One Week After the Executions

The dominant news about Iran in the next few days will undoubtedly be Iran’s new nuclear deal with Turkey and Brazil (something I’ll write about when the details are announced). But there have been some notable developments one week after the executions of five political activists that should not go without notice.

First off, if the government thought they were going to scare away dissent through these executions they were dreadfully wrong. At the end of last week there were huge strikes in Kurdish parts of Iran. Reports and pictures that emerged show the streets deserted and bazaars completely shut down in several major Kurdish cities. These strikes are apparently the most widespread in Kurdish areas since 2005 after a similar incident where Kurdish activists were executed, and from my memory the first time since last year’s election calls for strikes have actually been successful. In the meanwhile, the security atmosphere in Kurdish regions continues to be tense, with more harassment and interrogations of Kurdish activists alongside virtual house arrest of the families of those executed. Interestingly, the regime may well be feeling the blowback from these executions, as Tehran’s Prosecutor General gave a lengthy interview to Fars news where he defended the execution of the 5 terrorists.

Secondly, in case there was any doubt last week’s executions were intended to send a message, 6 more death sentences for moharabeh were confirmed. Three were arrested back in September and the other three were arrested after the bloody Ashura protests in December. Thankfully one particularly high-profile case–a 20-year old who was sentenced to death for throwing rocks during Ashura protests–had his sentence reduced to three and a half years plus a fine, but there are still 10 others whose sentences of capital punishment are awaiting confirmation. Given recent developments and the government’s intention to scare people away from returning to the streets next month, the prospects for these ten are worrying.

Finally, pressure on opposition leaders continues to build. The spokesman for the Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution Party–one of the two major reformist ones banned several weeks ago–was arrested and the war of wards against Musavi, the leader of the ‘sedition,’ continues. The Prosecutor General has apparently been collecting ongoing evidence against Musavi, and 175 MPs signed and sent a letter to the head of the Judiciary asking him to expedite his investigation of complaints about Musavi and Karrubi. With that said, I’d be utterly shocked if any of the ‘big three’–Musavi, Karrubi, and Khatami–were arrested or tried before next month’s anniversary. The regime seems to be content letting hardliners like the above-mentioned MPs blow off some steam with letters and  diatribes against the three but wisely steering clear of any drastic action against them. For the past 11 months they’ve chosen to deal with them in a ‘off with their limbs but not with their heads’ strategy whereby they restrict their movements, arrest and harass their advisors and strategists, and deprive them of the means and personnel for organizing and connecting with the populace at large. Arresting or formally charging them with crimes could be the spark the green movement may need to get back into the streets, and the regime, for all its radical and revolutionary bluster, is still coldly calculating and rational when it comes to containing dissent.

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4 Responses to “One Week After the Executions”

  1. Turkey and Brazil Raise the (Nuclear) Dead « HGU's Blog Says:

    […] HGU's Blog Thoughts on Iran « One Week After the Executions […]

  2. Anniversary Time in Iran « HGU's Blog Says:

    […] droves, particularly within the university. And then of course there’s the whole business of executing Kurdish political activists and confirming death sentences for post-election moharabeh crimes. […]

  3. Anniversary Time in Iran « ryangwhite Says:

    […] droves, particularly within the university. And then of course there’s the whole business of executing Kurdish political activists and confirming death sentences for post-election moharabeh crimes. […]

  4. Turkey and Brazil Raise the (Nuclear) Dead « ryangwhite Says:

    […] With the green movement gearing up for further street protests and the regime already beginning to intimidate the opposition through executions and detentions, offering this deal is clearly a way of showing a […]

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