Torture of Karroubi’s son: the role of plainclothes men in abuse and mistreatment of detainees
Following the February 11th arrest of Ali Karroubi, 37, the objecting presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi’s son, and his subsequent torture inside the Amir-al-Momenin Mosque in Tehran by plainclothes Basijis, the subject of abuse and mistreatment of detainees has once again come to light. After the Iranian elections, when plainclothes and Basiji officers arrested many protesters and transferred them to Basij bases and mosques, beating and abusing them, government authorities refused to accept the responsibility for such actions. Mehdi Karroubi himself has repeatedly reported public complaints about rapes and sexual abuse, beatings and abuse of detainees, demanding high ranking government officials such as Head of the Judiciary and Speaker of the Parliament to review those complaints. Upon Mehdi Karroubi’s insistence, the three-person committee established by the Judiciary and an investigation commission inside the Iranian Parliament denied charges of abuse and dismissed the complaints.
Even so, a letter from Fatemeh Karroubi, Mehdi Karroubi’s wife, to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in which she describes what happened to her son leaves little room for any doubts about the systematic abuse and torture of detainees. In a part of her letter, Fatemeh Karroubi has even described physical torture and officers’ threats of rape. In the opening of her letter, she describes her record of service inside the Islamic Republic of Iran and her objectives in writing the letter as “preventing crimes against others.” In defining what happened to her son, she says:
“My third child, Ali, who was only two when his father was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison in Shemiran, was walking next to his father on 22 Bahman (February 11, 2011) as in all the years before. All political groups and prominent characters from both sides had invited people to participate peacefully in this large demonstration, asking them to avoid extremism and verbal and physical abuse. Unfortunately, those violence seekers who see their continued political and economic existence only through violence and crisis, ordered their anonymous foot soldiers to attack my husband, Imam [Khomeini]’s old friend, and people, something the dimensions of which everyone knows. I had also gone to participate in the demonstration, keeping a short distance from where I witnessed what happened. At that time, Ali was taken to Amir-al-Momenin Mosque on unofficial charges of participating and assisting the protection of his father, and at the Home of God, which should be a safe place, he was verbally assaulted and beaten alongside other detainees. When they were registering the names of detainees, the thugs who have assumed official positions today identified him and ten minutes later, after they had received authorization from their superior officers, separated him from the rest and beat him up badly. These people who know nothing about God, have turned a safe place of worship into torture chambers for children of this nation. Along with severe physical beating of Ali, using the most profane language against Fatemeh and Mehdi Karroubi [Ali Karroubi’s parents], they put him under psychological pressure and when Ali objected to the insults and breach of the mosque’s sanctity, they added to their physical and psychological abuse and threatened this 37-year-old man with …–actions for which according to the Islamic Penal Code the punishment is death. God only knows what this flagrant crowd who have an open hand have done and do to the youth of this country. Words fall short of describing the savagery of this group who are ruling the children of this country these days.”
In another part of the letter she writes: “Ali’s arrest must have been the biggest achievement of this anonymous group who proudly tortured him in order to intimidate the other detainees. During the transfer of detainees, they separated Ali and delivered him to Special Guards which are headed by corrupt individuals and a new round of torture started for him. They videotaped his torture and felt proud to have captured Mehdi Karroubi’s son, using the ugliest profanities to insult Mehdi Karroubi and his family. When they received orders to transfer Ali to Shahid Mottahari Base in order to release him, his torturer shares his regrets with him, telling him that if he had stayed there another 24 hours, his corpse would have been delivered to his family. I should take this opportunity to thank the humane behavior of the officers at Shahid Mottahari Base who tried to treat Ali’s wounds. In order to help rescue the other detainees, Ali is prepared to provide more details to any official you deem appropriate.”
Fatemeh Karroubi expresses her regrets over Iranian Judiciary’s lack of independence and Iranian Parliament’s unwillingness to defend people’s rights, ending her letter with the following: “This tale of pain is not for Ali, for today he is with his family, undergoing medical treatment. This letter is for you to seek justice for all the unknown children of this country, especially the youth who were arrested recently, before it is too late. Before other Kamran’s and Mohsen’s die under the torture of these irresponsible individuals and further bring on the country’s and the regime’s reputation with serious challenges, do something. Today, unfortunately, we witness that there is no independent and powerful Judiciary to review people’s demands for justice, nor a powerful Parliament to protect people’s rights, therefore I ask you most humbly and emphatically to come to the aid of people and the injustice they are enduring, to ask the Judiciary to review the crimes of those who ordered the atrocities committed at Kahrizak and other detention centers. If they had properly followed your orders about Kahrizak, today we would not be witnessing a repeat of those events.”