August 10, 2009 8:41AM

Iranian Show Trials Continue — As Divisions Within Regime Grow

The news out of Iran continues to be bad, as show trials continue, with Stalinesque confessions. However, protests are rising over torture and other abuse of prisoners.

Reports the New York Times:

A top judiciary official acknowledged Saturday that some detainees arrested after post‐​election protests had been tortured in Iranian prisons, the first such acknowledgment by a senior Iranian official.

Meanwhile, a second day of hearings was held in a mass trial of reformers and election protesters, with more than 100 people accused of trying to topple the government. The accused included a French researcher and employees of the French and British Embassies, prompting angry responses from Britain, France and the European Union.

But even as the trial appeared to further the campaign by the hard‐​line establishment to intimidate and silence the opposition, at the expense of alienating Iranian moderates and the West, the statement on torture by the judiciary official, Iran’s prosecutor general, revealed continued divisions within the government.

Speaking to reporters at a news conference, Qorbanali Dori‐​Najafabadi, the prosecutor general, said “mistakes” had led to a few “painful accidents which cannot be defended, and those who were involved should be punished.”

Such mistakes, he said, included “the Kahrizak incident,” a reference to the deaths of several detainees at Kahrizak detention center in southwestern Tehran.

It is frustrating to have to stand by as such human rights abuses occur, but that is almost always the case irrespective of the country. There usually is little that Washington can do. So it is in Iran. Absent initiating war, the U.S. government — which already has imposed economic sanctions against Tehran in response to its nuclear program — has no good options.

Ultimately, the Iranian people, who appear to be increasingly restive under an ever more repressive system (which these days looks more purely authoritarian and less genuinely Islamic), will have to force reform. The sooner they succeed, the better for them and believers in liberty around the globe.