Iranian authorities use horrific methods to torture protesters including forcibly extracting fingernails, electric shock to the genitals, and mock executions with guns and ropes, a new Amnesty International report reveals.
Iranians recently arrested in connection to anti-government protests have been tortured physically, sexually and psychologically, according to the report which relied on video footage and interviews with over 75 people including victims and relatives of victims.
Protests broke out across Iran in November in response to an increase in gasoline prices and demonstrators chanted “Death to the dictator” and set buildings on fire including banks.
The country’s authorities implemented a brutal crackdown, arresting more than 7,000 men, women, and children as young as 10 years old, according to Amnesty, which reported in May that 304 people had been killed by security forces during the protests.
Protesters were arrested under different charges including participation in “illegal protests” and “sharing videos of protests with family, friends and media outlets or on social media,” according to the report, which said arrests occurred in 28 out of 31 provinces in the country.
Some security agents and law enforcement officers “used widespread torture” on protesters during their arrests and detainment in prisons across Iran, according to Amnesty.
Detainees were subjected to “forcible extraction of the nails from fingers or toes, pepper spraying, forced administration of chemical substances, electric shocks, waterboarding, and mock executions,” the report stated.
Male victims revealed to Amnesty that interrogators and prison officials conducted “sustained sexual verbal abuse, pepper spraying the genital area, and…electric shocks to the testicles.”
One protester told Amnesty that during his time in detention he was taken to a torture room twice a day.
“They gave me a lot of electric shocks, including to my testicles,” he told Amnesty.
Another protester said that his interrogators ordered the prison authorities to “tickle him a little” – meaning a low voltage shock.
“If I refused to answer their questions, they would raise the voltage levels and give me stronger electric shocks,” the victim said in an interview with Amnesty.
“The torture has had lasting effects on my mental and physical health. To this day, I still can’t sleep at night,” he said.
Flogging and beating with batons were also among the methods used, according to Amnesty.
One protester detained in Tehran told Amnesty that agents subjected him twice to mock executions. He was forced to stand on a stool where Iranian agents put a rope around his neck, and then pushed the stool from under his feet.
“Several nights later, agents took him to a courtyard at dawn, forced him to his knees, took off his blindfold, held a gun to his forehead and pulled the trigger, firing a blank rather than a live bullet,” according to the report.
Another protester told Amnesty that at one point during his detention he wished to die to “be free of the pain and torture.”
“My interrogators tortured me in all sorts of ways…They told me ‘If you die, it will be like a dog dying. It’s not important to us if you live or die.’ The pain was horrific,” said the protester who had been detained in the Khorasan Razavi province.
Psychological abuse included death threats and “threats to arrest, torture, kill or otherwise harm detainee’s family members, including elderly parents and spouses,” sources told Amnesty.
Authorities including Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) interrogators deprived detainees of medical treatment and “medication for injuries sustained during the protests, including from gunshots and beatings,” according to the report.
The Amnesty report is not the first revelation of human rights abuses Iranian prisoners suffer at the hands of officials.
In August an Al Arabiya documentary revealed crimes against women detained in Iranian prisons including torture and rape.
Interviews with former prisoners detailed brutal torture, as well as unmarried women being raped before execution.
Amnesty said it has reached out to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iran’s judiciary head Ebrahim Raisi on August 19 seeking comment, but has not received a response.