Mullahs display 'confessions' of reformers

Rick Moran
It's a good thing for Iran that societies like Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany preceded them in history. Otherwise, they wouldn't have any examples of how to treat political prisoners.

The "confession" has become the preferred way for totalitarian societies to convince the mass of people who don't know any better due to tight control of state media, that foreigners were behind civil unrest and that there's nothing wrong with their government. It was the favored tactic of the Soviets who routinely tortured prisoners to extract "confessions" that they were working for the CIA or other western intelligence.

Now Iran has brought the tactic up to date and is accusing reform leaders of trying to overthrow the government. Michael Slackman writing in the New York Times:

The government has made it a practice to publicize confessions from political prisoners held without charge or legal representation, often subjected to pressure tactics like sleep deprivation, solitary confinement and torture, according to human rights groups and former political prisoners. Human rights groups estimate that hundreds of people have been detained. They fear the confessions are part of a concerted effort to lay the groundwork for banning existing reformist political parties and preventing any organized reform movement in the future. "They hope with this scenario they can expunge them completely from the political process," said Hadi Ghaemi, coordinator of International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, a New York-based group. "They don't want them to come back as part of a political party."

The confessions are used to persuade a domestic audience that even cultural and academic outreach by some of the nation's top academics is really cover to usher in a velvet revolution, human rights workers and former prisoners say.

"If they talk about the velvet revolution 24 hours a day people don't care," said Omid Memarian, a former Iranian journalist who was arrested and forced to issue his own confession in 2004. "But if reformers and journalists say they are involved in it, it makes the point for them. Once my interrogators said, ‘Whatever you say is worth 100 times more than having a conservative newspaper say the same thing.' "

It appears that the mullahs are looking for an excuse to ban reformist parties and make it impossible for reformist politicians to get anywhere in the Iranian government. If so, the reform movement will likely move underground, perfecting its communications and organization, so that the next incident perpetrated by the government will be met with the same demonstrations that have now apparently be quashed.

Next time, they will be bigger and better organized.


It's a good thing for Iran that societies like Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany preceded them in history. Otherwise, they wouldn't have any examples of how to treat political prisoners.

The "confession" has become the preferred way for totalitarian societies to convince the mass of people who don't know any better due to tight control of state media, that foreigners were behind civil unrest and that there's nothing wrong with their government. It was the favored tactic of the Soviets who routinely tortured prisoners to extract "confessions" that they were working for the CIA or other western intelligence.

Now Iran has brought the tactic up to date and is accusing reform leaders of trying to overthrow the government. Michael Slackman writing in the New York Times:

The government has made it a practice to publicize confessions from political prisoners held without charge or legal representation, often subjected to pressure tactics like sleep deprivation, solitary confinement and torture, according to human rights groups and former political prisoners. Human rights groups estimate that hundreds of people have been detained. They fear the confessions are part of a concerted effort to lay the groundwork for banning existing reformist political parties and preventing any organized reform movement in the future. "They hope with this scenario they can expunge them completely from the political process," said Hadi Ghaemi, coordinator of International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, a New York-based group. "They don't want them to come back as part of a political party."

The confessions are used to persuade a domestic audience that even cultural and academic outreach by some of the nation's top academics is really cover to usher in a velvet revolution, human rights workers and former prisoners say.

"If they talk about the velvet revolution 24 hours a day people don't care," said Omid Memarian, a former Iranian journalist who was arrested and forced to issue his own confession in 2004. "But if reformers and journalists say they are involved in it, it makes the point for them. Once my interrogators said, ‘Whatever you say is worth 100 times more than having a conservative newspaper say the same thing.' "

It appears that the mullahs are looking for an excuse to ban reformist parties and make it impossible for reformist politicians to get anywhere in the Iranian government. If so, the reform movement will likely move underground, perfecting its communications and organization, so that the next incident perpetrated by the government will be met with the same demonstrations that have now apparently be quashed.

Next time, they will be bigger and better organized.