Iran: “Velvet Revolutionaries” on trial

Trials began Aug. 1 of 100 protesters arrested following Iran’s disputed June presidential election. For the first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution, dozens of senior officials, including former ministers, vice-presidents and lawmakers, have been put on trial. The official IRNA news agency quoted the indictment as saying the charges against the defendants include acting against national security by planning unrest, participating in an attempted “Velvet Revolution” and conspiring against the ruling system. The indictment names Gene Sharp and the Islamic Revolution Mojahedin Organization (IRMO) as masterminds of the unrest. (Tehran Times, Daily Times, Pakistan, Aug. 2)

Prosecutors highlighted the supposed confession by Muhammad Ali Abtahi, a cleric who served as vice president under the reformist Mohammad Khatami. Abtahi, one of Iran’s most popular bloggers, was arrested shortly after the election; word later emerged that he had appeared in a tearful videotaped confession. “I believe the reformists had prepared for two or three years for this election, in order to limit the powers of the supreme leader,” Abtahi said, according to a Fars transcript. “I want to tell all friends that there was no fraud in the election, it was just a lie to build the protests around.” He said the three leading opposition figuresā€”Khatami, Mir Hussein Moussavi and ex-president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjaniā€””promised to always back each other up” in distorting the election results. (NYT, Aug. 1)

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  1. More repression as Ahmadinejad sworn in
    Pledging to “resist” the world’s “oppressive powers,” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was sworn in as Iran’s president on Aug. 5, as riot police broke up opposition protests. The ceremony was attended by about 240 of Iran’s 290 MPs as well as clerics, but prominent opposition leaders including Ahmadinejad’s main defeated challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi were absent, as was powerful cleric and former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. (MEO, Aug. 5)

    Iranian police acknowledged the next day that some protesters arrested following the disputed presidential election had been mistreated, and said several prison wardens are under inestigationsā€”especially at the Kahrizak detention center in south Tehran. (MEO, Aug. 6)