Iran plagued with 'despotism'
Published Date: March 17, 2010
TEHRAN: A day after his apartment block was besieged by hardliners calling for
his prosecution, defiant Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi lashed out at
the government, saying it was "plagued with despotism", his website reported
yesterday. The cleric, who continues to question the legitimacy of President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election, said it was still difficult for him to
understand how the hardliner won the poll last year given his government's
Unfortunately, the (Islamic) republic has been plagued with despotism and
elections have become meaningless. It has become only a term," Karroubi told
visitors from the central province of Isfahan, according to his website
Sahamnews.org. "How can one believe that a president with so many objections
against him such as inflation, unemployment... gets more votes than he got in
his first election?
Ahmadinejad has been accused of stoking inflation with populist policies that
have involved pumping large sums of money into the economy. Karroubi again
insisted that Ahmadinejad's re-election was "not due to the popular vote which
is why we saw an explosion of people" on the streets after the official results
were announced. In the immediate aftermath of the declaration of the results of
the June 12 poll, hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters poured onto
the streets to reject Ahmadinejad's re-election.
Karroubi's remarks came two days after hardliners reportedly gathered outside
his Tehran home, calling for him to be put to death. His wife, Fatemeh, charged
that a group of "thugs" paid by "corrupt" government officials had vandalized
the apartment block where the family lives. Iran's Fars news agency described
the small but vocal crowd which gathered outside the flats as "students and
families of martyrs" of the Iran-Iraq war. Pictures carried by the
pro-government Borna news agency showed the building defaced with red coloring,
while slogans pronouncing "Death to Karroubi" were scribbled on the walls.
Karroubi and former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi have led a protest
movement against Ahmadinejad since his June re-election, which they reject as
massively rigged. Karroubi was attacked by hardliners during Iran's
commemoration of the Islamic revolution of 1979 on February 11 and his car was
shot at in January in the city of Qazvin, west of Tehran. The outspoken cleric,
who with Mousavi stood against Ahmadinejad in the June vote, has infuriated
hardliners by charging some post-election detainees had been raped in jail.
Iranian authorities vehemently deny the allegations.
Western countries' fixation on Iran's disputed nuclear program is blinding them
to human rights abuses, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi said on Monday.
"In recent years, the nuclear issue has become the only subject that gets
talked about abroad but it's the tree that hides the forest, the forest being
human rights violations in Iran," Ebadi told journalists in Paris. The West
suspects Iran of secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons, a charge rejected
by Tehran, which says its atomic program is purely for civilian energy purposes.
Iran holds two sad records, that for the number of imprisoned journalists and
that for the number of minors executed," the Iranian human rights campaigner
told a press conference to mark the release of a book by her in France. Girls
can be held criminally responsible from the age of nine in the country and boys
from the age of 15, she said. Ebadi, who has lived in exile in London for the
last six months, said that Iran's protest movement was made up of different
political persuasions but "the common denominator is democracy and respect for
human rights." She said that she would not hesitate to return to Iran if needed
but that she currently felt "more useful" abroad.- Agencies
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