IRAN: Despite newspaper closure, rape allegations continue
August 18, 2009 | 12:57 pm
If Iran's rulers thought shuttering a popular reformist newspaper would end an uproar over allegations of rape and abuse of inmates inside the nation's prisons, they were sorely mistaken.
A day after authorities shuttered former parliamentary speaker Mehdi Karroubi's Ettemad Melli newspaper for publishing his letter alleging that guards brutally raped prisoners inside Iran's detention centers, the leading opposition figure defiantly broached the taboo subject.
"Your letter regarding the ugly treatment of prisoners in certain detention centers has frustrated the non-national television and the mouthpieces of the coup plotters," Mir Hossein Mousavi wrote in a letter to Karroubi that was published on numerous websites.
"The prisoners who have been raped are required to present four just eyewitnesses. Those who have committed these offenses were the agents of the regime," he continued.
A popular reformist website, Mowjcamp.com, also reported today on another case of sexual abuse inside prison.
According to the website, when lawmakers inspected Tehran's Evin Prison, one inmate identified by the initials A.B. stood up and began to speak out.
He told the lawmakers that before being transferred to Evin Prison he had been held at the infamous Kahrizak detention center.
There, he said, guards used their batons to rape him. He said he was still suffering and bleeding as a result of the injuries.
One overwhelmed lawmaker, Qodratullah Alikhani, reportedly could not bear hearing the details of the story and left that section of the jail.
After he spoke he was taken to a clinic for an examination, and the man was then taken away by Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi himself to an unknown location, spurring worries that he had been further harmed, the report alleged.
Meanwhile, the reformist news website Norooznews.org quotes a doctor at Evin Prison as saying imprisoned political activist Feyzollah Arabsorkhi has been taken to a hospital in northwestern Tehran to be hospitalized after he was severely beaten.
And Mowjcamp also reports that dissident writer Ahmad Zeidabadi has been hospitalized after going on a hunger strike since he was hauled before cameras in what critics described as a show trial earlier this month.
Zeidabadi, a former student leader and outspoken critic of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has been in prison before and refused to confess to any of the charges leveled against him despite being held in solitary confinement for weeks-long stretches.
-- Borzou Daragahi in Beirut
Photos: Above, the front page of the last issue of Ettemad Melli, banned earlier this week for reporting on allegations of sexual abuse by guards inside Iran's prisons. Below, Ahmad Zeidabadi, at left, seated in a Tehran courtroom before he reportedly went on a hunger strike. Credit: EPA