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Iran: Tunisian uprising sparks execution blitz | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- An Iranian opposition figure told Asharq al-Awsat that the execution of 10 prisoners in a jail northwest of Tehran last week reflects the Iranian regime’s fear of the Tunisian experiment, particularly after the Iranian government lifted the subsidies on numerous basic commodities. Meanwhile, the opposition Mojahdin- e Khalq Organization [MKO] said that Tehran arrested 80 of its cadres in the Ashraf camp in Iraq.

In a telephone interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Dr Sanabreq Zahedi, head of the judiciary committee in the ” National Council of the Iranian Resistance” [NCIR], said that the Iranian regime’s execution of 10 prisoners stems from fear that a popular uprising may break out against it on the same level of the recent revolution in Tunisia where the ruling regime was toppled, particularly after the hike in prices of commodities in Iran against the background of the international sanctions imposed because of Iran’s nuclear program.

Iranian opposition sources abroad said that the Iranian authorities carried out a mass execution of 10 prisoners at a prison northwest of Tehran. A statement signed by “the NCIR secretariat, said that the execution took place at the Johardasht prison in Karj (some 40 kilometers west of Tehran) at dawn on 19 January.

Asked if those executed were politicians opposed to the regime, Dr Zahedi said: “In fact, every execution in Iran is political because through such conduct the Iranian regime wants to smother the popular anger in various Iranian cities after the subsides on numerous commodities were reduced.” He added: “Form the beginning of this year, the Iranian regime began a wave of executions because the regime is in conflict with internal forces,” and fears an unpredictable reaction because of the hike in prices and reduced subsides.

In another development, the opposition sources said that the Iranian authorities are collaborating with the Iraqi government to arrest dozens of MKO members of the estimated 3,500 members in the Ashraf Camp located near Baghdad. We have been unable to receive comment from the Iraqi authorities on this issue. The Iranian opposition sources claimed that they received information which they described as “reliable” to the effect that Iran requested Iraq to arrest 80 MKO members. They said that the request was discussed in Iran shortly before the new Iraqi government was formed by Nuri al-Maliki, but was only submitted directly in the past few days.

In a statement a copy of which was received by Asharq Al-Awsat as an e-mail, the Paris-based office of the NCIR secretariat said that Iran submitted through its embassy in Baghdad a request to the Iraqi authorities to arrest 80 MKO members at Ashraf Camp. They noted that some of the names on the list died years ago while others currently do not live in Iraq but in Europe and the United States. Other names on the list are “absolutely not members of the MKO or of the Iranian National Liberation Army.” There has been no official Iranian comment on these allegations.