Revolution #173, August 16, 2009
From A World to Win News Service
Iran trials: Counterattack from a position of weakness
August 3, 2009. A World to Win News Service. On August 1 the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad faction of the Islamic regime took their coup to a new stage in an attempt to terrorize and demoralize the people.
They announced the trial of about a hundred people arrested in events after the election, among them several leading figures from the regime's "reformist" factions who held high positions during the Mohammad Khatami administration previous to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's presidency.
The timing of this trial was significant—two days after another round of courageous demonstrations in Tehran and other cities, and two days before Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei confirmed Ahmadinejad's second term in office.
The most important part of this trial was the "confession" of Mohammad Abtahi, Vice President during the Khatami presidency and campaign adviser to presidential candidate Mehdi Karoubi. In his "confessions" he denounced Mousavi, Khatami and Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. He reluctantly confirmed the "potential" for a "velvet" revolution in the country, claimed that foreigners fomented the protest movement and so on. The Islamic Republic media carried several interviews with Abtahi and a similar figure in which they described how well they had been treated in what they called a top guest house, how nice their interrogators were to them, and most importantly how they had changed their minds and grown while in detention. One thing they did not say is why this change took place.
Mousavi, one of the real targets of this trial and perhaps in danger himself, responded in a statement, "This demonstrates the moral collapse and disgrace of those orchestrating this scene." Khatami said, "This is simply a show trial… and the confessions lack any credibility."
These "confessions" were expected much earlier, because details of the torture the regime was applying to prisoners had already come out. It has been reported that even some members of the ruling faction were aware of the scandalous methods used to obtain them and opposed the broadcasting of the confessions for fear that they would further discredit the regime. Ahmadinejad is said to have sacked Intelligence Minister Mohsen Ezhei after a violent argument on this subject.
Even the website Alef run by Ahmad Tavakoli, close to the ruling faction, called this trial a "mistake." It warned, "Have those convening this court thoroughly thought through the consequences and impact of their move on the country's politics? " (Naser Imani, Alef, August 2, 2009)
Since its birth the Islamic Republic has repeatedly staged trials of its opponents featuring confessions extracted by torture or vicious psychological pressure such as the threat of rape or other harm to close family members. This is common knowledge in Iran.
In the 1980s, tens of thousands of communists and other revolutionaries were victims of this policy. Those who did not renounce their past and did not give TV interviews to condemn communism or their ideology or their organization and leaders or "confess" to relations with a foreign country, especially the "Great Satan" (the U.S.), were executed after trials lasting only a few minutes. Back then those crimes were passed over in silence by the so-called "international community," including human rights groups and other Western institutions.
This method has continued to be a main aspect of the regime's repression since then, used against different sections of the people, including these arrested in the raids on intellectuals in the '90s and then against the students after the 1999 upsurge in the universities.
The irony is that many of those who are now falling victim to these methods were in the forefront of their application against the communists and revolutionaries in the 1980s.
But whether such acts at this moment are tragic or bitterly comic, they represent a counterattack by the ruling faction of the IRI against the intransigent people's struggle as well as their rival faction. Those on top are trying to show that they are still in control. They are baring their rotten teeth to indicate that they are not going to back down easily. But the other aspect of the matter is that they are running out of effective options to contain the situation and have to resort to methods that are already widely exposed and hated by the people. There is much reason to doubt that these methods will work in their favor. They risk further isolation even within their own ranks, as more people within their own faction are wavering and questioning the wisdom of such acts.
The regime faces a situation where it has little to rely on within the country but its monopoly on force.
A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine (aworldtowin.org), a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world’s Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.
If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.