Show Trial of Reformists in Iran

My interview at Rooz Online on Iran is now up.

The trial of 100 leading protesters against the announced outcome of the June 12 presidential elections commenced on Saturday, complete with pitiful coerced recantations. Amazingly, former president Mohammad Khatami’s web site openly denounced the trial as just that, a show trial. Khatami’s problem was always that he was insufficiently willing to stand up to the hard liners, and that he is being so blunt and confrontational suggests to me that he has reached the end of his patience. He is likely furious about the regime torturing his own associates, such as his former vice president Mohammad Ali Abtahi, into a confession.

Ironically, Abtahi expressed concerns about vote rigging in the presidential election as far ago as last January. And Atrianfar once called Ahmadinejad’s election in 2005 “like Watergate.” That they have voluntarily flipped on this issue is next to impossible.

The USG Open Source Center translates an official Iranian radio transcript of some of the proceedings that is heartbreaking to read:

‘FYI — Iran TV Broadcasts News Conference’ by Reformist Detainees
Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network 1
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Document Type: OSC Summary

Tehran Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network 1 in Persian at 1707 GMT on 1 August broadcast an 18-minute recording of a news conference by two well-known reformist activists, Mohammad Ali Abtahi and Mohammad Atrianfar. These two, as well as other activists and individuals were detained after the 12 June presidential election, which led to the re-election of Mahmud Ahmadine[j]ad.

Atrianfar, a member of the central council of the Executives of Construction Party, started by saying that Iran’s establishment enjoys a secure position in the world. He added that no issue in the country is more important than the establishment and the position of the supreme leader, who is “the blessed spring of spirituality, glory, and the magnitude of the establishment.” He advised all political groups to move in the path of the supreme leader.

Mohammad Ali Abtahi[former vice president under Mohammad Khatami and], a member of the central council of the Militant Clerics Society and Mehdi Karrubi’s aide during the election campaign, said that the 40 million votes cast in the election could have secured Iran’s stance and its “democratic” system in the region or even in the world. He criticized the reformist leaders, Mir Hoseyn Musavi and Mohammad Khatami, as well as Chairman of the Expediency Council Ayatollah Hashemi-Rafsanjani for their reaction to the election results. His voice appeared to lower when he was naming Rafsanjani.

Abtahi said after the 12 June presidential election, the reformists tried to insinuate the “illusion” that there was a “fraud” in the election. Abtahi said that it is impossible to have “fraud” when there was an 11 million difference between the votes cast for Mir Hoseyn Musavi and that of Mahmud Ahmadinezhad. He said that spreading such ideas showed that some reformist leaders do not know society very well. Abtahi quoted the late Ayatollah Khomeyni saying that preservation of the system is the most important issue for all political groups. He added that thanks to the “strong position” of the supreme leader, the damage caused by “the elite’s mistakes” were compensated. Abtahi said that it was better for Musavi to send a congratulatory message to President Ahmadinezhad when he realized that the incumbent president had won the election by a difference of 13 million votes. He added that the political elites made a “big mistake” by saying that the election was “rigged.” Abtahi said that from a certain moment onward, the fraud became a “password for riots” in Iran and criticized Mir Hoseyn Musavi for believing in such “illusions.”

Asked if his current position was under the effect of his imprisonment, Abtahi said the situation in the prison helped him to reach a conclusion about the recent incidents. Abtahi said he had no problems and concerns in the prison and praised his “courteous and polite interrogators.” He added that his friends who have not been arrested yet share the same idea. He concluded, however they “have not the courage to express the same ideas.”

Atrianfar said that the situation in the prison helped him to be courageous enough to confess to his mistakes. He said that many political activists who are being tried today have the same idea, but it may take time before they confess to the same things. He said that Behzad Nabavi, a member of the Organization of the Islamic Revolution Mojahedin and former industry minister, believes that there was no vote rigging in the election. Abtahi reminded Atrianfar that Mostafa Tajzadeh, the former advisor of Mohammad Khatami, also shares the same idea. Atrianfar said, however, Behzad Nabavi refused to confess saying that “I will not betray Musavi.”
Atrianfar said that he is not worried about how the people will judge him. He said that “I am proud of my defeat.” He added that it is necessary for mankind to change toward perfection. Atrianfar added that it is important to be honest in confessing to one’s mistakes and criticized those political groups that use “hypocritical” policies.

Asked if they will change their current stance in the future, Abtahi said his stance has not changed during the imprisonment and he just had the courage to express his views.

Atrianfar said that he is ready to offer four guarantees that he will not change his views in the future. First, his friends who have contact with him can verify his views. Second, he has been courageous enough to openly express his views. Third, his political background, as he said, shows that he will not change his current stance, since many people consider him responsible for what he says today. Fourth, he has “pledged allegiance to God” and asked Him to keep him “resolute” in this path.

(Description of Source: Tehran Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network 1 in Persian — state-run television) ‘

Iranian blogger responses here.

Aljazeera English has video on the trial:

The LAT catches Iran’s official media playing fast and loose with images, showing old pictures of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in various suits with crowds around him and pretending they are all from present-day visits. Video demonstrates that in fact his appearances have been poorly attended.

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