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Khatami Threatens to Resign if Students are Executed

Melanie Takefman | 03.07.2003 16:07 | Repression | Social Struggles

The Student protests in Iran are entering their third week and it seems the situation is still far from being under control. Over the past two weeks, more than 8,000 students have been arrested during demonstrations against the regime and religious clerics. At an emergency meeting of the High Council of National Security which took place this week, President Khatami condemned proclamations of senior religious clerics to execute the student leaders, according to the London-based daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat.

Participants at the meeting said Khatami gave a direct warning to the Judiciary Authority and an indirect warning to spiritual leader Ayatollah ‘Ali Khamanai, stressing that he will not hesitate to give in his resignation “straight to the people”if the threat to the lives of the student leaders is not removed.

During the meeting, Khatami harshly criticized Tehran’s Prosecutor General Sa’id Murtadawi, also known as “The Press Murderer”. Murtadawi was appointed by Iran’s spiritual leader ‘Ali Khamanai to thwart the activities of independent reform newspapers and incarcerate their editors. Murtadawi was recently given the unusual authorization to imprison people for long-terms even though the law does not allow detaining people for more than one day without presenting an indictment.

President Khatami delivered a speech on Wednesday during the opening session of the national judges seminar in which he stressed that the most important mission of a regime subordinate to God is to establish an efficient judiciary authority aimed at “creating an insecure atmosphere for those who make society insecure.” He later clarified his remarks, saying that the worst danger posed to society is violating people’s rights and liberties. “People are free within the framework of the law and our duty is to promote their freedom,” the President told the Iranian national news agency.

Khatami and his reform-supporting partners, among them head of Parliament, Mahdi Karoubi, are concerned about the fate of several detainees who were forced by Murta’sawi’s people to “confess” on national television to ties with opposition elements abroad. They were also made to confess to supporting the contents of television and radio satellite broadcasts transmitted by Iranian opposition activists based in Los Angeles.

The concern of Khatami and his supporters has increased in light of sermons and declarations of senior religious clerics, broadcasted continuously on Iranian television and radio. These sermons call for the execution of students and detainees in order to prevent a repetition of the demonstrations that occurred in July, 1999.

Khatami threatened to resign upon receiving information that the spiritual leader Khamanai approved the request of prosecutor general Muta’sawi to execute at least four of the student leaders prior to the protests anticipated to be held on the 9th of July.

Melanie Takefman
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