Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s recent declaration that security forces should “fire at will” against presumed enemies of the state is an established policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
“Iran’s leader spoke about firing at will only recently, but as a matter of fact, this policy has been in place and enforced for many years,” said Ebadi in a recent interview.
“Firing at will means to ignore the law and usher in chaos and anarchy,” she added. “If someone can fire at will, others will feel they have that right too, and this will only lead to disorder and lawlessness.”
Ebadi was Iran’s first female judge before being forced to resign after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. In 2002 she founded the Defenders of Human Rights Center as one of the country’s top human rights lawyers, only to be forced into exile in 2009.
In the interview with CHRI, Ebadi pointed to the assassinations of dissidents, persecution of Baha’is and attacks on women as examples of the ruling establishment’s policy of silencing those deemed as enemies of the state through extrajudicial means, and warned against its consequences.
In a veiled criticism of President Hassan Rouhani’s centrist government, Khamenei said in a speech on June 7, “Sometimes the central think tanks and cultural and political institutions fall into disarray and stagnation, and when that happens, officers against the soft war should recognize their duty, make decisions and act in a fire at will form.”
Iranian officials often refer to Western cultural influences as a “soft war” against their national and religious values.
Khamenei’s order to his followers, including to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Basij paramilitary forces, is a response to the more moderate policies of Rouhani, who has maintained close ties with reformists throughout his presidency.