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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

When Ebrahim Mehtari’s torturers shackled him to a metal bed and sent him on a tour of pain, his enduring feeling – alongside ­agony – was naive surprise at their sadism.

Mehtari was not the kind of person to whom such things were supposed to happen, at least not in an Islamic Republic founded in 1979 by traditionalist revolutionaries.

His families and others like it were the bedrock of the revolution. Mehtari belonged to a class known as Aghazadehs, and he grew up in the comfort provided by the many trappings of Islamic privilege.

One of Mehtari’s earliest childhood memories is of a visit to Jamaran, a leafy suburb in northern Tehran where Ruhollah Khomeini resided. His overwhelming sensation at seeing this “hunched-over man that entered quietly” was fear.

People fell over each other to kiss Khomeini’s hand. This was more restrained than the ostentatious displays of piety that Mehtari witnessed being performed before his successor Khamenei, when supplicants would climb over each other to touch him.

Mehtari’s sojourn last summer into one of the Islamic Republic’s darkest places lasted only a few days and ended with his unceremonious dumping on an abandoned housing development. He stumbled home, hurt and humiliated. A medical test confirmed he had been anally violated. The judiciary ordered the test’s destruction but Mehtari’s father saved a copy. Images of their son’s injuries were released to a state commission investigating torture allegations.

A few days later, opposition candidate Mehdi Karroubi went public with Mehtari’s violation, sensationally alleging rape.

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