Iran has achieved the dubious status of ranking only second to China for the number of people it has executed. Now it has issued a death sentence on Gholamreza Khosravi Savajani, a supporter of the principal opposition resistance group, the Peoples Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
According to Amnesty International, Khoshravi is scheduled to be executed on 10 September. This sentence not only continues Iran’s policy of bloody repression, but as unlikely and ironic as it might first appear, it is legitimated by the United States and their misguided policy towards the PMOI.
The case of Gholamreza Khosravi is a very telling story of justice, the mullahs’ style.
A political prisoner in the 1980’s, he was arrested in Kerman Province (in Southern Iran) in 2008 by the Ministry of Intelligence and was sentenced to six years’ of imprisonment, three years of which were suspended. He has reportedly spent over 40 months in solitary confinement.
He was charged with allegedly providing support to Simay Azadi, a pro-PMOI TV outside of Iran.
Following an appeal by the Ministry of Intelligence, the three-year suspended sentence was implemented, bringing his total sentence to six years actual imprisonment. During this period Khosravi was reportedly subject to torture and extreme duress while kept in solitary confinement. The regime were determined to illicit a televised, self-incriminating confession. However, he steadfastly refused to cooperate with authorities in this manner.
As is typical of Iran’s farcical judicial system, Khosravi was denied due process or any semblance of a fair trial. Following two retrials, Khosravi was sentenced to death after the conviction of a fresh charge of “enmity against God” ( moharebeh), for his alleged ties to the PMOI, which the Supreme Court confirmed on April 21st, 2012.
According to Amnesty International, Gholamreza Khosravi, aged 50, was told in July 2012 that his death sentence will be implemented on 10 September. That is about two weeks before the mullahs’ firebrand President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is about to address the UN General Assembly.
Facing growing regional and international isolation, a restive population, and crippling sanctions, the Iranian regime has resorted to extreme measures to quell any hint of dissent at home, in particular towards the PMOI, the only viable organized opposition.
The Iranian authorities continue the extensive use of the death penalty, with at least 360 executions reported in the country and Amnesty suggesting that there have been over 274 other executions, with many prisoners executed secretly. Since the 2009 uprising, the regime has arrested scores of individuals affiliated with the PMOI, charging each with “ moharbeh” and sentencing them to death.
That is appalling by any civilized standards. But in a strange twist of irony, the Iranian regime has repeatedly pointed to the U.S. State Department’s classification of the PMOI/MEk as a terrorist organization to justify the execution of those linked with the group.
The State Department, facing a court ordered deadline to review the designation of the group, has continued to play politics with the review, much to the detriment of those whose lives hang in the balance. Seemingly, the PMOI has been denied a fair trial both in Iran and in the United States. To date, the State Department has not presented any evidence to warrant the continued enlistment of the PMOI, and has ignored court rulings and evaded judicial inquiry.
As the clock is ticking towards 10 September, one could wonder why the US and EU have not spoken out against such a blatant violation of human rights; why they have not condemned this injustice; and have not called for his sentence to be rescinded immediately. As Dr Martin Luther King once observed: “ Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Whether in Tehran or in Washington, it appears the PMOI has been the victim of a miscarriage of justice. It might be too much to hope that the clerical regime will amend its ways but where here are the sons and daughters of Thomas Jefferson – who held that tyranny gains a foothold when we shrink into studied silence?
That silence should come to an end at once and Iran’s brave dissidents - seeking to create their own “land of the free” - should be protected, not marginalized, by the unwarranted terror tag which day by day plays in to the hands of the authors of so much misery, suffering and fear.
Lord Alton of Liverpool is member of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom.
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