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Friday, October 31, 2014 09:14

Iranian opposition leaders speak out against surge in executions

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MirHosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi

Iranian opposition leaders have condemned the growing number of executions in Iran, while expressing support for the populist movements that are shaking up countries in the Arab world.

MirHosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi managed to organize a hasty meeting at Karroubi’s home when the security forces who normally stand guard there were briefly relieved. It has been reported that Ayatollah Bayat Zanjani, a reformist member of Iran’s Shia clergy, was also present.

The opposition leaders expressed grave alarm over the “rushed execution of death penalties in the country without adherence to appropriate and legal procedures.” These policies are “used to create fear and anxiety in society,” the opposition leaders said, but they actually reveal a severe lack of foresight on the part of the administration.

Karroubi and Mousavi insisted that every Iranian citizen has the right to due process, no matter what crime they are accused of.

“Close to 300 executions in the past year can also only lead to further isolation of Iran in the international community,” the leaders said in a joint statement.

The two challengers to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s victory in the 2009 presidential elections questioned the validity of recent judicial actions: “Are executions without due process and without informing the families of prisoners humane or Islamic? Where does it say that we must refuse surrendering the remains of the prisoners to their kin?”

The opposition leaders said the Islamic Republic judiciary should operate “independently and impartially with consideration of all legal procedures as well as Islamic compassion and mercy.”

In discussing the recent uprising in Egypt, Mousavi and Karroubi applauded “the flourishing of political and democratic” awareness in the country.

“Hosni Mubarak rather than following the demands and the will of the people has been carrying out engineered elections and establishing show parliaments and using thugs and hooligans to suppress the people for years,” they said.

The opposition leaders also praised the Egyptian Army for announcing its impartiality and endorsing the people’s demands as fully legitimate. The two men were optimistic that the “revolutionary call for freedom from the people of Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen would reach the despots and dictators of the region and the world.”

Describing the Egyptian protests as peaceful, Mousavi compared that situation to post-election Iran. He maintained that if the Iranian government had allowed similar demonstrations, it would revealed which political movements have a real popular base.

Following the 2009 presidential elections in Iran, hundreds of thousands of people joined street demonstrations to protest against alleged vote rigging and the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The government responded with a violent crackdown that saw thousands of people arrested and left dozens dead.

Authorities rejected several attempts by the opposition leaders to obtain legal permits for demonstrations, as provided for in the constitution. Karroubi and Mousavi finally stopped rallying protesters in order to avoid more bloodshed.

The opposition leaders said Iran is in dire straits because of international sanctions. They accused the administration of incompetence and mismanaging international relations.