Wall Street, 1 Dec. 2016- An Iranian regimes court on Sunday sentenced Ahmad Montazeri to 21 years in prison on a range of national-security charges. The 60-year-old cleric will serve a mere six years by Iranian justice standards, owing to his age and his family’s special status in Iranian revolutionary history. But his sentence is a reminder that the regime remains as brutal as ever, even as it reaps the economic benefits of its nuclear deal with the West.
Mr. Montazeri’s crime was to release tapes that capture his father, the Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, denouncing the regime’s repression during its first decade in power. The elder Montazeri, who died in 2009, was one of the regime’s founders with Khomeini. Tapped to succeed Khomeini as supreme leader, Montazeri grew increasingly disillusioned with the theocracy he had established.
The final break came in 1988 when the regime executed thousands of leftists and supporters of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) opposition group.
Montazeri denounced the executions at the time, accusing senior security apparatchiks in the 1988 recording of committing the “biggest crime in the Islamic Republic, for which the history will condemn us.” He added: “Beware of 50 years from now, when people will pass judgment on the leader [Khomeini] and will say he was a bloodthirsty, brutal and murderous leader.”
For his dissent, Montazeri was sidelined and spent much of the rest of his life under house arrest. Among the men he addressed in the tape was Mostafa Pourmohammadi, who is now Justice Minister in the “moderate” government of Iran that negotiated the nuclear deal.
Confronted with the recording this summer, Pourmohammadi said, “We take pride in executing God’s commandment,”.
This episode about the nature of the Tehran regime is worth keeping in mind as Donald Trump becomes the seventh U.S. President to confront the Iranian threat.