthy", Mr. Alireza Alavitabar, an influential journalist and Editor of the banned "Sobh Emrooz" (This Morning) reformist daily noted.

In a commentary, the reformist daily "No Rooz" (New Day) said by listening carefully Mr. Afshari's "confessions", one reaches the conclusion that what he says is "analysis and not confessing to criminal acts".

"If it is correct that Mr. Afshari had requested the interview, why then not let him to express his views freely, in an open space?" the paper said.

While the VVIR remained silent in face of mounting criticism from all sides but the conservatives, the English-language "Tehran Times" that is controlled by the hard-liners said Mr. Afshari's confessions proves clearly that "he along with some counterrevolutionaries based abroad, had planned to overthrow the Islamic regime and to deal a blow to the main pillar of the Islamic system, the principle of Velayat Faqih or Islamic leadership".

"Ali Afshari also revealed that some university circles and so-called liberals have been involved in subversive measures against the Islamic system", the paper wrote Saturday.

Furthermore, results of investigations conducted by Tehran's Revolutionary court indicates that the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been funnelling money into the pockets of Iranian counterrevolutionaries and dissidents, it said.

Quoting a statement published Thursday by the Islamic revolution tribunal, the article named a certain Hassan Sassani as "a founding member" of the (Prague-based) Radio Freedom/Europe (sic), which is financed by the CIA to present a distorted image of the Islamic Republic.

The tribunal's statement, said that Sassani, on behalf of the CIA, had paid money to three so-called liberals who have been acting against the Islamic government, adding that more confessions were to come after that of Mr. Afshari.

As the crackdown on the Islamist-nationalists continued unabated, a lawyer for the investigative journalist Akbar Ganji, whose 10-year jail sentence was suddenly, and unexpectedly, slashed to six months confirmed Saturday that his client could be released if he posts 600-million-rial (75,000 dollars) in bail.

"The Appeals Court has ordered his release from Evin Prison today (in connection with the Berlin conference), but since he faces additional charges in a public court he should remain in jail until he posts the bail" Mr. Qolamali Riahi told the official news agency IRNA.

The Court has cut to six months a 10-year jail sentence and also struck down a sentence of five years in internal exile passed against Ganji.

Last year, newspaper editor Akbar Ganji was sentenced to 10 years in prison and another five years in internal exile in Bashagard, one of the most deprived regions in the country, for participating in the Berlin conference.

The Appeals gave six other activists sentences of between four to 10 years for their involvement in the conference.

The conference, organised by the Heinrich Boell Foundation, which has close ties to Germany's Green Party, was called to assess the prospect of reform in the wake of President Mohammad Khatami's victory in the 1997 presidential elections, IRNA added.

The Court also overturned a death sentence against Hojjatoleslam Hasan Yusefi-Eshkevari, an outspoken dissident cleric, the Iranian Students' News Agency ISNA reported on Saturday.

The controversial leader-controlled Clergymen's Special Tribunal (CST) had condemned Mr. Yusefi-Eshkevari to death on charges of "apostasy", spreading corruption on earth and "moharebeh", or fighting God, all carrying the death penalty under Iran's strict Islamic law.

Mr.Yusefi-Eshkevari was arrested last August on his return to Iran after attending the Berlin Conference.

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Family of jailed student say confessions extracted under duress

Tehran, May 22, IRNA -- The family of jailed dissident student leader Ali Afshari have reiterated that his recent confession to anti-regime plotting was extracted "under duress," the student news agency ISNA said Tuesday.

Afshari, held in solitary confinement for over five months, had earlier been shown on state television with an unbearded face, apologizing to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for his "mistakes".

"Keeping him in solitary confinement for over 160 days, lack of access to lawyer and spreading lies against him all amount to torture," a letter by the family of Afshari to the Revolutionary Court said cited by ISNA.

The head of Tehran's Revolutionary Court Ali Mobasheri was quoted in the press as saying that the confessions by Afshari were not extracted under duress.

"I swear by God the confessions were not extracted under torture," Mobasheri said.

In his confessions to the court, broadcast live by the conservative-run national TV, Afshari said there had been plans to "overthrow the system by peaceful means" and that he had been in contact with a political official at the Canadian embassy.

"It has been proven in the past that a military option is not feasible and the trend...is toward a cultural and political transformation of the system," he said.

Afshari, 27, was arrested in December after delivering a fiery campus speech questioning the authority of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The following month he was slapped with a six-year jail term for earlier taking part in an "anti-Islamic" conference in Germany which the judiciary said was aimed at overthrowing the clerical regime.

"Organizing an interview with the conservative-run state broadcasting and remanding Afshari to the solitary confinement all are proof of the rumors spread against you," the letter by Afshari's family said.

Around 40 people, close to the now-banned Freedom Movement of Iran, were arrested earlier last month and remain in detention on various charges, including "having clandestine contacts with foreign diplomats.".

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Head of court says dissident did not confess under torture

BBC Monitoring Service
May 22, 2001

Text of report by Iranian newspaper Norooz web site on 21 May

The head of the Revolution Court has said: How do those gentlemen who are determined to sow the seeds of suspicion in the minds of our people know that Afshari made his confessions and gave that interview under torture and special circumstances?

That was what the head of the Tehran Revolution Court, Hojjat ol-Eslam Mobasheri, said in an interview he gave ISNA [Iranian Students' News Agency]. He said: Ali Afshari gave an interview to the Voice and Vision [state radio and television] at his own request.

He added: Afshari was in good health and he was not under any kind of pressure to take part in the interview. We even decided that it had to be broadcast before the names of presidential candidates were announced to ensure that there would not be any problems.

He continued: Where in the world are the accused interrogated in their own homes? So how could some people try to sow the seeds of suspicion and argue that Afshari gave that interview or made his confessions under special circumstances?

The head of the Tehran Revolution Court stressed: I swear to God that I have met Afshari many times and I have enquired about and been assured of his mental and physical health. He did not make his confessions under torture, pressure or special circumstances. And those who have expressed their views without having any information about his condition are sowing the seeds of suspicion in our society.

Mobasheri said: Those gentlemen should not say that they are 100 per cent sure of something and then say that they had made a mistake. Those people may not be brave enough to admit that they were wrong. But, what are they going to do about their own conscience?

Commenting on the degree to which the judge will rely upon the interview, he said: It is up to the judge to decide to what extent he should use those confessions and refer to them in his verdicts. In principle, it is up to the judge who is dealing with the case.

The head of the Tehran Revolution Court also commented on the issue of broadcasting the confessions before the start of the trial, as well as on the discrepancy between certain verdicts issued by the [court of] the first instance and the appeal [court]. He said: Firstly, I have nothing to do with the past or other people's cases. The judge at the appeal court is only a judge and he is independent. The judge at the court of the first instance is a judge as well. However, appeals are not dealt with by summoning the accused again and trying to find out whether he approves of the confessions that he initially made or not. Moreover, the appeal court will not say: The accused confessed there, but he does not confess here.

Mobasheri added: There is a legal argument about the confessions made by the accused in the presence of a judge. Of course, his confessions should not be legally problematic because confessions could also be made under torture and the law rejects the veracity of such confessions and they are not valid at all. The confessions must have been obtained on the basis of and be consistent with [the testimony provided by] independent witnesses, as well as with the available documentary evidence. Moreover, the accused might say that he does not reject the veracity of his own confessions and he might say in court that he fully accepts them. Therefore, we could not argue that his confessions were obtained under duress. So what can the judge do about them? Should he say: You are making a mistake and you should not say that you accept them?

In that case, what is going to happen to the concept of confessions made by sane human beings? Secondly, it does not make any difference where this has been done.

He continued: If it is proved that he is sane, then his confessions will be used. However, if they manage to prove that the accused is not sane, then that principle will not apply.

Commenting on whether there was a linkage between Afshari's interview and the Office for Fostering Unity, the head of the Tehran Islamic Revolution Court said: That is up to the judge to decide as well and the judge who is dealing with the case has to express his views on the matter. However, Afshari has said that he was expressing his personal views and that he was not expressing the views of the group as a whole. Moreover, before Afshari said those things, a group of our brothers from the Office for Fostering Unity came to us and said that the things that Afshari said, or some of the things that were said outside the Office for Fostering Unity, did not represent the views of the group as a whole and that the group had actually opposed them. Only a minority had raised those issues. Therefore, it is not the case that whoever said something everyone agreed with him. Moreover, Afshari has not made such a claim either. One cannot take action on the basis of what he has said about other people and those people do not accept what he has said either.

Mobasheri stressed: A judge does not have the right to issue his verdict until he has completed his investigations and managed to prove his case. Those gentlemen have made a series of claims and they have asserted that they have proof that he had confessed under duress. However, they are only saying that because he was under arrest. So how could they possibly talk like that?

In response to the question of whether the Revolution Court would permit Afshari to give interviews to other media organizations, he said: The court will not permit that and the interview was conducted at his own request. The Voice and Vision tries to inform people about various issues. I saw the programme before it was broadcast. I swear to God that I did not see any problems. I swear to God that if there had been a problem or if I had had any doubts about it, I would not have permitted it to be broadcast.

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Head of President's Office comments on student leader's "confessions"

BBC Monitoring Service
May 22, 2001

Text of report by Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) web site

Tehran, 22 May: The head of the President's Office has said: Despite the many provocations, indignities and abuses directed at the student movement - especially in the university dormitory incident [in July 1999] - it behaves in a very enthusiastic, dignified and realistic way.

Saying this in an interview with the student publication Ara, Hojjat ol-Eslam val-Moslemin Abtahi added: Despite the fact that many people had hoped that this movement would abandon moderation and [then] be totally crushed, the student movement - based on its deep commitment to long-term reforms - is trying, with its active calm, to pursue, within the framework of the revolution, the reform process that the people initiated.

Regarding Ali Afshari's confessions, he said: Confessions that are recounted and obtained in prison and in particular circumstances, cannot on the whole be very convincing to public opinion, even if they are true. We must try to ensure that society can understand what the situation is in normal circumstances and without misgivings.

Regarding the judicial actions against the Office for Fostering Unity [student association], he said: Unfortunately, in the current circumstances - because it is felt that the judiciary behaves in a discriminatory fashion with respect to the violations of the law - a large part of society is under the impression that the judiciary does not adhere to the law, and this is a great affliction. Discriminatory judicial behaviour ultimately leads to a lack of public confidence in the judicial system and this, too, is a great affliction for any state and system.

He stressed: At least, society has not been able to accept that this kind of behaviour is not discriminatory.

The head of the President's Office said: I believe that efforts have to be made to ensure that actions are based on the law and that this [the law] should itself not be left to individual preferences and tastes; actions must rest on a legal grounding. He added: When the constitution specifically speaks of freedom of expression for members of parliament in the course of their duties, it goes without saying that judicial procedures that are outside the legal framework can inflict bad blows on the standing of the system as a whole and escalate confrontations and disputes.

Abtahi pointed out: We are always - and particularly in recent months - in great need of calm and rationality, but, unfortunately, this is not my perception of the situation now. The different [government] bodies are not behaving kindly towards one another and it may not be an exaggeration to say that a large part of the executive branch's activities are spent on resolving problems and crises which are cooked up for it domestically.

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