The Iranian History 1997 AD


Destructive Ardabil Earthquake

Feb, 28, 1997 AD

Shahidgah burial site of martyrs of the Chaldoran war at the Sheikh Safi mausoleum in Ardabil. Sheikh Safi al-Din was a seventh-generation descendant of Firuz Shah Zarrin Kolah, a local Iranian dignitary. He inherited Sheikh Zahed Gilani's Sufi order,(Wikipedia) - The 1997 Ardabil earthquake was a destructive earthquake that occurred on 28 February 1997. The epicenter was located near the city of Ardabil in north-western Iran.
Background and tectonics
Ardabil and the surrounding province which bears its name are agricultural lands, primarily populated by Azeri people. Two other earthquakes damaged northern Iran the month before, killing at least 79 people.
Damage and casualties
The earthquake occurred at 4:27 p.m. Iran Standard Time and lasted for 15 seconds. At least 1,100 people were killed, 2,600 injured, 36,000 homeless, 12,000 houses damaged or destroyed and 160,000 livestock killed in the Ardabil area of northwestern Iran. Severe damage was observed to roads, electrical power lines, communications and water distribution systems around Ardabil. Hospitals and other medical buildings were overflowing with patients as a result of the earthquake. More than 83 villages experienced some form of damage.
Within the village of Villadarreh, 85 corpses were recovered from the rubble. In Varniab, another small village near the epicenter that had previously had a population of 85, all but 20 residents had perished. Damages were recorded in nearby villages such as Joorab, Golestan, Atashgah, Erjestan, Shiran, and Shayeq .
Roughly 350 aftershocks followed the main Ardabil earthquake. The largest one had a magnitude of 5.2 on the Richter scale. Aid workers and rescuers approximate death toll as high as 3000.
Aftermath and relief efforts
In the aftermath of the tremor, 46 cm of snow fell, hampering rescue efforts. The Iranian government declared three days of mourning to honor victims. Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani visited the damaged area on March, 4. Rescue workers at the scene disputed the official government death toll, claiming it was as much as three times higher. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the governor of Ardabil at the time.
Nonetheless, head of the Iranian Branch of Red Crescent Seifollah Vahid Dastjerdi was satisfied with the pace of relief work. More than 8,700 tents, 21,800 blankets, 15,300 heaters and lanterns, 2,000 bottles of baby formula and 80 tons of bread were given to the victims. Additionally, 60 ambulances, 127 trucks and vans and two helicopters transported victims, relief workers, and supplies to and from the affected region.
Air crash
On 3 March, a small aircraft on a relief mission crashed about 25 km northeast of Ardabil. Its wreckage was discovered the following day. There were four people on board the Dassault Falcon aircraft but no survivors. The crash was blamed on poor weather and heavy snowfall. (Updated: Oct, 29, 2012)

Khatami Elected President

May, 23, 1997 AD

Khatami donating blood in civil suit7th presidential election: From a total of 238 nominees for the presidential race, 234 people including 9 women were disqualified leaving only 4 presidential candidates. Of 36,466,487 Iranians eligible to vote 29,076,884 people participated in the election with a remarkable %79.74 participation rate. Mr. Khatami leaded the race with %69.09 of the votes. He was followed by Nategh Nouri with %24.88 of the votes.
Mohammad Khatami was born in 1943 in Ardakan city of Yazd. While he was becoming a cleric he studied philosophy at the university. He was elected as the representative of Ardakan and Meybod during the first parliament elections after the revolution. He had different state jobs before becoming president. During his term, Iran could change the hardliner image and with his initiative called "Dialog Among civilizations", he created a new consensus in international scene.He was re-elected president in 2001. (Updated: Jan, 22, 2009)

The Night Bat Hanged

Aug, 14, 1997 AD

Public execution of convicts which has become a ususal scene in Iran, drawing international criticismGholamreza Khoshroo, a serial killer who became famous as "The Night Bat" was hanged in a depot at the Azadi stadium in Tehran. Five years before, he had been arrested under charges of multiple armed robberies and rape but he escaped from the police while he was being taken to the court for trial. After his escape, he continued his murder spree by acting as a private cab driver, and picking up female passengers. He then took his victims to a deserted area and dumped their bodies after rape and murder. For some time he created an atmosphere of fear and horror on the streets of Tehran. He was finally arrested on the night of June, 26 and after a brief trial was hanged at 7:45 am, Aug, 14, 1997. (Updated: Mar, 28, 2008)

Iran Ratifies Chemical Weapons Pact

Nov, 10, 1997 AD

A heavily damaged building, a scene in the museum of sacred defence in Khorramshahr depicting devastation of the Iran-Iraq WarIran ratifies Chemical Weapons Pact, a treaty banning the production and possession of nerve gas weapons. The treaty subjects Iran to mandatory international inspections. Thousands of Iranians became victims of chemical weapons during the Iran–Iraq war. Iran and Holland signed an MOU on treatment of chemical weapons victims, ironically enough a Dutch middleman who confessed working for the intelligence service of Netherlands, was the main supplier of chemical material to Baghdad during the war.
Efforts to rid the world of chemical weapons received a significant boost with Russia's signature of the instruments ratifying the Chemical Weapons Pact on Nov,8. The treaty bans manufacturing, stock-piling and use of chemical weapons in an effort to destroy existing stocks and to prevent countries acquiring new chemical arsenals. At the time, Russia had the world's largest stock of chemical weapons.
The decision to participate in an international arrangement against development and use of chemical weapons created speculations about the Tehran's motives, but was hailed as a crucial development by the treaty's chief enforcer.
In an extensive campaign, the United States constantly accuses Iran of trying to acquire WMD, reminding people of state propaganda during the Cold War era. Iran has regularly denied the accusations, signed the NPT and opened it's nuclear facilities to inspections to ensure the world that she wants to use the nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. On the other hand, Israel which has never signed the NPT has more than 200 nuclear warheads and enjoys unconditional U.S. backing. (Updated: Apr, 2, 2009)

European Envoys Back In Tehran

Nov, 22, 1997 AD

Tehran EU Roberto NecciaEU members withdrew their envoys in April, 1997 after a German court implicated some Iranian officials in the killing of four Kurdish dissidents at a restaurant in Berlin. Iran's response was recalling ambassadors from European Union states that had summoned their Tehran envoys home for consultation. All EU members, except Greece, had recalled their ambassadors. Tehran's ambassador to Greece remained in Athens. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand joined the EU in recalling their envoys.
The court ruling came as a shock. Iran's relations with Germany existed for over 100 years and Germany had been Iran's closest Western ally and biggest trade partner. After a three-year trial that included testimony by 166 witnesses, the Berlin court convicted four men in the 1992 murders of four Iranian dissidents and said the order to kill had came from top Iranian leaders including the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and President Hashemi Rafsanjani. This caused the worst diplomatic crisis between Iran and the West since 1989. On Feb, 14, 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini issued a death decree for a British author, Salman Rushdie for his book named Satanic Verses.
Washington immediately seized on the verdict, saying it corroborated with its view that Iran was a state sponsor of terrorism, chiding the Europeans for continuing to maintain ties and trade with Iran and asked EU to join US economic sanctions against Tehran. On Apr, 30, the US State Department listed Iran as the chief sponsor of international terrorism.
People staged demonstrations across Iran. Outside the German embassy in Tehran, protesters condemned Germany as fascist but did not burn German flags. Anti-riot police forces created a cordon to protect the embassy.
Tensions remained high until the election of President Khatami in May which gave a new smiley face to Iran. Following behind-the-doors negotiations, European Union ambassadors returned to Tehran after a seven-month diplomatic stand-off. This was evaluated as a great victory for Iran. French and the German ambassadors were the last two envoys to return on Nov, 22,; complying with Tehran's request that the German ambassador return last. Iran had already begun sending her ambassadors back to some countries of the European Union. (Updated: Apr, 2, 2009)

Questioning Supreme Leader Leads To Protests

Nov, 25, 1997 AD

Tehran, November, 21, 1997 Protesters shout slogans against Ayatollah Montazeri after Friday prayers, for questioning Ayatollah Khamenei's authority.Following reports that he had questioned the suitability of the supreme leader, protesters in many cities expressed their allegiance to Ayatollah Khamenei and shouted slogans against the dissident cleric; Ayatollah Montazeri, the state media reported.
Born in 1922, Ayatalloh Hosseinali Montazeri was one of the leaders of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Once designated successor to Ayatollah Khomeini, his protest against mass executions of 1988 and policies that denied freedom and civil rights put him at odds with the regime.
As a teacher at Feyziyeh cleric School, his protest against the White Revolution in June 1963 and his anti-Shah activities, led to his imprisonment in 1974. During the 1979 revolution, he was a supporter of Khomeini's idea of Velayat Faghih theocracy. In November 1987 Ayatollah Montazeri called for the legalization of political parties, and also an open assessment of failures of the Islamic Republic and an end to export of revolution by arms rather than inspiration by example. In 1989, he publicly criticized Ayatollah Khomeini, breaking a taboo that changed his political life. He strongly attacked denial of people's rights, injustice and disregard for the revolution's true values. On March, 26, 1989 Ayatollah Montazeri was forced to resign in silence. Following Ayatollah Khomeini's death in June, a mid ranking cleric was silently promoted as Ayatollah and thus the Assembly of Experts appointed Ayatollah Khamenei as the new Supreme Leader.
After criticizing the authority of the new Supreme Leader, he was put under house arrest in 1997 until 2003. It's not uncommon for revolutions to devour their own children. The son of Grand Ayatollah Boroujerdi, one of the most prominent clerics in Iran currently serves his term in Evin Prison. Ayatollah Montazeri still has a large following among the Iranian faithful and more than five years of incarceration could not silence the old cleric in his late eighties. (Updated: Apr, 2, 2009)

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