Human Rights Deteriorate in Iran as Elections Approach

Human Rights Deteriorate in Iran as Elections Approach

Speaking in Tehran at a forum on human rights in February 2012, Iranian Chief Justice Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani called Iran’s ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in December 1948 a “mistake.” Larijani was reacting to reports by the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, on Iran’s systematic violations of the declaration. Larijani went on to deny the incidents documented in the reports and assert that the U.N.’s evidence was false.

But Iran is indeed expanding its crackdown on political, religious and social freedoms in advance of the June 14 election to select a successor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Guardian Council Chairman Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati and Larijani are taking no chances in efforts to prevent a recurrence of the public unrest that followed the last presidential election in 2009, when protests over the disputed poll nearly overthrew the theocracy. Nor are the ayatollahs willing to abide challenges from within the government itself to replace the autocratic “velayat-e faqih” system -- or governance of the Islamic jurist, whereby Khamenei rules as unelected supreme leader -- with a popularly elected secular administration.

Sensing mounting opposition to the theocracy, on Jan. 8 Khamenei warned politicians, activists and the general public that “criticizing the electoral process will help [Iran’s] enemies” and therefore would not be tolerated. That same day his representative to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Hojatoleslam Ali Saeedi, instructed the security forces that it is their “inherent duty to ensure a reasonable and logical engineering” of the upcoming election.

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