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Iranian Voices: The Hariri Tribunal

18 Jan 2011 21:18Comments

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Indictments have been served to the International Court of Justice for the murder of former prime minister of Lebanon Rafik Hariri. While the indictments are expected to focus on members of Hezbollah, Agence France-Presse and others also reported that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will be indicted for allegedly giving the instructions to kill Hariri in February 2005. Last month Khamenei dismissed the Hariri tribunal as a "kangaroo court" and any verdict it issues null. Whether the report turns out to be correct or not, the rumors are circulating widely in Tehran. Here are some reactions.

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"Such charges will never stick to Agha [the Supreme Leader] because he is almost infallible."

--Journalist, 24

* Officials of both the Islamic Republic and Lebanese Hezbollah have referred to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as "Imam." In Shia ideology, the title Imam is used to refer to the 12 descendents of the Prophet Muhammad who are considered infallible.

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"I have a sick body (sound of crying).... If it were one or two murders, I might have accepted it. But there is no way I can accept these many murders."

--Anonymous comment

* Reference to the Supreme Leader's sermon during Friday Prayers after the disputed 2009 presidential vote. While shedding a few tears, he said he had nothing in the world but an ailing body and a bit of respect given to him by the people of Iran. The remarks were immediately followed by a threat that if people refused to end their protests they would be dealt with severely. He declared that if the dispute had been over one or two million votes he could have accepted there had been vote fraud, but he could not accept that 11 million votes might have been changed.

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"This is The Hague. Now keep insisting that you are the Just Jurisprudent. These people are not Basijis; you won't be able to dupe them by crying."

--Realtor, 45

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"Because he considers himself the leader of the Muslim world, I'm sure we can plead insanity and get him off the hook."

--Lawyer, 30

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"When even before the tribunal announced its verdict, Agha said he doesn't accept the legitimacy of the STL [Special Tribunal for Lebanon], shows he knew they had something on him."

--Activist, 26

* On December 20, in a meeting with the Qatari emir, Khamenei said, "Whatever verdict is issued by the Lebanon tribunal will not be acceptable and it is rejected and we hope that the influential parties in Lebanon will act based on logic and wisdom so that this issue will not turn into a problem."

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"So when are they going to execute Agha? I think it's better if they execute him where Hariri was assassinated."

--Homemaker, 33

* Iranian authorities have been carrying out executions in the same locations where the crimes were committed. The Kaj Square execution in the Tehran neighborhood of Saadat Abad is a recent example.

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"The IRI proudly presents a multipurpose leader. Advanced age is no longer a problem. If you suffer from lack of basirat, give this homemade IRI product a try. He appoints the president, kills Rafik Hariri, sheds tears when necessary, and has the difficult task of leading the Muslim world. Every country needs one such leader. For more information contact us at bestleader@Leader.ir."

--Journalist, 28

* Khamenei frequently uses the word basirat (insight) in his speeches.

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"Khamenei's address to the people of the world: 'People of the world have basirat. Rafik Hariri is alive.'"

--Journalist, 37

***

"Yoo-hoo. We exceeded North Korea. They don't want Mr. Kim. They asked for Agha. Mahmoud should call for a national celebration."

--Journalist, 23

* As Iranians are well aware, many in the West regard Iran and North Korea as two sides of the same coin. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad often finds opportunities to call for national celebrations.

***

"Mahmoud said we are the forerunners of world management. This is the time to use our 'world management' as leverage. If the international community lets us manage the Hariri tribunal in Iran, we can guarantee that within a week all guilty parties will come forward and of their own accord confess that Israel paid them to kill Hariri."

--Journalist, 28

***

"Agha: 'The STL lacks legitimacy because (a) I did not confess on TV and (b) I did not receive my sentence before indictment.'"

--Director, 34

***

"Well played! I bet some people were forgetting the taste of Sandis!"

--Activist, 27

* State-sponsored rallies are often held in response to international developments concerning Iran. Sandis is an inexpensive juice box routinely handed out at such rallies.

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"I know how Agha must be feeling right now. It's a terrible feeling when you can't tell international tribunals what to do."

--Anonymous comment on Persian-language website

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"The Lebanese got the better end of the deal in the Hariri assassination. After ordering his assassination, Agha gave them oil money, helped reconstruct south Lebanon, and even gave them high-speed Internet. If you let us assassinate your leaders, we guarantee to build you roads and give you oil money, among other things."

--Journalist, 43

* According to a WikiLeaks cable published by the Guardian, Iran has provided high-speed Internet for the Lebanese Hezbollah.

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"One of the blessings of the sacred establishment of the Islamic Republic is adding assassination to the list of the country's non-oil exports."

--Economics student

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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