Annual Report: Iran 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Iran 2010

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All three defeated candidates alleged election fraud and complained to the body responsible for administering the election. It carried out a partial re-count but largely rejected the candidates' complaints. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was sworn in for a second term on 5 August.

Unlawful killings

The Basij and other security forces used excessive force against demonstrators, beating them with batons and riding motorcycles into them to cause injury. The authorities said 43 died in the protests but opposition sources said the true total was likely to be over 100. Hundreds were injured.

  • Neda Agha Soltan, aged 27, was shot dead in a Tehran street on 20 June during a demonstration. Her dying moments were filmed. The perpetrator was identified as a member of the Basij but the authorities claimed that British and US news media had caused her death. Neda Agha Soltan's family and other mourners were harassed and intimidated by security officials when commemorating her life.

Arrests and detentions

Well over 5,000 people were detained after the election by the end of the year, including opposition politicians, journalists, academics, students, lawyers, human rights activists and army officers. Those with dual nationality or links to the USA or UK were also targeted. Some were arrested at demonstrations; others at their home or workplace; and some, who were injured, from hospital. Most, if not all, were denied access to legal representation. Many were denied access to their families and to medical care.

Hundreds of those arrested were freed within days or weeks, but scores were charged with vaguely worded offences, such as fomenting a "velvet revolution" or committing "acts against national security", and prosecuted in "show trials".

  • Mohammad Ali Abtahi, Mohsen Aminzadeh, Said Hajjarian and at least four other political leaders were detained days after the election. All were prisoners of conscience. Said Hajjarian was released on bail in October and Mohammad Ali Abtahi in November. Mohsen Aminzadeh remained in custody at the end of the year.

Rape and other torture

Some detainees were taken to the Kahrizak detention centre, south of Tehran, where they were tortured and otherwise ill-treated. Kahrizak quickly became so notorious for abuse that the Supreme Leader ordered its closure in July. By the end of the year, 12 officials were facing trial before a military court for abuses, including three for murder.

Compelling evidence emerged that a number of detainees, both women and men, had been raped and otherwise tortured in detention, but instead of investigating allegations thoroughly, the authorities were quick to deny them and then harassed the victims and closed the offices of a committee collecting victims' testimonies.

  • Ebrahim Sharifi, a student aged 24, testified that security officials raped him, beat him severely and subjected him to mock execution in the week following his arrest on 22 June. He tried to file a judicial complaint but went into hiding after he and his family were threatened by security officials. On 13 September a judicial panel dismissed his allegation of rape and accused him of fabricating it for political reasons and he fled Iran.
  • Mohsen Ruholamini, the son of an aide to presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei, died on 23 July after about two weeks in Kahrizak. A coroner's report found he had suffered a heart attack and internal bleeding and had been hit repeatedly with a hard object.

Unfair trials

Mass "show trials" involving scores of detainees were staged in successive sessions beginning in August. The trials were grossly unfair. Most, if not all, defendants were denied access to lawyers. Most had been detained incommunicado for several weeks and many were reported to have been tortured or otherwise ill-treated before being brought to court. The trials were closed but excerpts broadcast on state television showed defendants making what appeared to be coerced "confessions". More than 80 were convicted and sentenced to prison terms of up to 15 years; at least six others were sentenced to death.