“All the problems before the Islamic Republic of Iran are the outcome of the Guardian Council’s deviance from its main obligation,” the critical letter argued.
The Guardian Council is a twelve-member body in charge of overseeing elections and reviewing all legislation passed by the parliament to ensure its compliance with the principles of Islamic law.
Ayatollah Dastgheib, a prominent religious scholar and supporter of the opposition Green Movement, is also a member of the Assembly of Experts, the only constitutional body with the authority to appoint and dismiss the leader. Since the rigged 2009 presidential race and its subsequent clampdowns, the Ayatollah has proven to be a thorn in the side of Iran’s ruling elite. His forthrightness and vocal opposition to state-violence has made him his home, students, mosque, and seminary the target of regular attacks by pro-government vigilantes who are usually backed up by the security forces.
In his most recent letter, the Ayatollah also criticised the Guardian Council for preventing free and fair elections as well as its role in facilitating widespread rigging in the country’s 2009 presidential election.
“The Guardian Council prevented representatives [of candidates] from being present at polling stations and during the vote count,” the cleric noted. “But it disregarded irregularities such as a lack of enough ballots at the stations, while people were still waiting in long queues and some still voting; many of the ballot boxes were not taken to their original destination.”
“Yes, impulsive officials with no regard for the law, with the aid of the Revolutionary Guards, dared to carry out such unjust and impious acts and to announce the election results with no regard for legal process.”
The dissident cleric also questioned the Council’s impartiality.
“It is odd that some members of the Guardian Council should openly show their support for their desired candidate [Ahmadinejad],” the letter added. “At the moment, they’re regretful for having approved that same person [in 2009] and are advising the Revolutionary Guards to prevent his supporters from participating in the upcoming [parliamentary] elections.”
“Is this not a breach of the law? What are the people to do and how can they be reassured that their votes will be protected and counted?” he asked, adding that the general population had become “indifferent” about the future.
Ayatollah Dastgheib’s letter also called for an inquiry into the post-election crackdowns on protesters, describing them as contrary to Islamic “sharia.” He cautioned that the “only way” to save the Islamic Republic was “to respect the constitution, and to release” the leaders of the Green Movement currently subjected to house arrest, as well as other political prisoners detained in the aftermath of the 2009 coup.
After calling for protests in solidarity with the Arab Spring, in mid-February, opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi were placed under house arrest without any formal charges put forth against them.
In his recent scathing report on Iran’s human rights abuses, UN special rapporteur Ahmad Shaheed expressed concern over the absence of any formal charges against Mousavi and Karroubi as well as their loss of “control over their health care, access to publications, privacy and the ability to live a normal life.”