Iranian official unveils rape report

Jailers accused of torture, abuses

Hard-liners have denounced Mehdi Karroubi. Hard-liners have denounced Mehdi Karroubi.
By Ali Akbar Dareini
Associated Press / August 25, 2009

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TEHRAN - An Iranian opposition leader yesterday released what he said was an account by a prisoner raped by his jailers, in a challenge to the country’s leadership, which has sought to silence claims of torture and abuses in the postelection crackdown.

The allegations of torture and even rape being used against imprisoned opposition protesters have become a source of embarrassment to the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iran’s clerical leadership as they try to put behind them the turmoil of the disputed June presidential election.

Hundreds of protesters and opposition politicians and activists were arrested when security forces crushed the mass protests that erupted after the opposition alleged the June 12 vote was rigged in favor of Ahmadinejad and that challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi was the true winner. The opposition says at least 69 people were killed in the crackdown, including some who died from torture in prison.

In recent weeks, hard-line government supporters have fiercely denounced senior opposition figure Mahdi Karroubi after he announced he had received reports that detainees were raped and tortured to death.

Yesterday, Karroubi responded by making public for the first time details of one of the accounts. In a statement on his party’s website, he warned he would release more accounts unless authorities stop denying his allegations.

The account is by a released prisoner who had been held in Kahrizak prison, a facility on Tehran’s outskirts where many detained protesters were held and which has been at the center of abuse claims. The author of the account is not identified, and he says he fears retribution from authorities.

“They blindfolded and handcuffed me in prison, beat me nearly to death. Worse than that, they did to me an act that is denounced even by unbelievers and idol worshippers. I only had the courage to inform Mr. Karroubi of this matter,’’ the former prisoner was quoted by the website as saying.

The former prisoner says that Karroubi introduced him to judiciary officials, who he said initially interviewed him in a respectful way. He said they took him for an examination by a doctor. But he said he was subsequently questioned by other judiciary officials who tried to force him to retract his allegations and accused him of being paid or otherwise induced by Karroubi to make the accusations.

Karroubi has alleged that he has detailed reports from victims, former military commanders, and other senior officials about rapes and abuse in the crackdown, as well as about prisoners tortured to death.

The abuse issue is particularly sensitive for Ahmadinejad’s government and the clerical leadership because even some conservatives have joined in the criticism of alleged mistreatment of prisoners.