Iran protests: Amnesty International details abuse of protesters
A new Amnesty International report offers the most detailed account of Iranian abuse – and official coversups – during postelection protests.
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Rape is not known to have featured in prisons during the first years of the Islamic Republic, because many of the wardens were devout Muslims and rape "would not fit into their psychology," says Abrahamian, whose books include a detailed 1999 study of prison conditions called "Tortured Confessions."Skip to next paragraph
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The case of Ebrahim Mehtari
Of the three cases of alleged rape detailed in the Amnesty report, that of Ebrahim Mehtari includes his forensic medical report that specifies burns, abrasions, and bruising.
"Once it became known that his injuries were not the result of a criminal abduction but of torture by state officials, all the documents and evidence disappeared," except for the medical report that Mr. Mehtari was able to copy, says the Amnesty International report. Officials, Amnesty stated, "have done their utmost to ensure that accounts of rape are discredited and not circulated."
The charges of rape made public by Mehdi Karroubi, a cleric and former parliament speaker who was a candidate in the June election, electrified Iranian officials. But numerous press reports and testimony – some of it in the Amnesty report – point to different attitude among Basiji and the Revolutionary Guard.
Iranian media reports since the summer have suggested that street thugs picked up in previous crackdowns for criminal activity were brought into some detention facilities to "guard" and abuse detainees.
"Now it's no longer the ideologically committed people who are actually running these prisons," says Abrahamian. "These are people who have more likely joined the [Revolutionary Guard] because their career prospects are good, so ideology is less important, and you're more likely to get psychopaths [and] thugs who are quite happy to have their people do these things."
Amnesty International's Iran specialist, Elise Auerbach, said in a statement: "Although the authorities have done everything possible to suppress knowledge of the abuses and to further punish those victims and witnesses who courageously reported them, the massive scale of the violations is impossible to hide."
The report states that detainees who made public accusations of rape against their jailers "have been targeted for further human rights violations" and treated "as a further threat to the state simply for revealing the truth about the crimes they have suffered."
Alleged rape victim Ebrahim Sharifi, who, like Mehtari, has fled Iran to Turkey, told Amnesty: "I provided my testimony to Mehdi Karroubi['s committee] but they came and stole it all. I would not have fled Iran; I would not stay [here] for more than one hour if I could have got some justice in Iran."