Sunday, August 9, 2009

Iran Starts Sham Trials For Espionage

Iran has stepped up its efforts at repression within Iran following the June 12 elections widely condemned as fraudulent. A French woman, two employees of the British and French embassies as well as dozens of others have been charged with espionage. They are facing possible death sentences. Reuters News reports as follows.

"An Iranian court on Saturday charged a French woman, two Iranians working for the British and French embassies in Tehran and dozens of others with spying and aiding a Western plot to overthrow the system of clerical rule.

The European Union, France and Britain all condemned the trial. The Swedish EU presidency said in a statement "action against one EU country, citizen or embassy staff, is considered an action against all of the EU."

"This is obviously a show trial directed against the EU," Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told Reuters.

It was the second mass trial in a week aimed at uprooting the moderate opposition and putting an end to protests that erupted after the disputed June 12 presidential election.

What sort of activity passes for espionage these days in Iran? They are not charged with passing military or nuclear secrets. The defendants are accused of sending verbal accounts, photographs and films on unrest in the streets of Teheran. The fact that British and French embassy workers are included in the roundup is a clear signal to the European Union that the Ahmadinejad regime will use whatever means it feels are necessary to suppress dissent.

The get tough signal to the international community has sparked a strong reaction in EU circles. Reuters continues as follows.

"France renews its demand for the immediate liberation of the young academic, since the accusations against her are baseless," France's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Britain earlier described the trial as an "outrage."

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said he had received support from France and from Sweden, which holds the European Union presidency.

"We have reaffirmed our solidarity in the face of this latest Iranian provocation," he said."

The media in America and Europe has done its best to bury the story of the June 12 theft of the Iranian elections. The manner in which the elections and there aftermath were covered was geared to a minuscule attention span. Weight matters like the death of Michael Jackson pushed Iran off the back burner and into the freezer.

But the anger of the Iranian people has not dissipated. What started as a protest against a fraudulent election has deepened. The Iranian people want systemic changes. Iran has complex demographics. only 51% of its 72 million people are Iranian. More than two thirds of its population was born after the Iranian revolution in 1979. There are millions of people whose interpretation of Islam is far milder than that of the leadership. To many people, the idea of morality police handing out tickets for exposed ankles or nail polish. In underdeveloped areas, there is fierce anger at the regime for subsidising warfare in Lebanon while nutrition, roads and schools are neglected within Iran. Whatever the man on the street may think of a nuclear Iran, there is anger that Iran must ship its crude oil abroad in exchange for gasoline instead of being able to produce its own gasoline.

Iran is a deeply conservative country. Even without the compulsion of a theocratic regime, its people do not seek to imitate the west in our approach to entertainment and human relationships. But there is clearly a widespread desire to have an unfettered national dialogue about Iran's future.

It is perhaps fortunate that westerners and European diplomatic interests were dragged into Iran's internal political situation. It is clear that up until now, the hope in Washington and in European capitols was that the civil unrest within Iran would fade away. It is clear now that this will not happen. The All-h to whom Iran's leadership pays lip service is everywhere in Iran. But its theocratic leadership can not lay such a claim to omnipresence. Dissent has spread to such a wide extent as to make efforts to suppress it seem ludicrous.

It was a grave tactical blunder for Iran's leadership to pull the west into its internal difficulties. But in the long run, it will be better for the Iranian people that its bumbling and inept leadership made such a foolish tactical error. It almost seems as though a Greater Hand has covered the eyes of Ahmadinejad.

Despite the decision of our mainstream media to banish Iran to the back pages of the news, events in that troubled country remain compelling to those of us who look beyond the headlines.The Iranian people are not slaves to our political fashions. The deeply felt dissatisfaction with its stagnant and corrupt leadership will continue to erupt and deepen. The future of Iran is of vital importance to the world. Even if we do not care about it, we should. This story is not going to fade. Keep watching.

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