Does Iranian justice act as an instrument of pressure?

In Iran the politician Gholamhossein Karbaschi was sentenced by the Iranian courts of justice to spend one year in prison. He was criticized for making propaganda against the regime in Iran – another person on the detainees list, whose comments displease the government.


Gholamhossein Karbaschi is the leader of the Construction party supporting the president Hassan Rohani and former mayor of Tehran. He was recently arrested for criticizing the attempt of the government to send young Iranians to fight the Islamic State group in Syria. More than a year ago he said during the presidential campaign that he was against the idea of ​​sending young Iranians to fight Daesh in Syria and get killed. As a result, the leader of the Construction Party was sentenced to one year in prison for propaganda against the Iranian regime.

A quick look at events from the past can help for better understanding of his current detention. After the election of former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in 1989, he entrusted Karbaschi with the capital and its’ 10 million citizens devastated by the Iran-Iraq war. During his tenure, Karbaschi revived the city. He built several cultural centers, sports fields, libraries, art galleries and much more. He tried to cultivate an image of “Robin Hood” by taxing the rich and spending money on social services for the poor.

This development did not please the majority of Iranian conservatives who labelled such ideas as “Western-modern” and therefore criticized them.

Back in 1998, the former mayor of Tehran was accused of corruption related to public funds by the Tehran Revolutionary Court. This has led to his imprisonment for several years. The case of Gholamhossein Karbaschi is not an exception, it rather serves as an example among others. The same court has sentenced the Iranian intellectual – Sadegh Zibakalam. A professor of political science at the University of Tehran, he was accused for giving interviews to foreign media deemed “hostile” and “attempting to challenge the Islamic Republic.” Coincidence? Given the economic problems of Iran today, can we really believe that the two reformers were arrested because of corruption crimes or was it much more because of their disapproval of mullahs’  regime?

Following these events which present only a fraction of the facts, we wonder what is the legitimacy of justice in Iran. If we look back at the facts in Iran in recent years, we can see a strong repression, which is also confirmed by HRW’s latest report. Those who do not agree with the country’s politics are subject to arbitrary arrests, detentions and threats. It is certain that the Iranian authorities are being pitiless towards lawyers, human rights defenders and activists defending women’s rights. Apparently freedom of conscience is still not part of the principles of the Iranian government.

Iran is a complex country that remains largely enigmatic to “others”. Until today, the despotic Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has succeeded in isolating the country from the West.

Without going too far we can come to the conclusion that the Iranian justice is under the grip of IRGC by redefining freedom of conscience as a crime against the state. The Islamic Republic keeps denying its’ citizens the right to participate in the debate about the nature of the political leadership of the country as well as the right to have their voices heard. By continuing to take repressive measures to maintain power, the Ayatollah’s regime risks losing the trust of an entire population. A population that is increasingly fighting for respect of human rights. Obviously, we can expect other similar cases like those of Sadegh Zibakalam and Gholamhossein Karbaschi.