Tehran using iron fist ahead of polls: report

Tehran using iron fist ahead of polls: report

Tehran using iron fist ahead of polls: report

Amnesty International criticizes Iran’s policies ahead of its election, the first nationwide vote since the 2009 re-election of Ahmadinejad that sparked eight months of unrest. AP photo

Iran has “dramatically escalated” a crackdown on dissent in the run-up to this week’s parliamentary elections, arresting lawyers, students and journalists and targeting electronic media, human rights group Amnesty International said in its latest report yesterday.

Despite the findings, the Iranian foreign minister said Iran offers the most successful model in practicing Islamic human rights in the contemporary world.

The group said the continuing crackdown laid bare the hollowness of Iran’s claims to support protests in the Middle East and North Africa. “In Iran today you put yourself at risk if you do anything that might fall outside the increasingly narrow confines of what the authorities deem socially or politically acceptable,” said Ann Harrison, an Amnesty Middle East expert. “This dreadful record really highlights the hypocrisy of the Iranian government’s attempts to show solidarity with protesters in Egypt, Bahrain and other countries in the region,” she added. March 2’s election is the first nationwide vote since the disputed 2009 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that sparked eight months of unrest and a crushing state response.

Quadruple rate of public executions

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi described Iran as the most successful Islamic experience in the contemporary world that is based on true democratic principles and has managed to gain remarkable achievements in science, technology, social justice, women’s status and respecting rights of religious minorities through relying on the will of people, state-run IRNA news agency reported.

The report named “We are ordered to crush you: Expanding Repression of Dissent in Iran” said Iranian authorities had steadily cranked up repression of dissent in the last year, launching a wave of arrests in recent months. The arrests have targeted a range of groups, including lawyers, students,
journalists, political activists and their relatives, religious and ethnic minorities, filmmakers, and people with international connections, it said. Opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi – defeated presidential candidates in the 2009 election – have been under de facto house arrest since February 2011. While Karroubi’s wife was released in July 2011, Zahra Rahnavard, Mousavi’s wife, remains under house arrest with her husband.

The report also highlighted the rate of execution in Iran. Iran put to death more than twice as many people in 2011 as it did the year before, it said. “Casting a shadow over all those who fall foul of Iran’s unjust justice system is the mounting toll of people sentenced to death and executed,” said the report, the Associated Press reported.

“There were around four times as many public executions in 2011 than in 2010, and hundreds of people are believed to have been sentenced to death in the past year,” it said. The report said the heightened pace of executions “may be a strategy to spread fear among the population and to deter protests.”