Washington DC – The National Iranian American Council condemns the mass “show trial” of opposition figures and systematic abuse of detainees by Iranian authorities which have led to numerous deaths and injuries in custody. NIAC believes these repressive tactics are aimed at misleading the Iranian public about post-election events and intimidating Iranians from further dissent or activism.
“These show trials add to the long list of violations committed by Iranian authorities,” said NIAC President Trita Parsi. “There should be no illusion in Tehran about where world public opinion stands on these outrageous trials and accusations.”
On August 1, Iranian authorities began a mass “trial” of over 100 individuals, including former vice president, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, and a top reformist figure, Mohammad Atrianfar. The detainees, who appeared in court without the previous knowledge of their lawyers or families, “confessed” to attempting a “velvet coup” in the post-election unrest and claimed they no longer believed the elections were fraudulent.
According to human rights groups, most of these individuals were held incommunicado for weeks, in solitary confinement, with little or no access to their lawyers and families. Family members who were able to see their loved ones told human rights groups that they were in unstable physical and mental condition, and showed signs of torture and drugging.
Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh was among the detainees who appeared in court on August 1.
NIAC has called for the immediate release of Mr. Tajbakhsh and all other political detainees.
The confessions made by detainees appear to have been under duress, which is a violation of Iranian and international law. The court proceedings and indictments read by Iranian prosecutors have been sharply criticized by legal experts for having no basis under Iranian or international law.
Leading religious figures, including several Grand Ayatollahs, have declared the court illegal under Islamic law.
The rights to free association, free expression, and peaceful protest are protected underthe Iranian constitution. Torture and forced confessions are specifically prohibited under the constitution, and trials without legal representation are considered illegal.
The “trial” of detained individuals continued on August 6, including the appearance of dual Iranian-Canadian citizen and Newsweek reporter, Maziar Bahari, French citizen and academic, Clotilde Reiss, as well as local British and French embassy staffers.
Iranian officials have responded to domestic and international condemnation of the “trial” with threats of more prosecutions and accusations of foreign intervention. Members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have also called for the arrest and prosecution of leading opposition leaders, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, as well as former president Mohammad Khatami – all who continue to speak out against rights violations and are being accused of cooperating with foreign elements.
“This is a shameless attempt to use Iran’s tragic history of foreign intervention to instill fear in the Iranian public for political ends,” said Dokhi Fassihian, a NIAC board member. “What we have witnessed in the past two months is not a foreign conspiracy, it’s a homegrown movement demanding that their votes be counted and their rights be respected.”
Reports of systematic torture and inhumane treatment, including the rape of young men and women in detention, have outraged the Iranian public and led to calls by opposition leaders for accountability. Over the weekend, Tehran’s police chief, Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam, and prosecutor general, Ghorban Ali Dorri Najafabadi, acknowledged that abuse had occurred in detention facilities. According to reports by human rights groups, the Iranian government has instigated an intimidation campaign to prevent the family members of those who have been detained and killed, human rights defenders, journalists, and lawyers from speaking out about the abuses.
“The Iranian people pursued peaceful, democratic, and legal means to express themselves and participate in their political system. They were met with violence to silence their legitimate demands,” said Fassihian. “Peaceful dissent is not a crime; it is a universal right protected under international law.”
The National Iranian American Council reminds Iranian authorities and all governments around the world that speaking out against human rights violations is an international obligation codified by several international treaties. It is the right and obligation of the international community to show solidarity and support to populations facing severe repression and human rights abuses.
“Human rights are universal rights,” said Parsi. “We call on the international community, governments, United Nations officials, and international human rights organizations to condemn these abuses, assist the Iranian human rights community and closely monitor the situation in Iran,” said Parsi.