This weekend marks the first anniversary of the death of democracy in Iran – the rigged election which the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared lost by reform candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi. Afterwards protesters were shot dead in the street and taken for torture to Tehran’s notorious Evin prison; several have been hanged as mohareb – enemies of God. This intolerance of dissent should have come as no surprise: this is the same regime that got away with the murder of thousands of political prisoners – and has never been called to account.
It happened in the summer of 1988, after the war with Iraq ended in a bitter truce. Iran’s prisons were full of students sentenced for protesting against Ayatollah Khomeini in the early 1980s – Marxists and leftists of all varieties and supporters of the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organisation – a guerrilla sunni-Marxist movement. They had been sorted by prison officials into groups of those who remained “steadfast” in their political beliefs or who were apostates. The regime decided they should be eradicated so they would not trouble the postwar government, and Khomeini issued a secret fatwa authorising their execution.