Mehdi Karoubi’s Speech to the Nation of Iran: The True Judgment is among the People and Must Go to the People…
23 Shahrivar 1388/September 14, 2009
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
To the Noble and History-Making Nation of Iran.
As you know, Your Servant during the days following the elections stormy events have passed these last three months for this country and this system. Letters of admonition and information were written one after the other to the officials in the hope that there would be an opening and lest rights be trampled and there be oppression and the suffering and sighs of the oppressed would seize our skirts and not release them. For as we know from religion’s counsel and history’s experience, “The realm survives in unbelief but does not survive in oppression.” [In Arabic.]1
Three months have passed for our country, but what three months! In our ninth presidential elections we slept for an hour and woke up, it was as if we had fallen into the sleep of those of the Seven Sleepers2 everything was changed. But in the recent presidential elections, as I have said before, staying awake until dawn would not have done any good, since the ugliness had passed from stealing by night to the point of highway robbery. But this was not the beginning of the matter. I could never have foreseen the day that in the Islamic Republic the people’s calm and peaceful demonstrations would be answered as they were. The people’s questions and confusion about the fate of the votes they had cast were answered, but not with proof and logic, but with bullets and batons and clubs and beating. I saw everything which was far from the expected, scenes which re-awoke memories of my youth. As time passed and events unfolded, though, other news came, of torture and astonishing deeds from within nameless detention centers, news which increased the astonishment of myself and every other observer. People came and reported or presented documents and offered witness about what they had undergone during their days in prison.
My God, what did Mehdi Karoubi see and hear? Amazing! If only I was not alive and had not seen the day that in the Islamic Republic, a citizen would come to me and complain that every variety of appalling and unnatural act would be done in unknown buildings and by less known people: Stripping people and making them face each other and subjecting them to vile insults and urinating in their faces and releasing boys and girls with their hands and eyes bound into the wilderness. It was not long after that reports also arrived of the rape of girls and boys in the detention sites. I said to myself, “Where indeed have we arrived thirty years after the revolution and two months after the Imam’s death?”
It was natural that our zeal would be aroused. I wrote that reports of rape and torture and the practice of unnatural acts were arriving and I ask you, without my prejudging the matter, to investigate and learn if these disasters have occurred or not. This letter was published. But the reply was a hue and cry and insults and threats rained down on me. Friday preachers used their Friday prayer tribunes to say whatever they could against me and attribute things to me in a coordinated effort originating from the administration’s orders. As this happened, my doubts became more grave. I said to myself, “If such disasters had not occurred, they would have said so. But such unnatural attacks from the tribunes, large and small, of Friday prayers and such unnatural insults from some of the press show that some fire had landed on a number of people’s crops.3 I saw myself as duty-bound to stand up and not abandon the field.
The letter which I had written to the president of the Expediency Council to review was turned over to the president at the time of the Judiciary and Ayatollah Shahrudi, in turn, gave the order to the Attorney General, 4 to pursue the matter. Mr. Dorri got in touch with me and it was decided that he send a representative to me. That representative came and introduced someone who, by way of example, had claimed that, in addition to torture, had been raped. Mr. Dorri’s representative, for his part, emphasized that no one should be made aware of this so that there be no breach in the investigation. He even asked that the questioning should take place outside my office and in a different place which would remain completely protected. Up to this point, this made sense. But then the currently-deposed Prosecutor General of Tehran [Said Mortezavi] got involved. He contacted me and said that he was sending a representative to review the case to meet me. This person came and asked me for the witness and the evidence. It would have been proper that I, according to the agreement which I had made with Mr. Dorri, say that, as per Mr. Shahrudi’s instructions, Mr. Dorri and his representative are in the process of pursuing the matter and have asked me not to present my information to another person. But since I did not see any problem in my activity and believed that the point was to get at the truth and cooperate with the officials, I had the representative of the deposed judge of Tehran meet in my office this same witness with whom Mr. Dorri’s representative was just then talking and hear him explain his complaint. I said, “If you want, determine another place to meet with that witness, as the Tehran Prosecutor General has done.” But contrary to Mr. Dorri’s representative, he said that he felt it more appropriate to hold the meeting in his own office.
In contrast to the first meeting, which went well, this meeting took on a different character, so much so that from the very start of the meeting, that boy left and said, “They are after something else and are not interested in a judicial pursuit of the case, but a political one and want to expunge the matter.” He said, “The representative from the Tehran General Prosecutor wants me to go with him to a medical examiner.”5 I replied that I would go with him. But along the way, they continued with their political interrogation and told him, “You must keep quiet for the sake of God and your family and your honor and not become a tool in the hands of politicians,” and many other things for which we do not now have room to describe.
That day ended and the next day, that same boy came to me terrified. He said that they had gone to his neighborhood and asked his family and neighbors about him. I said, “Don’t be frightened. All they want is to find the truth.” But the boy appealed to me once more and said that they had told his father about this and he had lost face and his father cried without cease. I asked the boy to bring his father to me so I could speak with him and calm him down. The boy left and was never heard from again. After a while, last Tuesday, his father sought me out, since he was also worried about his son. I saw in him an honorable man of over seventy whose very face and speech poured anxiety. He said, “We are religious Muslims. Why have they done such a thing to us?” He took some pictures from his pocket and showed them to me to demonstrate their record. There were pictures of the time of the war which showed his wounded son lying in the hospital bed while the current Leader [Ali Khamenei]–then the President–was standing by his bed on a visit to the wounded and was kissing his wounded son and his son, for his part, had thrown his arms around him. He said, “This is our record, and now such a thing has happened to us.” He complained that they had lost face in their neighborhood and even the poor people in the neighborhood ask about them. He said that he was terrified as he sat at home. They had put him in a car and interrogated him about his son. He explained that his son is a student and honest and truthful. But they did not relent. He said, “After this, I came home and an hour later, the doorbell rang. I went downstairs and opened the door, but no one was there. When I went back upstairs, it rang again and I once more opened the door.” This happened a third time, but this time he opened the door and was faced with a motorcycle which had been parked in front of their house. Someone sitting on it with a terrifying visage was taking pictures of their house and screaming and yelling and insulting them in the neighborhood. His father said, “Now we have no security or peace in our home.”
It seems that these officers had decided to come to find the truth and aid the investigation. This was the result and the consequence of the first document which we had turned over to the institution of the Judiciary. This institution which, in an Islamic system, compares itself to the policies of His Holiness the Commander of the Faithful [Imam Ali], sent an armed motorcyclist to pursue the complainants in order to hold a legal inquiry intent on threatening. It is an embarrassment to mention the name of His Holiness the Commander of the Faithful, who recoiled when he heard about the breaking of anklets from a Jewish woman’s legs and was the model of justice and once even protested when he was in court to complain about a Jew and the judge mentioned his name in a demeaning fashion. He said, “This Jew and I are equal before the law.”
Today, I will explain this affair so that the people might know and not compare such events with Ali’s behavior. I speak so that it goes down in history how a few people rent the veil of propriety in this country and wounded religious and patriotic zeal and so that the people of the future will not say that this oppression occurred to the sons of this land but no one raised his voice and no one raised an outcry in protest over this dishonor.
And so what had happened to one of our witnesses became a lesson for me not to turn the rest of the witnesses over to the deposed Prosecutor General of Tehran. The country’s Attorney General, Mr. Dorri, for his part, was removed and so all doors were shut. And this as insults against Mehdi Karoubi from the official tributes of the press which is nurtured from the public treasury were increasing daily. And so it was that I wrote another letter to the new president of the Judiciary and requested an inquiry and investigation into these events. It was as a result of this letter that a tribunal was formed on the instructions of the new president of the Judiciary, charged with pursuing the events after the elections and investigating the complaints of the families which had suffered physically or psychologically. The first session was organized, and it was a good session. In this session, in addition to a document which I had previously submitted to the Tehran Prosecutor General and the Attorney General, I also turned over two other documents, a more complete version of which I believe I should report to you, the people.
The second document which is also accompanied by complete documentation, is an explanation of an event which occurred to a lady who had been arrested during a street demonstration and as she herself said, they played with and touched her breasts5 while she was in the car. When they reached their destination, they asked her to remove her pants. She refused. But when she had fallen to the floor, they forced her to remove her pants. Just then, a superior officer entered and objected, “What’s going on here?” They replied that she had shamelessly removed her pants and thrown herself onto the ground to disgrace them, although the woman was screaming and making a commotion saying that they had forced her into this situation. God knows best!
The third document also pertains to a youth who was a member of a legal political party. His mother contacted me and sent him to me. He brought the medical examiner’s report as well as a CD which showed his severe beatings. This person did not claim that he had been raped, but the pictures showed a swelling and reddening of his rectum. He said that he had passed out under torture and beatings and does not know what happened to him. He doesn’t even know if he had been raped. The medical examiner, for his part, confirmed the swelling of the rectum and believed that further examination required a new letter and a judge’s decision. He had spent five days in detention but he was subject to such successive and heavy beatings that the officials thought that he was dying and so said they wanted to transfer him from Evin, but they ultimately abandoned him in the wilderness. Amazing!
These are three written documents which I presented in the first session. The other two documents I presented orally. I said that these two matters were raised, but that there is no written documentation about them. One of them concerns the real Taraneh Mousavi. As I said of her, “Her family does not allow me any access to them and it would be best if you would investigate the matter.” The truth of this is shown in the ridiculous efforts which some made to concoct a fake Taraneh Mousavi. If they are interested in investigation, let them go after the clique which concocted this so-called film to be broadcast on the national media, the same ones who told the fake Taraneh Mousavi family, “Have nothing to do with the real Taraneh. We’ll take care of that.” It is as if Mehdi Karoubi’s whole crime was to have revealed the secrets behind the Taraneh Mousavi affair and unveil a scenario like the Serial Murder Scenario. His red tongue destroyed the newspaper Etemad-e Melli‘s head,6 for it was purely because of exposing this affair that it was closed. I related the real Taraneh [Mousavi] Affair, as I have heard it by word of mouth. She had been arrested along with one girl and several boys in front of the Qoba Mosque on the day of the ceremonies on the anniversary of Ayatollah Beheshti’s death. The girls7 passed their telephone numbers around after their arrest so that if any of them was released, she could inform the families of the others.8 During the days of arrest and among the beatings and while they were being transferred from place to place, they noticed Taraneh Mousavi’s absence.9 And so when those girls were released, they contacted Taraneh’s family as well and were present at the Investigating Committee founded by Mr. Mousavi and I as well and presented all the necessary explanations about the real Taraneh. I asked the Tribunal to investigate this verbal document, too. As was clarified by the nature of the screenwriters of the fake Taraneh, the paths to truth seem accessible and easy. I imagined that in an Ali-style court of law, a hint would have been all that was needed to run on their heads10 God knows best!
The second oral document which I presented in this first session concerned a lady named Saideh Puraqayi. I said that someone had given me reports about a woman with that name and said that she was a soldier’s child and since, of course, I had seen no information about her and her family, I did not speak firmly about her and passed over it very lightly. I let it suffice to indicate that in any case, a funeral service was held for her in Tehran. This was the weakest case which was indicated to the Tribunal during the first session, and we passed over it very quickly.
Two day after this session but while I was continuing my investigation into this particular matter, about which I had little personal information. I met a lady whose half-sister was Ms. Pouraqayi. She said that her father had not been a soldier and had died six years ago. She asked for the address of the residence of Saideh’s mother, who was her father’s wife. She said that she her contact with her had been cut and she did not know where she was living. Since I did not have Saideh’s mother’s address, I asked Mr. Maqiseh, who was in Mr. Mousavi’s headquarters and had given me this story, for her family’s address, but he would not give it to her so that the trail of their investigation not be ruined and the family not be frightened. I could not call Mr. Maqiseh and get her address. Finally, I convinced him to participate in a meeting in the presence of Saideh’s half-sister last Saturday. And so I got Mr. Maqiseh and Saideh’s sister to meet and told Saideh that, God willing, her sister has not been killed. She said that this picture which had been published was that of her sister and she had certainly been killed. I asked Mr. Maqiseh to give Saideh’s half-sister the address of her family’s residence, for if she did not, it would cread doubts in her sister’s mind. Mr. Maqiseh, however, told me that that story of Saideh’s death and what had so far been related about it was a bit dubious, since we realize that her father was not a soldier and had died six years ago and that Saideh had a history of running away from home several times. I said, “You should not worry about this and give this address to her half-sister to remove her doubts, and Mr. Maqiseh finally gave her the address.
This affair was over. Last Monday, Mr. Mohseni-Ejei contacted me and asked me to be present at a meeting of the Tribunal at two in the afternoon and the second session of the Tribunal was convened. Although the Tribunal members wanted to continue their review, without any reference to the written documents presented or having any discussion about Taraneh Mousavi, they immediately asked me if I had anything new to say about Saideh Puraqyi. I related the matter of my visit with her [half-]sister and said that not only was her father not a soldier, contrary to what I had said, but that he had died six years before and Saideh had run away from home several times and the idea that she had been shot11 while saying “Allaho akbar” was not true. I then related that Mr. Maqiseh had told me this, too, and described my visit with Saideh’s half-sister. I also mentioned what Mr. Maqiseh had said. What is interesting, however, is that during this session, aside from this topic, which I had said from the start was based on oral evidence and was not so firm, there was no discussion about the three cases involving written documentation and about Taraneh, only a brief discussion.
As this session continued, of course, I asked about a speech by Mr. Raiisi made between the first and second sessions with reporters in which he said, “Karoubi’s statements must be reviewed.” Of course, Mr. Khalafi spoke differently, referring to “reviewing [Karoubi's] statements and documents.” And so I said during this session that what I had raised with you was not simply statements and claims, but documents, among which were three CDs which I had submitted. They said that the CDs were not documents. I asked, “Could I make a film while being raped so that I could present you with a film or was I present at the scene of the crime and could take a measure so that I could now tell you how far apart they were? Do you want me to attach the tools of the crime and rape as an appendix?” I said, “I am neither looking for documents nor am I on trial here. And even if I presented you with a document, it was for you to go and pursue it and not allow truth to be trampled and oppression to spread.’
And so I contented myself to present only one document in this session, concerning a lady who was arrested in the street and who was raped along with another girl in the van. I told them that this lady was very terrified and anxious. It was said that if her father and mother were to find out about this matter, she would be disgraced and commit suicide. I informed them about the delicacy of this event and said that it was up to them to do what was necessary to pursue it and consider this witness to be a document which I have turned over to the former Prosecutor General of Tehran and they turned it into a means of disgracing someone in her family and neighborhood. I also turned over written documents about this rape to this body and I of course said that there is another case, too, which concerns a female nurse who was arrested. I have not examined her pictures out of respect, but this much I saw, that her whole body was black and blue from beatings and claimed that she had been raped as well. I will send documents about this to you tomorrow to examine.” I then emphasized that I was going to put an end to this business of bringing documents then and there and that these documents which I had presented sufficed for reviewing and illuminating the matter.
While this meeting, too, ended well, the next day the card turned. My office and that of the National Trust Party were sealed and Messrs. Beheshti and Alviri and Davair were arrested. Instead of pursuing the matters, the Tribunal published hasty reports. And now that I am looking at the Investigative Committee’s hasty report which was published Saturday, I am certain that its members had orders to wrap the matter up and they hastily wrapped the matter up. But there are two points pertaining to their report:
It reports that I said thing I never said and, on the other hand, there is no reference to some of the things which I quoted witnesses as having said and this was done very disgustingly. Similarly, things that the agent said during rape were also omitted.
The hasty authors of this report claimed that I no documents about rape and violations of civil law in the houses of detention up to the time I wrote my letter to the president of the Expediency Council. It is astonishing that Their Eminences put words in my mouth and tear and mend as it suits them. Mehdi Karoubi wrote the letter to the President of the Expediency Council when many figures had appealed to him and some of the arestees, too, had taken refuge with him and were weeping blood over what had happened to them and to others. These figures showed great courage in this flood of threats and invective and widespread terror to come to an unprotected person like Mehdi Karoubi, and I hereby salute their courage.
Now in this report [by the Tribunal] a mere fifteen newspaper lines are devoted to the first written document presented and about seven are devoted to the second and about five are devoted to the third and not the slightest reference is made to the fourth written document, which was presented in the second session, and while only four newspaper lines were devoted to the first oral document, i.e., concerning Taraneh Mousavi, over two hundred newspaper lines of this report, which is the greatest part of it, are devoted to the second oral document, i.e., concerning Saideh Puraqayi, which I considered to have been a completely dubious matter. Now, if we were to say which office of the Islamic Republican government has turned this body over to their family and they did not even permit members of Mousavi’s staff to view the body, would it be unreasonable to think that the whole affair was just to divert the investigations? This suspicion is strengthened when we see that this same dubious affair was the keystone in the writing of the whole hasty report of the Tribunal.
Of course, I must here indicate how glad I am that this committee did not pursue the fourth written document which I had turned over to them and that they limited their search for truth to this extent and at least spared one person’s life and did not play with his honor. It is worth being grateful for and I thank God for it.
At the end of its hasty report, the Tribunal addressed the president of the Judiciary and called for a just and firm treatment of myself. And so the upshot of the Judiciary’s search for the truth has been a club which has come down on Mehdi Karoubi’s head. I, though, am very glad and greet this opportunity and consider it a gift from God. May the possibility arise that I might properly unveil the details of these documents and others like them which exist and say what I have so far not said and be a voice for telling the truth. I am pleased if another opportunity were to arise so that I might cleanse the Islamic Republic’s hem of these disasters and many other events which arose after the Imam’s death and through which this country passed.
Mehdi Karoubi knows today and understands with certainty that he has put his finger on the right place. All of this commotion and haste which arose show that these gentlemen’s robes are caught on something. It was the counsel of the Commander of the Faithful [Imam Ali] to Malek [Governor] Ashtar that you should rule so that the oppressed could win his rights without stuttering in fear. How far we are from His Holiness the Commander of the Faithful! The child of the late [Ayatollah] Motahhari says that a lady came to the nation’s house and complained to him about what happened to her son while in detention. They then did such things to that family that that woman once more got in contact with him and said, “We have nothing to complain about.” As we Lurs say, “Our donkey didn’t have a tail since he was born.” Is this that the winning your rights without stuttering which His Holiness the Commander of the Faithful had advised for the governor?
It is clear in what direction the policy is heading. Outcries and abuse wrapped in threats have become so plentiful these past weeks that families have come to me and asked that we not continue the investigations. They were afraid of the consequences and said, “You are not just giving yourself a headache, but us, too.” Of course, when they arrest the daughter of a prisoner and then release that virtuous girl at night, eyes [and hands] bound in the wilderness, even an independent fundamentalist newspaper enters the fray and writes that they had released this girl with a worn-out chador in Behesht-e Zahra, it must be understood into whose hands the policy of rulership and justice have fallen in this country and it must be said in truth that it is they who are worried about their own future.
The ugliness has reached the point that instead of the perpetrators and propagators and people behind this oppression, it is Mehdi Karoubi whom they want to put on trial, neglecting the fact that the real trial is being held among the people and one must go among the people and see whom they condemn and whom they consider the voice demanding rights. I take refuge with you oh God from these catastrophes which some are causing and are not only a disgrace to the Islamic Republic, but a disgrace to Iran, and from the disgrace to justice and the Islamic atmosphere.
The Tribunal has finished its work and has called for my being put on trial. But I consign myself to be tried by the people and the divine court and finish my writing on this matter right here. Although I must submit this advice, too, to the esteemed president of the Judiciary, lest while following the Judge of Judges, he comes under the influence of imposed and external wills and departs from the path of justice. For in comparison with the two previous presidents of the Judiciary he enjoys special distinctions–he is the son of Grand Ayatollah Mirza Hashem Amoli and the son in law of Grand Ayatollah Vahid-Khorasani. I hope that Ayatollah [Sadeq] Larijani‘s judicial record will not be of the sort which will tarnish the Judiciary at the level of the Source of Emulation by the his term is up.
“And God is the most knowing of the essence of matters.” [In Arabic]
1 For examples of how this is used by the clerical opposition, see http://www.autnews.cc/node/1750 and http://tabnak.ir/fa/pages/?cid=9081
2 Koran, al-Kahf
3 In other words, that his criticism had hit home.
4 Karoubi’s collegial attitude towards Dorri is jarring. He was considered to have been complicit in, if the instigator of, the Serial Murders.
5 Here I want to acknowledge help from Persianbanoo’s translation published in Enduring America.
6 From a famous saying by the Persian poet Saadi warning of the vice of being outspoken.
7 Now there is more than one girl.
8 In the original story, it was only Taraneh Mousavi whose number was smuggled out.
9 According to the original story, they were released that night.
10 From another Persian saying, “At a sign from a friend I would run on my head.”
11 I have seen no assertion that she was shot for saying “Allaho akbar.”
Other versions of the translation: