Two of Iran’s ultimate regime insiders, both former judiciary chiefs, have clashed. Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi vs. Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, Round 1. Larijani headed up the judiciary from 2009 until earlier this year, and one of his deputies was charged with corruption and arrested in June. Now Yazdi, who was judiciary head from 1989 to 1999, is accusing Larijani of amassing wealth in the name of religion (quel horreur!). Larijani replied by saying that Yazdi should be careful of his reputation and talk less. The two wretched characters, who have worked in “justice" in Iran for 20 years, have been responsible for many lost innocent lives, tortured individuals and broken families. They’re also still members of the Council of Guardians, a powerful body that vets elections and parliamentary bills. Yazdi has been a member of various powerful bodies since the 1979 Revolution. Larijani is a member of a Shia aristocracy, and his father was a grand ayatollah. His brother Ali is the speaker of the parliament and his other brother Javad has been part of Iran’s foreign policy establishment for the last four decades.
Ordinary Iranians, working men and women who’ve never been part of the powerful political elite, have been bewildered by such public infighting. A relative calling me from Iran said that it reminds him of a wildlife documentary about hyenas. According to my relative, Iranians are dazzled by such display of shamelessness from these ayatollahs, who have benefited more than most people from the brutal religious theocracy over the last 40 years.
Speaking of working women and men, IranWire’s series on teachers’ and workers’ rights continues, highlighting the committed efforts of professional and passionate individuals standing up for rights that are, after all, enshrined in Iranian law and the country’s constitution. Teacher and activist Mohammad Hossein Sepehri has been outspoken about Iran’s corrupt leaders, and is one of several civil society activists who has called for the resignation of the Supreme Leader. Despite being harassed and targeted, he remains cheerful, positive and resourceful.
These activists know what’s at stake, and that some of those speaking out before them have faced the worst consequences — even death. Teachers Hashem Shaabani and Hadi Rashedi, who were also involved in promoting the rights of Iranian Arabs in Khuzestan, were held on fake charges and executed in 2014. Speaking out for the most basic rights to be upheld continues to be one of the most dangerous activities for people in the Islamic Republic.