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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Iranian IRGC agents rape protestors inside prisons

At the instructions of high-command in Iran, members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corprs (IRGC) which are also known as Sepāh-e Pāsdārān-e Enqelâb-e Eslâmī in Persian or Army of Guardian of the Islamic Revolution in English with nicknames such as ‘Sepah’ or ‘Pasdaran’ are continuing to rape imprisoned female protestors. This was revealed through a letter leaked by a hacktivist group named Edalat-e Ali (Ali’s Justice) giving details about rape of at least two female protesters aged 18 and 23. The document clearly show how the Iranian mullah mafia regime’s cruel suppression machine covers up rape and sexual abuse by its agents.

Edalat-e Ali has been leaking sensitive information about Iran’s security forces and conditions in prisons. Reports about detained protesters began trickling in November 2022 and since then there have been many victims and families who have disclosed what happened to them.

Alireza Sadeqi and Alireza Hosseini are two IRGC agents referred to in a letter dated October 13, 2022, from Mohammad Shahriari, deputy prosecutor and head of General and Revolutionary Courts, district 27, to Ali Salehi, prosecutor at Tehran General and Revolutionary Courts, about the arrest and the subsequent rape of the two women.

Armita Abbasi, a 20-year-old protester who was released on February 7, 2023 after months in custody.

As the deputy prosecutor informs his superior in the letter, the two women contact police station No. 124 in Tehran and report being arrested and then raped by agents on October 3, 2022.

Shahriari instantly notes that the two women’s complaint has not been registered after “coordination with Hefa [Persian acronym for the police intelligence agency]”.

It is also mentioned that a person, allegedly an agent, named Alireza Sadeqi has been detained along with his father at their home in Tehran’s Pirouzi street, where loads of batons, ammunitions, bulletproof jackets, police radios, handcuffs, IDs for different organizations such as the Law Enforcement Command (police), IRGC and the Judicial system have been found as well as a hoard of dollar bills and drugs.

Alireza Hosseini, an IRGC captain in charge of the intelligence division of Imam Hassan unit, was also arrested and transferred to a prison belonging to a police intelligence unit, the letter continues, adding that his motorbike had been found in the house of the “accused [previously] detained”.

In the letter it is not clear exactly how the two agents were identified and arrested.

The letter further details how they admitted to raping the two women, with Sadeqi acknowledging that they detained the two women near a gas station while on a mission in Sattarkhan street, in western Tehran.

Superiors ordered them to free the women because at the time there were no facilities available for their detention. Apparently, the accused took the women back to where they were picked up and that is when the rape took place.

Confessing to raping the women, Sadeqi argued that it was one of the women who initiated sexual advances in the car and that he recited “Sigheh”, a private and verbal temporary marriage contract which is supposed to make an intercourse religiously permissible. He also dropped the names of his colleagues, Alireza Hosseini, Hojjat Keivanlou and Ali Shahroudi, alleging that they might have raped the other woman, according to the letter.

Alireza Hosseini, however, refused to admit to any sexual abuse at first, stating that the arrests were made based on suspicions that the women were protesters.

He later confessed to the crime by saying: “I saw Sadeqi speaking to one of the female detainees and advised him to keep his distance. After a couple of minutes, I saw him groping [NAME REDACTED]’s back. I told him to stop but he pushed the second girl, named [NAME REDACTED], towards me. I shook my head in disbelief, wondering what’s going on!’”

His subsequent testimony appears to recount how Sadeqi coerced the woman to have oral sex as he was “standing with the front side of his pants pulled down and was busy…”.

About his own case, Hosseini pointed the finger at the woman, alleging that she said, “For God’s sake, let us loose”, while undoing his fly.

In a blatant attempt, to understate the agents’ misconduct in the document, the deputy prosecutor concludes that “the defendants merely formed a gang for extortion or abduction and committed criminal acts”. In this part of the letter, terms such as “independent detention centers”, “torturing of people”, “extortion” and “widespread relationship with women and girls” stand out.

The document finally reveals how the Islamic Republic’s repression machine shuts down cases related to sexual misconduct by agents as it reads:

“Considering the problematic nature of the case, the possibility of this information being leaked to social media and its misrepresentation by enemy groups, it is recommended that necessary orders be issued for it to be filed in the ‘Top Secret’ category. Since no complaint has been registered and the defendants have been dismissed, it is advised that the case is gradually closed without any reference to the involved military institutions”.

Since mass demonstrations began in Iran in the wake of Mahsa Amini’s death in the hands of the so-called morality police last September, multiple reports have been released, offering evidence of rape and sexual abuse of female protesters from the time of detention to interrogations. There have also been reports suggesting that security forces target women with shotgun fire to their faces, breasts, and genitals.

The latest document adds to a trove of evidence that Iran’s security forces, engaged in torture and sexual violence, can act with impunity to advance the Islamic Republic’s repression of dissent.

On November 30, 2022 ‘Iranwire’ in a report said:

… The young woman, identified as Afsaneh, was arrested during recent anti-government protests, the source said. While in prison, she kept yelling at the other inmates she had been repeatedly raped during her interrogation by agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) intelligence agency.

Afsaneh was transferred to a hospital because of her critical mental and physical condition and was later released, before taking away her own life, according to the voice note.

The torture and sexual abuse Afsaneh, from the city of Bukan, is said to have experienced while in custody has been shared by many women locked up in Iran’s detention facilities.

Fatemeh Davand, a political activist who has been incarcerated at Urmia prison, left Iran last year and is currently living in Turkey. She has spoken to several women recently released from the prison or who remain behind bars there. They said they both witnessed and suffered sexual violence while in detention.

“At least eight young women, including a 17-year-old girl, said that they were raped by IRGC intelligence forces during their preliminary interrogation before entering the prison”, Davand said.

Some reports indicated that at least 18,000 people, including many women, have been arrested in the brutal state crackdown on the protest movement that started more than two months ago. IranWire has identified 577 of the arrested women; some of them have been released on bail.

“Around 150 women, most of them young girls from Kurdish cities of West Azerbaijan province, have been detained in cities such as Mahabad and Bukan since the protests began on September 16, and have been transferred to Urmia prison”, Davand said.

According to the activist, they were first interrogated in the IRGC Intelligence Organization’s temporary detention centres for about two weeks before being transferred to the women’s ward at Urmia prison.

At the temporary detention centres, the so-called “rioters” are being subjected to all sorts of abuse by IRGC agents, including rape.

A woman who was kept with other recently detained protesters in Urmia prison was able to stay in the general ward for about 10 minutes, Davand said. She told other inmates that at least eight women who were recently arrested had been tortured and rapped. They were said to be aged between 17 and 23.

Another inmate delivered a message to the general ward on a small piece of paper reading: “Get a pack of LD pills, birth control pills, for the newly arrested women”.

“A 17-year-old girl gave her family’s phone number to a trusted prisoner and asked her to tell her family that she was in prison, that she was raped but could not say more. She said that she was tortured very badly”, Davand said.

On May 31, 2021 Radio Free Europe in a report gave description of how female detainees are sexually harassed and raped by the prison officials, guards and members of Iranian security forces, including IRGC.

Allegations of rape and sexual violence of political prisoners by authorities began to emerge after the Islamic Republic of Iran was established in 1979 and have continued, to varying degrees, to the present. However, not surprisingly, there is no reliable estimate of the number of prisoners raped in the Islamic Republic’s prisons; no data or comprehensive report has ever been compiled that portrays the full scope of sexual violence in Iran’s prisons. The reasons are simple: few rape victims are willing to speak about their experiences due to government pressure and acquiescence, and social stigma.

Iranian authorities have and continue to acquiesce to rapes of prisoners by guards and interrogators who use rape to crush detainees’ spirits, inflict humiliation, discourage their dissent, force them to confess to crimes, and ultimately to intimidate them and others.Rape is always traumatic and has long-term physical, psychological and social effects on victims. Understandably, this means that many victims are unable to publicly acknowledge their experiences, even many years later.1 Many have never even told their families.

Given these circumstances, therefore, it is very likely that the few witnesses who have come forward to report rapes they witnessed and experienced in Iranian prisons represent only a small percentage of the total number of cases.

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Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is an internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, writer, research-scholar, counterterrorism specialist and editor of Weekly Blitz. Follow him on Twitter @Salah_Shoaib

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