The message of the hangman

2010/01/29

Published in “Süddeutsche Zeitung” (print edition) on January 29 2010
Source (German): see below

Iran uses executions to terrify opposition
by Rudolph Chimelli

Repression within and tense relations with the West go hand in hand in Iran. For the first time since the protests against the regime started, two opposition supporters were hanged on Thursday, while Germany has joined the ranks of Iran’s traditional enemies USA, Great Britain and Israel. According to chief prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi, the executed persons were members of a monarchistic group that allegedly by acts of terrorism attempted to prevent the people from participating in the presidential elections in June. Nine other convicts who have been sentenced to death, among them members of the leftist Islamistic Organization of the People’s Mojaheddin, are still awaiting the outcome of their appeals procedures.

The two executed men had nothing to do with the bloody unrest during the protests against the elections and in the demonstrations on Ashura in December. Both were arrested two months prior to the elections. One of them, the 19 year old Arash Rahmanipour, during his law suit had confessed in front of recording cameras to have received orders for armed disturbance from a man in Los Angeles. His lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh called the verdict “political, illegal, and unjust”. She had not been allowed to defend her client properly. As for the confession, she claimed it was a result of the pressure imposed on the family – Rahmanipour had been arrested together with his pregnant sister.

According to opposition sources, sympathizers reported that the interrogators had urged the second victim, Reza Ali Zamani, to confess to details in order to receive a more lenient verdict. They also had him rehearse the wording of his testimony in advance. Another convict on death row, the alleged member of the People’s Mojaheddin Nasser Abdul Hosseini, is accused of arranging appointments with dissidents in Iraq. His brother says that the convict does not even have a diploma, nor a computer, nor an e-mail-account.

Since new demonstrations are likely to happen on February 9 [sic], the anniversary of the Revolution, the execution of the death penalties at this point has the purpose of terrifying people. The same goes for the continued attempts of the regime to discredit the opposition as henchmen of foreign countries.

No information is available on the two German citizens who, according to Iranian reports, are affiliated with the embassy in Tehran and were arrested for wearing and distributing green wristbands during the anti-government rallies on Ashura in December. Neither their real names, nor the name of the Iranian deputy intelligence minister who forwarded these claims to journalists, were communicated. Also, it is a state secret whether they are still being detained.

A weighty political factum, however, is that the accusations against Germany coincide with demands raised by Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and Israeli President Shimon Peres to tighten measures against Iran. Also, the withdrawal of Siemens from business with Iran is likely to have disgruntled Tehran. The partner of the hostile Germans, according to the official picture, is opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi: there is a “German group” associated with him, consisting of graduates of German universities, it says. Even his facebook page is being operated by people in Germany.

Click on picture to view scan of German article

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