Den nyutnevnte innenriksministeren og informasjonsministeren i Iran har en fortid som bødler av dissidenter og andre som kom i veien for regimet. Det er en skam at de sitter i regjering igjen, sier Human Rights Watch.

HRW lurer på om president Ahmadinejad akter å vende tilbake til tiden da regimet henrettet tusener uten lov og dom. To av de mest aktive var den nye innenriksministeren Mustafa Pour-Mohammadi og den nye informasjonsministeren Gholamhussein Mohseni Ezhei.

«It’s completely unacceptable that men with such records would be serving in Iran’s government,» said Joe Stork deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. «They should be removed from their posts and investigated for these terrible crimes.»

Iran’s cabinet is now dominated by former security and intelligence officials, Human Rights Watch said, raising fears that President Ahmadinejad’s government will readily resort to violence to suppress dissidents and punish critics.

During Pour-Mohammadi’s tenure as top deputy of the Ministry of Information from 1987 to 1999, agents of the ministry systematically engaged in extrajudicial killings of opposition figures, political activists, and intellectuals.

In 1988, the Iranian government executed thousands of political prisoners held inside Iranian jails. The deliberate and systematic manner in which these extrajudicial executions took place may constitute a crime against humanity under international law, Human Rights Watch said. Mustafa Pour-Mohammadi was a member of the three-person committee that ordered prisoners held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison to their summary executions.

From 1990 to 1999, Pour-Mohammadi was director of foreign intelligence operations in the Ministry of Information. During this period, dozens of opposition figures were assassinated abroad. In some of these cases the hand of the Iranian government has been well established, while in others there are credible allegations of government involvement. Pour-Mohammadi is at the center of strong allegations of direct involvement in orchestrating these assassinations.

In 1998, agents of the Ministry of Information killed five prominent activist intellectuals in Tehran. An Iranian source with first-hand knowledge of the investigation told Human Rights Watch that Pour-Mohammadi was implicated by investigators in those killings and even that an arrest warrant was about to be issued for him. «But instead it was arranged that he leave his post in the Ministry of Information,» this source said.

Gholamhussein Mohseni Ezhei, the new Minister of Information, served as prosecutor general of the Special Court for the Clergy and in this position spearheaded the prosecution of prominent reformist clerics. He has also been a key figure in suppressing press freedoms, resulting in the closure of more than 100 newspapers since 2000. Several journalists and activists have alleged that Mohseni Ezhei ordered the kidnap and killing of Pirouz Davani, a dissident and political activist, in 1998.

Human Rights Watch called on President Ahmadinejad to relieve Pour-Mohammadi and Mohseni Ezhei of their duties immediately and to establish an independent mechanism to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into their alleged crimes.

Ministers of Murder: Iran’s New Security Cabinet