Why not Iran?
Egypt and Tunisia have overthrown repressive regimes. Citizens in Syria, Yemen and other Middle East countries are demanding change. Yet in Iran, where a wave of 2009 demonstrations helped spark the movements we are now witnessing elsewhere in the Middle East, the populace is strangely silent.
What accounts for the relative quiet in Iran? The answer, at least in part, is that one of the great human rights tragedies of the modern era is underway in Iran.
From the moment the first protesters hit Tahrir Square in Cairo, Iran's leadership has cracked down hard, instituting a brutal campaign of terror against its own people. The most gruesome manifestation of this repression has been a wave of public executions.
Since January, Iran has been on an execution binge. In February, the United Nations reported that the rate of executions in Iran had increased threefold in 2011 over the previous year. Amnesty International reported that Iran is the only country this year known to have executed juvenile offenders, a violation of international law. And though exact numbers are difficult to come by, it is now estimated by human rights organizations that more than 140 people have been executed in Iran so far this year, a rate that, if continued, would push the number far past the total for 2010.