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.”


Senior Israeli lawmaker warns of ‘religious war’ over Jerusalem moves

Senior Israeli lawmaker warns of ‘religious war’ over Jerusalem moves
Updated 58 min 46 sec ago

Senior Israeli lawmaker warns of ‘religious war’ over Jerusalem moves

Senior Israeli lawmaker warns of ‘religious war’ over Jerusalem moves
  • Palestinian factions have denounced Israeli moves in Jerusalem’s Old City, the heart of their decades-old conflict

JERUSALEM: A senior Israeli lawmaker said on Monday the country risked “religious war” after a court ruled in favor of Jews who had tried to pray at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and as nationalists planned a march near the flashpoint site.
Palestinian factions have denounced Israeli moves in Jerusalem’s Old City, the heart of their decades-old conflict, and reiterated threats that echoed their warnings in the run-up to the May 2021 war in Gaza.
Jerusalem Magistrates’ Court on Sunday rescinded a restraining order against three Jews who had prayed while visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
Jews revere the site as vestige of two ancient temples, but are barred from worship there under an Israeli pact with Muslim authorities. The mosque is Islam’s third-holiest shrine.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office said it would appeal the ruling. Bennett, who heads a weak coalition government, must also decide whether to green-light an annual Israeli flag march in the Old City next Sunday.
Ram Ben-Barak, chairman of parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, came out against the lower court ruling and voiced concern about the planned route of the march, which includes the Muslim quarter of the Old City.
“I think that during this sensitive period care must be taken,” he told Kan radio. “We should not, with our own hands, cause a religious war here or all kinds of provocations that are liable to ignite the Middle East.”
The flag march celebrates Israel’s capture of the Old City in the 1967 Middle East war. Israel deems all of Jerusalem its capital — a status not recognized internationally. The Palestinians want to establish their own capital in the city.
Weeks of clashes in East Jerusalem last year, including in the Al-Aqsa compound, helped ignite a war in Gaza last May that killed at least 250 Palestinians and 13 people in Israel.
After months of relative calm, tensions have risen again in recent weeks, leaving many dead, with repeated raids by Israeli forces in the West Bank, and attacks by militants on Israelis.
Police and Palestinians also clashed in the mosque area last month on numerous occasions during the holy month of Ramadan.
Ben-Barak, whose centrist party is in the coalition, predicted that Bennett would wait until the night before the march to decide on its final route to prevent possible conflict.
“It is not always worth paying this price for a demonstration that is all about spectacle and little else.”
Speaking in Gaza, a senior official with Islamic Jihad, Khaled Al-Batsh, said that going ahead with the flag march would be a “message of war” against Palestinians.
“The Palestinians will confront the flag march and the resistance will do all it should to protect the Al Aqsa mosque and the sacred sites,” Batsh said in a statement.


Five dead, scores trapped after building collapses in Iran - State TV

Five dead, scores trapped after building collapses in Iran - State TV
A rescue operation was being carried out, with emergency teams being dispatched from other cities to help. (AFP)
Updated 23 May 2022

Five dead, scores trapped after building collapses in Iran - State TV

Five dead, scores trapped after building collapses in Iran - State TV
  • A rescue operation was being carried out, with emergency teams being dispatched from other cities to help

DUBAI: Five people were killed when a 10-story building in Iran’s southern city of Abadan partly collapsed and rescuers were trying to help at least 80 people left trapped under the rubble, Iranian state TV reported on Monday.
The semi-official Mehr news agency identified the building as a residential-commercial property on Amir Kabir street in the city, which is close to the border with Iraq.
State TV said emergency teams were being dispatched from other cities to help with the rescue operation, with two teams of rescue dogs, a helicopter and seven rescue vehicles already at the scene. It showed footage of angry Abadan residents shouting slogans against the city authorities.
The head of Khuzestan province’s judiciary has ordered an investigation into the building’s collapse, and its owner and the contractor who built it have been arrested, state TV said.


Egypt’s PM holds talks on Brazil economic ties

Egypt’s PM holds talks on Brazil economic ties
Updated 23 May 2022

Egypt’s PM holds talks on Brazil economic ties

Egypt’s PM holds talks on Brazil economic ties
  • Mostafa Madbouly met with officials from Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce
  • Egypt is Brazil’s top trade partner among Arab countries, with volume of nearly $2.6bn

CAIRO: Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly discussed with Osmar Chohfi, president of the Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, and its Secretary-General Tamer Mansour, economic ties between the two countries.

Nader Saad, spokesman for Egypt’s Cabinet, said the meeting also reviewed growing ties between Brazil and Arab countries.

Madbouly stressed Cairo’s support for all efforts to bolster economic ties, including proposals related to investment cooperation and the establishment of a Brazilian industrial zone in Egypt.

Egypt is Brazil’s top trade partner among Arab countries, with a trade volume of nearly $2.6 billion.

Khaled Hanafy, secretary-general of the Federation of Arab Chambers of Commerce, who attended the meeting, said Brazil is ready to be a gateway for Egyptian exports to South America, and is willing to invest in Egypt through a Brazilian industrial zone.

Saad said Madbouly was invited to participate in the meetings of the Arab-Brazilian Economic Forum in Sao Paulo in July, under the auspices and presence of Brazil’s president. Brazil’s vice president visited Egypt last September.


Yemeni conjoined twins arrive in Riyadh amid separation surgery hopes

Yemeni conjoined twins arrive in Riyadh amid separation surgery hopes
Updated 23 May 2022

Yemeni conjoined twins arrive in Riyadh amid separation surgery hopes

Yemeni conjoined twins arrive in Riyadh amid separation surgery hopes
  • The Kingdom has provided thousands of cases of medical care to Yemenis during their struggle against the Houthi militia 

RIYADH: Yemeni conjoined twins Mawaddah and Rahma have arrived in Saudi Arabia amid hopes that a successful separation surgery could be carried out.

The pair landed at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh from Aden accompanied by their parents on Sunday.

The Yemeni family were taken to Riyadh by a Saudi medical evacuation plane with the support of the coalition forces to support legitimacy in Yemen.

The twins were transferred upon their arrival to King Abdullah Specialized Children’s Hospital (KASCH) to study their condition and consider the possibility of conducting an operation to separate them.

If separation is possible, the conjoined twins, who were born joined at the lower chest and abdomen, will be treated.

Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabiah, the head of the medical team and general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), extended his thanks and gratitude to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for “this noble humanitarian initiative, which comes in appreciation of the difficult conditions facing brotherly Yemen.”

Al-Rabiah stressed that the initiative embodies Saudi Arabia’s superior medical capabilities and great humanitarian sense towards those struggling in dozens of countries, expressing his thanks to the Saudi Embassy in Yemen, and to “the coalition forces to support legitimacy in Yemen that contributed tangible efforts” in transporting the Yemeni twins.

Hudhayfah Numan, the father of the twins, thanked the Kingdom for the warm reception and hospitality that has been extended to him since his arrival in the Kingdom, expressing his great confidence in God and then in the “Saudi medical team due to their long experience in this field.” He prayed to God Almighty to protect King Salman and reward him well.

King Salman ordered the transfer of Mawaddah and Rahma to King Abdulaziz Medical City to Riyadh for medical examinations on May 10.

Dr. Aref Abu Hatem, an information counselor at the Yemeni Embassy in Saudi Arabia, told Arab News that this great humanitarian initiative comes within a broader Saudi humanitarian context, sponsored by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and his Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He said that humanitarian aid was at the forefront of the Saudi leadership’s plans and activities.

Abu Hatem added that this case of conjoined twins is almost the fourth to arrive from Yemen over the past three years, all of which were followed by complicated separations carried out by a highly qualified specialized medical team led by Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabiah.

“The King Salman Center has provided thousands of grants in the medical field, and they were treated in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or in hospitals outside the Kingdom contracted by the King Salman Center for serving and caring for Yemenis in light of this war, especially those affiliated with the national army and the popular resistance,” Abu Hatem said. 


Iran will ‘avenge’ killing of Guards colonel: president

Iran will ‘avenge’ killing of Guards colonel: president
Iran will avenge the killing of a Revolutionary Guards colonel who was shot dead in Tehran, President Ebrahim Raisi warns. (AP)
Updated 23 May 2022

Iran will ‘avenge’ killing of Guards colonel: president

Iran will ‘avenge’ killing of Guards colonel: president
  • Iran will avenge the killing of a Revolutionary Guards colonel who was shot dead in Tehran, President Ebrahim Raisi warns

TEHRAN: Iran will avenge the killing of a Revolutionary Guards colonel who was shot dead in Tehran, President Ebrahim Raisi warned on Monday.
Col. Sayyad Khodai was shot dead Sunday outside his home by assailants on motorcycles, in a killing Iran blamed on “elements linked to the global arrogance,” its term for the United States and its allies including Israel.
It was the most high profile killing inside Iran since the November 2020 murder of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
Raisi said: “I insist on the serious pursuit (of the killers) by security officials, and I have no doubt that the blood of this great martyr will be avenged.”

“There is no doubt that the hand of global arrogance can be seen in this crime,” he added, echoing what the Guards said the previous day.
He was speaking just ahead of visiting Oman, where he will meet with Sultan Haitham.
Khodai’s funeral was due to take place in Tehran at 5:00 p.m. local time (1230 GMT).
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — the ideological arm of Iran’s military — described Khodai as a “defender of the sanctuary,” a term used for those who work on behalf of the Islamic republic in Syria or Iraq.
Iran maintains significant political influence in both countries, notably having backed President Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria’s grinding civil war.
State television noted that Khodai was “known” in Syria, where Iran has acknowledged deploying “military advisers.”