Exiles seek to spotlight rights abuses in Iran
United Nations, N.Y.
``I can certainly write a book, if you want me to tell you every single torture I have witnessed.'' Behzad Naziri, an Iranian journalist, speaks matter-of-factly as he describes his experiences: arrest in June 1982 for cooperating with a French news agency (Agence France Presse) and for protesting the execution of his sister; five months of beatings and interrogation in Tehran's infamous Evin Prison; a five-minute trial during which he was blindfolded and not allowed to defend himself; transfer to another prison to serve an eight-year sentence; more floggings, combined with sleep deprivation.
Mr. Naziri says he escaped from his guards while being transferred back to Evin in June of 1985. Eventually he fled to Pakistan and on to Paris, where he now lives. ``I was intent on reaching the outside world and conveying the message of 140,000 political prisoners inside Iran ... that savagery and brutality go on on a daily basis inside Iran,'' Naziri says.
He and an Iranian woman, who claims she too was tortured, visited the UN recently with representatives of the People's Mojahedin, an Iranian exile group. A UN committee will vote Friday on a draft resolution on Iran's human rights record. The vote is expected to reflect how the UN's plenary will vote on the resolution next week. Mojahedin representatives came with data on alleged rights violations, including details of 64 forms of torture practiced in Iranian prisons, and a book of Iranians allegedly executed.
The Mojahedin are sometimes accused of exaggerating claims, but it is widely accepted that there are serious human rights violations in Iran. The issue has become all the more compelling with the revelations of US-Iran arms deals, human rights workers say.