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Amnesty International Calls on Iran to Stop Abuse of Prisoners

May 14, 1987|MIKE MILLS | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Citing Iranian estimates of 6,400 sentences of physical punishment over the last year in Tehran alone, Amnesty International on Wednesday urged Iranian authorities to stop "grave human rights abuses" against political and criminal prisoners.

The London-based human rights organization has sent documentation of prisoner abuses to Iran, including stonings, floggings and amputations, and it called on the Iranian government to bring laws and practices involving human rights into line with international standards.

"Many of those now holding high office in Iran were victims of human rights abuse under the shah's rule," said John G. Healey, executive director of Amnesty International. "Now they ignore humanitarian appeals on behalf of other Iranians."

Prisoners in Iran include members of political opposition movements, ethnic minorities such as the Kurds and religious groups such as the Bahai faith. Others are being held as hostages for relatives still at large, the report said.

The Iranian penal code stresses the role of confession in determining guilt, and Amnesty International said this "may be an incentive to torture prisoners."

"The detail and consistency of the hundreds of reports of torture and ill-treatment . . . make it clear that such treatment has been routine in a number of prison and detention centers," the report said.

The report is a combination of two memoranda detailing human rights abuses sent to Iranian authorities late last year. Neither elicited a response.

The group's latest report includes the testimony of four former prisoners of conscience and political prisoners.

One was a 32-year-old teacher at Tehran University who described her imprisonment for political activities. Although she was never charged or tried, the woman said, she was held for eight months and tortured frequently.

"At night the names of people due for execution were called out, and they were executed before dawn," the woman said. "I believe many people were executed who had done far less serious things than I and that hundreds were killed while I was there."

Political prisoners, the report said, face such punishment as beatings on the feet, lashing with leather whips and wire cables and hanging by the arms or wrists. A convicted "enemy of God" or one found to be "corrupt on earth" risks exile, amputation or crucifixion, according to the report.

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