IRAN: Activist issues preemptive retraction of future confession


This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

What do you do when your imprisoned friends and political allies admit to plotting against the Islamic Republic of Iran in an elaborate and suspiciously scripted series of televised confessions?

What if you’re worried you’re next?

You could skip town or keep quiet. Or, if you are prominent opposition activist Mohsen Armin, you can try and beat the authorities at their own game by issuing a retraction of any future televised confession in anticipation of your own arrest and possible torture.


Armin, a member of Islamic Revolution Combatants Organization, or the IRCO, posted the renunciation on his website under the glib headline “I look forward to being detained.”

“If the providence of God requires that I will be in jailed as my brethren have been so far and if, in jail and under pressure, I say something against what I have said, be sure that it is not my true belief and that I recanted under pressure,’ he wrote.

Armin’s comments come amid increasingly vocal criticism of the televised courtroom confessions, described as “show trials” by critics both in Iran and abroad.

The obvious similarities between the confessions have become a running joke among opposition supporters and even inspired a now-viral YouTube parody by Iranian satirist Ebrahim Nabavi (link in Farsi), in which the comedian dons a striped prison uniform and bandages and recites the now familiar list of crimes against the regime.

Indeed, Armin’s disavowal seems to anticipate his hypothetical confession point for point:

“There is no dark stain in my life to be ashamed of: I have never received any money from foreign forces; I have no relations with foreigners and I will not have; so far I have not received money from foreigners; I do not support a velvet revolution to overthrow the system, but I do call for the implementation of the constitution to promote the cause of my country and consolidate the pillars of the system.”


In a recent interview with This American Life, journalist Omid Memarian talked about writing his confession following his arrest in 2004, comparing his interrogator to an editor and joking that the tale he told was, ‘The only story he never got paid for.’

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut and Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran