Following the recent violence that occurred during anti-government protests in Egypt, the officers argue that it is against the principles of Shi’ite Islamic law to use violence against their own people.
In a suggestion of a major split within the Islamic Republic’s ruling hierarchy over its handling of anti-government protests, the letter has been circulated widely throughout the ranks of the Revolutionary Guards, the body responsible for defending religious system.
The letter, a copy of which has been seen by the Daily Telegraph, is addressed to Major Gen Mohammad Ali Jafari, the Guards’ commanding officer. It calls on Major Gen Jafari to issue guidance to both the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij paramilitary militia to use restraint when handling anti-government protests.
During the violent anti-government demonstrations that followed the disputed presidential election in June 2009, which saw President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad elected to serve a second four-year term, the government relied heavily on the Basij to suppress the protests over fears that it could not rely on certain Guards units.
But in the letter, which is signed by senior officers commanding Guards units in Tehran, Qom, Isfahan and Tabriz, they urge Major Gen Jafari to “use your authority over the Basij to order them to leave their truncheons at home next time.”