(10 June 2011) On the second anniversary of the disputed June 2009 election and the ensuing repression, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran today released video testimony from a young female detainee describing in detail her severe torture and repeated rape after her arbitrary arrest.
Her forceful testimony challenges the Iranian authorities’ official narrative, which denies widespread use of torture and rape by security forces against ordinary protestors.
“Rape is one of the worst forms of torture and allegation after allegation of sadistic torture and sexual abuse continue to emerge,” said Hadi Ghaemi, the Campaign’s spokesperson.
“How can the Iranian Judiciary claim a shred of legitimacy if it continues to shield the perpetrators of such atrocities? Its credibility is gone with the wind as it promotes a climate of rampant impunity,” he added.
The Campaign expressed serious concern that the same security and intelligence apparatus that committed the gross atrocities detailed in this video testimony, continues to be in charge of the arbitrary detention, interrogation, and imprisonment of prisoners of conscience and dissidents.
Over the past two years the Judiciary has become a tool of the security and intelligence agents, demonstrating an utter lack of independence.
The Campaign is releasing a 28-minute segment from an original 100-minute video interview with the young woman who was detained, tortured and raped in the summer of 2009. The interviewer spent more than twelve hours with the survivor to affirm various aspects of her experience. The interviewer shared all of the details that emerged for the twelve-hour interview with the Campaign, however, any information that may indicate the young woman’s identity has been withheld to protect her from reprisals.
The young woman in the video vividly describes being groped by a boy in the service of security forces during her arrest, along with several other women and held in a secret location that she describes as a warehouse. She spent days in a cramped cell, blindfolded, and deprived of water, food, and toilet privileges. She was then transferred to another secret detention center and held in solitary confinement.
There, blindfolded and gagged, the young woman, who had been a virgin, explains that one of her captors brutally raped, beat and humiliated her.
“First thing he did was lick my face,” the victim recounts. “I felt my life drained. He started to pull my clothes off. My hands bound, my eyes covered, I started crying. He shouted ‘shut up you prostitute!’ Then he started. Opened my bra and took my clothes off. He was stroking and hitting me at the same time, saying ‘I will do something to you that you’ll never forget, I’ll make it so you never leave your house again, anytime you hear my name you will tremble, I’ll drive you insane.’ And he did. He raped me.”
Later, a different security functionary reportedly burned her hands, knees and breasts with cigarettes, and kicked her stomach, forcing blood into her mouth. The interviewer corroborated her account by observing marks on her body that appeared to be remnants of cigarette burns.
Describing the weeks following her first rape and sadistic cigarette burnings, the victim recalls: “I could smell blood, I was still drowsy. I didn’t feel well. They took me back to the cell. I don’t know how much time passed. One week, two weeks. Every other day it was the same routine. They would take me into the room, they would beat me, rape me…”
Rape and torture continued for several weeks until her release, after which she suffered a urinary tract infection and other injuries.
The young woman said that, “My spirit was crushed.” She then implored other rape and torture survivors to speak out, and asked for the international community not to forget the plight of many other survivors of rape and brutality who are living in silent despair.
The Campaign started to receive credible and reliable reports of rape against post-election detainees as early as 25 July 2009. It appears that ordinary people, protestors without profiles, have faced rape and the harshest abuses. Authorities have been apparently trying to cripple them emotionally and send a message to ordinary Iranians that if you go on the streets, if you criticize the government, they will make you suffer.
On 29 July 2009, Mehdi Karroubi, the opposition leader, wrote a letter to Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, saying, “Some of the detainees have reported that female detainees have been severely raped, resulting in serious injuries to the sexual organs. On the other hand, some of the young male detainees have been violently raped such that they have developed serious psychological and physical complications, suffering from deep depression.” Karroubi made this letter public on 9 August 2009 and demanded a parliamentary investigation.
On 12 August 2009, Ali Larijani, the head of the Parliament announced that a special parliamentary committee had dismissed the evidence provided by Karroubi. Their denial was so rushed that it strongly indicated that Larijani’s committee had not conducted any serious or in depth investigation. On 24 August, Karroubi published a detailed account of his own investigations and simultaneously met with a special parliamentary committee.
On 7 and 8 September 2009, security forces attacked and shut down three groups collecting testimony from rape and torture victims. The three groups included the Association to Defend Prisoners Rights; the Committee for Following the Situation of Detainees, which is a part of the campaign of reformist presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi; and the Committee for Following Detainees and Injured, which is a part of the Karroubi campaign. The security forces confiscated all of their documents and evidence.
Shortly after these attempts by officials to cover up evidence of rape and torture, two male victims, Ebrahim Mehtari and Ebrahim Sharifi, fled Iran and provided their testimonies to the Campaign and other international human rights organizations.
“No matter how hard Iranian officials try to hide the truth, they cannot succeed,” Ghaemi said. “All of these young victims are part of Iranian society. As such, the atrocities committed against them cannot be wiped from the country’s collective memory and demands for justice and accountability will continue to haunt the Iranian regime.”
“The heartbreaking nature of this young woman’s case, the lack of accountability, and the complete disregard for due process are a profound testament to the disintegrating legal system in Iran,” Ghaemi added.
The Campaign urges the forthcoming UN Special Rapporteur on Iran to investigate all claims of torture, drawing particular attention to allegations of rape at the hands of interrogators. The Campaign also stresses the necessity for the full investigation and prosecution of perpetrators to ensure that those coming forward can do so without fear of retribution.
Listen to the Campaign’s Weekly Iran Rights Podcast
For the latest human rights developments in Iran visit the Campaign’s website
For interviews or more information:
Hadi Ghaemi, in New York: +1 917-669-5996
Aaron Rhodes, in Hamburg: +49 170-323-8314