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09 Oct 2009 15:301 Comment

Amnesty: Iran sentences opponent to death

AP | Oct. 9, 2009

Iran has sentenced an accused member of an exiled opposition group to death, Amnesty International said Friday in an appeal for Tehran to rescind the ruling.

Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani was the first person to be sentenced to death in connection with the unrest triggered by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed June 12 re-election, the human rights group said.

He was among about 100 people on trial since August accused of offenses ranging from rioting to spying and seeking to topple Iran's Islamic rulers through what authorities call a "soft overthrow."

Amnesty said it was concerned that the ruling against Zamani could open the way for more death sentences for those accused of similar crimes.

Setting the record straight

Blog Watch: Majd on Khatami

In Iran, a political struggle between the reformers and the conservatives continues. The reformers continue to maintain that widespread fraud occurred in the presidential election of June 12, 2009, while the conservatives and the administration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad allege continue to allege that reformers, and particularly the top leadership which consists of Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and Mohammad Khatami, sought to overthrow the Islamic regime by means of a "velvet" or "color" revolution. Confessions made on state television by some reformist politicians and journalists under arrest have been used as evidence that the post-election unrest was nothing more than part of a nefarious plot to undermine the Revolution and the regime.

It has also been alleged that former president Seyed Mohammad Khatami concocted the plot with American billionaire and philanthropist George Soros, whose role in the "color" revolutions of Eastern Europe is highlighted by the conservative Iranian media, while on a visit to the United States in 2006. A passage from my book, "The Ayatollah Begs to Differ", has been used, interestingly enough, by both reformists and hardliners to prove that either Soros did or didn't meet with President Khatami. Parlemannews, a website thought to be affiliated with Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, displayed the page from my book, highlighting the relevant passages, but conservatives dispute the conclusion that Khatami did not meet with George Soros. In fact, it is very clear what the passage states.

In 2006, while on a trip to the U.S. as a private citizen, Khatami delivered lectures, attended dinners, and was besieged with many requests for private meetings. In one instance, Richard Blum, a financier and husband of Senator Diane Feinstein, asked to meet with Khatami. Given his busy schedule, the only time available was while Khatami was in Boston, to deliver a lecture at Harvard (I accompanied Khatami during his trip). Blum, who has his own jet, flew in to meet with Khatami, and the purpose seemed to be to try to understand how Iran and the U.S. could move to a less confrontational relationship. (Most of the influential Americans who met with Khatami on his trip were either Democrats or Americans opposed to what they viewed as the Bush administration's march towards war with Iran.) Blum also wanted to see if there could be a way for Khatami to meet with former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, as part of an effort to counter the Bush administration's anti-Iran propaganda. Khatami explained that that would not be possible. In the short passage in my book describing this encounter, I also mention that other influential Americans, such as George Soros, wanted to meet President Khatami. However, I never said that Soros accompanied Richard Blum to Boston (he didn't), and I know that Khatami did not meet with Soros there, as he has stated in Tehran. Richard Blum, the principal at Blum Capital Partners in San Francisco, can easily confirm this.

The very idea that Khatami would attempt to overthrow the government of the Islamic Republic is preposterous. He, like President Ahmadinejad himself, has met with influential Americans when he has visited the United States (and President Ahmadinejad met with some of those Americans just last month in New York), and as a proponent of dialog, merely tries to represent his country's views and positions in the hope that there can be better understanding between Iran and the West. Ironically, his dialog has often included defending President Ahmadinejad's administration and Iran's foreign policy, something one would hope the conservatives might be thankful for, for he does a far better job of it than the Iranian president himself. -- Hooman Majd

Karoubi's letter to IRIB

Mashrote News | Oct. 8, 2009

In the Name of God,

[A poem: if the first bricks of a wall are placed askew, the entire wall will go up askew.]

Dear Brother, Mr. Zarghami,

The Honorable Chief of IRIB,


As you are well aware, on Tuesday Mr. Ahmadinejad's interview with Charlie Rose was broadcast on Channel1 [IRIB1.] When speaking of post-election events, the host of this American TV network pointed to the subject of rape in prisons. In response, Mr. Ahmadinejad said 'it is Mr. Karoubi who has made these allegations and when the three member team from the judiciary refuted his comments, he grew very angry and had nothing to show for it.'

It is quite unfortunate that the culture of lying has become an inseparable part of the executive branch. I don't know what it is about New York that brings out this personal attribute [of making things up]. It is also unfortunate that the Islamic Republic's broadcasting service has also been transformed to a medium that spreads this vile culture [of lying] and the result is the lack of trust people feel towards this public medium.

I want the dear people to know that some very shocking news was reported to me about the state of the children of this nation who were in legal and illegal detention centers for simply demanding their legal rights. It was my religious, legal, national and human obligation to say something and not to allow the violation of people's rights and the trampling of their honor to become a norm in the Islamic Republic. After the members of the judiciary team were announced, we had some productive meetings, and I gave them my documentation trustful that these individuals were intent on following the cases and punishing those who were responsible. But suddenly, instead of pursuing the cases, traitors viciously attacked me and they shut down my personal office and the office of my Etemad Melli party and another copy of the documents was in the hands of officials.

The accusations made in that interview [Ahmadinejad's] are pure lies and I am still actively pursuing those cases -- accounts that hurt the conscience of any free human being. I ask the so-called national media to give me or one of my representatives a third of the time they gave those judiciary members so I can convey the extent of these atrocities to the people. So that the nation, the real owners of this land, can put themselves in place of a jury and judge my words and yours. The late Imam [Khomeini] said that he would sacrifice his life for the people of this nation, so why are these same people now considered outsiders and why do they not have the right to hear what is happening to their own children via their own medium?

Mr. Zarghami,

I know you to be an honest, intelligent individual. That is why I recommend that you bring down this great wall of mistrust that has been created between the people and their national media, which, today, more resembles the officials' personal media. The interests of the people and the nation depend on being informed of events. And there's no one around these days who doesn't know that because of the existing technologies. Despite all the efforts, borders have been broken and people have access to information.

I ask the lord for your health and well-being,

With thanks,

Mohammad Taqi Karoubi

(translated by Golab P.)

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1 Comment

i urge every iranian-american to read the book by mr.majd,the ayatollah begs to differ.it is easy to read,full of information,and little details,and events,of how this system works.
i really enjoy reading this book.
thank you mr,majd,for giving us iranian living abroad,a better understanding of how things work in iran,particulary during this regim.

fay moghtader / October 10, 2009 7:51 AM