Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Evin (Not) Uncovered

(Source: http://rousseaufan.canalblog.com/images/sadness.jpg)

Right in the middle of World Cup season and a major international proposal for its nuclear program, the Iranian government has decided to ride its present high by adding another tally next to its good name: clearing up all that crazy talk about the horrors of Evin by opening up its doors briefly. For those of you who don't know about it, the mere mention of the Evin prison sends shivers down most Iranians' spines. Long before the Islamic revolution, and later regime, magnified the horrors of the fates of Evin's prisoners, the Shah's CIA-trained secret service agency, SAVAK, established its disturbing tradition.

International journalists and human rights watchdogs were given a view of the women's quarters. But the tour of Evin stopped short of showing the male prisoners or the political prisoners -- and one can't help but wonder what innocent souls are dwindling deep in there.

As we speak, and it sometimes crosses the mind, there are prisoners in Evin -- usually those held without charge, a.k.a. "political prisoners" -- who are suffering a fate worse than death. Why? Because death, from what all we living people can tell, is the final terminus, whereas prisonhood in Evin is a daily reliving of one's worst nightmares -- a state wherein death would be a dream come true. Mental, sexual, physical and any other kind of torture you can possibly imagine, go on behind those walls and despite what the Iranian government will tell or show you, the outside world knows the truth because of the rare few who've lived to tell their tales. And those whose tales got out without them.

But don't go demonizing Iran or categorizing a nation for its hardline prison system -- Iran is by far not alone. One need not venture to Guantanamo Bay, for instance, to be privy to the treatment of political prisoners held by Westerners. It is a well-known fact that what the CIA cannot do on US property, it does on other property and torture of prisoners is way up on that handsome list. I've said it before and I'll say it again -- how can we expect less accountable countries to observe human rights when the most accountable of all fail to do just that?

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