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    * Iran After the Elections conference *

    کنفرانس برلین (ایران پس از انتخابات)

    (Wikipedia) - Iran After the Elections conference
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    The "Iran After the Elections" Conference was a three-day social and cultural conference on reform in Iran organized by the Heinrich Böll Foundation and held in Berlin on April 7 and 8, 2000. The conference was notable less for its proceedings than for the disruption of them by anti-regime Iranian exiles, and for the long prison sentences given to several participants upon their return to Iran.


    The conference

    The conference was held in the wake of a sweeping victory by reformist candidates in the Majlis elections of February 2000, by the Heinrich Boll Institute, "an independent German cultural organisation close to the Green Party." It was attended not only by "reformist intellectuals" from Iran, but by "banned and exiled Iranian political activists." Unfortunately, the organizers did not anticipate the large political gap between the exiles and the more conservative Iranian reformists.

    On the second day of the conference, hundreds of Iranians exiles stormed the Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt (House of World Cultures) and "staged protests both against the participants and the political situation in Iran." Shouts of "death to Islamic Republic" and "Mercenaries, go home" prevented the participants from speaking, while according to anti-regime Iran Press Service, "a girl appeared on the main tribune and stripped to almost her last piece except for an Islamic scarf, and later a man climbed on a chair and fully undressed, exhibiting pictures of the clerical leaders of the regime" for the benefit of television viewers in Iran where the conference was being televised. The BBC also reported the protesters "included a man removing his clothes and a woman dancing with bare arms."

    Hardline elements in Iran were infuriated by the broadcast of the protests, and following the conference "at least ten" Iranian participants were arrested, tried and sentenced to several years in prison after their return to Iran for crimes such as "insulting the former Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, and disseminating propaganda against the Islamic system."

    Aftermath Prison sentences for participants

    Among those sentenced were:

    Protest of sentences

    The German foreign minister Joschka Fischer expressing his "profound concern" over the sentences to the Iranian ambassador. Human rights groups campaigned against the sentences.

    The imprisonments were thought to have been part of an anti-freedom-of-expression clampdown by hardliners directed against reformers. In "April 2000 around 20 newspapers were closed by the Press Court. Also, other journalists including Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, Emadeddin Baqi and publisher Hojjatoleslam Abdollah Nouri have been imprisoned in connection with newspaper articles they have published."

    Criticism of the conference

    The Iranian judiciary, which is often described as dominated by anti-reformist "conservatives," condemned the Conference as "organised by the `Zionists` who controls Germany’s Green Party to which is affiliated the Heinrich Böll Institute" that organised the conference. However conference attendee and political prisoner Akbar Ganji has cast doubt on this charge, pointing out that Iranians could not go to the conference without the authorities permission, and that the authorities themselves had received the leader of the allegedly Zionist-controlled Green Party, Mr. Joschka Fischer, the German Foreign Minister.

    If the

    Intelligence Ministry, the Judiciary, the authorities knew that the organisers were Zionist and let us go to Berlin attend the meeting, they have then encouraged us to commit an offence

    and asking why

    officials can talk to Zionists and not ordinary citizen? How come that out intellectuals and scholars and sportsmen can exchange with the Americans with who we have no relations but not with German counterparts?

    Others more sympathetic to the reform movement, such as Iran Press Service, have described the conference as "a good idea that backfired." The Service complained that organizers Thomas Hartman, Mehdi Ja''fari-Gorzini, Bahman Nuroumand "were unaware of the weight, importance and complexities of the task," and lacked "any experience or skill for such a highly sensitive and touchy diplomatic performance."

    Visiting Iranians were "visibly shocked" at the un-Islamic irreverence and ridicule of the protestors, while the expatriates were "astounded by the low level of general knowledge, the lack of sophistication, low degree of education" of visiting Iranians, such as the newly elected MP Mrs. Jamileh Kadivar.

    Tags:Ayatollah, Ayatollah Khomeini, BBC, Bahman, Berlin, Default, Elections, Foreign Minister, German, Germany, Hojjatoleslam, IRI, Iran, Iran After the Elections conference, Iran Press Service, Iranian, Islamic, Islamic Republic, Islamic Republic of Iran, Judiciary, Khomeini, MP, Majlis, Mehdi, Protest, Tehran, Thomas, Wikipedia, Zionist

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