Statement by Women’s Committee of National Council of Resistance
In his recently published memoirs, Mr. Hossein-Ali Montazeri, the former heir apparent of Khomeini, refers to mass execution and systematic torture of women political prisoners in Iran, that has led to numerous women being killed or maimed under torture or losing their mental balance.
He reveals that in the massacre of political prisoners in 1988, numerous women were also sent before the firing squads after summary trials.
While the Iranian Resistance has consistently exposed the crimes of the mullahs’ regime against women in Iran, today some of these crimes are being revealed by a man who was for ten years the clerical regime’s Number Two and Khomeini’s heir apparent, with access to the innermost secrets of the state:
- Mr. Montazeri reveals in this book the text of a personal letter he sent to Khomeini on October 8, 1986. In it, Montazeri wrote, inter alia:
“Do you know that crimes are being committed in the prisons of the Islamic Republic in the name of Islam the like of which was never seen under the Shah’s evil regime?
“Do you know that a large number of prisoners have been killed under torture by their interrogators?
“Do you know that in Mashhad prison, some 25 girls had to have their ovaries or uterus removed as a result of what had been done to them, and because there were no physicians and medical care?
“Do you know that in Shiraz prison, a girl who was fasting in the month of Ramadan was executed on petty charges immediately after breaking her fast?
“Do you know that in some prisons of the Islamic Republic young girls are being raped by force?
“Do you know that interrogators foul mouth the girls and use disgusting words to insult them while interrogating them?
“Do you know that as a result of unruly torture, many prisoners have become deaf or paralyzed or afflicted with chronic diseases? And there is no one to listen to their complaints?”
The damning contents of this letter alone provide sufficient grounds for an international prosecution of the crimes against humanity in Iran. Where else in the world are women and girls subjected to such horrifying treatment?
- In another shocking example of the atrocities committed by the mullahs’ regime, Mr. Montazeri writes in his memoirs:
“Once I was in Najafabad and I was told about two persons who had been sentenced to death. One was the thirteen-year-old daughter of Haj Taqi Rajai. I knew their family well; they were pious and lived in Najafabad. They were said to have been influenced and recruited by the People’s Mojahedin, and were sentenced to execution for this reason.
“They told me that these two persons had been sentenced to death. They said the thirteen-year-old girl had been asked by the interrogator: ‘Don’t you believe in the Imam if you are saying these things?’ She said, with youthful pride: ‘No, I don’t.’
“I never thought that these two persons would be executed any time soon… But they came to me the next day and said: ‘The two of them were executed last night!’ I was utterly shocked.”
- Mr. Montazeri in effect acknowledges that the rape of girls in the mullahs’ prisons was a widespread and systematic practice. He writes:
“Many of those who were being arrested in connection with the Mojahedin were girls and they were executing them on charges of waging war on God… I told the judiciary officials and
Evin officials and others, quoting the Imam that they must not execute girls from the Mojahedin. I told judges not to write death sentences for girls. This is what I said. But then they perverted my words and quoted me as saying: ‘Don’t execute girls. First marry them for one night and then execute them.’”
This is a clear acknowledgment that girls in prisons were being systematically raped by the guards and torturers. The sexual assault on prisoners was not confined to girls; from teenagers to aging women, all female prisoners were constantly exposed to this savage treatment. Many women prisoners became insane as a result of being raped by the guards.
- An aide to Montazeri who visited some of the prisons wrote a letter to Khomeini about his observations. The letter, reproduced in Montazeri’s book, reads in part:
“[There] are prisoners whose hair had been pulled out, their arms and legs broken, their toes and fingers smashed, their teeth broken. They had scars on their bodies. A woman from Mashad said that she had been arrested during the month of Ramadan while she was pregnant and had been beaten so much that she miscarried her child. Prisoners claimed that two of them had been beaten to death.”
He refers to a variety of tortures, including “flogging with electric cables, kicking, burning the skin with lighters, being dragged by a car, being burnt with kerosene and petrol.”
- Montazeri cites a report by his own representative who visited some prisons:
“We went to visit Hessarak Prison (or Qezel Hessar), near Mardabad. We saw a door that was covered with a black blanket and a rug. Inside, it was so dark you could not tell the day from the night. About ten prisoners were being held in that room. We came across a girl, one of the prisoners, who was eating her own feces. She had been so much tortured and harassed that she had become deranged. But they were still keeping her in jail.”
The girl was among a group of “200 to 300 girls who had been arrested essentially for having read the Mojahedin’s statements and some of them had become mentally disturbed while in prison.”
- Mr. Montazeri points out that many of the victims of the 1988 massacre of political prisoners were women. In his first letter to Khomeini on the issue of massacres, written only three days after the killings began, Mr. Montazeri stated:
“If you insist [on the mass executions], at least allow the women to be spared, especially women with children.”
In another example, Montazeri cites the revolutionary prosecutor of Fars province: “[Islami] had brought to me the file of a girl about to be executed. He said he was opposed to executing her, but the other two voted in favor of the execution.”
- But most of the atrocities and crimes perpetrated against women in Khomeini’s jails are not even mentioned in Montazeri’s book. The infamous “Residential Units,” for example, which the torturers and guards referred to as a “place of no return,” were comparable to “rape camps” where women prisoners faced the most horrendous treatment and torture and were in the end executed or killed under torture. The only survivors are those who have become mentally deranged.
Mojahedin women taken to these units would be held inside “cages” – coffin-like cell where the prisoner had to stand on her feet all the time. One former prisoner wrote: “They brought to our cell several women who had been tortured in the ‘Residential Units.’ They had all become insane. They cried all day, swore, talked to themselves, while refusing to talk to anybody else.”
- Beijing’s conference coined the mantra that “women’s rights are human rights.”
After Beijing+5, fighting violence against women has become a major issue for defenders of women’s rights across the world. Today, the world community is bringing to justice perpetrators of crimes against humanity whose victims have been women.
All this makes it imperative that the rulers of the mullahs’ regime, as the principals in these crimes against humanity, be brought to justice by the international community. The revelation of shocking evidence of such crimes by the former heir apparent of Khomeini only makes any inaction and silence on these crimes more unjustified. Economic interests must not be placed ahead of human rights concerns.
The women’s committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran urges all human rights forums, the UN Commission on Human Rights, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UNHRC special representative for human rights in Iran, the special rapporteur for women, and all organizations defending women’s rights to condemn the Iranian regime’s crimes against women and to undertake every effort to remove the political and practical impediments to the formation of an international tribunal for putting on trial the principals and perpetrators of these crimes.
Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
December 21, 2000