By Pooya Stone
On September 2, Amnesty International (AI) revealed the new scope of harrowing torture and other ill-treatment against detainees of the November 2019 protests in Iran. In mid-November 2019, the Iranian government hiked the gasoline prices by 200 percent. In response, many citizens flooded the streets of over 190 cities across all of Iran’s 31 provinces, demanding the authorities suspend the plan.
However, the rulers violently cracked down on peaceful protesters with live ammunition, heavy machineguns, snipers, armored vehicles, and helicopters. The state security forces, Revolutionary Guard (IRGC), the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), and plainclothes agents murdered at least 1,500 demonstrators in public. They also left over 8,000 injured and captured around 12,000 others for participating in protests.
Top officials, including the supreme leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani, praised security forces’ performance against barehanded citizens. They called protesters “rioters and hooligans” who should have been suppressed. High-ranking officials gave a badge of “honor” to ruthless police officers, IRGC members, and judicial officials for saving the state from collapse.
Notably, at dawn on November 17, in his first public position about the protests, Khamenei rejected any kind of concession before public demands. “No wise person who loves his country, who loves his suitable life, would help these [protesters]. These are ‘hooligans’!” He also admitted, “Some people are worried or angry over this decision [gasoline prices hike], or it’s to a detriment, or they think it is, and they are unhappy,” the state-run TV Channel wired Khamenei’s remarks on the day.
Later, on December 23, Reuters revealed that Khamenei had ordered IRGC commanders to suppress the protests at all costs. “Special Report: Iran’s leader ordered a crackdown on unrest – ‘Do whatever it takes to end it,’” Reuters titled.
Of course, what happened on the streets and in public is not the entire story. Despite quelling the protests, the interrogators and judicial officials continued the crime against thousands of detainees. Officials have yet to announce the real number of victims and inmates, which allows them to exercise any torture and ill-treatment against prisoners and add to the number of fatalities.
In its report, Amnesty International noted that Iranian authorities use torture as a punishment, intimidation, and humiliation. They are practically torture captives to hear what they want. Afterward, they file enforced confessions as evidence and issue severe sentences like death sentence against offenders in a collaboration with judicial officials.
The organization listed several crimes committed by Iranian security forces, prosecutors, and interrogators follow as:
- Widespread torture including beatings, floggings, electric shocks, stress positions, mock executions, waterboarding, sexual violence, forced administration of chemical substances, and deprivation of medical care
- Hundreds subjected to grossly unfair trials on baseless national security charges
- Death sentences issued based on torture-tainted “confessions”
“Instead of investigating allegations of enforced disappearance, torture, and other ill-treatment and other crimes against detainees, Iranian prosecutors became complicit in the campaign of repression by bringing national security charges against hundreds of people solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, while judges doled out guilty verdicts on the basis of torture-tainted ‘confessions,’” said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
The report also added that the detainees include children as young as ten and injured protesters and bystanders arrested from hospitals while seeking medical care for gunshot wounds. “Hundreds have since been sentenced to prison terms and flogging and several to the death penalty following grossly unfair trials which were presided over by biased judges behind closed doors, frequently lasted less than an hour, and systematically relied on torture-tainted ‘confessions,’” the report indicated.
However, this is not the first time that Iranian authorities show such cruelty against inmates. In July and August 1988, the same authorities and judicial officials like the judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, the current Justice Minister Alireza Avaei, former Justice Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi, and many others were involved in the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners, mostly member and supporters of the Iranian opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK).
“The execution of imprisoned opponents, including those who had already been tried and were serving their prison terms, was the biggest massacre of political prisoners since World War II,” Baroness Boothroyd, Former Speaker of the House of Commons pointed out at the call for justice summit on July 19.
In fact, the international community’s indifference versus the Iranian government’s horrible crime in 1988 has emboldened the ayatollahs to continue their crimes and intensify their oppressive measures against the society, in particular dissidents and protesters.
The enforced disappearances Iran perpetrated as part of its so-called 1988 "death commissions," targeting thousands of political dissidents, continue unabated, as Iran continues to conceal the fate and the whereabouts of persons who have disappeared.
— Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (@StateDRL) August 30, 2020
“The 1988 massacre not only lays bare the international community’s inexplicable failure to uphold and defend international law enacted to prevent genocides and massacres but also highlights a worrying culture of impunity for serious human rights‘ abusers in Iran,” said David Jones, British MP, former Secretary of State for Wales, at the videoconference in commemoration of the 1988 massacre’s victims on August 22.
In this context, it is imperative that human rights organizations, including the United Nations and its affiliated bodies, exert pressure on the Iranian government to release all protesters immediately. They must also dispatch a fact-finding delegation in Iran to inspect human rights violations facts.
On August 31, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), urged the international community to intervene immediately to stop execution in Iran. “I urge the international community, especially the United Nations Secretary-General and other human rights organizations to intervene immediately to stop the executions, secure the release of the prisoners, and prevent a major humanitarian catastrophe in prisons Iran,” Rajavi tweeted.
I urge the international community,especially the United Nations Secretary-General &other #HumanRights organizations to intervene immediately to stop the executions,secure the release of the prisoners,&prevent a major humanitarian catastrophe in prisons Iran #StopExecutionsInIran pic.twitter.com/nnv4WAyENS
— Maryam Rajavi (@Maryam_Rajavi) August 31, 2020