Iran Human RightsNine to be executed as Iran plans crackdown

Nine to be executed as Iran plans crackdown


ImageThe Times: Nine more dissidents will be executed soon, a senior member of Iran's judiciary declared today, as the regime stepped up its efforts to deter another huge opposition rally planned for next week. Times Online

Martin Fletcher

ImageNine more dissidents will be executed soon, a senior member of Iran's judiciary declared today, as the regime stepped up its efforts to deter another huge opposition rally planned for next week.

The regime is sufficiently worried that it has ordered state television not to broadcast the usual historic television footage of insurrection on the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled the Shah, lest the scenes incite today's opposition to follow suit.

Last Thursday it hanged two men for allegedly plotting against the regime – a move condemned internationally but praised by Ayatollah Ahmad Janati, a hardline cleric , during Friday prayers in Tehran. "May God not have mercy on those who are lenient with the corrupt on earth," he said. "There is no room for clemency. It is time for severity."

On Saturday the regime broadcast the trial of 16 opposition supporters, two of them women, for allegedly plotting against the Islamic Republic and conspiring with its foreign enemies.

Today Ebrahim Raisi, a senior member of the judiciary, announced that nine more alleged members of "anti-revolutionary" groups would be hanged soon. "They had participated in riots with the aim of creating disunity and toppling the system," he said.

Mir Hossein Mousavi, leader of the so-called Green movement, showed no sign of backing down, however. To the contrary, the man defeated in last June's hotly-contested presidential election has today published one of his strongest attacks on the regime to date, accusing it of perpetuating the "tyranny and dictatorship" of the Shah's era and saying the Islamic revolution of 1979 had failed.

Unusually Mr Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, the other main opposition leader, have publicly urged their supporters to take to the streets next Thursday, the 31st anniversary of the fall of the Shah, setting the scene for one of the biggest and potentially most explosive confrontations yet between a rattled regime and an increasingly bold opposition.

Analysts said the regime was clearly trying to deter opposition supporters from taking to the streets on February 11, but Mr Mousavi, whose nephew was one of a dozen people killed during the last big opposition demonstrations on December 27, appears to be growing increasingly defiant and outspoken.

In a statement published on his website the former prime minister, who played a prominent role in the overthrow of the Shah, seemed determined to undermine the regime's claims to be the guardian of the revolution – and to claim that mantle for the opposition – ahead of next week's anniversary.

"Stiffling the media, filling the prisons and brutally killing people who peacefully demand their rights in the streets indicate that the roots of tyranny and dictatorship remain from the monarchist era," he declared. "I don't believe that the revolution achieved it goals."

He went on: "Dictatorship in the name of religion is the worst kind. The most evident manifestation of a continued tyrannical attitude is the abuse of parliament and the judiciary. We have completely lost hope in the judiciary." He also suggested the regime was rigging elections just as the Shah did.

Despite that, Mr Mousavi promised that the Green movement "will not abandon its peaceful fight…until people's rights are restored". He called Ayatollah Janati "heartless", and continued: "He is unaware of the power of innocent blood and does not know that the blood of martyrs destroyed the Shah's regime."

The opposition has proved adept at hijacking state-sponsored rallies that the regime cannot cancel without huge loss of face, and will attempt to do the same next Thursday.

The regime has made clear that it will deal harshly with any demonstrations. "Anyone breaking ranks with the Iranian people will be considered a n agent of foreigners," said Bigadier General Hossein Hamedani, Tehran's Revolutionary guard commanders. "Any voice or colour other than the voice of the Islamic revolution will be pushed aside, and if a minority makes such an attempt it will be firmly confronted."

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