Sunday, April 17, 2005

Mr. Abtahi's reply to the forged letter

Few days ago, a forged letter attributed to Mohammad Ali Abtahi (reformist vice-President of Iran) allegedly ordering coercive relocation of "ethnic Arabs" (Arabic-speaking Iranians) was largely distributed among people of Iran's Khouzestan province and created violent protests.
Mr. Abtahi has denied several times having written such letter and has explained that ordering such measures is neither within his scope of competence nor consistent with his beliefs. However, despite the Vice-President’s numerous attempts to clarify his stand and to calm the situation, Khouzestan separatist groups, largely backed by the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera network, are intentionally fueling the confusion and trying to profit from it.

Mr. Abtahi's response to the forged letter has been largely censured by Iran's own conservative media (including the national TV) whom is seeking to exploit the situation in this pre-election atmosphere, and by many western newspapers whom seem to seriously lack credible sources.

I have taken the liberty to translate Mr. Abtahi's recent letter to Iran's ministry of Intelligence, which he posted on his weblog, so that non-Farsi readers don't have to rely on Jerusalem Post, Al-Jazeera or other politically motivated media:

Dear Mr. Younesi
Honorable Minster of Intelligence

Last week I received few emails through my personal website containing a letter, allegedly signed by myself during my tenure as the President's chief of staff, ordering the relocation of ethnic Arabs from the province of Khouzestan and a remodeling of the population with [Azeris].

The content of the letter would have obviously betrayed its authenticity since [the measure prescribed in it] were neither consistent with the Islamic Republic's policy nor within the scope of the Chief of staff's authority. For these reasons, I [initially] considered the letter as an Internet prank and refrained from giving it publicity and ignored it for a couple of days. However, after having heard that a copy of the letter had been widely distributed in [the province] of Khouzestan, I immediately proceeded to deny its authenticity in my website.
Unfortunately, my response was not taken into consideration by any News agency and was only covered by Eghbal (reformist newspaper) on Tuesday April 12.

I am puzzled by the fact that the conspiracy has been directed toward me, while I, of all other political figures, have always stressed the importance of establishing good relations with Arab countries.

The unfortunate events of the past two days have shown that this conspiracy was a pre-planned effort to allow separatists to profit [from the instability]. Some internal newspapers have covered the event in such way that one would think that they would not mind blaming internal problems and the "reformist provocation" as the source of this tragedy.

As an Iranian citizen, I would like to ask you to comply with the president's order and seriously proceed in finding the source of this deceit.
While the government has the duty to protect the legitimate rights of our minorities within the framework of the Constitution, and this duty was given special consideration during President Khatami's tenure where minorities, especially ethnic Arabs of the Khouzestan region, were elected in democratic processes and ascended to high local council and governmental positions, it is not to be forgotten that the priority of all Iranians, including Arabs of Khouzestan, is before all "Iran". Provocations, such as this forged letter, are too hazardous to be ignored.

I wish you success in promptly unveiling with detail the identity of the conspirators and informing people.


Anonymous Amin said...

I think Abbtahi write this letter! I hope my brain mistake!!!

1:45 AM  
Blogger نیکی said...

i'm glad to see you translated this letter, i meant to do so, but didn't get around to it. Aljazeera was reporting that iran kicked out its reporters until the iranian investigators rule out aljazeera as the source of the forged letter.

7:31 AM  
Blogger Mohd said...

I came across a website for a sepratist group which I thought the reader's of your blog might find interesting. It's all true that someone might have forged this letter. But the violence continued even after Mr. Abtahi denied the existence of this letter. So I think this letter was more like a spark that ignited some very negative feelings among Arab Iranians.

6:09 AM  
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