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Action, and not words, needed to stop torture in Iran

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (File Photo)
International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (File Photo)

Analysis by PMOI/MEK

 

Iran, July 8, 2019June 26 is the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.  While many countries have condemned the use of torture to extract a confession and many others are the signatories to the United Nations Convention against Torture, in Iran, the day was just another day of misery and pain for prisoners and torture victims.

In an article published on The Hill, countries are asked to put pressure on the regime in Iran to make it stop this inhumane and degrading tactic on innocent people.

The article by Alan Goldsmith titled, “Want to support victims of torture? Put the squeeze on Iran” explains how the brutal dictatorship ruling Iran, known for its grotesque human rights violations, is using torture against both Iranian and non-Iranian prisoners.

 

The following is an extract from the article:

The Iranian authorities employ a grotesque menagerie of physical and psychological torture methods. They inflict bodily harm through beating; burning; cutting; electrocution; placement into stress positions; sleep deprivation; denial of medical care; and rape, including “virginity” and “sodomy” tests. And they torment victims’ minds through prolonged solitary confinement, mock executionsthreats of rape, and claims that family members are being tortured nearby.

Torture, which pervades the judicial process from beginning to end, serves many purposes for the Iranian regime. It deters Iranians from protesting for their rights…

Iranian courts routinely accept coerced confessions, incentivizing torture to secure convictions — and sometimes death sentences — for crimes real or imagined. Last September, the regime executed three young Kurdish Iranians. UN human rights monitors claimed the three were compelled to “confess” after being beaten, put in stress positions, and threatened with rape. Just two months ago, Tehran executed two 17-year-old boys after reportedly flogging them until they “confessed.”

Not content with using torture to aid prosecutions, the regime employs it to punish the convicted, including by executing them. Capital-punishment methods include stoning, throwing them from a height to their deaths, and even hanging from cranes — a punishment in which, as Vice reports, “the condemned is slowly lifted from the ground by his neck and left to dangle in the noose” and consequently “[i]t can take more than 20 minutes to die.” Punishments for lesser crimes include blinding, amputation, and flogging.

The U.S. and other Western countries should act against Iran’s use of torture not only out of a commitment to human rights but because the regime is using this tactic against Americans and other Westerners…

Former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati was whipped, tasered, hit with batons, put in stress positions, sleep deprived, and force-fed and then deprived of addictive medication so that he would suffer the effects of withdrawal.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British aid worker held hostage since 2016, is serving a five-year sentence on spurious charges of seeking to overthrow the regime. She spent months in solitary confinement — and the authorities extorted 6,000 British pounds from her family by threatening to send her back into solitary. Her husband said that her treatment amounts to “psychological torture.” She and her husband recently engaged in a hunger strike to demand her release.

Unfortunately, however, while the U.S. and European Union issued routine annual statements on June 26 condemning the use of torture, both have failed to follow up on their words with action.

In practice, the EU has chosen money over human lives. The 2015 nuclear deal paved the way for European companies to do business with Iran. European governments are so desperate not to rock the boat that they have not sanctioned even one new Iranian official for human rights abuses since the pact was finalized.

Instead, they are sprinting to grease trade with Iran by injecting a credit line of several million euros into a new mechanism, known as INSTEX, designed to facilitate transactions while avoiding U.S. sanctions. Such trade could generate billions of dollars for the regime, including its torture-happy judicial system.

The U.S., to its credit, has increased economic pressure on the regime, restoring and increasing sanctions to deter European trade. But it hasn’t sanctioned many of the regime’s human rights abuses — including more than 60 officials sanctioned years ago by the EU. And it hasn’t included an end to all violations of human rights in its 12 requirements for a new deal.

The Europeans and Americans can still reverse their ignominious course and do more to stand up for victims of Iranian torture. The Europeans should terminate INSTEX and work with the U.S. to harmonize and expand their human-rights sanctions lists. They should also join the U.S. in demanding a new deal with Iran that would lift sanctions only in exchange for Tehran ceasing the totality of its malign behavior, including torture and other violations of the Iranian people’s human rights.

No amount of money justifies inaction in the face of torture. As innocent people languish in solitary confinement in Iranian prisons, those blessed with freedom must show them that they are not alone — and that help is on the way.

 

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