By: Mir M.Hosseini
An Iranian court dissolved one of the country's oldest opposition parties, sentencing some members to jail and banning others from political activity for up to 10 years. The Iran Freedom Movement party, is a religious nationalist party formed more than 40 years ago. The party members formed the backbone of the interim government after the 1979 revolution but eventually was pushed aside by more extreme groups. The party's leader, Mehdi Bazargan was assigned prime minister by Ayatollah Khomeini but he resigned in protest over the seizure of the American embassy in Tehran by hard-liners.
The Revolution Court sentenced 21 members of the Freedom Movement to prison terms ranging from 9 months to 10 years and banned them from political activity for 10 years. Twelve members were sentenced to jail terms of 4 months to 2 years and ordered to pay fines. The dissidents were charged with seeking to topple the regime, spreading rumors and lies, and having links with foreigners; cliché charges that has been used to silence voices of dissent. The regime gradually misinterpreted initial promises of freedom and independence that poured millions of Iranians to the streets in protest to Pahlavi dictatorship.
Ebrahim Yazdi, the secretary general of the party, was out of the country receiving medical treatment when the others were put on trial but still faces charges. He objected to holding the trials behind closed doors and disputed the charges, saying the party had merely been critical of the government. The Freedom Movement inherited ideals of Mosaddegh's National Front, a liberal party that was also banned after the CIA backed coup in 1953.