Iran Mourns Top Dissident Cleric
Hundreds of thousands of people attended the funeral procession of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who died on December 20. Montazeri had been placed under house arrest for several years after challenging the authority of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. He was a supporter of Iran’s Green Movement. Radio Farda speaks with a number of people about Montazeri's life and the aftermath of his death:
Montazeri’s son tells Radio Farda that a group of plainclothes agents disrupted his father’s funeral by occupying the mosque where it was supposed to be held. He says that a number of people were injured during clashes.
A participant in the funeral tells Radio Farda that people chanted anti-government slogans including “Khamenei is a murderer; his rule is illegitimate.” Another witness corroborates Montazeri's son's account, adding, “Plainclothes agents attacked the mourners with batons and pepper spray.”
Reformist cleric Mohammad Taghi Fazel Meibodi says that Montazeri was a great defender of human rights in Iran: “He strongly believed in the freedom of thought and speech... I have not seen a Shi'ite grand ayatollah with such knowledge of human rights.”
Tehran-based political activist Mohammad Ali Amouei says that during his imprisonment in 1980s, Montazeri sent a representative to his prison to see if prisoners were under pressure: “He was against the violent treatment of prisoners in Iran.”
Hadi Ghaemi of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran refers to Montazeri’s objection to Iran’s 1988 prison massacre saying, “He was the only Shi'ite cleric who defended all political prisoners regardless of their beliefs.”
Diane Ala'i, representative to the U.N. for the Baha'i International Community, says it was a very important step when Montazeri asserted that Iranian Bahai’s are entitled to citizen rights.
Activists Arrested Before Montazeri’s Funeral
Three human rights activists, Shiva Nazar-Ahari, Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh and Kouhyar Goudarzi, were arrested on their way to Grand Ayatollah Montazeri’s funeral. Lawyer Mohammad Mostafai tells Radio Farda that it is not clear if they were arrested or abducted: “They have contacted neither their families, nor me.”
These were not the only arrests that occurred before the funeral. Ahmad Ghabel, a religious scholar and disciple of Montazeri, was also arrested by security forces on his way to the event, his sister tells Radio Farda.