Sunday, January 10, 2010

Repression in Iran

Iran continues its efforts to crack down on dissidents and activists.  According to this NY Times report, five anti-government protesters have been charged with the offense of "warring against God," which carries a mandatory death penalty.  In addition, the report states that a Kurdish activist was recently put to death.  This was the second activist put to death in a month, and several others are currently subject to the same penalty.

Along with orchestrating pro-government rallies, violence against protesters, and public warnings of further crackdowns, these arrests and executions are part of an effort by the state to regain control after the contested June presidential election.  More covert methods, including surveillance and harassment of dissidents, are also undoubtedly being used.  Insofar as protesters are intimidated by these measures, their movement will likely fizzle.  But there is another way to view Iran's repressive actions.  The state seems weakened and on the defensive.  This is one circumstance in which protest movements often take root and thrive.  The question, as always, is whether protesters will have the courage and resolve to continue to challenge the state publicly.     

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