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Iran – People Getting Killed in Prisons

The struggles following the Iranian election and the dispute over the ‘successful election’ of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were not crushed as was initially thought. At some point, when the Supreme Leader waded again into the controversy by first declaring the election as valid, and then actually calling for stringent action against the protests, the huge public rallies stopped. No longer were there sights of large number of Iranians coming out in the streets and protesting against the election, fighting with the police, with the Revolutionary guards and with the lumpen force of the Basij.

Opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi also seemed to somewhat buckle down against the onslaught and withdrew his calls for public protests (he however did not endorse the election and continued calling it a fake). There were other movements in this area, with the clerical force being divided over whether to support the election or not. From behind the scenes, the former President Rafsanjani continued with his efforts, but not enough to win over the support of enough people to influence the situation.

At the same time, members of the Revolutionary Guards seem to have taken the calls for strong use of force literally, since they arrested a number of protesters and carted them off to prison, apparently without much involvement of the police force or the intelligence agencies. The Revolutionary Guards have become much more than a paramilitary force; they are now involved in the economy in various ways (including running industries and making money by the handful). Further, during the reign of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, they have apparently become much more powerful, with hints that they are actually now one of the major forces in Iran, and that the clerical establishment is not as powerful as it was thought.

It is the action of this force in the prisons that has become very controversial in the last few days, with people starting to be found to have been killed in these prisons during torture and interrogation. Under Islamic Iran (unlike other dictatorships), the wishes and apparent rights of the citizens have been always been important, and for people to be start getting killed in the prisons under torture has shaken the country. It reached such a degree that the Supreme Leader (and not the President or the Interior Minister) ordered closure of some of the more horrific prisons (link to article):

About 140 Iranians detained during protests against last month’s disputed election result have been released from Evin prison, officials say. The release comes after Iran’s supreme leader ordered the closure of another detention centre because it failed to “preserve the rights of detainees”. The unusual moves show how much pressure Iran’s leaders are under over detainees, correspondents say.
In recent days the opposition has reported almost every day new deaths of protestors held in prison. Iran’s prisons are notorious for their poor conditions, correspondents report. Former political prisoners, such as journalists and bloggers, have complained of human rights abuses such as solitary confinement, harsh interrogation tactics and even torture at Evin.

So even though it would seem that the President’s victory is now enforced with no opposition, there is apparently wide-spread disenchantment, and it would seem that protests happen on almost every occasion. In addition, the President also faced a huge issue when his choice for Vice-President was vetoed by the Supreme Leader and the President almost seemed to defy the Supreme Leader.

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