Iran’s leadership faced sharp criticism Wednesday from top clerics and even conservative supporters over prison abuses, including detainee deaths and the brutal beatings of protesters arrested in the post-election crackdown.
In a move likely to anger the opposition, officials announced the first trials will begin Saturday, with the prosecution of around 20 protesters. They include some accused of sending images of the unrest to the media.
Top pro-reform politicians will be tried later for allegedly ordering riots, officials said. The opposition has said detainees were tortured to extract false confessions for the courts.
The bodies of several young protesters have been turned over to their families in recent weeks, all showing signs of beatings or other abuse while in custody, according to pro-opposition Web sites, citing accounts from relatives. Among them was the son of a prominent conservative, which has brought a wave of criticism from the camp that generally backs the government.
No one should be surprised by this anticipated display of Potemkin justice. And no one should be surprised by the reports of brutality shown to political prisoners. But none of these reports ought to go unnoticed. One cannot drive home the evidence of the inhumanity of the Islamic regime enough.
2. But hope lives:
The iconic image of Neda Agha Soltan, a young woman whose dying moments shook the conscience of the world, has exposed the face of a nightmare: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader.
Khamenei is intent on denying Iranians the blessings of life and liberty by sanctifying fraud and force in the name of religion. Having wrapped himself in a tissue of lies to fix Iran’s 2009 elections to protect his toxic dauphin, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Khamenei has blamed the Iranian people’s protests on the United States and Britain.
But Khamenei’s old formulas will fail. The days of holding Iranians hostage in the name of waging God’s wars against Satan are over.
Although foreign powers have recognized Ahmadinejad as Iran’s president, the deed is far from done.
Iran’s crisis is no longer about the sanctity of Ahmadinejad’s vote. It is about Khamenei’s abduction of the republic and usurpation of religion. Khamenei has shattered his religious authority by converting the Iranian state into a caliphate whose guardians prey on the corpse of Iran’s children in the name of guarding the constitution of an absent sovereign: the Hidden Imam.
In a fatwa issued on July 11, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri condemned Khamenei as an unjust ruler whose decrees were “null and void.’’ Iran’s former president, Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, implicitly criticized the handling of the elections for sowing doubt and called for the release of political prisoners. Khatami and the Association of Combatant Clerics called for a national referendum to be monitored by “a neutral body that people can trust.’’
With the presidential oath scheduled for as early as Sunday, Khamenei stands alone, isolated and exposed. Virtually all of Iran’s ancient religions and traditions bind its people to the rejection of falsehood. Whether or not Ahmadinejad takes the oath, Iranians will not accept it and Obama should not recognize force and farce as a substitute for faith and freedom.
I should note that contrary to the editorial, George W. Bush did not “dehumaniz[e] Iranians by branding Iran as part of an ‘axis of evil.’” His words were clearly meant to attack the regime. After all, the Bush speech in question also stated that “an unelected few repress the Iranian people’s hope for freedom.”
That charge turned out to be true, no?