Audio of Hussein-Ali Montazeri’s Argument comes back to Haunt Iranian Regime

In an article by Adel al-Salmi in today’s Asharq Al-Awsat, he speaks to the effect of the recent release of an audio file of Hussein-Ali Montazeri’s speech to his fellow leaders in 1988.

Twenty days ago when a recording of Irans Deputy Supreme Leader Hussein-Ali Montazeri surfaced, a controversy began. On  the recording Montazeri’s loud objection to many of the regime-carried death sentences in 1988 can be heard.

Iranian officials are now are driven into a corner, as Montazeri’s comments fuel public agitation against the regime, especially coming at the anniversary of the 1988 Massacre.

Rouhani’s ‘moderate’ administrationhave been rendered speechless, as reports reveal officials responsible for former collective executions are still active in top posts in his government.

al-Salmi says, “Iran’s parliament has directly been affected and received it fair cut of argument and criticism against what is coming to be named the summer of mass executions. Second Deputy of the Parliament of Iran Ali Motahari had addressed the current minister of justice, who was a member from the 1988 ‘death commission’ which authorized the massacre of Iranian prisoners, Mostafa Pourmohammadi asking immediate clarification on what had been accounted for in Montazeri’s recording.

The recording, which was made available on August 9, shows that Montazeri’s objections to the scope of the executions ended with him being removed from his post as Deputy Supreme Leader. During the same year, just months later, Ruhollah Khomeini, the former supreme leader, died.

In the recording, Montazeri condemns the executions, as he sees them as unconstitutional, and warns that the deaths will bring about a dark mark to Khomeini’s history.  The greatest crime committed during the reign of the Islamic Republic was executing by fire squads 6,000 political activists. This reign carried out, in its first years only, more executions than during the Pahlavi regime,” Montazeri says, and adds, History will remember Khomeini for a bloodthirsty leader and a murderer.”

Justice Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi, who was the Intelligence Ministry’s representative at Evin Prison when the executions took place. He has defended his actions from that time.  According to al-Salmi, “Pourmohammadi and three other individuals were in charge of the committee that oversaw the executions. Using the religiously charged term ‘hypocrites’ to refer to the political activists, Pourmohammadi told reporters Aug 28, You cannot show mercy to the hypocrites, because if they can bloody and soil you, they will.” He added, We take pride in executing the orders with respect to the hypocrites.”

The audio file made public the argument between Montazeri and a judicial committee composed of Hossein-Ali Nayeri, the regime’s sharia judge, Morteza Eshraqi, the regime’s prosecutor, Ebrahim Raeesi, deputy prosecutor, and Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, representative of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), currently the minister of justice.

The Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), opposition Kurds, and leftists were among those most affected by the 1988 massacre.