Khatami Condemns Iranian "Show Trials"; Mousavi: Defendants Were Tortured
It would be nice if the U.S. government had the moral standing to condemn this, but it doesn't. But we the people do. As reported by the BBC:
Defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi says opposition detainees put on trial have been subjected to "medieval torture".
He denounced the trials, which started on Saturday, as fraudulent and said the prisoners had been forced to confess.
Earlier ex-President Mohammad Khatami criticised the hearings as "show trials" that would damage confidence in Iran's Islamic establishment.
More than 100 people have been put on trial on charges including conspiracy.
That Mousavi and Khatami are so publicly condemning the trials is a good thing. It also would be a good thing if the world unified in condemnation of the trials. Of course, for the U.S. officially to do so would be rank hypocrisy; and, of course, the U.S. walks a tightrope, any time it tries to take a fair stand on Iranian affairs. But our government's refusal to take a fundamental moral stand on torture makes it impossible. Just one of the countless reasons why it would be a good thing for our government to take such a stand.
On Saturday Iranian state media broadcast pictures of some 100 defendants, including some of the country's most prominent reformists, facing trial in a closed session covered only by the semi-official Fars News agency. Mohammad-Ali Abtahi, a former vice-president, reportedly testified that the vote was "clean" and that allegations of fraud in the election were "a lie", fuelling accusations that he had spoken under duress.
"The trial was a show and the confessions are invalid," Khatami's website stated. "What was called a trial was a violation of the constitution. Such show trials will directly harm the system and further damage public trust." These strongly worded statements by the regime's two most prominent critics will ensure Iran's political turmoil continues despite attempts to move to business as usual during a second term for Ahmadinejad, who is due to be sworn in before parliament on Wednesday.
Abtahi said, according to his alleged confession, that Mousavi, Khatami and the powerful cleric Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani had all taken an "oath" as they prepared to stage a "velvet revolution" – a phrase originating in eastern Europe but used by the Islamic regime as shorthand for foreign-orchestrated subversion.
Which is, once again, exactly why President Obama's very careful approach to Iran has been so wise and necessary. But this story also is why President Obama's stand on torture could use a similar necessary wisdom.