Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Adventures of Mr.Behi: IRIB interview with Mohammad B. Ghalibaf

Adventures of Mr.Behi: IRIB interview with Mohammad B. Ghalibaf: "IRIB interview with Mohammad B. Ghalibaf
I agree with what is done in former government while I also disagree so let me tell you what you already know! This is what I could gather from Ghalibaf's interview with IRIB tonight. He emphasized a lot on economy escaping from the debates that could lead to social and political questions that might debate his former role in the top management as police chief. Mr. Ghalibaf was on TV trying to be cheerful but his tone of voice was conspicuously like an army officer likewise the number of times he used "Should" and "Must" among his words. Read More below...

He did his best criticizing economical decisions made by the former cabinets referring to the wrong path he believed Iran has followed within the last sixteen years. The funny part was the time he came across the unfair aid that government gives to Petrol consumers to keep the price low. He was criticizing the fact that this price is questionably low and the aid is actually being given to those who own private cars and are considerably rich in income. (Time out! We have not forgotten yet that a few months ago, the conservative parliament opposed the increase in price of petrol and key economic marshal of the parliament, Ahmad Tavakoli is a key supporter of Ghalibaf. )
For privatization, I did not get what he finally meant as he once mentioned he is up to make privatization of non profitable public companies while his idea about controlling the economy was like fossil theories of communism!
It was clear from the beginning that he is not fully aware of what he says and it became solid when he made his point on WTO membership and he said that he agrees with membership but no he disagrees! Because he thinks foreign import will make low quality domestic products to go out of business and unemployment will be the result (he forgot that this can make domestic industries active to reach international quality).
You know what, if you ride in a taxi in Tehran and ask the taxi driver these questions, you get more or less the same answers if not wiser! Then what is the difference between regular mob and a Ph.D. holder like Ghalibaf (Who gave him the degree anyway?)
Changes in Society: Answering what he thinks as a major social challenge today he replied "Lack of awareness of social changes among managers of the country" He implied that he is aware and I wished if the interviewer would have asked how much such awareness of his could decrease actions against the youth by police forces when he was their boss."

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | 'Tank girl' army accused of torture

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | 'Tank girl' army accused of torture: "'Tank girl' army accused of torture

Guardian and Human Rights Watch find evidence of abuse by Iranian revolutionaries under US protection

David Leigh in Nijmegen, Netherlands
Tuesday May 31, 2005
The Guardian

A bizarre revolutionary army supported by British politicians who want more "regime change" in the Middle East, has been accused of torture and brainwashing.
Evidence obtained by the Guardian backs a report by Human Rights Watch. This makes detailed accusations of abuse, including deaths under interrogation, against the "People's Mujahideen" of Iran (MKO).

The Mujahideen are a 4000-strong anti-Iranian dissident army, currently under US protection in a camp in Iraq. They have a vociferous public relations campaign in Britain and the backing of some Washington neo-conservatives.

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The group, known as the "tank girls" because of the preponderance of women in its ranks, has also won the support of the Daily Telegraph, which wants it to help overthrow the mullahs in Tehran. It says in a leader: "We should back the main resistance group, the People's Mujahideen ... Give them the tools and they will finish the job".
There is a growing right-wing campaign in parts of Washington and London for regime change, citing Iran's nuclear ambitions. But leftwing UK figures have also joined the campaign to legitimise the Mujahideen, whom they see as freedom fighters.

An advertisement by supporters in the Guardian last month quoted Labour peer Lord (Robin) Corbett, as well as Liberal Lord (David) Alton and Tory backbencher David Amess in support, along with human rights lawyers Imran Khan and Geoffrey Bindman.

However, the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, calls them a "a nasty terrorist organisation" and British officials are barred from contact. The Mujahideen are officially proscribed but their British backers want the terrorist designation lifted.

Refugees from the Mujahideen we traced in the Netherlands include Ardeshir Pahrizkari, who walks on crutches. His back and feet were broken, he told us, when he was punched, kicked and had chairs thrown at him at a mass meeting to denounce him organised by his commander.

His crime, he says, was to object to "self-criticism" sessions and the beating up of internal dissidents. "They use Stalinist methods to get rid of even a spark of opposition".

At the time, the "tank girls" were being financed by Saddam Hussein in camps in Iraq. The army was allocated illicit cash from the UN oil-for-food programme, according to Iraqi ministry documents.

Mr Pahrizkari says he was handed over to Saddam's secret service, who took him to Abu Ghraib prison. There were continual beatings there, he said. "When the Red Cross came round, we were told: 'Any contact with them and we will break every bone in your hands and feet.'"

His fellow refugee, Akbat Akbari, says he was tortured extensively, and is still having psychological counselling, after three years in Abu Ghraib.

"The moment you arrived, you were beaten on the soles of the feet. Prisoners were used to hoist your feet in the air with ropes."

Later, he says, his toenails were pulled out. Pepper and salt were forced into his anus.

He says he was falsely accused by the Mujahideen army of being an Iranian spy. Eventually both men were handed over to their enemies in Iran.

They claim they escaped, and deny they are working for the Iranian regime. "My father, brother and sister were imprisoned for six months after I escaped," says Mr Akbari. "The regime took their house."

Mr Pahrizkari says: "I want to warn people not to fall into this trap. If the Mujahideen are the next potential regime in Iran, then that regime will be a dictatorship".

The two men's testimony is supported by last week's New York-based Human Rights Watch report. It says telephone interviews with 12 other former Mujahideen soldiers "paint a grim picture of how the organisation treated its members". Witnesses alleged two cases of deaths under interrogation.

A former English soldier in the MKO, Anne Singleton, now living in Leeds, talked to the Guardian last week. She said the MKO was a brainwashing cult, which ordered its members alternately to divorce and re-marry. As a "Tank girl", she says she wielded a Kalashnikov in the Iraqi deserts with a battalion of women equipped with tanks and revolutionary slogans. They are run by Maryam and Massoud Rajavi, who are married.

She believed she was joining a feminist marxist battle group dedicated to the overthrow of Iran's misogynist clerics. But she says she was deceived and is horrified UK politicians are backing dangerous fanatics.

Young supporters burned themselves to death in 2003, one in London, in coordinated protests after the arrest of some leaders, and the Mujahideen army is accused of numerous bombings inside Iran.

The group raised up to £5m a year in Britain through a charity called Iran Aid, until the Charity Commission closed it down in 2001, saying it was unclear where the money was going.

Lord Corbett's response to the Human Rights Watch report is: "All the people they interviewed are agents of Iranian intelligence. A bill is going through the US Senate allowing financial aid to opposition groups in Iran. People are desperate to stop the Mujahideen getting any of the money".

He attacks the methodology of the report and accused Ms Singleton of also "having links with the Iranian ministry of intelligence".

Ms Singleton denies this, saying: "To claim that every western government and humanitarian organisation which criticises the Rajavi cult is somehow connected to the Iranian secret services shows Lord Corbett's own refusal to take responsibility for supporting this terrorist cult.""

Iran Focus-News - Sen Rick Santorum R-Pa Linked To Terorist Group

Iran Focus-News - Resistance News - Iran intelligence gaining foothold in US?: "Iran intelligence gaining foothold in US? Wed. 1 Jun 2005

Iran Terror Website
By Nasser Taba
London, Jun. 1 – Controversy over a report by New York-based Human Rights Watch is taking a new turn with speculation that Iranian intelligence might have exerted influence on the group through surreptitious agents.

Human Rights Watch issued a 28-page report on May 18 alleging that the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MeK) opposition group mistreated its “dissident members” in Iraq.

Iran Terror has learnt of two secret emails distributed by a senior figure in Human Rights Watch, which Iranian exiles opposed to the clerical regime in Iran are using as evidence of sinister political motives, and possible interference activity by Iranian intelligence.

The two email messages were distributed by Gary Sick, chairman of the Middle East Advisory Board of Human Rights Watch, to a list of recipients called “Gulf 2000 list”, discussing the HRW report on the MeK on the day it was released.

The first message distributed by Sick said in part, “The Human Rights Watch report on MKO (MEK) abuse comes just in time for the consideration of H.R. 282/S. 333--The Iran Freedom Support act, sponsored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) and Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania).”

“Aside from renewing the ineffective economic sanctions against Iran, Section 302 of the bill provides for support for groups opposing the current Iranian regime,” the message added. “Since Representative Ros-Lehtinen is one of the strongest supporters in Congress of the MKO/MEK, one assumes that this proposed appropriation is designed to go to them, at least in part. The Human Rights Watch report on the MKO/MEK would seem to disqualify them from funding under the provisions of the bill.”

Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the Middle East and Central Asia sub-committee in the House of Representatives, has been supportive of Iranian exiles’ efforts to bring about fundamental change in Iran. In an interview after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, Ros-Lehtinen said of the MeK, “In no meeting or briefing I have ever attended has anyone called this group an anti-U.S., terrorist organization.” She said there was “wide support” in Congress for the MeK and that it will be “one of the leading groups in establishing secular government in Iran.”

Significantly, Sick distributed a separate email message from Masoud Khodabandeh, urging further action against the MeK.

Khodabandeh, based in Britain, left the MeK in the mid-1990s. In a written statement to a British judicial board in 2002, Khodabandeh’s brother, Ebrahim, testified that Masoud Khodabandeh had been recruited by Iran’s notorious secret service, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).

In early 2003, Ebrahim Khodabandeh was abducted while on a visit to Syria by suspected MOIS agents acting on information provided by his brother, Masoud. Khodabandeh had been living in Britain for thirty years as a political refugee before being abducted to Iran together with another Iranian dissident.

The case provoked an outrage in Britain. A year later, Tehran allowed Win Griffiths, a member of Britain’s House of Commons, to visit Khodabandeh in prison. On his return, Griffiths said he was shocked in his first visit to Evin Prison to see Anne Singleton, the British wife of Masoud Khodabandeh, wonder freely in the high-security prison and socialize with prison officials and wardens.

“Please do what you can to prevent them from bringing Anne Singleton here,” Ebrahim Khodabandeh told Griffiths unobtrusively. To Griffiths, the reason seemed clear. Singleton was working for the Iranian regime and was being used to break Khodabandeh.

Masoud Khodabandeh noted in his email, “While experts on the MEK have welcomed the HRW report, it represents just the tip of the iceberg as far as the organization’s human rights abuses are concerned”.

The MeK have used testimonies by MOIS defectors and former associates to show that Masoud Khodabandeh has been working for Iranian intelligence since 1998. These accounts indicate that he first traveled to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur that year to meet senior MOIS officials. He later set up a website, Iran-Interlink, at the request of his MOIS handlers. MeK officials say Khodabandeh was a key organizer of a small demonstration outside the offices of Iranian opposition leader, Maryam Rajavi, north of Paris, which was engineered by MOIS as a means of stepping up pressure on the opposition.

In his email message, distributed by Gary Sick, Khodabandeh noted, “There is enough, as yet unverified, information to suggest that the MEK in Camp Ashraf is currently in severe crisis and on the point of collapse, and that the camp is only held together by an atmosphere of fear and repression at the hands of the MEK’s leaders. The most recent reports suggest that if the flag of the US army is replaced by the flag of the Red Cross more than 80 percent of the people in the camp will go to the North camp”.

Iran experts said the emails raised serious questions about the nature of the relationship between Sick and Iranian intelligence agent, Masoud Khodabandeh.

Given his position as chairman of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East Advisory Board, Sick’s emails are likely to add to the controversy surrounding the HRW report.

“The big question now is ‘What did Gary Sick know about the report, and when did he know it?” said Masoud Zabeti, president of the Committee of Anglo-Iranian Lawyers in London.

Zabeti, a lawyer himself, is considering moves to challenge the report through legal avenues. “We might even ask courts in America, on the basis of the Freedom of Information Act, to order all correspondence between Mr. Sick and HRW to be made public,” he said in an interview.

Sick, who has been an outspoken proponent of rapprochement with the Iranian regime, told Time magazine in May, "Rafsanjani will have secret talks going with the Americans within three months after he takes office”. He did not say if this was merely a prophesy or based on secret contacts with senior Iranian officials.

“If Sick has allowed an MOIS operator to develop close ties with him, this is going to attract a lot of a attention,” said Mahmud Delju, who monitors Iranian affairs from his home in Paris. “MOIS has been aggressive in targeting Western academics and ex-officials in its disinformation operations. But this is a new level of operation.”

Whatever the significance of the emails, many observers agree that Iranian intelligence scored a big success when the Human Rights Watch report came out.

“You have psychological warfare experts in MOIS who have been trained by KGB specialists and have been doing this for years,” Delju said. “But to see a report by an American human rights group based on accounts by MOIS agents must have won praises for MOIS in many high places in Tehran.”

The MeK state that MOIS (a.k.a. VEVAK) no longer simply uses military and terrorist attacks alone, but also a sophisticated demonization and disinformation campaign, to suppress dissidents abroad.

The latest revelations come as a United States Army colonel who commanded the Military Police Brigade at MeK’s Camp Ashraf in 2004 joined a chorus of criticism directed at Human Rights Watch by academics, human rights activists, parliamentarians, and Iranian exiles over the report.

Col. David Phillips wrote in a letter to Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth that from January to December 2004 he was given “numerous reports of torture, concealed weapons and people being held against their will by the leadership of the Mujahedin e-Khalq.”

“I directed my subordinate units to investigate each allegation. In many cases I personally led inspection teams on unannounced visits to the MeK/PMOI facilities where the alleged abuses were reported to occur. At no time over the 12 month period did we ever discover any credible evidence supporting the allegations raised in your recent report,” he wrote."