30,000 in Holland Back Iran Reforms
By WILLIAM J. KOLE
Associated Press Writer
Sept 3, 1999, AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - Iranian pro-democracy activists
handed the Dutch government a petition Friday signed by 30,000 people expressing
solidarity with reformers inside Iran and accusing Tehran of sending spies
to the Netherlands to discredit exiled dissidents.
The petition, delivered to the Foreign Ministry by the Paris-based National
Council of Resistance of Iran, expressed support for July's student uprising
in Tehran and urged the international community to keep pressure on Iran's
It also alleged that the government of President Mohammad Khatami has
been working to persuade Dutch officials that many of the 15,000-17,000
Iranians living in exile in the Netherlands are economic refugees, not
credible candidates for political asylum, and shouldn't be allowed to stay.
In a report last year, the Dutch Internal Security Service said Iranian
intelligence agents were operating in the Netherlands, tracking down dissidents
and resistance leaders ``with the goal of trying to destabilize the opposition.''
Hedayat Mostowfi of the Resistance Council's Foreign Affairs Committee
in Washington called it a deliberate campaign to ``discredit the status
of refugees here'' and get activists expelled from Holland.
``If they do go back, many will face harsh reactions from the Iranian
authorities, and some will face arrest or persecution,'' he said.
The petition was delivered ahead of a protest next Tuesday in The Hague,
where several thousand Iranian activists plan to demonstrate in support
of students in Iran who are calling for democracy.