'Iran After the Elections' Conference

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 name refers to the Iranian legislative election, 2000. The conference was less notable for its proceedings than for its disruption 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 by the Heinrich Boll Institute, "an independent German cultural organisation close to the Green Party," in the wake of a sweeping victory by reformist candidates in the Majlis elections of February 2000,[1] It was attended not only by "reformist intellectuals" from Iran, but also by "banned and exiled Iranian political activists."[2] Unfortunately, the organizers did not anticipate the large political gap between the exiles and the more conservative Iranian reformists.[citation needed]

On the second day of the conference, hundreds of Iranian 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." [3] Shouts of "death to the 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" [4] 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."[5]

Hardline elements in Iran were infuriated by the broadcast of the protests, and following the conference "at least ten" [2] 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." [6]


Prison sentences for participants[]

Among those sentenced were:

Protest of sentences[]

The German foreign minister Joschka Fischer expressed his "profound concern" over the sentences to the Iranian ambassador.[5] Human rights groups campaigned against the sentences.[6] [2]

The imprisonments were thought to have been part of an anti-freedom-of-expression clampdown by hardliners directed against reformers. The Amnesty International delivered a statement on the prosecution:

"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."[6]

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 control 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, Joschka Fischer.

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?[15]

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. [1]

See also[]


  2. ^ a b c d "Iran: Trial for Conference Attendees". Archived from the original on 2008-11-15. Retrieved 2007-11-21.
  3. ^ a b c "Iran: Further information on Prisoners of Conscience". Archived from the original on 2006-04-30. Retrieved 2007-11-23.
  5. ^ a b c Germany's 'concern' at Iran verdicts
  6. ^ a b c d Iran: Further information on torture/ill-treatment/prisoner of conscience - Akbar Ganji Archived 2007-11-15 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Urgent Action Appeal (Petition)
  8. ^ Khalil Rostamkhani's interview with Berliner Zeitung (updated)
  9. ^ "Two journalists threatened with death penalty, another journalist on hunger strike after suffering torture". Archived from the original on 2002-05-08. Retrieved 2007-11-24.
  10. ^ Berlin Conference: Four journalists sentenced to four to ten years' imprisonment[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ Ezzatollah Sahabi et al. v. Islamic Republic of Iran, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention,
  12. ^ Iran's Top Journalist Accuses Authorities of Torture
  13. ^ shahla sherkat or extraordinaire
  14. ^ 2/6/05 Iranian dissident cleric Eshkevari released after 4 years in jail
  15. ^ GANJI IDENTIFIED FALLAHIAN AS THE "MASTER KEY" IN CHAIN MURDERS Archived 2013-05-10 at the Wayback Machine

External links[]