Written by Mohammad Javad Mousavizadeh exclusively for SouthFront
Iran’s judiciary has been on the headline in recent weeks because of mass arrests, a process that has accelerated by new chief Sayyid Ebrahim Raeisi who appointed being chief justice on March 7, 2019.
Nowadays, the demand of struggle against corruption is publicly in the media and the political space in Iran. Just as fans of Raeisi say with a loud voice in the various meetings that “Iconoclast Ebrahim, break the corruption idol.”This slogan refers to the meaning of Ebrahim’s noun as a prophet who broke the idols of infidels in a historical story that the Holy Quran has pointed to it.
The comprehensive corruption has been for many years in the country, and dissatisfactions of people have continued. But today, the mass arrests of officials have caused a little hopefulness among people.
Insofar as the staff of the judicial system had not legal immunity from the fresh attempt to combat corruption.
Just as the Iranian judiciary has dismissed 60 judges since early May in an anti-corruption drive launched by the chief justice. During a press conference in Tehran, Gholam-Hossein Ejei, Raisi’s first deputy, announced that “the sacked judges came from a wide range of ranks in the judiciary,” according to the Al-Monitor.
The most important arrested person was Akbar Tabari the deputy of former Chief Justice Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani on July 14, 2019. He arrested because of economic corruption. In fact, his arrest news was very controversial, because experts say that his confessions can be expressive of deep corruption among officials.
The Imposition of influence on the judicial cases was declared as his charge. Said Gholam Hossein Esmaeili, the spokesperson of the judiciary in a press conference, according to Tasnim News Agency.
Also, Valiyollah Sayf, the former chief of the Central Bank of Iran and Ahmad Araghchi his deputy who is the nephew of Abbas Araghchi, the senior diplomat of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were under-trial on Aug 4, 2019. Their charge was the disruption in the currency market. Their open court was held recently, and the official TV of Iran showed their faces.
In the following attempt to combat economic corruption, Abdollah Pourihosseini the former head of the Iranian Privatization Organization and the deputy of the Ministry of Economic arrested on Aug 14, 2019. After that, he immediately resigned, according to the BBC. Also, the BBC reported that in 2 years ago, some media and members of Iran’s parliament had accused the Pourihosseini due to his economic corruption.
Likewise, some mayors and members of local parliaments in Iran have arrested. According to Tasnim News Agency, Vahid Rashidi the mayor of Khoram Abad has arrested by the Intelligence Ministry among the charge of economic corruption on Aug 15, 2019.
“Iranian lawmakers have released a statement to thank the Judiciary Chief Justice Ebrahimi Raeisi for taking measures to root out corruption,” MP Abolfazl Aboutorabi said, according to the Fars News Agency.
“The statement which has been signed by more than 100 lawmakers, voices support for the measures adopted by the Judiciary to fight corruption,” Abotorabi added on Aug 26, 2019.
But the legislative power has not been immune from the recent arrests. That’s why two members of Iran parliament in the names Fereydon Ahmadi and Mohammad Azizi arrested on Aug 22, 2019. Judiciary officials declared Their charge is the disruption in the car market.
Also, disruption in the car market is the charge of Hashem Yeke Zare, former managing director of the Iran Khodro Company as the largest car producer in Iran. He was arrested by the security officers on Aug 19, 2019. Before that, his bank account had been suspended by the order of the judicial system.
In the last important arrest, Shabnam Nematzadeh, the daughter of the former minister of the ministry of industry arrested on Sep 8, 2019. “Disruption in the medicine market and gain wealth by illegally way are her charges.” Said Judge Masoudi according to Mizan, the official news agency of Iran judiciary. Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh is her father. He is the senior advisor of the oil minister in the government too.
But different arrests have had various reactions. President Hasan Rouhani, who his brother is one of the alleged persons, has expressed a reaction.
“The corruption will not root out by the mass arrests, at the first, combat to the corruption is our duty as a government and the judiciary should be in the last step.” He said in the Shahid Rajaeei Festival. “The surveillance system in our country has undergone a calculation error, the surveillance systems should be a helper to the government, not interferer,” he said then.
But the closer persons to leadership have a positive view of the mass arrests. For instance, Parviz Fatah the managing director of Imam Khomeini Relief Comité is one of them.” Don’t concern about mass arrests, Islamic Revolution is changing from internal and it is required that some persons got off the train, even it is possible the revolution will be damaged but it is required for revolution progress. He addressed to students recently in a lecture at the Mashhad Ferdowsi University.
Of course, some experts say that the new attempt to combat corruption is a political action by Raeisi because he was the main rival of Rouhani in the last presidential elections and the two sides had a tough criticism of one another.
But this idea has opponents.
“Mr. Raeisi stands up strongly against the corruption and these words are the only joke. Soon, all will see the judicial system is decisive to combat corruption,” said Haji Sadeghi the representative of leadership in the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps. “Intent of the combat corruption is not political whereas the satisfaction of God considered,” he added, according to the report of Khabar Online.
Also recently, Raeisi said in a meeting with students that “We have not a red line in the combat to corruption, especially economic corruption. Anybody in any position, the officials and people should be aware that there is no red line for us.”
“We will support the reports of people about corruption, and we will praise the persons that do it,” he added.
Raeisi was born in Mashhad City on Dec 14, 1960. He is a member of the Experts Assembly of Iran now. He was Attorney General from 2014 to 2016 and deputy chief justice from 2004 to 2014. Also, he was chairman of Astan Quds Razavi, from 2016 until 2019.
Many interpreters of political space in Iran are believed that Raeisi can be the next leader of Iran because he has a common opinion with many of Iran`s jurists. Also, Raeisi is the son in law of Ayatollah Allamolhoda the representative of leadership in Khorasan Razavi Province and the leader of Mashhad Friday prayer.
But, the next Iran parliament elections will be on Feb 21, 2020. It has related to an attempt to combat corruption because the dissatisfaction of people is at a high level now about the economic situation of the country. The tough sanctions of the administration of President Trump have imposed many problems on the Iranians and the stuff prices and inflation are at the highest level since Iran’s revolution in 1979.
That`s why some experts say that the hopefulness of Iranians for participation in the next elections is reduced and attempt to combat corruption can increase the hope between people and the rate of participation in this event. Therefore, the high-speed of mass arrests can be related to the next parliament elections. Of course, some interpreters are opponents to the mentioned idea, they think that Chief Justice Raeisi has the strong will to combat corruption without any considering the political issues.
Finally, the mass arrests have caused the officials to be careful more than another time. There is an arrest every day, and anybody can be the next aim of the judicial system. The gesture of Raeisi is fascinating about the struggle against economic corruption, whereas many experts say struggle to economic corruption is not all the problems, just as working-class, journalists and political critics need more support by the judiciary.
Brief Bio: Mohammad Javad Mousavizadeh is a journalist from Iran. He is the press translator and writer for Iranians newspapers. Also, he is the director of Mashhadtribune, a local news agency in Mashhad City as the second city in Iran. As well as he writes for Eastern Herald.