In this historic interview, conducted by Radio Zamaneh in early 2009, Grand Ayatollah Montazeri talks about his opposition to the mass executions ordered by Ayatollah Khomeini in late 80s. This ultimately resulted in Montazeri falling out of favor with Khomeini and being set aside as the next Supreme Leader.
Ayatollah Montazeri was born in 1922. During the Iranian Revolution of 1979, he was in the circle of Ayatollah Khomeini's intimates and was imprisoned on many occasions.
He was also set to succeed Ayatollah Khomeini as the Supreme Leader, but following the execution of thousands of political dissidents in 1989, he had a fall out with Ayatollah Khomeini which resulted in his exclusion from the government and the eventual Supreme Leadership of Ayatollah Khamenei.
In the interview, Montazeri talks about receiving a letter from Ayatollah Khomeini in regards to the imprisoned members of the People Mojahedin (MKO). According to Khomeini's order, the prisoners who reconfirmed their allegiance to the group would be executed, even if they had served their prison terms. Montazeri discussed how he strongly opposed this unjust order and intervened to save the prisoners who were on the verge of execution. Thousands of prisoners were ultimately executed. But Montazeri succeeded in saving thousands others.
Montazeri also mentions that after the first letter by Khomeini, a second letter was issued about the leftist prisoners. It was then that Khamenei, who was President at the time, pays a visit to Montazeri to discuss the letter and ask his opinion about it. When Montazeri asks Khamenei why he didn't do anything when the first letter came out, he claims no knowledge of the first letter. Montazeri then wonders how the president of the country will not know about something so important.
Ayatollah Montazeri was later persecuted during Ayatollah Khamenei's leadership and put under house arrest in October 1997 for his criticism of government policies. This lasted till 2003 when the obstacles set around his residence were finally removed during the presidency of reformist cleric, Mohammad Khatami.
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