Torture victims detail suffering at hands of Iranian election candidate

Torture victims detail suffering at hands of Iranian election candidate
Presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi attends an election debate at a television studio, in Tehran, Iran June 8, 2021. (Reuters)
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Updated 08 June 2021

Torture victims detail suffering at hands of Iranian election candidate

Torture victims detail suffering at hands of Iranian election candidate
  • Ebrahim Raisi, head of judiciary, accused of ordering mass executions of political prisoners
  • UN, US, EU urged not to recognize ‘sham’ election

LONDON: As Iran prepares for presidential elections on June 18, citizens have spoken out about the torture and abuse they received at the hands of candidate Ebrahim Raisi, current head of the judiciary.

He is accused of having been central to the 1988 massacre of Iranian political prisoners. It is alleged that he was a member of the so-called “Death Commission” in Evin and Gohardasht prisons.

According to first-hand reports, Raisi was a prosecutor sentencing people to death. He was just 21 during the 1988 executions, with limited education and training.

Iranian opposition members have said Raisi served as then-Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini’s “fixer,” being sent to conduct purges in provinces such as Lorestan, Kermanshah and Semnan.

Now, members of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) have detailed abuses they suffered at Raisi’s hands.

At a press conference on Tuesday attended by Arab News, Farideh Goudarzi detailed horrific abuses she endured throughout the 1980s.

“In 1983 I was arrested on charges of supporting the Mojahedin Organization, and for nearly six years in the prisons of Hamedan and Nahavand I witnessed the heinous crimes of the criminal Ebrahim Raisi,” she said.

Goudarzi was heavily pregnant at the time of her arrest, and she gave birth very soon after she began her time in captivity.

She detailed abuses at the hands of her captors, including Raisi, who she said watched on as she was tortured by being flogged with electric cables in a tiny, blood-splattered room.

She said there is “a painful memory that’s still lingering before my eyes every moment even after 38 years,” referring to the use of her child as a torture tool on Sept. 24, 1983. 

Goudarzi said Raisi and some guards “entered my cell, picked up my son — who was only a 38-day-old baby — while he was asleep and threw him on the ground in a cruel and ruthless manner. Ignoring his cries, they took off his clothes as they said they were looking for documents and evidence. 

“The next day, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., I was taken to court with my son and interrogated. More than 10 ruthless torturers were present in the interrogation room, one of whom was Raisi,” she added. 

“During the six hours of interrogation, one of them took my son by the hand and … he slapped him on the back in front of me and the others laughed. Raisi was watching this scene. I expressed this bitter memory to say that we, the survivors of the 1988 massacre, will neither forget nor forgive this crime and the other crimes in the 1980s.”

Nasrallah Marandi, a prisoner in Evin, Ghezel Hesar and Gohardasht prisons from 1981 to 1991, told the press conference that on Aug. 6, 1988, guards transferred him from solitary confinement to the main corridor of Gohardasht Prison, called “the corridor of death.” 

He added: “When I was taken to the corridor of death, both sides of the corridor were full of prisoners who were waiting to be taken to the Death Commission … Many of them were my friends, and it was around noon when I was taken to the Death Commission.”

He said Raisi was there, adding that he “played an active role in the execution of prisoners and he was endorsing the death certificate. After a few minutes I was returned to the corridor of death, and on the same day many of my friends were executed by Raisi and other members of the Death Commission.”

Marandi said: “After signing the death sentence, Raisi went to the execution hall to carry out and supervise the executions.” 

He added that the Death Commission did not spare the mentally or physically ill, and that prisoners were killed regardless of age. 

“They executed everyone, and in the fall of 1988 only one small ward in Gohardasht Prison, called Ward 13, made up all the political prisoners who had survived the massacre,” Marandi said.

Mahmoud Royaei detailed the suffering experienced by Kaveh Nasari, who suffered from severe epilepsy and was paralyzed following severe torture.

He said Nasari “was attacked due to epilepsy. They used to hit his head and face hard on the ground, due to which his face was always injured. On Aug. 9, 1988, Nasari was taken to the death corridor. He had an epileptic fit but Raisi still sentenced him to death. On the same day, despite serving his sentence in full, Nasari was executed.” 

Royaei added: “I have no doubt that Kaveh would’ve survived if Raisi … wasn’t present on that death panel.”

Royaei said: “Many of the prisoners were students at the time of their arrest. Some were just 15 or 16. After seven years of brutal torture, they were hanged after Raisi signed their death verdict.”

Marandi urged the US, UN and EU to condemn Raisi’s candidacy, saying the “sham” election should not be recognized. 

Ali Safavi, an official with the foreign affairs committee of the Paris-based NCRI, told Arab News: “The expected presidency of a mass murderer like Raisi lays bare the real and evil nature of medieval theocracy ruling Iran.”

He added: “For more than four decades, Western powers cloaked appeasing the mullahs under the veneer of empowering the illusory moderates, to the detriment of the Iranian people and regional peace and stability. 

“This is no longer justifiable. The time has come for the international community to uphold the values they claim to champion, denounce the sham election and hold the Iranian regime and its criminal leaders, like Raisi, accountable for numerous crimes against humanity.”


Egypt announces first fully vaccinated governorate

Egypt announces first fully vaccinated governorate
Updated 43 sec ago

Egypt announces first fully vaccinated governorate

Egypt announces first fully vaccinated governorate
  • South Sinai is the governorate with the fewest COVID-19 cases and deaths, as well as the highest recovery and vaccination rate among people aged 18 and over
  • South Sinai, where the town of Sharm El-Sheikh is located, is one of the most famous tourist governorates in Egypt

CAIRO: Officials in South Sinai have announced that it has become the first governorate in Egypt whose eligible population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

According to health sources, it is the governorate with the fewest COVID-19 cases and deaths, as well as the highest recovery and vaccination rate among people aged 18 and over — the allowed age for inoculation. 

South Sinai, where the town of Sharm El-Sheikh is located, is one of the most famous tourist governorates in Egypt. It also includes famous religious sites such as Mount El-Tur and St. Catherine’s Monastery.

Maj. Gen. Khaled Fouda, governor of South Sinai, said there have only been 81 deaths from COVID-19 there since the start of the pandemic — the lowest rate among Egypt’s governorates. 

He added that South Sinai recorded only one case on Sunday night after recording no cases for two weeks in a row, bringing the total number of cases to 1,371 since the start of the pandemic, with only 29 hospitalizations. 


10,000 children killed or maimed in Yemen since 2015: UNICEF

10,000 children killed or maimed in Yemen since 2015: UNICEF
Updated 19 October 2021

10,000 children killed or maimed in Yemen since 2015: UNICEF

10,000 children killed or maimed in Yemen since 2015: UNICEF
  • Four out of every five children need humanitarian assistance in Yemen

GENEVA: Ten thousand Yemeni children have been killed after the Iran-aligned Houthi group ousted the government in 2015, the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said on Tuesday.
“The Yemen conflict has just hit another shameful milestone. We now have 10,000 children who have been killed or maimed since ... March 2015,” UNICEF spokesperson James Elder told a UN briefing in Geneva after returning from a visit to Yemen.
“That is the equivalent of four children every single day,” Elder said, adding that many more child deaths or injuries went unreported.
Four out of every five children — a total of 11 million — need humanitarian assistance in Yemen, while 400,000 are suffering from acute malnutrition and more than 2 million are out of school, Elder said.
UN-led efforts to engineer a nationwide cease-fire have stalled as the Houthis resist compromise to end more than six years of a war that has caused what the UN calls the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
Hundreds of Yemenis are trapped by fierce fighting between government and Houthi forces in the northern Marib governorate, residents and a local official said last week, after battles for control of the gas-rich region displaced some 10,000 people.


Qatar forms climate change ministry, appoints finance minister

Qatar forms climate change ministry, appoints finance minister
Updated 19 October 2021

Qatar forms climate change ministry, appoints finance minister

Qatar forms climate change ministry, appoints finance minister

DUBAI: Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani has appointed Ali Bin Ahmad Al-Kuwari as finance minister in a government reshuffle, according to a statement issued by the emiri court on Tuesday.

Al-Kuwari had been serving as commerce and industry minister and as acting finance minister before the reshuffle.

Qatar's emir created an environment and climate change ministry on Tuesday, naming Faleh bin Nasser al-Thani as its minister. 

Two women were handed cabinet posts for education and social development. They join Health Minister Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, who had been the only woman in the cabinet.

 

(with Reuters)


Egypt aviation sector sees jump in flights, passengers, cargo

Egypt aviation sector sees jump in flights, passengers, cargo
Updated 19 October 2021

Egypt aviation sector sees jump in flights, passengers, cargo

Egypt aviation sector sees jump in flights, passengers, cargo
  • There were 2.1 million aircraft passengers in July

CAIRO: There were 18,500 flights into and out of Egypt in July compared to 6,500 in the same month last year, an increase of 185 percent, according to the country’s Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics.

In June there were some 14,000 flights, compared to 500 in the same month last year.

There were 2.1 million aircraft passengers in July, more than quadruple the 500,000 passengers in the same month last year.

In June there were 1.6 million passengers, compared to 300,000 in the same month last year.

There were 19,200 tons of cargo transported by plane in July compared to 16,700 in the same month last year, an increase of 13 percent.

In June 21,300 tons were transported compared to 16,100 in the same month last year, an increase of 32 percent.


Lebanese parliament confirms March polls amid efforts to secure IMF rescue

Lebanese parliament confirms March polls amid efforts to secure IMF rescue
Updated 19 October 2021

Lebanese parliament confirms March polls amid efforts to secure IMF rescue

Lebanese parliament confirms March polls amid efforts to secure IMF rescue

CAIRO: Lebanon's parliament voted on Tuesday to hold legislative elections on March 27, parliamentary sources said, giving Prime Minister Najib Mikati's government only a few months to try to secure an IMF recovery plan amid a deepening economic meltdown.
Lebanon's financial crisis, labelled by the World Bank as one of the deepest depressions of modern history, had been compounded by political deadlock for over a year before Mikati put together a cabinet alongside President Michel Aoun.
The currency has lost 90% of its value and three quarters of the population have been propelled into poverty. Shortages of basic goods such as fuel and medicines have made daily life a struggle.
Mikati, whose cabinet is focused on reviving talks with the International Monetary Fund, had vowed to make sure elections are held with no delay and Western governments urged the same.
But a row over the probe into last year's Beirut port blast that killed over 200 people and destroyed large swathes of the capital is threatening to veer his cabinet off course.
Some ministers, aligned with politicians that lead investigator Judge Tarek Bitar is seeking to question over the explosion, last week demanded that the judge be removed from the probe.
Mikati has since said the cabinet will not convene another meeting until an agreement is reached on how to deal with the matter.
On Thursday, Beirut witnessed the worst street violence in over a decade with seven people killed in gunfire when protesters from the Hezbollah and Amal Shi'ite movements made their way to demonstrate against Judge Bitar.
The bloodshed, which stirred memories of the 1975-1990 civil war, added to fears for the stability of a country that is awash with weapons.
The early election date - elections were originally expected to be held in May - was chosen in order not to clash with the holy Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.
Once a new parliament is elected, the Mikati cabinet will only act in a caretaker role until a new prime minister is given a vote of confidence and tasked with forming a new government.