Iran: Stop further denials of rape of virgin girls prior to execution

Justice for Iran

After years of silence, official organs of the Islamic Republic, including an organisation representing the Supreme Leader in Iranian Universities, have refuted claims of rape prior to execution. This is the first time that official state organs have declared their position with regards to this matter.

The aforementioned organisation–whose members are appointed by the Supreme Leader at all universities and operate as his representatives–published a statement on his web site last week stating: “One of the anti-revolutionary claims is that since the execution of virgins is forbidden by the teachings of Islam, virgin girls who have been executed were first subjected to temporary marriage to revolutionary guards and raped so they lost their virginity prior to death. Assuming the reason for execution was Islamic (based on which virgin girls could not be executed), then, likewise according to Islam, a girl cannot be forced into temporary marriage. Therefore, the falsity of this claim is proven.”

In another section of the response which is widely disseminated through official and semi-official media in Iran, reference has been made to the memoirs of Ayotollah Montazeri, the former successor to Ayotollah Khomeini: “when the subject of executions was discussed, I objected that in prisons women were also being executed. Executing women in Islam is discouraged and virgins cannot be executed. The Imam confirmed by saying ‘tell the official to not execute girl.’ Then some claimed Montazeri has said ‘do not execute girls but perform temporary marriage first and then execute them.’”

JFI is the first human rights organisation to publicise this section of the memoirs of Ayotollah Montazeri. In its research ‘Crime without Punishment’ on torture–sexual and otherwise–of female political prisoners, it found numerous documents and uncontested witnesses with regards to statements by prison officials on the matter of rape prior to execution. Also included in this research were references to Islamic sacred scripture used by prison officials for Islamic judicial justification of this practice.

The results were published in a book entitled “Crimes with Impunity” and highlighted in a recent documentary film “Final Moments“. Both demonstrate the rape of virgin girls who were executed for their political activities during the 1980s through the means of temporary marriage in at least a few cities during specific periods were part of an organised process and carried out with the knowledge of senior officials. “Crimes with Impunity” also demonstrates that judicial officials during the 1980s were directly responsible for issuing and overseeing execution of female prisoners, all of whom have enjoyed impunity. Not only have authorities of the Islamic Republic failed to conduct any official investigations into the matter, but some of the responsible officials are now in senior positions within the state apparatus. For example, Mostafa Poor Mohammadi was the Chief Revolutionary Prosecutor of Khorasan during the winter of 1982 when the first group of young women were executed–some of whom, repots indicated–were raped. In the current Rohani administration, Mohammadi is the Minister of Justice.

In another example, Ali Razini, who was the religious judge of Mahshad in the 1980s and isssued all his death sentences during court sessions lasting just minutes without the presence of defense counsel, is now the Deputy Legal Counsel of the Chief of the Judiciary.

Copies of “Crimes and Impunity” have been sent to the Supreme Leader, President, Chair of the Parliament and numerous Islamic Republic officials. Furthermore, the documentary “Final Moments” has had 86,000 viewings since its release two months ago. The latest statement on behalf of the Supreme Leader suggests the Islamic Republic has reached the conclusion it cannot remain silent about the rape of virgin girls prior to execution.

JFI highlights the body of evidence and published documents that contradict these official statements. It will continue to raise awareness on this issue until such time that an independent investigation is carried out by international organisations in order to deliver justice.

About Crime without Punishment: Justice for Iran

"Crime without Punishment: Justice for Iran" project was established in July 2010 with the aim of addressing and eradicating the practice of impunity prevalent among Iranian state officials and their use of systematic sexual abuse of women as a method of torture in order to extract confession. It is a London based project, hosted by Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) uses methods such as documentation of human rights violations, collection of information, and research about authority figures who play a role in serious and widespread violations of human rights in Iran; as well as use of judicial, political and international mechanisms in place, to execute justice, remove impunity and bring about accountability to the actors and agents of human rights violations in the Islamic Republic of Iran.