Index

DATE=7/10/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=GERMANY / IRAN (L-O) NUMBER=2-264254 BYLINE=JONATHAN BRAUDE DATELINE=BERLIN CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Thousands of protesters gathered in the center of Berlin to demonstrate against the visit of Iran's President Mohammad Khatami. Jonathan Braude reports from Berlin the demonstrators say the numbers would have been greater if the German government had not intervened. TEXT: The crowd was good humored and listened peacefully to speeches and music despite rain. But the flags and banners carried the unmistakable message - President Khatami is a murderer. If you want reform, support the opposition. With five-thousand police guarding the exits to every subway station, patrolling the streets of the city and overseeing the crowd there was little room for doubt if matters got out of hand. A member of the foreign affairs committee of the Iranian National Council of Resistance, Hussein Abedini, said German police had attacked the homes and hostels of Iranian refugees earlier and arrested at least 80-people. Police had also done their best to prevent others even reaching Berlin. /// ACT ABEDINI /// In the first place, they sent hundreds of letters to the supporters of the resistance, threatening them if they left their cities to join this demonstration they would face heavy prison sentences and heavy fines. We have got hundreds of copies of these letters. But I am sure there have been more and more cases. They also have stopped many buses carrying Iranians to Berlin. // OPT // I know especially in Munich, Stuttgart, and Nuremberg most of the buses were stopped and most of the people there arrested by the police. And apart from all this, they have closed all the borders. The airports have been closed. It was last night that the Minister of the Interior actually acknowledged that they have returned many Iranians from the borders. Altogether, we know that there have been eight- thousand Iranians who were prevented from joining this demonstration today. // END OPT // /// END ACT /// None of this has stopped President Khatami's visit. He is the first Iranian head of state to visit Germany since 1967. The visit is part of his campaign to improve Iran's relations with the West and to present himself as a reformer. Many members of the German parliament support the protests. The head of the parliament's human-rights committee, Claudia Roth, has said Iran's human-rights violations justify the demonstrations that Germany has tried to control, despite the constitutional commitment to the right to freedom of expression. (SIGNED) NEB/JB/GE/AG/RAE 10-Jul-2000 10:29 AM EDT (10-Jul-2000 1429 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .