Human Rights

Iran Jails Son of Late Ayatollah for Revealing Father’s Criticism of Mass Executions

The son of a late Iranian grand ayatollah was sentenced to prison on Sunday for releasing a recording of his father condemning the thousands of summary executions carried out in the Islamic Republic in the late 1980s, Voice of America reported.

Ahmad Montazeri, the son of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, was sentenced to six years in prison for releasing a recording in August of his father calling the mass executions “the biggest crime in the Islamic Republic, for which the history will condemn us.” He has 20 days to appeal his sentence.

The prisoners were accused of siding with the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) organization, which backed Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq War, following an MEK attack on Iran. Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri — once considered the heir apparent to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic — suggested that the executions were planned for a long time and that the attack simply provided the authorities with the pretext to carry them out. He wrote a number of letters to Khomeini protesting the purge and was eventually placed under house arrest until his death in 2009.

Iran’s current justice minister, Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, is heard approving the executions on the recording. “We are proud to have carried out God’s commandment with regard to the [MEK] and to have stood with strength and fought against the enemies of God and the people,” Pour-Mohammadi said, according to Iran’s Tasnim news agency.

Pour-Mohammadi’s appointment as justice minister by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in 2013 was criticized by human rights activists and raised questions as to whether the newly elected president was really a reformer. Executions in Iran have increased in each of the first three years of Rouhani’s tenure, reaching a total of 966 last year, the highest figure in a decade.

[Photo: Nejebad / WikiCommons ]