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Economic Criticism Banned In Iran

Iranian labor leaders, journalists, women’s rights activists and human rights defenders are being targeted by the Iranian government in an ongoing campaign of repression. Now another group has been added to the list of those Tehran wants to silence: people who complain about the economic policies of the Iranian regime.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted by Iran’s state run news agency as saying the government will not tolerate Iranians who claim that there are problems with Iran’s economy. “We have identified these economic hecklers and we will soon get rid of them completely,” he said.

The list of so-called “hecklers” promises to be a long one -- from the man on the street, to members of parliament, to former cabinet officials and prominent Iranian economists. Everyone complains about the high cost of housing, rising food prices, joblessness, and declining foreign investments.

The Iranian government shows no signs of changing course, and its policies are leading the country into greater economic hardship. In the past year, the United Nations Security Council imposed two rounds of economic sanctions on Iran over its refusal to suspend work on activities that can lead to the development of a nuclear weapon. The Security Council is currently considering a third round of sanctions. In addition, the U.S. has imposed its own sanctions on Iran to stop it from exploiting the international financial system to fund its nuclear weapons development and terrorist activity. As a result, several major banks have halted or curtailed dealing with Iran, and foreign investment in Iran’s critical oil and gas industry has plummeted. Now Tehran says these economic realities, like so many things the Iranian regime finds unpalatable –- the need for freedom of the press, the rights of women, fair labor practices, for example -- cannot be mentioned.

Vice President Dick Cheney recently spoke about repression in Iran:

“Under their current rulers, the people of Iran live in a climate of fear and intimidation, with secret police, arbitrary detentions and a hint of violence in the air. In the space of a generation, the regime has solidified its grip on the country and grown ever more arrogant and brutal toward the Iranian people.”

“The citizens of Iran deserve none of this,” said Vice President Cheney. “The Iranian people have every right to be free from oppression, from economic deprivation and tyranny in their own country.”