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RFE/RL IRAN REPORT, Vol. 3, No. 42, 6 November 2000


Iranians commemorated the 21st anniversary of the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on 3 November this year. This day is known as the "National Day of the Campaign Against Global Arrogance," or 13 Aban, its date on the Persian calendar. 13 Aban also marks the day Father of the Revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was exiled to Turkey in 1964 and university students were killed by the shah's troops in 1978.

To mark this occasion, schoolchildren were bussed in and thousands of other people marched through Tehran until they met in front of the U.S. Embassy to hold a rally, hear speeches, and burn flags. Israel was a major focus of this year's speeches and organizers distributed banners stating in English that "Israel must be eliminated from the arena of the universe." The U.S. was condemned for supporting Israel.

Calls for participation in the rally from the Martyrs Foundation (Bonyad Shahid), Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and the General Staff of the Armed Forces also criticized the U.S. for its relationship with Israel. The Office for Strengthening Unity, the student group which has effectively succeeded the one that led the embassy seizure, was criticized by "Kayhan" on 2 November because it had "refrained from issuing any anti-American statement or calling on students to participate in [the] rally." The OSU also was criticized because it had not issued a statement about the "Intifada of Al-Aqsa Mosque and on the crimes of the Zionist regime."

Parliament speaker Hojatoleslam Mehdi Karrubi added that Ayatollah Khomeini was exiled because he objected to U.S.-imposed capitulations that he claimed gave U.S. citizens immunity from prosecution for any crimes committed in Iran.

The parliament, meanwhile, approved legislation on 1 November that allows "victims of U.S. interference" to sue the U.S. The law was approved on its second reading amid shouts of "Death to America." The Guardians Council endorsed the bill one day later. This measure was a reaction to recent U.S. legislation that permits American victims of state-sponsored terrorism to be paid damages which the U.S. would attempt to recover from Iran. Former hostages, such as Terry Anderson, or victims' families, such as that of the murdered Marine Corps Colonel William Higgins, will receive over $213 million. Iranian state radio on 1 November described the U.S. measure as "blackmailing," and this encouraged Iran to follow a "tit- for-tat policy."

Meanwhile, "Takeover in Tehran," a book by one of the Iranian hostagetakers, was released in Persian (in Iran) and English (in Canada) in the first week of November. The author, Masumeh Ebtekar (a.k.a. Sister Mary), said that the book is an attempt to "clarify the distortions" made in American accounts of the hostage crisis. She told AP that "The seizure was a reaction to years of American interference in Iran's internal affairs. It was an attempt by a nation to preserve its dignity undermined by America's domination." Ebtekar currently serves as a vice president in Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami's government. Abbas Abdi, Ebrahim Asqarzadeh, and Said Hajjarian are some of the other hostagetakers who wield political and ideological influence in the current government. (Bill Samii)

Copyright (c) 2000. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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