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Sehaty Foreign Exchange

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30,000 in Holland Back Iran Reforms

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 leaders.

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.


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