Two Iranians were executed Jan. 28 and nine others have been sentenced to death for their roles in last summer's post-election protests, according to the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA). The two executed men, identified as Momammed Reza Ali Zamani and Arash Rahmanipour, were convicted on charges of mohareb, or enmity against God, and had earlier been appeared in televised show trials. Amnesty International condemned the executions, saying, "[t]hese shocking executions show that the Iranian authorities will stop at nothing to stamp out the peaceful protests that persist since the election." (Jurist, Jan. 28)
Iran's Guardians Council, the body charged with assuring that legislation conforms to Islamic law, on Jan. 13 approved President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's "Economic Reform Plan," which will remove subsidies on oil, electricity, water and basic foods. The Majlis, Iran's parliament, passed the bill last week, following controversy with Ahmadinejad, who sought to distribute a portion of the anticipated $100 billion in annual savings (some 30% of the total government budget) to Iran's poor through government-sponsored savings accounts. Opposition lawmakers wanted all Iranians to benefit from the savings, and sought greater oversight of the funds. Under a compromise, the Supreme Iranian Audit Court will oversee the accounts. (RFE/RL, The Majlis blog, Jan. 14; Zawya, Jan. 6; Press TV, Jan. 5; Tehran Times, Jan. 4; Press TV, Jan. 3)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, commenting Jan. 14 on the murder of a leading quantum physicist, said, "The method of bombing was a Zionist one." The scientist, Massoud Ali Mohammadi, died when a bomb strapped to a motorbike was triggered by remote control as he was leaving his home the morning of Jan. 12. Hundreds attended his funeral, shouting "Death to Israel" and "Death to America." Mohammad Khatami and Hashemi Rafsanjani, both former presidents who now support the oppsotion, condemned the attack in separate statements. (Indian Express, AlJazeera, Jan. 15)
Iran's Prosecutor General Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei on Jan. 11 called for sedition trials against leaders of the protests following last June's contested presidential election. In a statement to Tehran prosecutors, Ejei said that he supported calls by religious and civil authorities to try those who led anti-government protests for "mohareb," or "enmity against God," which is punishable by execution. In a letter addressed to the Iranian people, opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi said that he would not be deterred from continuing to push for reform by threats of prosecution.
At least five protesters arrested in Iran during last week's protests will be tried on charges of "enmity against God," which carries an automatic death sentence if they are convicted. In another sign of an intensified crackdown on dissidents, a Kurdish activist, Fasih Yasamani, 28, was executed Jan. 6 by hanging at Khoy prison in Azarbaijan province, on charges of "enmity against God" and membership in the Kurdish separatist group PJAK, according to the opposition Human Rights Activists News Agency. If true, he was the second Kurdish activist executed in Iran in recent months, following the November execution of Ehsan Fattahian. At least 17 other activists are on death row.
On a tour of Central Asia, Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad arrived in Turkmenistan's capital Ashgabat Jan. 5 to inaugurate a new natural-gas pipeline linking the the two countries. The Dovletabat-Sarakhs-Khangiran pipeline was formally opened in a ceremony with Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov. When fully operational, will more than double Turkmen gas exports to Iran—from 8 billion cubic meters (bcm) annually to 20 bcm.
An Iranian parliamentary inquiry has found that Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi was responsible for the deaths of at least three detainees involved in protests that followed the June 12 presidential election, the conservative Alef website reported Jan. 6. The report alleges that Mortazavi, the prosecutor responsible for overseeing the Kahrizak prison, ordered that the prisoners be transferred to Kahrizak, where they were tortured and beaten to death.
Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar on Jan. 5 warned opposition activists that they could face execution if they continue anti-government protests. Najjar's statement came one day after the Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi announced that "Several foreigners are among those who were arrested on the day of Ashura," when Tehran was rocked by street clashes that left at least four dead and some 300 arrested. Najjar said that the foreigners would also face punishment if found guilty of crimes. (Jurist, Tehran Times, Jan. 5)