Thursday, January 20, 2011

First they came for ...

Growing antipathy towards the issue of executions

The Islamic regime, in 2011 has stepped up its executions beyond the shameful rates of 2010 (according to an estimate, there has been an execution every 8 hours, which is 3  every day in 2011) and has adopted a different strategy on the matter. By randomly picking different regions and big and small towns to conduct the executions in ones and twos, they have flown under the radar of most human rights groups as well as media. Although the failure of prominent opposition leaders’ reaction towards these executions is a far more worrying concern. Their silence is, in my opinion, tantamount to acceptance or at best, an indifference to this crime against humanity.

But the blame should not stop at the doorstep of the leaders. Most of the activists, bloggers and opposition media have also shown scant interest in pursuing this grave matter. A part of it could be the regime’s insistence on continuing its political executions which may have increased the moral immunity of the population in Iran as well as the expatriates! A stark contrast from the last year’s fervor created on Sakineh Ashtiani’s sentence, that saw a concerted effort on part of various groups to bring the issue to the forefront of international media. A case that was not even a political one! But today, while we see an increased rate and number of executions, we hardly come across any gathering, rally or media blitz!

The regime started its murders initially targeting minorities like Bahais, Kurds and Baluchis under the guise of dealing with “armed opposition” or “conducting velvet revolution” and unfortunately many opposition groups failed to show any foresight to condemn these executions even if they did not share the ideologies or thesis of these minorities. Having seen the abysmal reaction of the opposition and their lack of unity, the regime stepped up and widened its reach and gradually included more groups and sects while on the other hand, the opposition looked more distracted and preoccupied with the high profile distractions like the nuclear ambitions, minor skirmishes between rival factions in the government and Ahmadinejad’s diversionary rhetoric.
The regime by applying tremendous amount of pressure on the families of the political prisoners, force them to remain silent and discourage whipping up the public sentiments. These families are often promised the release of their loved ones in return for their consent and silence. However, majority of these promises go unrealized and the heinous deed is carried out with no reprieve.

The only way to stop this villainy is to show as much interest and attention to this issue as we show to the other talking-points of the day such as the subsidies and nuclear talks. By publicizing the executions, spread of information on the prisoners and their pictures and keeping up the zeal most of us showed a year or so ago. By allowing the regime to get away with mass execution of those who think differently from them, we make way for more horrendous crimes against a wider populace in the near future.

Let us not forget the wise words, that I find quite apt, of Martin Niemoeller who said:

“First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me."

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