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Iran: Urgent call to defend arrested youth from torture and ‘disappearance’

6 July 2009. A World to Win News Service. Following is a call issued 3 July by the Iranian student newsletter Bazr (www.bazr1384.com, www.bazr1384.blogfa.com, e-mail: bazr1384(at)gmail.com)

Horrifying news is leaking out from prisons and underground detention centres where people arrested in the recent uprisings are being held. It is important to start a massive campaign to expose the on-going crimes and massacres and to demand the unconditional and immediate release of all political prisoners. In Iran, families of past and recent political prisoners can be the nucleus to initiate the campaign. But, at this point in time, Iranians abroad can play a very significant role in this matter. Even the gatherings on the anniversary of the massacres [of communists and other revolutionary political prisoners] of 1988 can be an occasion for this.

There is talk of brutal and inhumane tortures inflicted on youths and others detained in the recent uprising, with the intention to kill them. At the same time pressure is being put on marked and known people, like reporters and activists in the camps of Mousavi and Karoubi [the two main figures of the electoral opposition] to confess to their alleged crimes. It seems that in case of youths they are adopting the policy of ''disappearing'' prisoners developed in Latin America. A prison guard serving his national service at Evin prison explained that in the prison quarters allocated to the Basiji [militia members] and the information centre of the Revolutionary Guard (Pasdaran) where no one else is allowed to enter there, severe torture is going on every day, and they are all unnerved because of the screams and cries from within; and that every day at least 10 corpses of people who died under torture are thrown in ambulances and carried out to buried in unmarked graves.

The aim of the mass arrests and physical abuse in both public places where people are watching and detention centres is to scare everybody off. I myself know of a few cases where people were arrested because of their age or physical appearance. They were released after 10 hours of beatings and verbal abuse, with the hope of sending out a message. This is not the authorities' sole tactic. They are going through the pictures taken by surveillance cameras to pick out the most militant and active youths who were involved in street fighting in and around the Basij centres and state institutions, in an attempt to eliminate them from the mass uprising. In the most recent days, people shouting slogans from their rooftops have been picked and taken to detention centres. The authorities are attempting to murder a few hundred people before the start of the school year, when they most probably face problems from teachers and students alike.

It is also probable that schools will be half empty when they open. The secretary of education recently announced that 300,000 students eligible to take the National University entrance exam did not come forward to claim their entrance exam cards, nor did they participate in the national exams. Who were these people? Why didn't they take part in the exams? Some say it was a form of protest and others say they had lost their interest in taking the test and had no heart and mind for it. A few hundred may have become fugitives.

The education secretary also announced this year only 20 percent of the entrance exam slots will be allocated to Islamist ''revolutionaries'' and Basiji, instead of the usual 40 percent. This, he implied, means that there will be that much more room for everyone else. But actually, it was understood such allocations no longer existed, so the intent is the opposite of what he claimed. This may signal a plan to fill the universities with Basiji to crush the student movement.

It is of utmost importance that our comrades in the Iranian diaspora massively campaign on the issue of detainees who are being "disappeared". The coup-makers are not even showing any mercy for the regime’s own factions. One indication of how they are treating the people involved in their own internal conflicts is the case of a retired prominent figure in the Ministry of Information now an active member of the Rafsanjani/Mousavi [opposition] camp. He sent a letter to Zarghami (head of Iran’s radio and television authority) complaining that he had been kidnapped, beaten for a few hours and released. If they behave in such a manner towards their own, can you imagine what they would do with students and youth who rose against them?

The situation is urgent – don't waste time!

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