You know human rights abuses are getting out of hand in Iran when the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that nation's supreme leader, orders the closing of a detention center housing hundreds of election protesters because it "lacked the standards" to house them.
The reports of abused and murdered Iranians arrested during demonstrations against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's suspicious landslide re-election last month are nothing short of grisly. Among them were allegations that some prisoners were forced to lick soiled toilet bowls while others had their fingernails ripped out.
Many of the bodies returned to grieving families in recent days show tell-tale signs of severe bruising and assault. The dead are witnesses to a level of brutality reminiscent of the shah's final days. According to the hospital officials who briefed human rights workers, more than 100 protesters have been murdered while in state custody since the election.
Mr. Ahmadinejad is now calling upon the judiciary to show "Islamic mercy" to the demonstrators after calling for the same protesters to be punished to the full extent of Islamic law for questioning the legitimacy of his election in June. It is a hollow gesture since the judiciary had already promised to expedite the cases of the 150 or so detainees remaining from the original 2,500.
The growing disorder, which flared up again Thursday in a massive demonstration in Tehran, has eroded the Iranian president's standing with conservative parliamentarians and clergy, too. Recently, the son of a prominent conservative died in prison after a severe beating.
President Ahmadinejad shouldn't be surprised that the police state he is helping create has evolved beyond his control. It is harder than it looks to keep tyranny stuffed in a bottle, even for someone with Mr. Ahmadinejad's appetite for repression.
The eyes of the world have been on Iran since the crackdown began. Even as anger among the community of nations grows, it pales in comparison to the anger Iranians feel about their leaders. The appalling abuses will only strengthen the resolve of more Iranians to be free of this regime.