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1980’s Execution Haunts Top Iranian Officials | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi talks during a news conference in Tehran, March 15, 2008. (photo by REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah)

London- Heated controversy sparked-off 20 days ago as a recording for Iran’s Deputy Supreme Leader Hussein-Ali Montazeri surfaced. The recording sounds Montazeri’s loud objection to many of the regime-carried death sentences in 1988.

Montazeri’s controversial audio file had unearthed Iranian cases before the public, especially those concerning the thousands of executions against political activists.

Top officials in Iran now are driven into a tight corner, as Montazeri’s comments had fueled public agitation against the regime in light of the nearing of the day commemorating the served deaths.

Rouhani’s administration, self-labelled as a beacon of ‘hope and moderation’, had been rendered tongue-tied as reports reveal officials responsible for former collective executions being assigned to top posts in his government.

Rouhani’s supportive bloc had also played a major role in the killings, with that being revealed, followers who self-identify as ‘moderators’ were short to shocked.

Iran’s parliament has directly been affected and received it fair cut of argument and criticism against what is coming to be named the summer of mass executions. Second Deputy of the Parliament of Iran Ali Motahari had addressed the current minister of justice, who was a member from the 1988 “death commission” which authorized the massacre of Iranian prisoners, Mostafa Pourmohammadi asking immediate clarification on what had been accounted for in Montazeri’s recording.

The recording, declassified and made available on August 9, shows that Montazeri’s objection to the executions had ended with him being canned from his post as Deputy Supreme Leader during the same year, and months only before Ruhollah Khomeini –former supreme leader- had died.

In the recording, Montazeri meets with four other officials responsible for implementing the executions, and he condemns the executions as he sees them unconstitutional and warns that the deaths will bring about a dark mark to Khomeini’s history.

“The greatest crime committed during the reign of the Islamic Republic was executing by fire squads 6,000 political activists. This reign carried out, in its first years only, more executions than during the Pahlavi regime,” Montazeri says in the recording.

“History will remember Khomeini for a bloodthirsty leader and a murderer.”

No one has more vociferously defended their actions from that time than Justice Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi, who was the Intelligence Ministry’s representative at Evin Prison when the executions took place.

Pourmohammadi and three other individuals were in charge of the committee that oversaw the executions. Using the religiously charged term “hypocrites” to refer to the political activists, Pourmohammadi told reporters Aug 28, “You cannot show mercy to the hypocrites, because if they can bloody and soil you, they will.” He added, “We take pride in executing the orders with respect to the hypocrites.

The audio file disclosed the talks between Montazeri and a judicial committee composed of Hossein-Ali Nayeri, the regime’s sharia judge, Morteza Eshraqi, the regime’s prosecutor, Ebrahim Raeesi, deputy prosecutor, and Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, representative of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), currently the minister of justice.

1988’s executions chiefly affected members of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), opposition Kurds, and leftists.