IRAN: Kahrizak prison scandal reveals depth of agonizing post-election rift


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Some Western analysts in recent months have characterized Iran’s ongoing political turmoil as a fight to the finish between a tyrannical government and the forces of democracy. Meanwhile, Iranian officials and even opposition figures occasionally have downplayed the struggle over the disputed reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a particularly heated argument between two brothers.

But an examination of the Kahrizak prison scandal, the subject of a lengthy piece in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times, now being investigated by parliament, shows how the intimacy between the two sides only serves to make the rift that much more traumatic and agonizing.


One of the three victims who allegedly died in Kahrizak was the son of a prominent conservative political adviser. Another killed was the nephew of one of Ahmadinejad’s security chiefs. And one of the prisoners inside Kahrizak was a photographer close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

The story of Kahrizak shows how intertwined are the government and the opposition, how deeply a political movement that did not exist months ago has seeped into the country’s social fabric, extending tentacles close to the highest rungs of power.

“A dramatic change has taken place,” said Saleh Nikbakht, an attorney who is pursuing a case on behalf of the family of Amir Javadifar, one of those killed in the prison. “This change has affected families ... whether they are from one social or economic class or another, or even whether they are tied to power or not.” -- Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran and Borzou Daragahi in Beirut

Top photo: A former prisoner of Kahrizak grieves over a fellow prisoner allegedly killed inside the facility. Second photo: Lawyer Saleh Nikbakht in his Tehran office. Credit: Los Angeles Times