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Post-election Iran violations among worst in 20 years

Former detainee Ali Kheradnejad talks about his experience

© Amnesty International

10 December 2009

Human rights violations in Iran are now as bad as at any time in the past 20 years, Amnesty International has said in a new report on the aftermath of last June’s presidential election.

"The Iranian leadership must ensure that the many allegations of torture, including rape, unlawful killings and other abuses are fully and independently investigated," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

"Members of militias and officials who have committed violations must also be promptly held to account and on no account should any one be executed".

Amnesty International has called on Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to allow two key UN human rights experts to visit Iran to help conduct an investigation.

"The Supreme Leader should order the government to invite in UN Special Rapporteurs on torture and on summary and arbitrary executions to help ensure that investigations are both rigorous and independent," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

"To date, the investigations announced by various Iranian authorities seem to have been more concerned with covering up abuses than getting at the truth."

The report, Iran: Election contested, repression compounded describes patterns of abuse before, during and, particularly, after the June election, when the authorities deployed the Basij militia and Revolutionary Guards to suppress mass protests against its disputed outcome.

It includes testimonies from individuals who were detained during the protests, some of whom have since been forced to flee the country.

One former detainee says he was held at the notorious Kahrizak detention centre for some 58 days, being held in a shipping container throughout, and only allowed to contact his family after 43 days.

During interrogation, he was told that his son had been detained and would be raped if he did not "confess" and he was then beaten with a baton until he lost consciousness. He said there were more than 70 other detainees held in the container with him.

Another former detainee, Ali Kheradnejad, says he saw Amir Javadifar, a student, with his clothes ripped and his forehead bloody and later learned that he had died in detention, apparently as a result of torture or other ill-treatment. He then decided to speak out, whatever the risks.

Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said: "The authorities must show that they have turned the page on the abuses committed this summer. They must now ensure that the policing of protests conforms fully to international standards on law enforcement, and keep the Basij and other strong arm forces off the street."

"Anyone who is arrested or detained must be protected from torture or other ill-treatment, prisoners of conscience must be released and those convicted after unfair trials – including the 'show trials' which made a mockery of justice – must have their cases reviewed, or be released.  All death sentences should be commuted, and others not yet tried must receive fair trials."

The crackdown on protest has continued as dozens of student activists were detained and others banned from study in the three weeks leading to Iran's national student day on 7 December, when over 200 were arrested during demonstrations that were met with beatings and tear gas by security forces.

The level of investigations that the government has held so far generally appear to have been intended more to conceal than to expose the truth.

Iranian authorities have established two bodies to investigate the post-election crisis, including the treatment of detainees - a parliamentary committee and a three-person judicial committee.

Full details of the mandate and powers of both bodies have not been disclosed, and the parliamentary committee’s findings have not been made public.

Manfred Nowak, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions have requested entry into Iran and are waiting to hear back from authorities.

"The onus is on the authorities to address the widespread human rights violations that occurred during the unrest in an open, transparent and accountable manner," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

Official figures say 36 people were killed in post-election violence. The opposition puts the figure at over 70.

At least 4,000 people were arrested across Iran after the elections. At the time of writing of the report, up to 200 remain in jail, some arrested after the initial unrest died down.

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