Difficult Days Ahead
10 Sep 2009 11:19
Oddly, just about everyone has kept quiet about the recent arrests.
By MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles | 10 Sept 2009
Mir Hossein Mousavi, the main reformist candidate in Iran's rigged June 12 presidential election, issued his 12th statement after the election following the arrests of three senior aides to him and Mehdi Karroubi, the progressive cleric and one of the top three leaders of the Green Movement.
His full statement is as follows:
In the name of God
The news of the arrests of Dr. Seyyed Alireza Beheshti and Mohandes [engineer] Morteza Alviri, who are in charge of the committees for pursuing the affairs [rights] of those who have been hurt during the recent events [the demonstrations and their aftermath], and also of Sardaar Moghaddam who was in charge of the isaargaraan committee of my campaign, created a wave of surprise among those who support the Islamic system [of Iran].
In Iran Sardaar refers to a military man with a rank of Brigadier General or higher.
Isaar is an Arabic word for altruism, and an isaargar is a person willing to sacrifice himself for a sacred cause. Isaargaraan consist mainly of former Basij militia members and the veterans of the Iran-Iraq war.
The statement continues,
They have been detained while committing no offense other than following the path of the Revolution and [seeking] justice for the blood [of the innocent people] that has been spilled, and helping the families of the innocent people who have been imprisoned after the election. They are now in jail, whereas those responsible for the recent crimes are free. The officials claim that they will definitely investigate the crimes that have occurred. Do they want to do this by destroying the documents that have been collected about the crimes and detaining those who are pursuing the rights of the victims?
Mousavi is referring to the victims of torture, rape and murder in the detention centers and the fact that when Dr. Beheshti was arrested, material documenting those crimes were also confiscated by security agents. Even though the warrant issued by Tehran's Prosecutor General stated that officers were not authorized to search the private quarters of the house, they searched his bedroom and even treated his child roughly.
The same thing happened when security agents raided Karroubi's office and seized documents there. When a member of the office staff asked agents to itemize what they had taken, the response was that, "There is no need for that, since they will not be returned." Alviri was arrested at his home while speaking to a reporter of Salaam News, a reformist news website.
The statement continues with a quote from the Holy Quran about respect for people,
Respect for people is preserved through [respect for their] children. The people are now asking, how have you [the hardliners] preserved the respect for the family of oppressed martyr Ayatollah Dr. Beheshti?
Mousavi is referring to the fact that Dr. Alireza Beheshti, who is a professor at Tarbiyat Modarres University in Tehran, is a son of the late Ayatollah Dr. Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini Beheshti. He was a key aide to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini during the 1979 Revolution and the first judiciary chief after the Revolution. He was assassinated in June 1981 in a bomb explosion in the headquarters of the Islamic Republic Party, the dominant clergy-controlled political party in the first several years after the Revolution. He is generally referred to as shahid-e mazloom [oppressed martyr] in Iran.
Alviri, a former Mayor of Tehran and one of the original founders of a leading reformist group, the Islamic Revolution Mojahedin Organization. He was part of the opposition to the Shah in the 1970s and jailed by his government. He and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei were in the same jail cell in the 1970s and were close friends. In fact, the Ayatollah presided over the religious ceremony of the wedding of Alviri and his wife. On Tuesday June 16, four days after the presidential election, Alviri was one of the key people who met with Ayatollah Khamenei in order to find a solution to the crisis that the country was -- and is -- facing as the result of the rigged election.
The statement continues,
People of Iran!
It is clear that all of your efforts to restore tranquility to society are not to be responded to wisely [by the hardliners]. Difficult days are ahead. The arrest of such people as Dr. Beheshti is one sign that indicates even worse events [will take place]. But lawlessness will go away and only the thing [righteousness] that benefits people will survive. Keep your calm and alertness. The new series of events that have begun will, similar to the blind provocations of recent times, leave nothing for those who oppose you but damage. Be careful not to be provoked, so that as they [the hardliners] destroy [themselves] they will not damage your homes and country. My condolences go to the children, students, followers, and friends of [Ayatollah Dr.] Beheshti, that oppressed martyr, and all the supporters of the Revolution and Islam for the disrespect [that the hardliners have shown toward them], and I ask God that the hurt feelings that we feel in our hearts due to this act be compensated by making eternal the great credibility of this [Beheshti] family.
In addition to Alviri and Beheshti, Mohammad Davari, editor-in-chief of Saham News, the website of Karroubi's Etemed-e Melli Party, has also been arrested. The judiciary also sealed the offices of the Association for the Defense of the Rights of Imprisoned People, a human rights organization that had also been collecting evidence of crimes in jails since the rigged election.
As the author pointed out in his previous article, the hard-line commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) have no intention of backing down. They are even ratcheting up pressure on the reformists and leaders of the Green Movement. Last week Major General Mohammad Ali (Aziz) Jafari, the top IRGC commander, accused Mousavi, Karroubi, and former president Mohammad Khatami of plotting to overthrow the Islamic Republic.
Jafari's accusations were followed on Monday by an article in Sobh-e Saadegh [true dawn] weekly, an IRGC mouthpiece, from Brigadier General Yadollah Javani, the head of the IRGC political directorate. In that piece, not only did he repeat General Jafari's accusations, but also attempted to justify the IRGC intervention in politics in general, and in the election in particular. He said that while Ayatollah Khomeini's ban on the military's involvement with political groups and parties remains in force [this in itself is a novel interpretation of Ayatollah Khomeini's order, as that order had been intended for non-intervention of military in any political issue], "times have changed," which necessitate IRGC intervention. Thus, the hardline IRGC commanders no longer even try to hide their intervention in the affairs of the nation, something that up until recently they denied doing.
The goals of the hardliners and the IRGC by the recent arrests seem fourfold. One is to confiscate and destroy all the documents that prove crimes took place in the jails and detention centers, particularly evidence of rape and torture.
The second goal is continuing to crackdown on dissent with the hope of crushing the Green Movement, a goal that has not been accomplished so far, despite at least hundreds of arrests and widespread violence by security forces and the Basij militia.
The third goal is to prevent a show of strength on Friday September 18 by the Green Movement. That day, the last Friday in the month of Ramadan, is called Quds Day, the day that Ayatollah Khomeini designated for protests against the occupation of Jerusalem by Israel. But the leaders of the Green Movement have called on people to use the occasion to show the strength of their movement. As the Quds Day demonstrations take place in every city, town and even small village, the upcoming event has worried the hardliners -- it would be extremely embarrassing to them if people came out in a show of force.
The final goal is trying to either further isolate Mousavi, Karroubi, Khatami, and other reformist leaders, or set the stage for their eventual arrest.
A surprising aspect of the more recents developments is the total silence about them. No one, not even the Majles deputies, have been willing to speak about them. Even Karroubi himself has so far said nothing about the closure of his own office and the arrest of Alviri, his senior campaign aide. Hardline newspapers, such as Kayhan and Resalat, have also remained silent. It appears that everyone has been ordered to stay silent about the arrests, and that, as Mousavi mentions in his statement, more severe actions by the hardliners are expected in the coming days.
These events have also dash any hope that Tehran's new Prosecutor-General, Jafari Dowlatabadi, will be an improvement over his notorious predecessor, Saeed Mortazavi. He appears to be at least as hardline as Mortazavi, which in the author's opinion should not be surprising. No one is appointed to such a sensitive position in Iran unless he has proved his loyalty to the hardliners.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will lead the Friday prayer of Tehran on September 11 (tomorrow). It remains to be seen whether he will continue his tough line toward the Green Movement and its leaders, as he did on Friday June 19 after the election, or if he will strike a more conciliatory tone.
Copyright (c) 2009 Tehran Bureau