[eng] Reporters without borders :  Iranian justice would like to wipe off History

Article published on Feb. 9, 2017
Article published on Feb. 9, 2017

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

Reporters without borders (RWB) is firmly denouncing the conviction, on November 27th, 2016, of Ahmad Montazeri to 21 years in prison. The administrator of ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri's website was sentenced for releasing an audio recording about death sentences passed on political prisoners during the 1980s.

Twenty-one years in prison for informing his fellow citizens about one of the darkest pages of Iranian History. After a trial behind close doors and without any lawyer, on October 19th, Ahmad Montazeri was sentenced to ten years in prison on November 27th for " violation of State security", ten years in prison for releasing "audio recordings classified as secret" and one more year for "propaganda against the regime". Ahmad Montazeri told the press he would appeal this unfair judgement, imposed on the judge by the secret service. He also denied these recordings being classified as secret.

The release of this audio recording triggered a political and media quake in Iran. This recording has been published on August 9th, 2016 on ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri's website. It reveals exchanges on August 14th 1988 between Hossein Ali Montazeri  and members of a commission appointed by ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeiny. This commission was in charge of questionning thousands of political prisoners, who had already been judged and convicted to prison by revolutionary courts. Under a fatwa (religious edict) issued by ayatollah Khomeini during summer 1988, members of this commission in Teheran and civil servants sitting in similar commissions throughout the country sentenced thousands of prisoners to death, sometimes only after a few minutes of questionning, because they would not renounce their believes.

In this recording, ayatollah Motazeri clearly expresses his disapproval regarding these executions and call them "the most horrendous crime to have been committed under the Islamic Republic". He also calls out to the members of the commission: "Sirs, you committed this crime, and your names will be recorded in History as those of criminals."

On August 10th last year, upon request from the Intelligence Ministry, the audio recording was deleted from the website. Three days later, Ahmad Montazeri was called in by the Special Court of the Clergy (the special unconstitutional court in charge of judging clergymen).

For the first time, high officials of the regime commented publicly on this massacre, a subject that is a taboo in the country. Some members of this commission are now high officials of the regime, such as Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, Minister of Justice, Hossien Ali Nayeri, president of the Supreme Judicial Council, Ebrahim Reissi, former State prosecutor and a dignitary close to Ali Khamenei.

Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, Khomeiny's former right-hand-man, has been one of the theoreticians of the islamic revolution, before being removed from office in March 1989, after revealing the massive executions of political prisoners throughout the country by order of ayatollah Khomeiny. His website, inaccessible in Iran, regularly issues religious information. Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri and his close relations' articles are considered to be criticism of Ali Khamenei's official politics as well as of islamic authorities.