Iran made a big show this week of inaugurating President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to a stolen second term. If the hard-line mullahs, Mr. Ahmadinejad’s most important constituency, hoped it would demonstrate self-confidence and control, they were wrong. There are too many other reminders of the regime’s illegitimacy.
Start with the mass trial of 100 government critics detained after the June 12 election brought on widespread protests. The group includes senior pro-reform politicians, lawyers and journalists. Among them is a reporter for Newsweek, Maziar Bahari.
The proceeding is clearly aimed at intimidating an opposition movement that has shown surprising resilience in the face of government attacks. Mr. Bahari and other defendants have not been able to speak with their lawyers; their families were not notified when the trial would commence.
Authorities did not even bother to charge them with legitimate crimes. The full indictment has not been released. But according to Human Rights Watch, it accused the defendants of attempting a “velvet coup” without charging them with specific violations of Iranian law. Who was behind this bogus “velvet coup”? The indictment names the women’s rights movement, ethnic groups, human rights groups, the labor movement, nongovernmental organizations and students — in other words, a broad swath of civil society.
We were especially alarmed that some of those charged — including Muhammad Ali Abt... >>>
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