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Source: IranWire

Aug 29, 2023

Yasaman Rezaei Babadi: Threatened with Rape if She Didn’t Confess


Yasaman Rezaei Babadi is a young woman who has been arrested multiple times for her participation in nationwide protests sparked by the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini in September last year. 

During her detentions, she endured torture, physical assaults and threats of being killed. 

On one occasion, she was threated of being raped by plainclothes personnel. 

These events unfolded while she was being interrogated at the Karaj Intelligence Detention Center and the Moral Security Detention Center in the city.

Arrested on the Street, Coerced Confession, False Promises of Release

Rezaei, 27, a psychology graduate from Karaj University, was beaten with batons and apprehended by plainclothes men in November 2022 while she was protesting in the streets of Karaj, near Tehran.

With her consciousness hanging by a thread, the young woman was thrown into a van, where she was questioned about her attire and home address. 

One officer accused her of being a protest leader, triggering another bout of beatings. 

They slammed her head against the van's wall in an attempt to force her to confess.

A person with knowledge of Rezaei's ordeal told IranWire that she was taken to the Moral Security Detention Center, where she faced intense interrogation. 

The interrogators promised she would be freed immediately if she admitted guilt, and threatened her of sexual abuse if she refused.

The source said that Rezaei signed all the documents that were presented to her. 

After that she was transferred to Karaj Detention Center and spent the night there.

The next morning prosecutors ordered her transfer to Kachooei prison in Karaj, where she remained for a week. 

In mid-November, Rezaei was released after posting a 1-billion-toman ($20,000) bail, a sum her family struggled to gather. 

Rezaei was eventually exonerated of the charges against her under an "amnesty" offered by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

According to documents obtained by IranWire, Rezaei faced charges of "propaganda activity" against the Islamic Republic and "illegal assembly, causing public disturbance and disorder" by  "burning a headscarf."

Second Arrest; Rape and Murder Threats

Rezaei's second arrest was linked to her participation in a street protest against the execution of two protesters: Mohammad Mehdi Karmi and Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini. 

The men were hanged on January 7 after being  found guilty of killing a member of the paramilitary Basij force during anti-establishment demonstrations.

A source told IranWire that Rezaei was arrested by security forces in Karaj’s Gohardasht neighborhood at around 6 p.m. on January 7.

"Seven to eight individuals surrounded her and subjected her to physical assault. They accused her of suffering a mental ailment, menacingly declared that she was worthless, and said that six of them would rape her."

According to another source, the young woman was taken to the Karaj Moral Security Detention Center, where many other protesters were being held.

"They touched her body, including her breasts and genitals," the source said.

A prosecutor ordered her to spend three months at the Imam Hossein Psychiatric Hospital.

"They perpetuated the narrative that Yasaman was mentally unstable until the presiding judge mandated a psychiatric evaluation. She underwent examinations twice, and the psychiatrist attested she was mentally healthy,” the source said.

In May, she was summoned to a branch of the Revolutionary Court in Karaj to face the charge of spreading "propaganda through slogan writing,” according to documents obtained by IranWire.

"They administered her pills every day, leaving her in a state of discomfort. Despite this, they relentlessly interrogated her. They wanted to know who was giving her orders, questioned her about her chants, the burning of her headscarf. No detail was too trivial," the source said. "Fortunately, her family managed to secure her release from the hospital after a month and a half."  

Third Arrest, Threats to Be Killed 

The source told IranWire that Rezaei was arrested for a third time in late July, right in front of the building of Karaj Moral Security Police where she planned to protest against the torments she endured in the detention facility.

Once again, she was subjected to severe beatings, including kicks and punches.

The source said that an individual named Torkashvand, the purported commander of the Moral Security Center, threatened her with a firearm. IranWire could independently verify the accuracy of the name and position of this man.

According to the source, a security agent brandished a knife and warned Rezaei that she would be dismembered.

"Torkashvand declared that they had a warrant for shooting her. They subjected her to relentless beatings during five to six hours within the confines of the Moral Security Police headquarters. A gun was ominously held over her head, while they accused her of receiving funds from [US-based activist] Masih Alinejad."

The source said that Rezaei was coerced into writing whatever they dictated to her, promising her freedom.

Rezaei was then transferred back to the Karaj Intelligence Detention Center, where she stayed for approximately a week, after which she once again underwent a mental health evaluation. 

Finally, in early August, the young woman was provisionally released, pending the issuance of a verdict.

“The prosecutor handling her case is compassionate, and this time she was granted release on bail,” the source said. “Just a few days ago, she returned to the prosecutor to give her final statement. She was compelled to pledge not to participate in any events marking the anniversary of Mahsa Amini's death.”

Ahead of the anniversary, the pressure on protest detainees, their families and civil activists has significantly intensified. 

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