Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Has former Iranian President Muhammad Khatami found his voice?

While he was President Khatami established a penchant for backing away from conflict, particularly after he promised that he take a decisive stand. The courageous dissident Akbar Ganji once told me that the reformists were willing to pay the price for changing the system, but that Khatami had "spent them too cheaply".

In recent weeks, he has spoken out with unaccustomed candor, as the following statement illustrates:

"If you want to calm the atmosphere, why are you carrying out mass arrests? Oppressing people will not help end the protests," Khatami said.

Addressing the judiciary, he said: "If these people have committed crimes, why are their legal rights as citizens not preserved, why don't they have access to a lawyer, why are they not tried in a court, why haven't they been charged?"

Khatami added: "Obtaining confessions in front of cameras is a useless old method ... confessions under pressure are not valid."

Perhaps he has finally found his voice.

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