17 December 2009

A Basij Witness Tells His Story

- of election fraud, the following crackdown and sexual abuse

First published on Channel 4 News (UK)

His story confirms reports from victims and human rights groups, who say rape has been used all over Iran in the brutal months since the June election. Some quotes: 

“In truth the orders didn’t come after the election. The orders for all that you witnessed came before the election. From three or four months before the election we had attended classes on ideological and political thought and crowd control.”

“We had received orders a matter of months before that there is jurisprudence, that there is the jurisprudence of the Imam Zaman, (the 13th Imam, who is expected to return like a Messiah) whose incarnation is Ayatollah Khamenei, and that he had announced that for the advancement and development of Islam and the development of the revolution no-one could be more effective than Mr. Ahmadinejad. Therefore the order came that Mr Khamenei has him in mind, that Mr Khamenei has Mr Ahmadinejad in mind for the presidency and so he must be announced as the winner. “It’s he who is best suited to this revolution, order and Velayat Faqih (Iranian system of Islamic jurisdiction)”

“For us who were responsible for the ballot boxes the order was this: that Aqa’s [Khamenei's] wish is for Ahmadinejad to win. For illiterate people and those not able to complete their ballots, you must do so for them and complete them accordingly (for Ahmadinejad), no matter who their vote was intended for. Same with blank votes.”

“When the voting was over, the boxes were opened, but not all of them. A few were opened and counted, then we received another order to send the boxes to the main centre.”

“Because a reaction was expected, we had been ordered from before the election for all security forces to be ready for the following day.[…] The command was that we were to prevent any gathering of people to take shape.”
“Any hint of protest was to be firmly supressed. […] In our view, it was not a protest against the issue but a protest against Ayatollah Khamenei himself.”

We had orders “to attack everyone without restraint or mercy regardless of age. It was made clear, there was to be no difference between child or adult, men and women. Proper attack, without warning, or any discussion.”

“In the clashes, anyone who was wounded would be arrested. If they couldn’t catch them they’d get someone else. They would arrest anyone they could. It made no difference who it was. Wounded, not wounded. If they were activists, all the better. Young children, young adults. The treatment of them – the mode of attack and length of attack on them left me in shock.”

“The command was to arrest as many 12-18 year olds as possible and bring them back. This group caused the most trouble so the idea was not to give them any opportunity to congregate. Many were arrested. Again, several locations had been prepared to take them and keep them there.”

“They had some containers ready. They had arrested some youngsters and were asking them their age and were separating them accordingly. Over 18s went into to one container and the under 18s into the several other containers. The number of children under the age of 18 was greater. They filled three or four containers of some 25 people in each.

“Then we heard noise from the yard. […] The sound of screams and pleading and crying. We didn’t understand what was going on. […] I couldn’t believe that they would want to do such a thing: to rape.”

“It’s as if it’s replaying in front of me. The faces, the screams are with me every moment. […] They were pleading, they were crying, they wanted help, but my brother is a more senior authority than me. We went to see what was happening.”

“We asked what all the noise was about. They said “Nothing, this is Fath ol Moin (aid to victory). We said: ‘What do you mean, what are you doing? Who’s in there?’ […] ‘What’s happening, why are they crying?’

“My relative was furious and very frustrated. He was very angry. When we got there he said: ‘What is this? Sexual abuse is a serious crime. Who gave this order? Who authorised this? Haji calmly replied with a smile: ‘This is Fath Al Moin. It’s a worthy deed. There’s nothing wrong with it. Why are you complaining?’

“My relative said again: ‘Is there anything more filthy than this, more ugly than this? With children, these are children, they haven’t done anything. They’re from our own home town.’

“The pain and the shame in front of people and before God. […] We really saw ourselves as upstanding and separate from others. We really believed that what we did was correct, that we were serving the people, that we were serving God and that our mission was nothing but worshipping God.”

“Now I’m left with my conscience punishing me for what I did. I hope that God and people forgive me.”

Part 1:

Part 2:

Full English text on Channel 4 News
Also on the blog StreetJournalist

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