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Hey Dictator! Watch Me Confess!

An incognito confession from Germany
An incognito confession from Germany
A new website is using video satire contributed by participants around the world as a tool to embarrass the Iranian government.

The all-volunteer project "Watch Me Confess!" aims to show the world "how ridiculous the false confessions propaganda really is," the website explains.

The concept plays off recent high-profile confessions from some of Iran's leading reformists, such as former Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi, now facing trial along with more than 100 other defendants. Abtahi reportedly testified that opposition leaders conspired in advance to misrepresent the June vote and prompt people to protest.

Many believe Abtahi's and others' public confessions were forced. In an August 4 editorial, “The Washington Post” compares the trial of Iranian reformists to the Soviet Union’s show trials of the Stalin era.

Using humor to lay bare the absurdity of the case, “Watch Me Confess!” invites viewers to send their own recorded confessions to the Iranian state media, and publicize them via Twitter, Facebook, and other "green movement" hotspots.

In one sample confession, a young Israeli woman tells viewers: "I am a Jew, I live in Israel.... I marched millions of Iranian people on the streets just to make the Supreme Leader feel uncomfortable.... Don't give Abtahi the credit for my great work!"

The new website also owes something to a wildly popular video by humorist Ebrahim Nabavi, who plays Abtahi as he gives a forced confession. The video, recorded before the trial, turned out to be a prescient piece of satire. (An English translation is available here.)

Nabavi, playing Abtahi, tells his viewers what's really going on with all the upheaval in Iran. "On one occasion, while walking in the street, we saw everything was green: cars had green flags and girls wore green shawls, and everyone had a green bracelet. I told Mr. Karrubi, 'Gee! Someone has already started the velvet revolution before us.' So we gave up the idea.”

After a slew of sound effects suggesting a beating, Nabavi/Abtahi revises his story: “We started our cooperation with Musavi’s gang. Every single night we would hold a rally in the streets. I even imported green velvet from England and Israel. We were in heaven. CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour supported us with billions of dollars and now we have started our own green velvet trade."

He ends humbly: "I confess that during one of my trips to Beirut I wore short pants and as Mr. Interrogator reminded me, this was an act against national security. He is right. I want to say in fact that in fact what I wore was not short pants but loose pants. Anyway, I am sorry for committing this crime. Once in Koln I wore a cap and in Damascus I dared to wear a chapeau. I hope our great nation and our government will forgive me."

-- Kristin Deasy and Golnaz Esfandiari