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Iran's Ex-President Condemns Inaction By Rouhani, Parliament In Defending Rights


Former president, Mohammad Khatami, 2013. File photo

Lambasting the Islamic Republic's judiciary for accusing journalists and political activists of "intelligence-related crimes," former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has also criticized the government and Majles (parliament) for standing idly by.

The mid-ranking cleric, and twice president (1997-2005), Khatami says that he is "surprised" that the government and Majles have kept mum against such injustice.

"I am astonished that a government elected on the platform of providing people with their legal rights, as well as the pro-reform members of Majles, who boast about defending the nation and the constitution, do not step forward, and shout against this injustice?" Khatami told a gathering of journalists on Tuesday, August 6.

In the past two decades Iran has jailed hundreds of journalists and activists on ambiguous charges, often without due process or a fair trial. Currently, dozens are languishing in notorious prisons.

Khatami, who has recently raised his concern over the future of the Islamic Republic, challenged the government and lawmakers by demanding they issue a “constitutional warning”.

Under the Islamic Republic's Constitution, the government and members of the parliament may present a constitutional notice to the heads of three powers of the state, whenever they see the fundamental laws of the country ignored.

Article 113 of the Islamic Republic Constitution stipulates, "The president is the highest official in the country. His has the responsibility for implementing the Constitution and acting as the head of the executive, except in matters directly concerned with (the office of) the Leadership (Supreme Leader)."

However, the Article does not say, what the president could do, if his constitutional notice is ignored.

Khatami used the Article just once while he was in power.

On November 27, 1997, he delivered a "constitutional notice" to the judiciary for disregarding laws concerning press freedom.

Nonetheless, the judiciary retaliated with a sharp response. Khatami and his allies decided not to pursue the case; since they were scared if the case was referred to the ultraconservative Guardian Council for arbitration, the outcome would be a further curtailment of the already limited presidential power.

Meanwhile, Hassan Rouhani, who has been supported by Khatami and the so-called reformists, and twice elected president, also used the same Article on several occasions.

His deputy in legal affairs, Ms. La'ya Joneidi recently disclosed that Rouhani had delivered nearly ten constitutional notices to the heads of the two other powers of the government (legislative and judicial), during his second four-year term (ending 2021).

In the meantime, Khatami also criticized his fellow reformists in Majles, accusing them of inaction, and nonchalance in the face of rights violations.

Although Khatami has repeatedly raised his concerns over the future of the Islamic Republic, his warnings have fallen on deaf ears.

"The more people give up hope about reforms in Iran, the more likely they gravitate towards subversion, Khatami, warned, on July 6, adding, "Subversive forces might succeed."

Earlier in a meeting with the members of the reformist parliamentary faction on March 6, Khatami had also warned against the consequences of people losing hope in reforming the governing system.

Despite his loyalty to the regime, Khatami has faced many limitations in his public activities in recent years. In October, intelligence agents prevented him from leaving his house to attend a private meeting with his former aides and ministers. Since then, he has virtually been under house arrest.

The intelligence agents of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps even prevented him from attending a wedding and going to the theatre. Media in Iran are not allowed to publish his name and photos.

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