Iran's self-fulfilling paranoia
The Miami Herald / Haleh Esfandiari

Two years ago, I was released from Evin Prison after 105 days in solitary confinement. I was arrested in early 2007 on the ludicrous charge of attempting to foment a ``velvet revolution'' to overthrow the Iranian government and held as a political prisoner by the Intelligence Ministry. Even President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has acknowledged the absurdity of these charges; this month, explaining why he recently fired his minister of intelligence, he noted that the intelligence chief had made himself the subject of ridicule by charging ``a 70-year-old woman'' with wanting to start a revolution. (Actually, I was 67 then.) Rather, Ahmadinejad said, the spy chief should have exposed the real instigators of this plot.

The Iranian government imagines that it is now going after the real instigators -- and it fails to see the damage it is causing its own society.

Thousands were arrested in the protests after the June 12 presidential election that large numbers of Iranians believe was rigged in Ahmadinejad's favor. More than 100 of the protesters and their leaders were put on trial this month. The charge? Trying to foment a velvet revolution with the backing of foreign governments. The accused include not only ordinary demonstrators but also a former vice president, former members of parliament, and strategists and idea men who worked for two opposition presidential candidates, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karrubi, in the disputed election. Truly, the revolution has... >>>

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