Sept. 10 (UPI) -- The latest report from Amnesty International, published on Sept. 2, revealed the horrific extent of torture and ill treatment of political prisoners in Iran.
The detainees targeted for torture are predominantly young men and women arrested during the nationwide protests last November, when millions of Iranians took to the streets in an clamor against government corruption and a massive 200% hike in gas prices.
The fascist, theocratic dictatorship deployed its Gestapo, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, and its Ministry of Intelligence and Security to crush the uprising. Black-hooded snipers positioned on the rooftops of government buildings used live ammunition to kill 1,500 demonstrators, injuring another 8,000. Armored vehicles and helicopters were used to round up and arrest survivors, over 12,000 of whom were detained.
Terrified that their repressive regime could be swept from power by another revolution, the mullahs have set about torturing and executing the protesters who were arrested last November. Determined to frighten Iran's 80 million restive citizens into submission, the cruelty and viciousness of the treatment of prisoners has been openly broadcast by the clerical regime.
On Aug. 5, the regime executed Mostafa Salehi for his participation in the nationwide protests. Five other detained protesters have been sentenced to death, including Navid Afkari Sangari, arrested during an earlier uprising in 2018. Afkari, a wrestling champion, was sentenced to death and to six years and six months imprisonment and 74 lashes.
The Supreme Court upheld his death sentence, which is now thought to be imminent. Navid suffered weeks of severe torture. In a smuggled letter, he described how for 50 days he was beaten with sticks and batons on his arms, buttocks and back. He had a plastic bag placed over his head until he almost suffocated. The torturers also poured alcohol up his nose.
The Shiraz Criminal Court also sentenced Navid's two brothers, Vahid and Habib, who had joined him in the peaceful protests. Vahid was sentenced to 74 lashes and 54 years and six months in jail and Habib to 74 lashes and 27 years and three months imprisonment.
Predictably, the mullahs have heaped praise on their security forces, police, IRGC thugs and judicial officials for their brutal suppression of the "rioters and hooligans" and for saving the regime from collapse. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani have publicly congratulated all those involved in the callous crackdown on thousands of young, unarmed protesters.
Their praise has undoubtedly encouraged Iran's prison guards and torturers to ever greater efforts. In its report on prison abuse in Iran, Amnesty International lists: "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."
Prisoners are blindfolded or have their heads covered with a bag or sack and are often placed in solitary confinement for weeks or even months on end. They are denied adequate food and clean water and medical conditions and injuries remain untreated. The coronavirus, which has raged unchecked through Iran's medieval jails, has claimed hundreds of lives.
The mullahs' inhuman treatment of peaceful protesters and political prisoners is by no means a recent phenomenon. In the second half of 1988, they butchered over 30,000 supporters of the People's Mojahedin of Iran (MEK/PMOI), the main democratic opposition movement. Based on a fatwa by the then-supreme leader, the psychopathic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, special "death commissions" held mock trials, lasting only minutes and sent prisoners who admitted to supporting the MEK to the gallows.
Many were tortured before execution. The bodies were buried in secret mass graves and their families were forbidden from inquiring about their missing relatives. Many of the key executioners who presided over the 1988 genocide now hold senior positions in Rouhani's government. Disturbingly, the current Chief of the Judiciary Ebrahim Raisi and the current Justice Minister Alireza Avaei were central figures in the death commissions.
Three years ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted its 64th Resolution against human rights violations in Iran. Sponsored by Canada, the resolution urged the mullahs' regime "to uphold, in law and in practice, procedural guarantees to ensure fair trial standards, including timely access to legal representation of one's choice from the time of arrest through all stages of trial and all appeals, the right not to be subjected to torture, cruel and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and consideration of bail and other reasonable terms for release from custody pending trial." The resolution also expressed concern about the extensive use of the death penalty. The regime has ignored every aspect of the resolution.
The 75th session of the U.N. General Assembly will open in New York on Sept. 22. It is imperative that the United Nations holds Iran to account for its deplorable conduct. The international community's failure to indict the mullahs for the 1988 massacre of political prisoners simply served to embolden them to carry out further atrocities. Those responsible for the 1988 genocide must be charged with crimes against humanity and brought before the international criminal courts.
In September 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump told the United Nations, "The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy. It has turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos." Some 80 million Iranians, the majority of whom now struggle to survive on daily incomes below the international poverty line because of the corruption and sponsorship of proxy wars and international terror by the mullahs, are demanding regime change and the restoration of freedom, justice and democracy to their impoverished nation.
They have had enough of the mullahs and they look to the West for support. If the U.N. General Assembly fails to act this month, the Iranian people will regard it as an act of sickening betrayal.
Struan Stevenson is the coordinator of the Campaign for Iran Change. He was a member of the European Parliament representing Scotland (1999-2014), president of the Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-14) and chairman of the Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup (2004-14). He is an international lecturer on the Middle East and is also president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association.