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Iran: YouTube and Twitter do not show hidden brutality

YouTube and Twitter have provided extensive media coverage of anti-government demonstrations in Iran, but the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) warns that the worst state terrorism will be conducted where these new technologies cannot reach.

Thousands of men and women are being arrested, including severely injured activists, and held in Evin Prison where conditions are notoriously harsh. At this moment many will be underdoing interrogation through torture, which in Iran includes mock executions, starvation, anal rape using truncheons, repeated stamping on genitals and severe and prolonged sensory deprivation.

The experiences BAFS has recorded in relation to Ahwazi Arab political prisoners are common to all political prisoners held by the Iranian government, regardless of whether the president at the time was Rafsanjani, Khatami or Ahmadinejad. In recent years, BAFS has also gathered evidence of summary executions, with bodies of 'disappeared' people found washed up in rivers covered in marks of torture or dumped on the doorsteps of relatives' homes. The world media and the international community have frequently ignored this violent feature of the Iranian regime.

Victims of torture are often promised an end to their suffering through confessing to crimes they did not commit, including collusion with foreign intelligence agencies. But their 'confessions' are subsequently used to convict them in closed summary trials by a Revolutionary Court, after which many are executed using a cruel form of hanging which ensures a prolonged death through strangulation.

BAFS has collected medical evidence from dozens of Ahwazi Arab refugees in the UK who have been subjected to abuse in Iran's prisons. Some of these victims of torture will suffer a life of chronic pain, physical disfigurement and disability and mental illness, but often they are too embarrassed to seek help and many are not given appropriate treatment by the National Health Service. Yet, they are the lucky ones - they have escaped, while thousands of political prisoners will remain behind bars for years on end.

BAFS spokesman Nasser Bani Assad said: "We are worried that the reliance on YouTube and Twitter will encourage lazy reporting in the Western media. If the evil is not seen, there is an assumption it is not happening. The gruesome videos and descriptions we have seen on these websites are nothing compared to what is really going on in Iran, where camera phones and laptops do not exist, such as the torture chambers of Prison 209 and Prison 59. There is a limit to what journalism can reveal. BAFS demands international intervention to bring an end to torture and state terrorism in Iran."