Iran’s theocratic dictatorship this week tightened the vice restricting the political activities of opposition forces by ordering two more political parties to suspend their activities, jailing their leaders, and banned a reformist newspaper. The Mujahideen of the Islamic Revolution, a faction organized in 1979 that threw its support behind presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, and the Islamic Iran Participation Front, which was formed in 1997 to advance the reformist program of former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, are expected to be legally banned shortly.
In addition, the reformist newspaper Bahar became the latest newspaper to be shut down by the regime. Since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rose to power in 2005, Iran’s increasingly repressive government has banned more than one hundred newspapers. More than fifty Iranian journalists are now in jail for criticizing the government according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, making the Iranian regime the world’s foremost enemy of a free press.
Three opposition leaders who were arrested during the wave of protests over Iran’s contrived election last summer, Mostafa Tjazadeh, Davood Soleimani and Mohsen Mirdamadi, also were sentenced to six years in prison and were banned from politics for ten years. All three were members of the administration of President Khatami, Ahmadinejad’s predecessor.
Last week former President Khatami was prohibited from traveling abroad to attend a nuclear disarmament conference in Japan. The regime may have feared that he would escape into exile where he might have become a rallying point for the opposition. Although Iran has mounted a campaign to silence political dissidents living abroad, it is much easier to prevent them from escaping in the first place and silence them at home.