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Monday, 19 July 2010

New arrests of gay men in Iran

Shiraz City norheast viewImage via Wikipedia
Source: Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees (IRQR)

This week, The Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees (IRQR), received several new reports of arrests of queer Iranians in the city of Shiraz, Iran.

On Sunday July 11th 2010, a private party in a suburb called Podonak was raided. The police lead the raid, accompanied by the volunteer moral militia (Basij) and revolutionary guard (Sepah). Reports vary, but we understand that between 17 and 19 people have been arrested and taken to the local intelligent service’s detention centre on Modares Boulevard

Their police files are labeled “Gang of Faggots in Shiraz” and their homes have been raided and personal belongings confiscated by the police. They are to be tried today, in both the Revolutionary and the General Courts, Shiraz.

Since the raid, we have been able to confirm the names of 9 people who have been arrested and labeled as a “Gang of Faggots in Shiraz” and we do not have information about the rest of them.

We understand that the police are going to entrap more queers in Shiraz, Esfahan and Mashhad, and fear that more arrests might take place in the coming days. We advise Iranian queers to be extremely careful with their safety, and to be aware that phones in Iran can and are being tapped. Most queers in Shiraz have deleted their Yahoo IDs, profiles, facebook accounts and other cyber communication. We have heard rumors that a party has been raided in Esfahan, but have not yet confirmed this.

The Iranian authorities have a long record of arresting and torturing LGBTQ Iranians.

For example, in September 2003, in Shiraz, a group of men were arrested at a private party in one of the men’s houses. They were held in detention for several days, where, according to one of the men, police tortured them to obtain a confession. They were tried for “participation in a corrupt gathering” and fined.

In June 2004, also in Shiraz, police arranged meetings with men through internet chat rooms. Once arrested, the men were repeatedly beaten and tortured, and sentenced to 175 lashes, 100 administered immediately. Since their arrest, police have subjected the men to regular surveillance and periodic arrests.

On May 10, 2007, eighty-seven men were arrested and beaten by the police at a birthday party in Esfahan. The police turned off the lights, shot blanks from their guns, forced everyone to lie on the ground, then walked over to them and began beating them. The police then covered the guests’ heads with bags or blouses, forced them out into the street and pushed them with batons into a military transport. The people who witnessed the event on the street reported that the clothes of the arrested men were torn and that their faces were bleeding.

On July 8, 2010, Mohammad Mostafai, an Iranian lawyer announced that three of his four clients were cleared of sodomy charges, but one, an eighteen year old youth named Ebrahim Hamidi, was sentenced to be executed.

Also on June 18, 2010 we received reports from Iran regarding three more possible death sentences for homosexuality, one man receiving 74 lashes for his homosexual act and the murder of a 23 year old bisexual man by the Iranian security forces.

These many incidents are just some of the many examples that reveal the extent to which the walls of private homes in Iran are transparent and the halls of justice opaque. It also reveals that the authorities and Islamic government's respect for privacy and personal dignity is nonexistent in Iran.

We at IRQR call on the Iranian government to end these arrests of LGBQ Iranians and to respect the basic human rights of its citizens.
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