Human Rights in Iran: The Abuse of Cultural Relativism

By Reza Afshari | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
The Right to Liberty and Security of Person
and to Freedom from Arbitrary Arrest

Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall
be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention.

Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the
reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges
against him.

—International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Forced Islamization was a main cause of violations of the right to liberty and security of person. Over the years, the Islamists formed a host of official and semiofficial groups, hoping to impose strict Islamic morality on the reluctant middle class. The end proved illusive, but the means generated considerable insecurity in everyday lives of many Iranians.


Through the Prism of Prison Memoirs

Again, I begin with Paya. The most difficult thing for Paya to accept was how this unfortunate turn of events happened so soon after the revolution in which he placed some hope. Taken blindfolded into the prison walkway, he murmured to himself, “Islamic justice?” He wondered why the Revolutionary Guards left a group of helpless prisoners blindfolded in a prison room, a security threat to no one. In fact, the blindfold has become a trademark of authoritarian states regardless of culture. He saw blindfolding as a deliberate humiliation of prisoners.1

With regard to the right to security of person, the value of the memoirs lay in their depictions of the characters and personalities of the Revolutionary Guards who arrested the authors and jailers who controlled their lives in prison. In their hands, the security of person ceased to exist.

In the early days of the revolution, Paya agonized over the character of his jailers. He was heartened by rare encounters with the few prison authorities

-57-

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