BERLIN CONFERENCE OF IRAN AFTER ELECTIONS ENDED IN CHAOS

By Safa Haeri in Berlin

BERLIN 8TH Apr. (IPS) The Berlin conference on "Iran after the Elections" that started Friday in Berlin almost ended in chaos Saturday after hundreds of Iranians opposed to the Islamic Republic who saw the meeting as a ploy by Germany to give the Mullahrchy a human visage prevented with noisy cacophony and continued shouts of "death to Islamic Republic" and "Mercenaries, go home" the participants from speaking.

The protests started before the conference's morning session, with demonstrators more numerous and more determined to prevent the venue, organised by the Heinrich Boll Institute and some Iranian organisations and personalities backing the reform process in Iran, to continue.

For the first time, 17 prominent Iranian reformists personalities, including secular human rights activist and lawyer Mrs. Mehr Anguiz Kar, newspaper Publisher Hamid Reza Jala'ipour of Asre Azadegan, the newspaper that replaced three earlier titles all closed by the Islamic Judiciary, Hojatoleslam Hasan Yusefi-Eshkevari, an outspoken liberal cleric, Alireza Alavi Tabar, Editor of Sobhe Emrouz, Mrs. Jamileh Kadivar, elected MP from Tehran and a journalist, Akbar Ganji, the acclaimed investigative journalist and researcher, Dr Changuiz Pahlavan, a professor of Political Sciences and expert on Central Asia, Mahmoud Dolatabadi and Mohammad Ali Sepanlou, nationally respected writers and poets were invited to debate wide range issues of today's Iran, including the impact of reforms on the Iranian and Muslim societies, the impact of the recent elections on the future of Iran and the role of women in Islamic world etc.

But several Iranian intellectuals and political activists led by the Iranian Communist-Workers Party and supported by other leftists groups immediately denounced the initiative as soon as it was announced.

Though the ICWP had announced it will organise a parallel conference, but it became obvious from the outset that it had lost the control of the situation, due to both the complexity of the situation in the one hand and the variety of the leftist groups on the other.

As Hojatoleslam Hasan Yusefi-Eshkevar, a reformist cleric took to the podium, on one corner of the 1000 seat grand auditorium of the Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt (House of World Cultures) a band of protesters, among them some pretty women, were dancing Iranian sexy dances.

Earlier, a girl appeared on the main tribune and stripped to almost her last piece except for an Islamic scarf and latter, a man climbed on a chair and fully undressed, exhibiting pictures of the clerical leaders of the regime.

An attempt by the orgaisers to encourage representative and leaders of the demonstrators to take part at the conference and sit next to the participant failed under pressure from the audience that wanted the conference to be stopped at once.

That was done in the afternoon when, after the demonstrators continued their protest action unabated, the organiser announced it's closure, accepting by the same token the fiasco of their grandiose enterprise.

Observers at the conference noted the extremely poor preparation of the organisers, both German and Iranians in taking such an important initiative and their lack of forecast and prevision.

The secrecy they had maintained around and about the initiative had led to rumours of all kind, including the one that the conference had the blessing of Germany to better prepare the forthcoming visit of President Mohammad Khatami to Berlin.

Observers also noted that not only inviting such a great number of Iranians, all well known in their homeland, by a German organisation had led to misinterpretation, but also the initiators had probably taken their desire for reality thinking since the participants from Iran are tagged as "reformists" therefore they would be welcomed by all Iranians outside, forgetting the fact that the majority of the Iranian Diaspora is basically against the Islamic Republic, a regime defended by the guests who, contrary to the protresters, genuinely think it can be reformed and democratised. ENDS BERLIN CONFERENCE 8400.