Tuesday, 16 June 2009


Iran is a country ravaged by corrution. Ordinary people have to be pay bribes for services, to policemen and state officials. Students have to bribe examiners to get exam questions, and small businesses and traders—who were once the bedrock of the republic—have to pay heafty “bonuses” to officials for contracts.

This corruption led to many in the establishment to voice growing concerns over what was seen as the endemic mismanagement of the country.

In 2002 Ayatollah Jalaleddin Taheri, a leading figure in the southern city of Isfahan which is now one of the centres of protests outside Tehran, publicly denounced the “broken promises of the revolution”.

In his resignation speech delivered at Friday prayers Taheri said, “When I hear that some of the privileged progeny (clerics' sons) and special people, some of whom even don cloaks and turbans, are competing amongst themselves to amass the most wealth and to achieve their own ends.

“The ones who are pillaging the nation's wealth—yes, on behalf of the ones who think that Muslims' public wealth belongs to them and consider the country to be their private, hereditary property, I am drenched in the sweat of shame.”

Taheri gave voice to widespread perception that ”now the Shah and America are not in control of this country for us to be able to blame them for the shortcomings and problems.”

His biggest criticism was aimed at the pro-government militias. He denounced them as "henchmen of tyranny and the mercenary, unrefined, mad club wielders, with their false ideas and cruel behaviour.”

This widespread unease forced the parliament to appoint Abbas Palizdar, a onetime ally of Ahmadinijad, to investigate senior officials.

Palizdar’s enquiry exposed a network of kickbacks reaching into the heart of the establishment—including members of the powerful Council of Guardians, the head of special investigations, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, the intelligence minister and even former president Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani.

The biggest scandal involved some $100 million that when missing during the privatisation of Almakaseb, a large state-run trading company under the control of the son of a leading cleric. Other scandals involved the state-owned car company and public construction projects.

Palizdar found the most corrupt institution to be the powerful Revolutionary Courts that deal with dissent, drug smuggling and blasphemy. He found that those with money or influence had little to fear from the courts, even if the evidence against them was overwhelming. Those who could not pay were shown little mercy.

When Palizdar report was repressed he broke ranks and toured universities were he exposed the corrupt officials and their private projects. He was arrested in June 2008 and has not been heard of since.

The full report is available here.

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