Human Rights in Iran: The Abuse of Cultural Relativism

By Reza Afshari | Go to book overview

Chapter 12
The Special Representative’s Meetings with
the Judiciary and Security Officials

Reynaldo Galindo Pohl visited Tehran three times between 1990 and 1992 and met with clerical jurists and the security officials in charge of the Intelligence Ministry and Evin prison. They failed to convince him to recommend to the UN Commission on Human Rights the removal of Iran from its special procedures of public scrutiny.


UN Visits to Evin Prison

With an uninterrupted history from the Shah’s regime to that of the Ayatollah, Evin prison has carved a place for itself in the world’s prison literature. Galindo Pohl’s visit to Iran would have been incomplete without a tour of the prison, where he met the infamous Assadollah Lajvardi, by then promoted to director general of all prisons in Iran. At the gate, Galindo Pohl received a taste of Lajvardi’s theatrics, one of the most grotesque moments in his visit to the land of the Ayatollahs. A docile choir of repentant prisoners, accompanied by a small band playing an odd assortment of musical instruments, sang an Islamic revolutionary song welcoming the UN delegate. It was probably the band of tawaban singers Azadi contemptuously referred to in his memoirs. Perhaps the seasoned Galindo Pohl saw it as pleasant chicanery. In front of a prison well known for its bloody past, it must have been a disquieting spectacle for the well-informed international observers, some of whom may have recalled the agonies of all the tortured men and women who had passed through that gate since the Shah’s time.

It looked as if the entire young radical population of Evin had vanished. Lajvardi did not allow Galindo Pohl to see the young prisoners remaining from the first period. The repression of the first period had made the leftist opponents of the regime invisible in the larger society. Raha wrote in her memoirs that in the winter of 1990 she and other prisoners became aware that Galindo Pohl had visited their prison. Prison authorities moved them to a different ward, which they then concealed from the main corridors by

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