Amir Taheri, writing in the WSJ.com Opinion Journal, writes that the Tehran Islamist regime has carried out the largest wave of executions since 1984, putting to death 118 persons in the last 6 weeks. Four of the executions were by stoning, and the rest by hanging. The hanging of seven young men in Mashad, Iran was broadcast live on television last Wednesday. Taheri writes, "According to Saeed Mortazavi, the chief Islamic prosecutor, at least 150 more people, including five women, are scheduled to be hanged or stoned to death in the coming weeks."
The campaign of terror also includes targeted "disappearances" designed to neutralize trade union leaders, student activists, journalists and even mullahs opposed to the regime. According to the latest tally, more than 30 people have "disappeared" since the start of the new Iranian year on March 21. To intimidate the population, the authorities also have carried out mass arrests on spurious grounds.
Authoritarian regimes always respond to internal threats with increased repression, usually acccompanied, as in the case of the Iranian Islamic revolutionary regime, with dark warnings about conspiracies by external foes to topple the ruling government. Of course, Tehran is not reacting purely out of paranoia--there is no question that the West in general and the United States in particular would welcome the overthrow of the mullahs. It is likely, however, that all but a few of the victims murdered by the Iranian government were either domestic political opponents of the regime or persons convicted of non-political crimes; not agents of a foreign conspiracy.
Only time will tell whether this new wave of repression in Iran will more firmly entrench the mullahs, in a regime of fear, or instead represents the death throes of a desperate tyranny.