September 1, 2009

Crime and Punishment

"Be sure that no crime or atrocity will go unpunished." So said Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran. And I would love to believe him, I really would... But I don't. Though I guess it all depends on how one defines the word "atrocity."

For one thing, I'd call it an atrocity that protests of the recent Iranian elections were quashed violently in the streets by armed government forces. I'd call it an atrocity that the procedures of those elections were hidden if not twisted by the reigning administration. I'd call it an atrocity that political prisoners of the current government of Iran are tortured and abused (or so the rumors and the case of Mohsen Ruholamini indicate).

Ironically, the Ayatollah's words were meant to reassure the Iranian public concerning Mohsen Ruholamini's death. Mr. Ruholamini, the twenty-five-year-old son of a conservative Iranian politician and one of the protestors of the presidential election results, reportedly died from the harsh and cruel treatment to which he was subjected at the hands of Iranian prison authorities. This admission was issued from the Mehr News Agency of Iran; the sad truth came as no surprise, but the openness with which it came was more startling. The news agency is only semiofficial and not quite under government control, but the fact that the admission comes from any agency even vaguely related to the government surprises me.

Perhaps the Ayatollah thinks that if he addresses such outrages openly and "punishes" the perpetrators then the Iranian public and the world community will separate the "bad guys" (i.e. the Iranian prison authorities guilty of abuse) and the "good guys" (wouldn't the Ayatollah like that title?), and stop giving him such a hard time about the endless civil rights violations of which we hear. However, I don't particularly hold out much hope for the Ayatollah's publicity ratings anytime in the near future.

"Be sure that no crime or atrocity will go unpunished." Ayatollah? Check your dictionary... and look around. It seems as though there are quite a few unpunished atrocities rampant in the country under your control. I guess you'd better get to punishing...

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