Rape updates

I find myself coming back again and again to the individual instances of human rights abuse, the point of contact where a violent and degraded theocracy comes to bear in repression on the vulnerable individual.

The case of Neda Sultan (her grave is pictured here) has become well-known. At least she was only shot and killed, Grave of Neda Sultannot tortured, brutalised and degraded beforehand. Her fiancé, Caspian Makan, has been arrested and is in Even Prison. Amnesty International has circulated its concerns regarding the suppression by torture of his vital eye-witness testimony regarding the circumstances of her death.

I mentioned both Saideh Pour-Aghaee and Reza last week. More information has come to light which is worth recording here.

Saideh was the only child in her family, the daughter of a father martyred in the Iran-Iraq war.  In addition all three of her uncles ─ her mother’s brothers ─ died in the same war.  In Iranian terms, this is a family of ‘martyrs’ in abundance who have given their lives for their country.  Nevertheless Saideh was snatched from the rooftop where she was crying Allahu Akbar by the despicable fati-commandoes (ugly female basijis), taken to prison and raped repeatedly.Torture of a 15 year old (In the current situation in Iran, rape is practised on an industrial scale ─ “ to break their will.”) Her family applied to receive her body for burial but was refused.  It had been defaced by quantities of acid, to prevent any kind of post mortem, and dumped into a mass grave.

The 15 year old Reza is the boy whose torture was first brought to notice by Karroubi.  There is now a much more detailed account, given by Homa Homayoun, a courageous journalist in the Times, worth quoting at length:

Reza’s ordeal began in mid-July when he was arrested with about 40 other teenagers during an opposition demonstration in a large provincial city. Most were too young even to have voted. They were taken to what he believes was a Basiji militia base where they were blindfolded, stripped to their underwear, whipped with cables and then locked in a steel shipping container. That first night Reza was singled out by three men in plain clothes who had masqueraded as prisoners. As the other boys watched, they pushed him to the ground. One held his head down, another sat on his back and the third urinated on him before raping him. “They were telling us they were doing this for God, and who did we think we were that we could demonstrate,” Reza said. The men told the other boys they would receive the same treatment if they did not co-operate when interrogated the next day.

Reza was then taken outside, tied to a metal pole and left there all night. The next morning one of the men returned. He asked whether Reza had learnt his lesson. “I was angry. I spat in his face and began cursing him. He elbowed me in the face a couple of times and slapped me.” Twenty minutes later, he says, the man returned with a bag full of excrement, shoved it in Reza’s face and threatened to make him eat it.

Reza was later taken to an interrogation room where he told his questioner he had been raped. “I made a mistake. He sounded kind, but my eyes were blindfolded. He said he would go look into it and I was hopeful,” Reza said. Instead, the interrogator ordered Reza to be tied up and raped him again, saying: “This time I’ll do it, so you’ll learn not to tell these tales anywhere else. You deserve what’s coming to you. You guys should be raped until you die.”

He was subjected to further brutal sexual abuse — and locked up for three days of solitary confinement.

Note that all this was being done “for God”. Reza’s crime, in case you should be wondering, was wearing a green We are all greenwristband.

Reza’s ordeal was far from over. He was taken with about 130 other prisoners to the city’s Revolutionary Court, where they were herded into a yard. The judge told them that he would hang those who had violently resisted the Islamic revolution and read out the names of ten teenagers, including Reza. The message was clear: if they continued to say they had been raped they would be executed.

The judge sent them to the city’s central prison, where Reza was handcuffed and held in a small cell with six other boys for ten more days. In the evenings officers beat the boys and taunted them with the words: “You want to cause a revolution?”.

Periodically, the most senior officer would take the boys away, three at a time. “When they returned they would be very quiet and uneasy,” Reza said. When his turn came he and the others were led into a small room and ordered to strip and have sex with each other. “He told us that with this we would be cleansed — we would be so shattered that we would no longer be able to look at each other. This would help calm us down.”

The boy, now 16, is severely traumatised.Torturers - wanted photo

“I was shaking so much I couldn’t even hear what they were saying,” said Reza. “I just signed whatever they put in front of me without looking at it. I was scared they would rape me again.” [They did, three days later.] “My hands began shaking, my legs were weak and I couldn’t stand up properly. I fell down and smashed my head hard on the ground to try and kill myself. I started screaming and shouting for them to kill me. I just couldn’t bear it anymore. I hated myself,” he said, weeping at the memory … “My life is over. I don’t think I can ever recover”,

he told The Times journalist.

The family persuaded a hospital doctor they knew to treat him, despite the danger to herself … [She] confirmed that he is suicidal, and bears the appalling injuries consistent with his story. She has treated his physical injuries and given him antibiotics and sedatives but cannot perform an internal examination … The doctor told The Times that other detainees had suffered a similar fate. “We have many cases in the hospital but we can’t report on them. They won’t let us open a file. They don’t want any paperwork,” she said.

The family are now seeking ways to flee Iran.

Death in custody

An unnamed doctor, reported by a ‘semi-official’ news agency, has confirmed that, yes, one son of an adviser to a prominent cleric was beaten to death in custody. Mohsen Rouhalamini was the son of an adviser to defeatedElaborately painted handpresidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei. The official story was that he had been struck down by meningitis while in prison.

Caught upon the hip by so many allegations of injustice (justice is the central tenet of Shi’ite Islam), the Wise Donkey has pledged that abusers will be brought to book:

All those who were hurt in the incidents should know that the [Islamic] system will not compromise and forgive [those who committed the offenses] Just as [the Islamic system] deals legally and rightfully with those who obviously stand against the system, if a bad deed or crime has been committed, the offenders will also be dealt with rightfully and legally.

If there is one thing the regime could do to restore its credibility, this would be it. It would not bring back the dead or undo the mass rapes, but it would appease the sense of violation and injury. We await to see where, if anywhere, these ramblings lead. In particular, it is hard to believe that the mass burials of raped and tortured detainees will be investigated, as has apparently been promised.

TSchool Photohe threat of the humanities

In the face of the obvious triumph of science, it has become difficult in the West to justify the teachings of the humanities in universities. The ancient traditions of scholarship, the veneration of Aristotle (and, in Ovid, Pythagoras) and the hermeneutical exegesis of old texts, seems all to have faded like a morning mist on a summer’s day. Does the study of literature enhance the personality in some way? O Leavis, where is your legacy today!

One circumstance that readily arouses the suspicion that these studies must have some value is that they are all highly unwelcome on Islamic campuses. A prime concern of Islam is to prevent all development. Consequently all critical thinking, philosophical enquiry, imaginative potentiation and freedom of thought is regarded as a supreme threat to the skeleton of tiny ossified bones that is nowadays all that is left of Islamic teaching.

At the same time, the younger generation, in Iran as elsewhere, is besotted with politics, sociology, literature of the radical variety and, yes, psychology. It has gradually become apparent to the Donkey that all this must be stemmed and these naughty, liberating subjects be put back in their boxes. Why should the umma be roused from its deep sleep after all these centuries? The kiss of a prince is suspect on anti-royalist as well as moral grounds.In charge of a nation!

And so, in modern Iran, in the first decade of the 21st century, these subjects ─ the humanities and social sciences ─ are to be cut back.  Islam, the enemy of culture, always puts itself forward as the culture for every occasion.  Free philosophical enquiry is seen to be so threatening to the profoundly blank Iranian mind that it is equated with alcohol as a social destabiliser. Hence the strange phenomenon of gharbzadegi ─ or West-toxification.

The would-be students, meanwhile, are apoplectic.

Terrible humour

Two Muslim mothers are sitting in a cafe chatting over a pint of goat’s milk. The older of the two mothers pulls her bag out, and starts flipping through photos and they start reminiscing.

“This is my oldest son, Mohammed. He was 24 years old.”

“Yes, I remember him as a baby,” says the younger mother, cheerfully.

“He’s a martyr now, though”, the older mother confides.

“Praise be to Allah”, says the younger mother.

“And this is my second son Khalid. He was 21 years old.”

“Oh, I remember him”, says the younger mother happily. “He had such curly hair when he was born.”

“He’s a martyr, too”, says older mother quietly.

“Praise be to Allah,” says the younger mother.

“And this is my third son, my baby. My beautiful Ahmed. He was eighteen years old”, the older mother whispers.

“Yes,” says the younger mother enthusiastically, “I remember when he first started school.”

“He is a martyr, also”, says older mother, with tears in her eyes.

After a pause and a deep sigh, the younger Muslim mother looks wistfully at the photographs and says, “They blow up so fast, don’t they?”

Nowhere to hideImpropriety

The regime, it is said, is now afraid of mobile phones, afraid of newspapers, afraid of the colour green, afraid of prisons, afraid of blood, afraid of cemeteries, afraid of rooftops, afraid of banknotes, afraid of car horns. Truly there is nowhere to hide.  As Mr and Mrs Macbeth, charming couple, could tell them, the circulation of paranoia is the final stage before the arrival of Nemesis.

God is Great ─ and we know Him not.