Tehran is taking a tough stance

2010/02/02

Published in German weekly newspaper “Die Zeit” on February 2, 2010
Source (German): http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2010-02/iran-todesurteile

by Martin Gehlen

The judiciary has announced it will execute further death sentences. Opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi responds by harshly criticizing the Islamic Republic.

Iran's regime is brutally confronting supporters of the opposition. The judiciary has announced to carry out more executions. Photo: © Amir Sadeghi/AFP/Getty Images


In the run-up to the anniversary of the revolution on 11. February, the regime in Iran apparently is determined to intimidate the population by taking drastic steps. Last week, two young men were hanged for “conspiracy against the Islamic Republic”. On Tuesday, the deputy head of the national judiciary announced that death warrants against nine more convicts will “soon” be executed. Opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi responded to this announcment with his so far harshest criticism of the situation in his country.

He said the Islamic Revolution of 1979 has failed, because “the roots of tyranny and dictatorship from the times of the monarchy” are still lingering. Iran today is “just like any other despotic regime in this world”. A dictatorship in the name of religion is “the worst thing possible”, the former Prime Minister wrote on his website Kalemeh.org. This is clearly demonstrated by the abuse of the parliament and the judiciary. “We have lost all hope in the judiciary”.

Reformist cleric Mehdi Karroubi and former president Mohammad Khatami called on the citizens to turn out in large numbers on 11. February. “Civil protest should not be answered with repression, detention, or even execution”, said Khatami. This will only further aggravate the crisis.

Iranian authorities have provided contradictory information about the number of death sentences issued in the big show trial against 100 defendants that took place after the June unrest, as well as in the second show trial against 16 defendants following the unrest on the day of Ashura. Tehran’s chief prosecutor Abbas Javari Dowlatabadi claimed that a total of nine people were sentenced to death in connection with the protests against the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, five of them for participating in the street fights on Ashura.

In earlier statements, however, Dowlatabadi had said that already in the big show trial that was held in August five defendants had received death sentences. The Supreme Revolutionary Court had issued prison sentences ranging from 6 months to 15 years for 80 more dissidents. Adding these cases to those announced on Tuesday, the number of already executed and obviously planned political executions amounts to a total of 11.

Meanwhile, Sadegh Larijani, chief of the Iranian judiciary, came up with an unusual statement revealing deep rifts within the conservative government camp. On the website of the administration of justice, the cleric wrote that he will not yield to increasing pressure from the conservative establishment urging to speed up executions of government opponents. He added that existing political powers are demanding from the judiciary to violate the law in order to smash the opposition.

The head of the judiciary is the brother of Ali Larijani, the speaker of parliament, who is considered to be an opponent of Ahmadinejad. His unexpected criticism is obviously directed at Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, who is the head of the Guardian Council and a professed supporter of Ahmadinejad. In his Friday prayer sermon delivered on the campus of the Tehran University last week, Jannati had stated that the protests in the country could have been silenced long ago, had the judiciary started executions of dissidents much earlier.

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