The Show Trials Begin

Juan Cole processes the big news out of Iran this weekend:

The trial of 100 leading protesters against the announced outcome of the June 12 presidential elections commenced on Saturday, complete with pitiful coerced recantations. Amazingly, former president Mohammad Khatami's web site openly denounced the trial as just that, a show trial. Khatami's problem was always that he was insufficiently willing to stand up to the hard liners, and that he is being so blunt and confrontational suggests to me that he has reached the end of his patience. He is likely furious about the regime torturing his own associates, such as his former vice president Mohammad Ali Abtahi, into a confession.

Cole calls the following details from Abtahi's confession "heartbreaking to read":

[Abtahi] said that the 40 million votes cast in the election could have secured Iran's stance and its "democratic" system in the region or even in the world. He criticized the reformist leaders, Mir Hoseyn Musavi and Mohammad Khatami, as well as Chairman of the Expediency Council Ayatollah Hashemi-Rafsanjani for their reaction to the election results. His voice appeared to lower when he was naming Rafsanjani.

Abtahi said after the 12 June presidential election, the reformists tried to insinuate the "illusion" that there was a "fraud" in the election. Abtahi said that it is impossible to have "fraud" when there was an 11 million [vote] difference [...]

Asked if his current position was under the effect of his imprisonment, Abtahi said the situation in the prison helped him to reach a conclusion about the recent incidents. Abtahi said he had no problems and concerns in the prison and praised his "courteous and polite interrogators."