Iran’s Great Purge

The powers-that-be in Iran are engaged in an enormity that harks back to the Stalin era. Iranian prosecutors are conducting a mass trial of Iranians charged with political offenses. As reported this past Sunday by the AP’s Nasser Karimi, the 135 defendants are charged with plotting a “soft revolution” against the Islamic theocracy during the postelection protests. The charges also include rioting, attacking military and government buildings, having links with armed opposition groups and conspiring against the ruling system. Karimi explains that the mass trial is part of an attempt to put an end to the protests by those who say Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s June 12 reelection was a fraud.
The United States and Great Britain figure prominently in the prosecution. The indictment read at the August 8 session accused both countries of planning the postelection unrest with the aim of overthrowing the mullahcracy. The indictment also accused the Britain and the United States of providing financial assistance to Iran’s reformists to undermine the ruling mullahs.
Apparently we need not even wait for disclosures of the accompanying abuse of prisoners. Karimi refers to “official acknowledgments that some detainees have been abused in prison[.]” Included among the 135 defendants are high-ranking politicians linked to the pro-reform movement as well as employees from the British and French embassies and an Iranian-Canadian reporter for Newsweek magazine.
As if to put an exclamation point on the Stalinist echoes, the trial “has included a number of televised confessions[.]” Karimi reports that someone in the United States government condemned the proceedings as a “show trial,” though I can’t find the statement online. A google search for the American condemnation instead turns up Mohammad Khatami’s condemnation of the trial. The trial includes the mandatory dose of absurd Stalinist accusations. Karimi reports that the prosecutor alleges that the defendants plotted the postelection turmoil years in advance.
Yesterday the Washington Times highlighted another such accusation. The Times reports that the chief prosecutor has asked defendants questions such as: “Were you sent by Michael Ledeen? What did Michael Ledeen tell you to do?” Another was told: “You are an agent of Michael Ledeen!” The universal response has been: “Michael who?”
Asked for his comment by the Times editors, Ledeen sagely responded: “You have to understand — these are crazy people.” Drawing on highly placed military sources, Ledeen channels the voice of the Hidden Imam to comment further in “The Mahdi replies.”
We await the day when one of the defendants confesses: “I recall hearing something about ‘Faster, please.'” Ledeen comments on the unmasking of his plot in his own words here.
Yet Barack Obama, with his outstretched hand, somehow thinks he can befriend the Iranian authorities. The AP story includes another one of Ahmadinejad’s responses to Obama’s outstretched hand: “The excellency who talks about change made a big mistake when he openly interfered in Iran’s domestic issues,” Ahmadinejad told a group of clerics on Sunday, according to the semiofficial Mehr news agency. At least we can agree that Obama made a big mistake, if not the one that Ahmadinejad identified.
The mass trial is a public enormity of great import. Let us at the least decry it, forcefully and repeatedly, and take action consistent with the condemnation it deserves.

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