Ibrahim Sharifi - heroic bravery

Ibrahim Sharifi - heroic bravery

Articulate rape victim flees

Further developments in the case of Ibrahim Sharifi, the 24 year old engineer, one of five brothers from a north Tehran family moderately supportive of the regime, are to be found here. I previously acclaimed his courage (see below) for speaking out in the form of a video interview, watched by thousands.

He is now in Turkey.

He said he fled Iran after a stranger stopped him on the street to tell him his family would be killed if he testified before a parliamentary committee that was investigating the torture and rape accusations … Since he was dumped by his captors on the side of a Tehran highway, he said, he has been terrified of being alone. First, he had trouble sleeping, fearing that the guard who raped him in prison would attack him again. Now he is convinced he is being followed by someone who means to kill him. “I was ready to be tortured to death,” he said, his voice trembling. “But not ever to go through what happened to me there.”

Blake - The Angel of the Divine Presence

Blake - The Angel of the Divine Presence

Unfortunately his account is all too credible.

Human rights groups say that Mr. Sharifi’s account conforms closely with those of other abuse victims. Omid Memarian, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, said he had confirmed the credibility of Mr. Sharifi’s story with people close to Mr. Karroubi. “His narrative is consistent,” Mr. Memarian said. “He has no reason to risk making up a story like that […]”

His is the first public account we have of goings-on in the notorious ─ and now closed ─ Kahrizak prison:

He was on his way back home the afternoon of June 22 when he was grabbed by two men. “I had taken part in every single protest, so I saw this coming,” he said. He said he was handcuffed, blindfolded and, as he later learned, taken to the notorious Kahrizak detention centre in south-western Tehran, where even the government concedes that several detainees were killed. He said he remained handcuffed and blindfolded for four days in a cramped cell with about 30 other prisoners. They were beaten senseless the first day, he said, and periodically after that over the next four days. Urine and blood covered the floor. By the fourth day he was beginning to lose hope of getting out alive. He had trouble closing his mouth and he said he began vomiting blood.

A bubble of green speech

A bubble of green speech

It gets worse:

“I told the guard that he should go ahead and just kill me if he wanted to,” he said, breaking into tears. “Then he called another guard and said ‘Take this bastard and impregnate him.’ ” They took him out of the cell to another room where they pushed him against a wall that had handcuffs and two metal hooks to keep his legs open. The guard pulled down his underwear, he said, and began raping him. “He laughed mockingly as he was doing it and said that I could not even defend myself so how did I think that I could stage a revolution. “They wanted to horrify and intimidate me,” he said, weeping. At that point, Mr. Sharifi said, he passed out. The next thing he remembered was opening his eyes and realizing he was in a hospital with one hand cuffed to his bed. Another young man was screaming hysterically on a bed next to him. He said he heard a doctor tell someone, “Dump him or you’ll have the same problem as the other ones,” meaning that he would die in custody. Two days later, he said, they put him in a car, took him to a highway in Tehran and left him there [beside the road], blindfolded.

Although very ashamed and inhibited about describing the specifically sexual abuses ─ he would weep and shake ─ he eventually told all to Mehdi Karroubi. Bear in mind he had taken himself to a psychiatrist, had tried to report the abuse at a police station, went to see Karroubi, and recorded his testimony on video, uploaded to a Dutch-Iranian filmmaker. He has even made himself available for interview to the world’s media during the Rat’s visit to the United Nations in New York.

I call that brave. He wants to train as a doctor and to get to the USA. Someone should let him in and give him the least his heroism deserves ─ the chance to heal.

Mouse power

Mouse power

Hardness of heart

How many times recently have I had occasion to recall the words of Winston Churchill,

The Middle East is one of the hardest-hearted areas of the world.[1]

It is an area in which the simple, perennial truths of the New Testament have scarcely penetrated.

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.[2]

Blake - A Divine Image

Blake - A Divine Image

Those raping, torturing and killing innocent young people in Iran’s prisons do not see other people as potential images of the divine but as beastly corpuscles with inconvenient opinions. They are the poorer for that.

I have reproduced (above) a painting by William Blake, ‘The Angel of the Divine Presence,’ which gives some inkling of the more nourishing perception of human beings, and relations between the sexes, to be derived from Christianity. It may be viewed here also.

Truncated curriculum

The first day after the opening of the universities for the new academic year there have been large demonstrations in Tehran University. So now they are going to close them again. Due to the spread of Swine Flu, of course.

Some of the protests may be viewed here. And, at Sharif, another university, here and here (crowds about 2000-strong are yelling for Montazeri).


Largest zinc and lead mine in the middle east

Largest zinc and lead mine in the middle east

The largest zinc and lead mine in Middle East, is in Iran (see photo). It has been given to the Basij for 10% of its real value. In the same week it was announced that the Revolutionary Guards have acquired a >50% controlling interest in Iran Telecom.

These people are corrupt, incompetent and keen on sanctions, from which they benefit. Protestors try in vain to maintain boycotts of Basiji-smuggled brands of, e.g., American cigarettes. But the real problem with, in effect, nationalising everything is that, with 26% inflation and 40% youth unemployment, this will soon bring an already pretty dysfunctional economy to its knees. (Perhaps we should be glad.) Already, for instance, subsidised Chinese-grown rice has brought poverty and hardship to large numbers of Iranian farmers in the north and north-east.

[1] Quoted in: Anthony Montague Browne: Long Sunset: Memoirs of Winston Churchill’s Last Private Secretary. London: Cassell, 1995, p. 166.

[2] Matthew 25:40, King James Version.