Tehran Combats the Opposition

2010/04/20

Published in German weekly newspaper “Die Zeit” on 20. April 2010
Source (German) http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2010-04/iran-opposition-verbot
English translation provided by @germantoenglish

Iran’s government has again banned political parties and newspapers, and sentenced several politicians to long prison terms. The reason behind those moves is the upcoming anniversary of the presidential election.

by Raphael Thelen

Iran's Opposition is being oppressed and harrassed by the regime - Photo: © REUTERS/via Your View

The regime in Iran still does not feel save in its own country. Almost one year after the controversial parliamentary [sic] elections and the following mass protests of opposition supporters, the leadership in Tehran again resorts to means of repression.

Two major opposition parties – the Islamic Iran Participation Front and the Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution – had their licenses taken away by the Ministry of the Interior. This was reported by the official Iranian news agency IRNA. This move still needs to be confirmed by a court – which is considered a mere formality, since the government apparently wants to silence their critics ahead of the anniversary of the elections.

The Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization was founded during the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Throughout the years, this party developed a critical stance towards the government. Most recently they endorsed Mir Hossein Moussavi, the presidential candidate of the opposition. The Islamic Iran Participation Front was founded in 1997 after the reformist presidential candidate Mohammad Khatami won the election. It quickly became a major platform for the reformist movement.

The ban did not come as a surprise. Many members and supporters of those parties were arrested and detained during the past months, as the New York Times reports. Apart from those parties, the reformist daily newspaper Bahar was also banned on charges of spreading doubts about the correctness of the election results and criticizing the Islamic system of Iran, according to New York Times. Bahar had commenced its work only three months ago.

Apart from that, three politicians were each sentenced to six years in prison and received a ten-year political activity ban. All three of them are associated with Khatami and were active during his presidency. One of them participated in the seizure of the American embassy in 1979 and later became a member of parliament.

Even Khatami himself is facing increasing pressure. Last week, the government urged him to abstain from traveling to Japan, where he was going to attend a summit on disarmament. Khatami thereupon canceled the trip. Contrary to first reports, no all-encompassing travel ban was issued against him.

The numerous measures taken against the opposition by the government are regarded as a sign for the regime’s lasting nervousness. Although the opposition movement has suffered a significant loss of force, a new flareup of the protests on the anniversary of the elections is not altogether impossible.

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