IRAN CONFERENCE IN BERLIN ENDS PEACEFULLY BUT IN BITTERNESS
By Safa Haeri
BERLIN 9TH Apr. (IPS) The Berlin Conference on "Iran after the Parliamentarian Elections" ended Sunday amid protest from the audience to the participants for keeping silence on a wide range of issues such as the violation of human rights, the execution of thousands of political prisoners, the exile of millions of Iranians, the fate of minorities, the absence of freedom and condemnation of the abuses the clerical regime commits against Iranians.
"We heard speakers lecturing on relations between Palestinians and Israelis but remained silent on the rights of we Iranians, we who have no rights in our homeland, the three millions of Iranians in exile, the millions of Iranians who have suffered from this regime, who have been tortured and forced to leave their ancestral land", one member of the audience told the panel.
With demonstrators kept under tight police control outside the central building of the Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt and letting people inside "drop by drop", the Conference reached it's end after hearing speakers explaining the shortcomings of the Islamic Republic in matters of freedom and democracy, women and intellectuals, press and publication.
Professor Changuiz Pahlavan, a political analyst and expert of Central Asian affairs questioned the validity of the last elections, pointing out that because of the rejection of many political personalities, including some who support the regime, only "illustres inconnus" or people who belongs, in one way or another, to the establishment have been elected.
"If some got into the Majles it was just because others had been rejected. One is elected because his brother is in jail and another because is the brother of the president", he said, referring to Dr Alireza Nouri, the brother of the former Interior Minister Hojatoleslam Abdollah Nouri, Mrs. Jamileh Kadivar, the sister of Hojatolelslam Mohsen Kadivar or Dr Mohammad Reza Khatami, the younger brother of President Mohammad Khatami
"The question is that Iranians aspire for something different, for, anytime we held an election, people reject those they regard as symbols of the regime. In the Presidential elections they rejected Mr. Nateq-Nouri and in the recent Majles polls they dropped to the last place Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani, the number two man in the political hierarchy", he observed.
He compared the Islamic Republic to a mentally retarded child who not only is always late in doing things but also when it does respond, it is done clumsily and he turned to Mr. Hamid Reza Jala'ipour and other "star" journalists like Mr. Akbar Ganji or Masha'allah Shamsolva'ezin who supports the reform process, saying "you work for saving the regime and we to save Iran".
"Even prisoners are not equal as the regime has its "insider and outsider" in all the strata. IN this way, we have some prisoners who have their mobile telephones, go to their families on week ends, continue their activities as if they were not in jail while thousands of others we no information on them, including Mr. Khosro Seif, the 70 years old leader of the Iranian People's Party", he added.
Latter in the afternoon, Mr. Pahlavan continued his challenge with the pro-government participants, including Mrs. Kadivar, explaining that isolation of the present Iranian regime had nothing to do with America or Israel but to it's own clumsy foreign policy.
"The Iranian people accept Israel as a reality the same as it recognise the rights of the Palestinians" he noted during a debate on Iranian foreign policy by defending the idea of a denucrealised Middle East "provided Israel to be stripped of its atomic arsenal".
Mrs. Shahla Lahiji, the owner of the Roshangaran Publishing House is not optimistic as the future of the regime.
She observed that in order to protest and reject the tight censorship the regime imposes on books and works of art, people demonstrates indifference towards reading and that, not economic considerations, explains the very low circulation for books in Iran, a print she put at between 2000 to 3000 copies in a country of more than 60 millions where the majority are educated.
She partly shared the views expressed by Mr. Pahlavan noting while people like Mr. Jala'ipour could replace one suppressed newspaper title by another in less than 24 hours others are waiting for years for authorisation of publishing a book or a monthly.
"Only regimes that have not popular legitimacy apply censorship", she said, telling the authorities back home that "the time of chastity belt is over".
She accused the regime of being afraid of books since book means learning and learned and educated people are always dangerous for totalitarian systems, she went on.
Mr. Hamid Reza Jala'ipour the Executive Director of pro-reform daily Asre Azadegan explained that what the Second Khordad (23 May, or reformist) newspapers are after is not the destruction of the government or changing the regime, but a very slow motion walk towards reforms.
But he draw sharp protest when he acknowledged that when he was Governor of the Kurdish city of Mahabad in the early years of the new regime 59 Kurdish fighters were executed against 500 pasdars martyred , refusing to place on the same footing the dissidents and the revolutionary guards.
A prominent and outspoken secular lawyer and human rights activist, Mrs. Mehranguiz Kar does not see any solution for the problems Iranian women faces under Islamic Constitution.
"Voting does not mean having rights and speaking frankly, I do not see any solution to end the constant violation of women's basic rights" she said in a sad tone, noting that despite the fact that Iranian women have massively voted for Mr. Khatami, but so far he failed to present the Majles "one single bill" to the benefit of women, she went on calling for a "complete revision" of the Constitution.
One of the last and the most attentively lessened to and acclaimed speaker was Hojatoleslam Hasan Yusefi-Eshkevari who, after explaining different levels of Islamic Canons, said in his interpretation, there are laws in Islam that could be changed, among them laws concerning women's dress, Talion, cutting hands and fingers.
"Hejab (Islam imposed dress for women) is a personal matter and as such, it is subject to change", he said, reiterating that what Islam "needed more was a revision in what can and must be revised". ENDS IRAN BERLIN CONFERENCE 9400