May 07, 2009

Dissident Cleric Allegedly Tortured in Iran

Wednesday, May 6, 2009
By: Kenneth R. Timmerman

A dissident Iranian cleric who was arrested with hundreds of his followers in 2006 was tortured in prison Tuesday after issuing a statement urging the United Nations to oversee a referendum in Iran, his supporters tell Newsmax.
Jailed cleric Seyed Hossein Kazemeini Borujerdi contends the referendum is needed to allow “young and old generations to choose their government independently.”
A national movement in favor of an internationally supervised referendum won widespread popular support following the election of a clerical “reformer,” Mohammad Khatami, as president in 1997. But Khatami himself violently suppressed the movement after a student uprising two years later.
Borujerdi's open letter to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the regime jailed him because he “objected to the joining of religion with politics” by the Iranian regime. He is one of several senior clerics a Special Court for the Clergy has convicted because they reject the doctrine of absolute clerical rule enshrined in the Islamic Republic’s constitution.
Until recently, Borujerdi has been able to make brief telephone calls to members of his family.
Some of these exchanges have been taped and sent via the Internet to the Persian language service of Voice of America and Radio Israel.
In one recent call, Borujerdi asked his family to tell his followers that they should boycott the presidential election, because the regime is selecting all the candidates.
On Tuesday, the director of Yazd prison, where Borujerdi is being held, told his family that his telephone privileges were being suspended and that he had been tortured in jail as punishment for his latest statements about a referendum.
“We have no information about him, whether he is okay or not after his torture,” a supporter in touch with the family told Newsmax.
In a separate letter, sent to Newsmax on Tuesday, Borujerdi called on the U.N. Security Council to help the Iranian people “establish a democratic government in Iran” and blamed violence in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan on the “Iranian dictatorship.”
“All of this turmoil is the result of not having an open referendum in Iran,” he said.
Anti-riot police stormed Borujerdi’s family compound in October 2006, using water cannons to overpower demonstrators who had gathered in his defense.
[Editor's Note: Read “Jailed Iranian Cleric Appeals to Pope.”]
He subsequently was sentenced to 10 years in prison and jailed in Yazd, hundreds of miles from his home in Tehran.

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