Freedom from Torture statement for 20th June – a day that has been designated by campaigners as “International Day in Support of Political Prisoners in Iran”
Tabrizi, a member of Freedom from Torture’s “Survivors Speak OUT Network” (The SSO network was formed by a group of torture survivors from around the world who are former clients of Freedom from Torture and now come together to campaign for the rights of survivors and speak out against torture):
“You, Iranian authorities, ignored me and gave me trouble when I claimed equal opportunities. You laughed at me and isolated me when I demanded the same respect that you pay to some others in Iran. You deprived me of education when I called for my basic Human Rights and to read and write in my mother language. You made me jobless when I declared my religious belief which you found it not in your favour. You arrested me when I shared my thoughts about freedom and democracy with others. You tortured me when you could not bear my words about equality of man and woman. You destroyed my life and millions of others’ life only because our views were not matching yours. What a shame!
“Now, we may not be able to walk, talk, run, smile or laugh as we used to do however, we want you to know that when we free our lands from the oppression we will not take revenge for what you have done to us as we believe that you have the same right as ours to live on those lands free and safe. You have right not to be tortured for your thoughts and belief. You have right not to be forced to speak in a different language than your mother language particularly when you are an innocent child. You have right not to be tortured when you stand for your rights or when you oppose. Please listen to me carefully as I want to promise to forgive you only in one condition that if you stop torture and bravely accept your compatriots’ legitimate demands as those demands are existent truth about Iran but not those which belong to olden times and you habitually insist on imposing them. Thank you!”
Keith Best, Chief Executive of Freedom from Torture:
“Since we opened our doors 25 years ago, Freedom from Torture has documented the injuries and provided therapeutic care to thousands people in the UK who have been subjected to torture and other ill treatment at the hands of the Iranian authorities. Last year, nearly 20% of the individuals referred to us for help were from Iran. When you consider that we receive referrals from people from over 80 different countries around the world, this is a staggering amount.
“Over the years, Freedom from Torture’s Iranian clients have provided testimony of being subjected to whippings and beatings, solitary confinement, suspension and hanging, as well as rape and other sexual violence. The picture emerging from Iran in 2012 remains equally depressing. The government has continued its crack down on protests; last year there were hundreds of arrests including of major political opponents and it is believed more than 300 executions occurred. Lawyers and human rights activists continue to face significant oppression with many serving lengthy prison sentences – often after unfair trials. Many others have never even seen the inside of a courtroom.
“It is hard not to feel defeated in the face of such suffering and injustice. But as we reflect on 20th June – a day which has been designated by campaigners as “International Day in Support of Political Prisoners in Iran” – we must take strength from the fact that people around the world are raising their voices together to ensure that those who languish in detention in Iran are not forgotten. Later this year, Freedom from Torture will be conducting a detailed research project on torture in Iran. We will seek to furnish decision-makers with our evidence and urge them to act to address the appalling human rights situation in the country. We will be drawing on the forensic documentation of torture that we record among Iranian survivors in the UK, through the production of medico-legal reports in individual cases. Our expert clinicians assess the physical and psychological consequences of torture, according to the Istanbul Protocol – an internationally-agreed set of guidelines for documentation of torture. It is very hard to argue that torture is not a big problem in Iran when faced with the irrefutable evidence. The UN Special Rapporteur on Iran will soon be coming to Freedom from Torture to hear from our clinicians and meet directly with Iranian survivors; we look forward to engaging with him and other key influencers over the coming months.
“Coincidentally, today, Wednesday 20th June, is also World Refugee Day – a fact we are marking throughout the week with a range of Refugee Week activities in the UK. As the Iranian survivors here at Freedom from Torture can testify, it is a sad truth that many people who have been persecuted in Iran have been forced to flee in search for safety to other parts of the world. While our thoughts on this day are with the many individuals who continue to suffer in Iran, subjected to horrific treatment, it is also important to recognise the lasting suffering of those who have fled. The psychological and physical scars inflicted by sustained torture and detention do not fade easily – indeed many survivors say that they will never be the same again. However, our amazing clients at Freedom from Torture who battle to rebuild their lives prove that there is hope for the future. It is a huge inspiration to me that many of these brave people chose not to be silenced, determined to speak out about what is happening in their country and promote the rights of those who remain incarcerated.”