Amnesty International has accused Iran’s security forces of torturing hundreds of prisoners in order to extract confessions in the wake of anti-government protests.
Amnesty’s Middle East deputy director Diana Eltahawy says that “in the days following the mass protests, videos showing Iran’s security forces deliberately killing and injuring unarmed protesters and bystanders sent shockwaves around the world”.
But “much less visible has been the catalogue of cruelty meted out to detainees and their families by Iranian officials away from the public eye”, she adds.
In a report outlining the alleged abuses, Amnesty claims that the techniques used by Iran’s security forces to secure confessions included electric shocks, solitary confinement, stress positions, waterboarding and the forced administration of chemical substances.
The human rights watchdog also says that prisoners were beaten, denied medical care and subject to sexual violence and humiliation.
“It felt like my entire body was being pierced with millions of needles,” a man who claims to have been subject to electric shocks told Amnesty investigators.
The NGO claims that more than 500 people were “held incommunicado” and denied access to legal aid. A total of around 7,000 men, women and children as young as ten were arrested.
The newly published report says that prison terms for those subsequently convicted “have ranged from between one month and ten years for vague or spurious national security charges” including “spreading propaganda against the system”, “disrupting public order” and “insulting” Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
According to Eltahawy, prosecutors brought charges “against hundreds of people solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, while judges doled out guilty verdicts on the basis of torture-tainted ‘confessions’”.
Iran blamed last year’s violence on “thugs” supported by the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Iran’s interior minister also “suggested that up to 225 people died during the protests, when petrol pumps were set on fire, police stations attacked and stores looted”, Deutsche Welle reports.