IRAN: Mehdi Karroubi refuses to back down from rape allegations
He's been threatened with imminent arrest, called a liar and an enemy of the state.
But 72-year-old Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi shows no signs whatsoever of backing down from his claim that security forces brutally raped protesters swept up in weeks of unrest following the elections.
Instead of quieting down in the face of a relentless call by hardliners for his arrest and the issuance of a government report denying his explosive allegation of rape, Karroubi responded today with more detailed allegations and accused the government of a coverrup.
"I wish I were not alive to hear a citizen of the Islamic Republic come to me and recount his story of having been subject to improper and heinous acts by unknown individuals in deserted buildings," he said in the letter on his new website, Tagheer.ir, launched after his newspaper and old website were shut down by authorities.
"[The detainees] were stripped and seated face-to-face, insulted impudently, urinated upon and abandoned blindfolded with hands tied behind their backs in deserts," he wrote. 'That's not all. Young boys and girls were raped in detention centers."
The government had promised to investigate his rape allegations, only to issue a report over the weekend saying no such thing occurred and that Karroubi was lying to promote a political agenda. This was days after authorities shut down an office Karroubi had set up to investigate the claims.
Karroubi says the investigation was proceeding well until former Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi interfered, demanding to meet with one of the alleged victims of rape.
But instead of listening to his complaint, he told the young man to shut up.
"'You should have remained silent for God's sake and for the sake of your family,'" the victim was told. "'You should not have let this affair play into the hands of political activists.'"
The next day Mortazavi dispatched agents to the young man's neighborhood to spread rumors about him him under the pretext of investigating his claims. The young man has since disappeared, Karroubi said.
His father, an elderly former Iran-Iraq war veteran, can't stop weeping, Karroubi said.
Another case, Karroubi presented to the judiciary was about a young woman arrested in a street demonstration.
Karroubi included an excerpt from her testimony:
"The agents fondled me on the way and after we arrived at the police post I was forced to take my trousers off. I refused to do so, but I was stripped by force. A senior officer came and asked what was happening and they said I have undressed myself voluntarily in order to discredit them."
A third case involved a young political activist.
"He had his own medical proof showing inflammation of his anus," Karroubi wrote. "He had lost conscience in detention for long and he did not know what has happened to him to have developed bruises around anus. He had been severely beaten for five consecutive days and the jailers had finally abandoned him in a remote desert because they feared he would die."
In addition, he said told the authorities about two other women -- Taraneh Mousavi and Saeedeh Pour-Aghai -- who were reported to have been raped and murdered. But he said a certain "government agent" refused his request to examine their bodies.
At a separate meeting, Karroubi presented evidence about a young woman who had been arrested and raped, along with another woman. She is now suicidal, Karroubi said.
Karroubi said after reading the report by the judiciary denying the rape allegations, "I become more assured that the panel members had been ordered to rubberstamp the case."
He said the report attributes comments to him which are lies.
"Impudence is so rife that [the authorities] intend to prosecute Mehdi Karroubi instead of the perpetrators of these crimes and their accomplices," he wrote. "These crimes, committed by a group, are a shame for the Islamic Republic and our country."