Rule by censorship and assassination


Holy Crime and The night after the revolution
By Reza Allameh Zadeh
Reviewed by Michael Karadjis and Jennifer Thompson

Religious fundamentalism has a long history of silencing its opponents through censorship, repression and murder. These two films document the use of these methods in Iran, first by the Western-backed shah and then by the Islamic Republic.

Salman Rushdie, the author condemned to death by fatwa for his book The Satanic Verses, is interviewed in The night after the revolution. Citing the disastrous results of Hindu, Sikh and Christian fundamentalism and militant zionism, Rushdie comments that religious fundamentalism is now "the fascism of our age".

The night after the revolution gives a historical view, beginning in 1946 with the murder of author Kazrabi under a fatwa.

The film covers the 1973 military trial of 12 Iranians (including the film maker) who had spoken against the shah's regime. While the military disallowed any mention of the anti-democratic and repressive conditions of the regime, two of the 12 spoke about these issues during the trial and paid with their lives.

Also documented are murders of journalists under both regimes, and the highly restrictive censorship laws introduced in 1985, including the death penalty as a punishment for some offences.

Holy Crime takes the story further, documenting the program of assassination pursued by Khomeini, and later Rafsanjani and Khamenei, of Iranian political exiles and writers in Europe. The film lists 71 attempted assassinations, 56 of which were successful. The reluctance of some European governments to apprehend assassins or protect those known to be on the "death list" is also exposed.

The list begins with the execution of the shah's nephew only a few months after the 1979. It runs through the political spectrum from royalists to Rafsanjani's private pilot after his defection, to the leader of the Iranian Labour Party, the president of the Iranian Communist Party and even a famous satirist.

Of the assassinations, only one-third were carried out before Khomeini's death. The issue has been highlighted by an Amnesty International report in 1993, which lays out evidence of Iranian government sponsorship of the program of extrajudicial executions.

Four executions are presented in some detail, showing the range of the program. The film makes some points about how the Iranian government has "gotten away with it", showing the linkage between oil-dependent European governments and an Iranian government that is prepared to undercut oil prices of other OPEC countries, and also hints at the Iranians assisting in the release of French hostages in Beirut. The only disappointment of the film is that it doesn't go far enough into the role and motivations of imperialist countries.

The films, not shown before in Australia, will be presented in two screenings only in Sydney: at 7pm on Friday, January 27, (English language) and Saturday, January 28, (Farsi) on the fifth floor, Bon March building of the University of Technology, corner of Broadway and Harris Streets. For more information, contact (02) 015 921 518.

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