Officials Should Stop Incitement to Violence, Arbitrary Prosecutions and Executions
(16 February 2011) A demand by over 200 members of the Iranian Parliament (Majlis) that opposition leaders Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Moussavi be tried and executed for “corruption on earth” disgraces both Iran’s legislative and judicial branches of government, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran stated today. The Campaign called on Iranian government and elected officials to stop incitement to violence and politicized prosecutions.
“For members of the Majlis to demand that anyone be executed for calling for a peaceful demonstration reveals a lynch mob mentality on the part of individuals elected to guard the rights of citizens,” stated Hadi Ghaemi, spokesperson for the Campaign.
“What is more, it shows their expectation that the Judiciary be a rubber stamp for political demands, one that, given the number of politically motivated convictions, the judiciary has unfortunately earned,” Ghaemi added.
Opposition leaders Karroubi and Moussavi applied earlier this month to the Interior Ministry for a permit to hold a rally on 14 February to express solidarity with pro-democracy movements in Tunisia and Egypt. The Ministry denied the permits, but nonetheless, hundreds of thousands of Iranians participated in peaceful demonstrations that were met with violence by security forces and plainclothes agents. Authorities have held Karroubi and Moussavi under house arrest for days and neither politician was able to leave their homes to join demonstrators.
On 15 February, one day after the demonstrations, hard-line members of parliament chanted, “Karroubi and Moussavi must be executed” on the floor of Parliament.
Later, at a rally of government supporters where an effigy of Moussavi was burned, Mehdi Koochakzadeh, a member of parliament from Tehran, reportedly told the crowd, “The heads of sedition are corruptors on earth and in these seditious acts, the crime is obvious and the criminal is known, too.” Koochackzadeh stated that, “it is not only Karroubi, Khatami, and Moussavi who are the criminals. Those who have kept silent during these seditions are also criminals. [The people] cannot tolerate those who are connected with the CIA and Mossad.”
Islamic Penal Code Article 184 sanctions acts of violence against those who are “corruptors on earth.”
“We fear that these lawmakers are inciting potential violence against Karroubi, Khatami, and Moussavi,” said Ghaemi.
In a letter to the judiciary, Imam Sadegh University Student Basij Organization, a campus branch of the paramilitary Basij group, said it hoped “that through the Judiciary’s serious and expedient actions in putting Moussavi and Karroubi on trial, [the judiciary] would prevent the revolutionary anger of the public from erupting into their [direct] confrontation with the two puppets of arrogant [foreign] states.”
Under Article 183 of the Islamic Penal Code, “Whoever resorts to arms to cause terror, fear or to violate public security and liberty will be considered as a mohareb and be corrupt on earth.” Armed activity is an essential element of legally charging someone with moharebeh and corruption on earth.
Since the June 2009 presidential election, prosecutors have used this charge to indict a number of government critics, including opposition activists, journalists, human rights defenders, and protestors. These mohareb and corruption on earth prosecutions have consistently failed to meet the requirements of Iranian law, as well as international standards, as the laws have been applied in an arbitrary manner, elevating throwing a rock or membership in an opposition organization to acts of terrorism. Moreover, many of these convictions have been based on allegedly coerced testimonies.
“All Karroubi and Moussavi have done is call on Iranian citizens to exercise their legal right to peaceful free expression, and prosecuting them would be just another attempt at criminalizing criticism of the government,” said Ghaemi. “This would be a grave breach of Iran’s human rights obligation to respect the freedoms of expression and assembly, and even the right to life.”