Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Promoting tolerance and justice through knowledge and understanding
Islamic Republic Officials

The Office of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Hands Over Evidence of Torture to an Investigating Committee

The Office of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
The daily Enqelab Eslamiِ
January 15, 1981

The five member Committee for the Investigation of the Issue of Torture has so far received 263 pages of document and 30 photographs depicting marks of torture on the bodies of prisoners or those who have been executed.

In the Name of God, the Merciful

At the written request of the five member Committee for the Investigation of the Issue of Torture (hereinafter the Committee) that had been submitted to the Office of the President, the documents pertaining to acts of torture were delivered to the Committee. These documents, which consisted in 263 pages of evidence including written complaints, coroner's reports, testimony of witnesses to the acts of torture, along with photographs depicting marks of torture on the bodies of prisoners or executed prisoners, were delivered to the Committee. According to the statement of a reliable source in the Office of the President, these documents also include two letters one of which refers to the general nature of the contents of the files on torture. The other letter contains descriptions of the acts of torture as inferred from the complaints received by the Office of the President and ascertained by the ensuing investigations. 

We call to the attention of the honorable Committee the following points which, God willing, will be fully taken into consideration:

1. The majority of the complaints that have been submitted to this Office are about the arrests made during police skirmishes with protestors.

2. On the basis of available statements, some individuals who commit acts of torture are experienced enough not to leave any marks of torture or battery on the body of the victim. 

3. In some cases, the process of healing and passage of time leave no trace of torture on the body of the victims.

4. Some of the victims of torture have expressed their willingness to lodge complaints only when the perpetrators of these crimes have been duly punished for such acts. Otherwise, these victims, apprehensive about the consequences of their disclosures, either refuse to complain or do so anonymously.

5. In general, all victims of torture display palpable signs of fear of  coming forward, describing their experience or revealing the identity of those involved in the commission of such acts. 

          6. Often, the complaints that include rather detailed description of the experience of the victims of torture are submitted by hardened political activists. Clearly, many victims of torture who have had not been involved in political activities and unfamiliar with the intricate consequences of such activities, are not willing to complain to government authorities. Many cases of torture, therefore, remain unreported.

          7. Most complaints are made in large cities. This does not mean that acts of torture are not committed in small towns or remote localities. The reasons why these acts are not as widely reported as those committed in large cities is the victims' fear that their complaints, even if received by local officials, would not be reported to higher-ranking judicial authorities.

          8. In some cases, acts of torture are committed outside prison confines, for example, in the streets, in the backroom of stores, in safe houses, outlying areas of towns, or in police cars.   

          Our following interview with one of the members of the President's executive Office will amplify the preceding points:

          Q) Please tell us exactly in response to whose request did you send these documents to the Committee?

          A) Mr. Dadgar, one of the members of the Committee, had in a letter, requested us to deliver to the Committee whatever documents [on torture] that were at our disposal.

          Q) How had you come in possessions of such documents?

          A) As you know, the President is responsible for the proper implementation of the principles of the Constitution. For this reason and also as a result of the special trust that Iranian people hold for President Bani Sadr, the President's executive Office has become the virtual repository of public complaints against various government agencies.  Evidentiary documents pertaining to acts of torture are also brought to our office either by victims (if set free), or by their relatives or friends) if the victim has been executed or is still in prison.

          Q) You said that in cases where the torture victims have been executed, their relatives bring the evidence to your office. Have some of those condemned to death been also subject to torture?

          A) Photographic evidence, coroners' reports and other incriminating documents, all point to the presence of torture marks on the bodies of some of the executed prisoners.

          Q) Could you describe the nature of the torture inflicted on the victims as reflected in the documents you have submitted to the Committee?

          A) According to the available evidence, forms of torture ranged from mild to severe and, at times, fatal acts. It is the duty of the Committee to determine the exact nature of each act of torture.

Examples of such acts are as follows: Striking the victim's face with blunt metal objects; fatally dropping lit metal heaters on the body of a prisoner who had been accused of smuggling of opiate drugs; burning the victim's nose and other sensitive body parts; Rendering severe blows to the body causing cranial fracture, brain injury and the eventual death of the victim; snapping the spinal cord, and breaking the victim's hand and leg bones; rupture of ear drums by repeatedly slapping the victim's face. In most cases, however, torture had consisted in beating the victim with fists, metal cable and rubber hose.      

There have been many references to mental tortures through the staging of mock executions. Reference has also been made to unusual and strange forms of torture that require further investigations.

Q)  Have these acts been committed solely to extract confessions from the victims?

          A) The cases that we have forwarded to the Committee cover different acts of torture at different stages of interrogation and for different purposes: Torture in the process of making an arrest; torture before the trial; torture during the search of victim's place of residence or office; torture during provisional detention, and torture to elicit confession.

          Q) Have the names of any of the perpetrators of the acts of torture, or those ordering such acts, been mentioned in the complaints?

          A) In most cases, the torturer's identity has remained unknown. However, the place where torture has been applied is often specified. At times, the identity of witnesses to the acts of torture or of those ordering such acts are known to the victims and, therefore, specified.

          Q) Has any duly appointed official been named in such revelations?

A) Unfortunately, in some cases, yes.

          Q) Could you name a few?

          A) Not until the Committee submits the final report on its investigations.

          Q) It is rumored that some members of the Forqan [a dissident Islamic group] have been severely tortured before being executed. Do you have any information about the validity of such rumors?

          A) On the basis of some of the available photographs, one may make such inferences.

          Q) Are all those who have complained about torture are guilty of criminal activities or are they all free of such accusations?

          A) It is the duty of appropriate judicial authorities to ascertain the facts on the innocence or guilt of these individuals. We have no opinion on the matter. We simply have gathered the evidence or completed the files on allegations of torture. Those who have been accused of committing acts of torture may or may not have been guilty of the charge. The central question, however, is whether such acts have been perpetrated or not.  For , whether a suspect is innocent or guilty he or she should not be victimized by acts of torture which are incompatible with Islamic principles, fly in the face of the Constitution of the Islamic republic of Iran, and violate all the principles of humane behavior.

          Q) Are there other documents or pieces of evidence not yet submitted to the Committee?

          A) There are still many complaints that have to be reviewed.  But, the files we have submitted to the Committee are all complete and ready for further review. The rest of the files will gradually be completed and submitted.