26 September 2009

At least 200 killed in Tehran alone

- in the wake of the post election unrest

Times online has done some excellent reporting on human rights violations in Iran in the wake of the post election unrest. On September 18, the paper revelaed that they had been given access to several documents suggesting that the killings, rape and torture stories that have leaked out of Iran since June, is part of a systematic program ordered by the highest authorities and aimed at breaking the opposition.

Excerpts from the article:

Times online. September 18, 2009

[…] The Times has been given access to 500 pages of documents […] They suggest that security forces have engaged in systematic killing and torture to try to break the opposition.

“The use of rape and torture was similar across prisons in Tehran and the provinces. It is difficult not to conclude that the highest authorities planned and ordered these actions. Local authorities would not dare take such actions without word from above,” wrote one investigator, in a coded reference to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader.

Mehdi Karoubi, 72, a defeated presidential candidate, said: “These crimes are a source of shame for the Islamic republic.”

Western non-governmental organisations said the documents corroborated what they were hearing from Iran […]

“We are repeatedly receiving credible reports of harsh beatings, sleep deprivation and alleged torture to extract false confessions in Iranian jails,” said Steve Crawshaw, UN director of Human Rights Watch. “Iran has fallen off the front pages but this doesn’t mean the situation is improving. On the contrary, we very much fear it is getting worse.”

The documents suggest that at least 200 demonstrators were killed in Tehran, with 56 others still unaccounted for, and that 173 were killed in other cities
. These are several times higher than the official figures. Just over half of the 200 were killed on the streets. […]

The rest of Tehran’s 200 known victims died in custody […] In three quarters of the cases, the victims’ families were told nothing about their whereabouts and were denied permission to hold proper funerals. The opposition claims that dozens were buried in unmarked graves in Behesht-e Zahra cemetery. […]

The documents also suggest that a chain of unofficial, makeshift prisons has been set up across Iran where rape and torture are common practice
. In Tehran alone, 37 young men and women claim to have been raped by their jailers. Doctors’ reports say that two males, aged 17 and 22, died as a result of severe internal bleeding after being raped.

Many of the male rape victims also spoke of beatings, being subjected to forms of sexual humiliation including riding naked colleagues, and living in their underwear and in filthy conditions. Some testified that prisoners were subjected to torture including beatings, electrocution and having their toenails torn out. […]

Female rape victims were mostly held for days, not weeks, like the men. Some said that their jailers claimed to have “religious sanction” to violate them as they were “morally dirty”.

Almost all, male and female, testified that they were ordered to say nothing of their ordeal or they would face more of the same.

The documents detail other systematic abuses: violent raids on student dormitories, attacks on the homes of suspected opposition sympathisers and the widespread intimidation of medics. They cite instances of security forces storming hospitals and ordering doctors not to treat injured demonstrators, not to record deaths by gunshot and to suppress medical reports indicating rape or torture. […]

[Karroubi]: “There are no few stories about the rape of girls and boys in prison. I say to myself three decades after the revolution and two decades after the death of the Imam [Ayatollah Khomeini] — what place have we reached?”

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