By Jubin Katiraie
Iran’s Interior Minister has ordered that the forced “confessions” of those arrested during the ongoing Iran uprising be broadcast on TV.
Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli told the state-run Channel One TV on November 26 that the arrested protesters should confess on TV what they did during the protests and accused the people who had key roles in the November protests of having contacts with foreign elements.
However, he did also admit that most of the protests sprung up in the suburbs and impoverished margins of the cities.
Regarding confessions of detained protesters, there have been several reports that they’ve been forced to make false confessions under torture in various prisons across Iran, especially in Tehran’s notorious Fashafuyeh Prison. Human rights groups report that the torture includes rape, sexual violence, and the intentional breaking of bones by IRGC intelligence agents.
Some of these false confessions have even been shown on the state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), with detainees, including minors, sobbing for forgiveness. These confessions include having contact with sources outside of Iran.
This is state propaganda. Do not mistake it for anything else. It is common practice under the current government for over 40 years to torture political activists into making wild confessions whilst being recorded and then broadcast it on TV or radio or even online. IRIB even works with security and intelligence officials to obtain false confessions.
The Iranian authorities have long been criticized for this by international human rights organizations, who also condemn Iran for violating prisoners’ most basic rights, but now even the government’s own pundits are seemingly voicing concern.
Abdulsamad Khoramshahi, a senior attorney, wrote a column in the Arman website on November 26, about the forced confessions, who highlighted that there are many questions to be asked over these confessions.
He wrote: “These days, we are witnessing televised confessions in national media from people who have been arrested during the recent protests. These confessions are in violation of the criminal code and the constitution and can’t have a judicial basis… According to the law, the defendant must be able to speak and meet with his lawyer within 48 hours [of being arrested]. But whether these people made these confessions in the presence of their lawyers or not is a big question regarding the televised confessions. Since years ago, these defendants, who are in the process of preliminary investigations and while their charges have not been processed in court yet, are brought before the camera to speak against themselves. We must ask, under what circumstances were these confessions extracted?”