Georgia Indictment Joins Totalitarian Tradition of Mass Trials of Political Opposition

The Georgia indictment of President Donald Trump and 18 lawyers, aides, and supporters reflects the unfortunate totalitarian tradition of prosecuting leaders and members of the political opposition in mass trials in which defendants have few rights.

Last year, for example, the communist dictatorship in Cuba held a mass trial for 21 protesters and dissidents, as Breitbart News noted:

Cuban communist authorities held a trial culminating on Friday for 21 protesters who took to the streets on July 11 to protest against communism, prosecuting children and adults with mental health issues along with healthy adults in one mass trial.

A prosecutorial indictment from Holguín, eastern Cuba, obtained by Breitbart News and verified by sources familiar with the proceedings, documented a mass trial for 21 people ranging in age from 16 to 59. The individuals were all allegedly present during the same protest on July 11 and all face the charge of “sedition.” Yet the detailed “crimes” in question vary widely, from allegations of punching and stoning police officers to filming a protest to simply being present during what the prosecutor in charge described as a “tumult” meant to incite “counterrevolutionary” thinking.

In 2020, Turkey, which is run by a democratically-elected autocrat, nearly 500 people were sentenced to life in prison in one trial for their alleged participation in a 2016 coup attempt (one cheered by some of the same Democrats who later impeached Trump):

A court in Turkey on Thursday sentenced 475 defendants to lengthy prison terms, in many cases handing down multiple life sentences, in a mass trial for “traitors” accused of participating in the 2016 attempt to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The defendant Erdogan is most eager to put on trial remains elusive, as the United States refuses to extradite alleged coup mastermind Fethullah Gulen, a longtime resident of Pennsylvania. Gulen has vehemently denied any involvement in the incident and the U.S. government has asserted it also has no evidence suggesting he was involved.

Almost 100,000 arrests have been made in connection with the coup attempt since 2016, and at least 150,000 Turkish citizens have been fired from their jobs over suspected links to the Hizmet religious and political group created by Gulen. Erdogan and his officials refer to this group as the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).

In 2014, Egypt tried 170 supporters of the ousted, elected (and Islamist) former president, sentencing some to death:

A pair of Egyptian courts on Sunday convicted 170 suspected supporters of toppled President Mohammed Morsi on charges related to violent attacks last year, the country’s latest mass trials ahead of this month’s presidential elections.

The convictions in the courts in Cairo and in the Nile Delta city of Kafr el-Sheikh are the latest in a series over recent months that saw hundreds of people prosecutors identified as Morsi supporters sentenced to death or imprisonment.

In 1956, the apartheid regime in South Africa tried 156 defendants at once for opposing the government’s racial discrimination policies. In what became known as the Treason Trial, charges were slowly dropped and the defendants were eventually acquitted.

At a press conference near midnight on Monday, Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis said she intended to try all 19 defendants at once, though one, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, has already demanded a federal trial.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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