"We tried velvet, match revolution... excuse me I can't read this... cartoon by Nik Ahang Kowsar"
A few weeks ago I went to a lecture by the author of Torture and Democracy, Darius Rejali. (Link to 90-minute lecture on google video) I was one of a handful of people for what was a fascinating discussion. (I first became interested in Rejali's work because of his discussion of taarof in his earlier book, not because I am somehow obsessed with torture.) He made several points including: a) torture does not work to elicit the truth often enough to be called even remotely effective and b) it is surprisingly difficult to get people to make false confessions. They will withstand quite a bit of pain before they will lie.
Anyone who has been following events in Iran knows that beating and torture has been a part of the incarceration of many political detainees. False confessions have been part and parcel of the Islamic regime since its inception. This time around, people in Iran have been sabotaging state television broadcasts through coordinated power outages. Nobel prize winner, Shirin Ebadi has called for people to turn off their televisions instead of watching the lies spread by Iranian state tv. Demonstrators have chanted in favor of those on trial, and no one, save the most gullible, believes that the confessions are even remotely based in fact. Friends have been sharing articles about and images from the trials, including this one:
"Victory sign displayed at show trial by journalist and reformist Mohammad Atrianfar"
"Kian Tajbakhsh flashes the victory sign, to his right is Maziar Bahari"
The one thing you can depend on in Iran, however, is a biting sense of humor. Watch this excerpt from last year's Norooz (new year) serial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ez-ZTLeV0c . It features an interrogator getting false confessions from a prisoner. "I can get you as many confessions as you want".
Ebrahim Nabavi's satirical piece on Abtahi's confession is also being passed around by friends (English here or Persian here):
On one occasion, while walking in the street, we saw everything was green: cars had green flags and girls wore green shawls, and everyone had a green bracelet. I told Mr. Karroubi, “Gee! Someone has already started the velvet revolution before us”. So we gave up the idea (bang, bang, slap. A crack in the head, an ambulance, a broken window, etc). Yes, as I was saying, we started our cooperation with Mousavi’s gang. Every single night we would hold a rally in the streets. I even imported green velvet from England and Israel. We were in Heaven. CNN Journalist Christiane Amanpour supported us with billions of dollars and now we have started our own green velvet trade.
I began this post on July 17, and meant to write about Rafsanjani's message at Friday Prayers, the worldwide July 25th United for Iran event, and the 40th anniversary of Neda's death. I began the post with the memory of Sohrab Arabi and Taraneh Mousavi and am going to end it with them as well.
Sohrab Aarabi continues to be on the minds of friends as does Taraneh Mousavi.
Here's a music video memorializing Sohrab: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHCzal9jWAk .