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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 Iason Athanasiadis
Such abuses were not so much a case of “a few bad apples” overstepping the limits, says Mehtari. Rather, they were systemic abuse suddenly visited on influential people with access to the Internet and international media. Before the post-election unrest filled Iran’s jails with middle-class youths, they were inhabited by social misfits.
“It was the same personnel carrying out abuse – some of it sexual – in the jails, but there were far more victims than a few social misfits,” Mehtari says.
“They would put demonstrators in the same cells as hardened criminals, who would rape them with the knowledge and tacit consent of the Islamic Republic. It was a case of don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Discovering this truth has been deeply shocking to many inside Iran and out, not least of all the Aghazadehs.
“They’ve recently been exposed to the realities of the Islamic Republic, whereas before they were protected,” says Delbar Tavakoli, a journalist who was forced to flee Iran in June.
“They’re only now realizing that such things happen inside their country to people like themselves, not just to low-lifes,” Tavakoli says.
Tavakoli was forced to flee after she lost both of her jobs and was warned that her time was running out. She had reported on the street protests for reformist newspaper Etemad-e Melli, which was later banned. Throughout the early years of the revolution she remembers going to memorials of executed political prisoners, or visiting relatives in prison. “I expected and knew they were capable of such actions,” she says.