Action Memorandum 030

Dec. 20, 1996

Situation remains tense in Kermanshah

FDI was the first organization outside of Iran to report on thedisturbances in Kermanshah earlier this month. (See Action Memorandum029, Dec. 4). Two weeks after the violent suppression of anti-regimedemonstrations, the situation remains tense, with special securitytroops patrolling the streets and a ban on all oppositiongatherings.

On Dec. 19, we asked one of our monitors in Western Iran to travelto Kermanshah to give us a first-hand report on the situation. "Thismorning when I arrived in Kermanshah, the gates of the city wereunder tight security. The Special Guards of the Islamic Revolutionand agents of the Ministry of Information and Security (MOIS)patrolled the streets, especially the area around Javanshir Squareand the streets leading into it," he reported. "The Special Guardstroops I saw were equipped with semi-automatic machine-guns. Somepatrolled the area in vehicles with .50 caliber heavy machine-gunsmounted on top. The doors of the main Sunni mosque of the city hadbeen closed by the authorities and no one was allowed to enter. Thelocal cemetery was also closed, and relatives of those killed duringthe disturbances who had come to stage a commemoration ceremony wereturned away."

Our monitor notes that while relatives of the victims of theanti-riot troops were not allowed to hold ceremonies for their lovedones, the regime had staged a special ceremony at the same cemeterysome two weeks earlier to honor a Law Enforcement Force Colonel, AliAkbar Najafi. Colonel Najafi was killed by an angry mob during thefuneral of Mollah Mohammad Rabiei, the local Sunni cleric whosealleged murder set off the disturbances on Dec. 2

According to international wire service reports, at least 5persons were confirmed dead, and dozens wounded in clashes betweendemonstrators and the LEF. The opposition Iran Nation's Party - whichhas numerous supporters in Kermanshah and the surrounding region -claims the death toll reached "several dozen" persons, with hundredswounded. In addition, the INP and other sources report that more than1,000 persons have been arrested, many of whom have been transportedto Tehran. There is reason to fear that some may be tried in secretof crimes against the state and executed.

FDI is also concerned by recent statements by Hojjat-ol eslamMohammad Hussein Masoumi Rad, the Friday Prayer leader for the ShiiteMuslim population of the city of Kermanshah, who blamed the riots onSunni Muslim fanatics and outside agitators, calling them "enemies ofreligion." Such inflammatory and divisive comments can only engenderfurther violence.

FDI calls on the international news media and Western governmentsto break the conspiracy of silence with which they have responded tothe Kermanshah disturbances. Anti-government riots in whichdemonstrators and a senior police officer were killed would have madefront page news had occurred in Poland, China, France, or Peru. Thepeople of Iran deserve at least that same respect.


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