Welcome back to The Farda Briefing, an RFE/RL newsletter that tracks the key issues in Iran and explains why they matter. To subscribe, click here.
I’m RFE/RL correspondent Golnaz Esfandiari. Here’s what I’ve been following during the past week and what I’m watching for in the days ahead.
You are reading: The Farda Briefing: Khamenei Doubles Down On Repression
The Big Issue
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called for a tough response to the months-long protests sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, accusing street demonstrators who set fire to trash cans of ‘treason without any doubt’ and calling on ‘the responsible bodies to deal with treason seriously and justly.’
Under Islamic laws enforced in Iran, treason is punishable by death.
‘They wanted to destroy our strength. Our security. Security is one of the strengths of our country, ‘ Khamenei said, according to a transcript of his January 9 speech posted on his website.
The Iranian leader made the comments two days after appointing Ahmadreza Radan — blacklisted by the United States for his role in the violent crackdown on mass protests that erupted following the disputed result of the 2009 presidential election — as the country’s police chief.
Readmore : The rules-based order will endure, despite ‘shifting sands’
In his official statement, Khamenei urged Radan — who is also known for his harsh stance against women, like Amini, who have been accused of violating the country’s hijab law — to protect ‘security’ and improve the police’s ‘capabilities.’
Why It Matters: Khamenei’s comments appear to signal that Tehran will continue to harshly punish those arrested in connection with the antiestablishment protests, despite criticism and anger inside the country and international condemnation, including by White House national-security adviser Jake Sullivan, who said Tehran will be held accountable for the abuses.
What’s Next: Iran has already executed four people in connection with the protests, including two young men who were hanged last weekend after being convicted of killing a member of the Basij militia. Critics have blasted Iran’s legal process, during which the accused were denied access to legal counsel of their choice, and which led the New York-Based Center for Human Rights in Iran to describe their executions as lynchings.
Three other Iranians were sentenced to death on January 9, and rights groups have warned that many more could ultimately face the death penalty.
Stories You Might Have Missed
As one of Iran’s largest dam projects nears completion, archaeologists and environmentalists are warning that the Chinese-financed Chamshir Dam will be yet another towering example of the country’s destructive history of water mismanagement. While the authorities see the project as an answer to electricity and water shortages in southwestern Iran, critics say the dam is a cultural and environmental threat and will turn agricultural lands into a salty dust bowl.
Iranian women and the movement they launched under the banner of ‘Women, Life, Freedom’ following Amini’s death in custody has been awarded the prestigious Simone De Beauvoir Prize for Women’s Freedom. The prize recognizes the work and actions of individuals who contribute to the freedom of women around the world.
What We’re Watching
Readmore : Welcome to the ‘desperate housewives’ midterm election
The United States has said the Islamic republic may be ‘contributing to widespread war crimes’ in Ukraine by providing Russia with drones to use in its unprovoked war. By selling kamikaze and combat drones, U.S. national-security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on January 9, Iran has chosen ‘to go down a road where their weapons are being used to kill civilians in Ukraine and to try to plunge cities into cold and darkness, which from our point of view puts Iran in a place where it could potentially be contributing to widespread war crimes.’
What’s Next: The comments could signal Washington’s intention to increase pressure on Tehran over its sale of military drones to Russia and to sanction additional Iranian entities involved in the country’s production of drones.
That’s all from me for now. Don’t forget to send me any questions, comments, or tips that you have.
Until next time,
If you enjoyed this briefing and don’t want to miss the next edition, subscribe here. It will be sent to your inbox every Wednesday.
We also invite you to check out the improved Farda website in English and its dedicated Twitter account, which showcase all of our compelling journalism from Iran.
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Washington DC 20036