An Iranian opposition leader has claimed that women and boys detained over the wave of unrest that swept the nation after the disputed presidential election have been brutally raped in custody.
The allegations by defeated presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi surfaced as Iran hit back at Western criticism of its mass trials of protesters, including British and French embassy staff. "A number of detainees have said that some female detainees have been raped savagely. Young boys held in detention have also been savagely raped," Karroubi said in a letter to powerful cleric and ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
"The young boys are suffering from depression and serious physical and mental damage since their rapes," he said, urging a probe into the claims. Karroubi made the allegations in a "confidential letter" delivered on July 29 to Rafsanjani in his capacity as head of the Assembly of Experts, the powerful body which selects the supreme leader and supervises his activities.
Karroubi, a reformist former parliamentary speaker who came a distant fourth in the June 12 election that returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power, has previously alleged that protesters were being abused and beaten in custody.
About 2,000 opposition supporters were arrested in the aftermath of Ahmadinejad's disputed victory. Most have been released, but around 200 remain behind bars. At least 110 have also been put on trial.
Karroubi urged Rafsanjani to take up the issue with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, saying the "clergy and the Islamic republic will be held responsible" for such acts. "The people who told me about this hold sensitive positions and some are veterans of the war with Iraq," he said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Agence France-Presse.