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Abuse, torture, rape – and exile

Abuse, torture, rape – and exile

Critics of the Iranian regime are enduring torture and enforced exile. Trends magazine examines how even old family ties and privilege offer no protection.

January 20, 2010 4:36 by

“Karroubi called me yesterday, asking me why I’m not giving any interviews,” Mehtari said, flashing a BlackBerry containing emails from members of Iran’s influential Rafsanjani clan. “The reason, I told him, is that I wasn’t raped as you announced but violated with a baton. There’s a big difference.”

Islam prohibits rape and Karroubi knew that his allegations would be even more shocking if they implied male rape. Mehtari refused to be used as a pawn.

On the eve of his self-imposed exile, Mehtari’s family gathered to bid him goodbye. It was an evening of highly charged emotions.

A month later, he still scrolls through his camera for the bittersweet memories of departure. In one corner of the room, his father sits facing the wall, crying. His grandmother looks at him fondly. Once all the farewells were said, Mehtari’s mother climbed on the bus alongside her son and escorted him all the way out of the country, just in case they tried to arrest him at the international border.

Now inhabiting a bare bones refugee flat in the Turkish capital, he spends his time scanning the Internet for news from home. After uploading an image of his bruised and battered face to Facebook, a wave of sympathy emanates from friends and family. Later, he searches on Google Earth for his family’s villa on the Caspian Sea.

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