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U.S. Stance On Show Trials In Iran

U.S. Stance On Show Trials In Iran

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On August 8, the Iranian government held the second session of a mass trial for a group of Iranians arrested in the wake of June's presidential election. Similar to the first session which took place a week before, more than 100 Iranians were charged with crimes against national security.

Once again, in violation of Iran's own constitution, as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which Iran has ratified, there were no defense lawyers present during the proceeding; once again, prisoners admitted to crimes in what observers say were obviously coerced confessions.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the proceeding in Tehran's Revolutionary Court "a show trial." "There's no doubt about it," she said. "And it has caught up journalists and clerics and former elected officials, and even people in the current – what was the government -- before the elections." Secretary of State Clinton said, "It demonstrates better than any of us could ever say that this Iranian leadership is afraid of their own people, and afraid of the truth and the facts coming out."

The U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Susan Rice also called the series of proceedings "show trials." "It's unfortunate. It's to be condemned," said Ambassador Rice. "And our view is that if Iran wants to demonstrate that it is prepared to be a responsible member of the international community, then it needs to treat its people with respect and adhere to the rule of law. . . . Unfortunately," she said, "these show trails are in the opposite direction."

The Iranian government has confirmed that at least 30 people were killed during the crackdown against post-election demonstrators. Human rights groups believe the death toll is significantly higher. There have also been reports of torture of detainees in prison, including violent sexual assault of both female and male prisoners. Ambassador Rice says reports of torture "are of grave concern and suggest that the regime in Iran is not reconciled to the concerns of its people and their very compelling reactions to the elections.