Iran Courts Close down Main Opposition Party, Four pro-Reform Papers
Iran's conservative-run courts on Sunday closed down the main opposition party and banned four publications which support the reform movement of embattled President Mohammad Khatami, said reports.
Iran's revolutionary tribunal said the Iran Freedom Movement, which has been tolerated despite an official ban in place since 1988, was now in effect closed down because members wanted to overthrow the clerical regime.
“The IFM and the Alliance are not entitled to conduct any activity,” the official news agency IRNA quoted a revolutionary court as saying.
“Offenders will be prosecuted,” said the statement, adding that “all activities of the movement are forbidden and illegal."
It said other groups connected to the nationalist religious opposition were also outlawed, and that those jailed last Sunday could be charged with "collaborating with counter-revolutionary and terrorist groups."
The IFM, which played a key role in the 1979 revolution but was banned on direct orders of the Islamic republic's founder, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, have still held press conferences and presented candidates in some elections.
The court said the IFM and other internal opposition groups had been "conspiring and sowing discord among the leadership of the regime," echoing a warning by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, on Friday.
The reformists suffered another setback Sunday as the courts closed down four more pro-reform publications, including the daily Doran-e Emrouz which published its 100th issue the previous day.
The weeklies Mobine and Jameh-e Madani as well as the monthly Peyam-e Emrouz were also ordered to stop publication and the directors of all four will be charged in court, said IRNA.
Managing editor of the weekly Mobin, Mohammad Raufi, the managing editor of the weekly Jame' Madani, and Mohammad Zohdi Asl, managing editor of the monthly Payam-e Emrouz, would be prosecuted for committing repeated and continued offenses, said IRNA, citing the statement as saying.
Some 30 mostly pro-reform publications had already been closed down by the courts in a crackdown which began last year after Khatami's reform movement ousted the conservative majority in parliament.
Khatami has also seen a number of close political allies jailed and the fate of at least one of them, dissident cleric Hassan Yussefi Eshkevari, remains unknown after his secret trial by a special clerical court, said AFP.
Earlier Sunday some 400 people, many of them progressives and liberals with links to the IFM and other opposition groups, and including the IFM's head Ibrahim Yazdi, released a petition calling for Eshkevari's release.
The dissident is reportedly facing a number of serious charges, including apostasy, after he allegedly told a political conference in Germany last year that Muslim dress for women should be optional, said AFP – Albawaba.com
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