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Surviving Rape in Iran's Prisons

Beginning in 1999, imprisoned journalists, bloggers, and students reported that interrogators raped and threatened them with rape.30 Prisoners were also threatened with arrest and rape of their family members unless they confessed. For example, Ahmad Batebi, featured on the cover of the July 13, 1999 issue of The Economist participating in a student demonstration, wrote in a public letter that, “[d]uring the interrogations, they threatened several times to execute me and to torture and rape my family members as well as imprison them for long terms.” 31

Omid Memarian, a journalist and blogger, was arrested in 2004 and spent six and a half months in detention. He reported that his interrogator

[u]sed very graphic sexual language during the interrogation process. He often called me “pretty boy.” Sometimes he played with my face, or grabbed my cheeks and ears, or gently brushed my arms and shoulders with his hands. When he did these things, I became extremely worried. I thought he would do something to me. As he did these things he would tell me, in graphic fashion, what he wanted from me. When he explained these things, I often began to cry. I felt horrible. I was in a room alone with a fifty-five year old man, discussing sexual issues which I could not even discuss with my closest friends.32

While transferring Memarian to Evin prison, a guard warned: “God willing, they will eventually make a groom out of you.” Memarian remembers that he “knew there is a history of rape in Iran’s prisons,” and therefore “did not doubt the fact that they were capable of doing such things.”33 Ali Afshari, a student leader in Iran, had similar experiences after he was arrested for the third time in early 2000. His interrogator whispered in his ear that he would be raped if he did not confess, and then described how it would be done by inserting a bottle in his anus.34

“Mahdis,” a young woman arrested in 2002 following a student protest and held in Evin prison, reported that she was repeatedly raped by her interrogators:

Following my second interrogation, I was raped for three days. I was bleeding, but they did not even give me a pad. They raped me in a violent manner. The two men never said their names. They called each other “Seyyed” or “Haji.” The first time, I begged them not to rape me and I told them that I was a virgin. But they calmly said, “You haven’t tasted it? Now taste it!” The interrogators cut my clothes with scissors so that they could take them off. My arm was wounded by the scissors. They told me that if I said a thing, they would kill my entire family. I was really injured. 35

In 2002, the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women reported that Soraya Dalaian had been repeatedly raped by two men over a 24-hour period in Evin Prison in 1997. She reported that this was not

[30] See Amnesty International, Iran: Five Years of injustice and ill treatment: Akbar Mohammadi-Case Sheet, July 7, 2004, AI Index MDE 13/027/2004, available at http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/pdfid/42ae98bd0.pdf (“in 2000 and 2001 former students who arrived in European countries seeking asylum were able seek treatment for incidences of torture – including instrumental rape carried out on men – that were allegedly carried out by officials during and after the July 1999 events of 18 Tir”).
[31] The Public letter of Ahmad Batebi (Hero of the Economist) to the Special investigation team of the Islamic judiciary, Mar. 23, 2000, English translation available at, http://www.daneshjoo.org/article/publish/printer_88.shtml.
[32] IHRDC, FORCED CONFESSIONS: TARGETING IRAN’S CYBER-JOURNALISTS 31 (2009), available athttp://www.iranhrdc.org/english/publications/reports/3159-forced-confessions-targeting-iran-s-cyber-journalists.html.
[33] Id.
[34] IHRDC, Witness Statement of Ali Afshari, at 13, available athttp://www.iranhrdc.org/english/publications/witness-testimony/3175-witness-statement-ali-afshari.html.
[35] IHRDC, Witness Statement of “Mahdis,” at 6, available at http://www.iranhrdc.org/english/publications/witness-testimony/3181-witness-statement-mahdis.html.

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Imprisonment, Sexual Violence, Torture, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, Punishment