After an Iranian daily published a report about the harrowing ordeal of dozens of kids in a state orphanage run by clerics, the authorities have pressured the newspaper to redact its article.

Iranian journalist Mohammad Bagherzadeh said in a tweet on Monday that sources of the report, one of whom was a former employee of the state charity organization, were contacted and threatened.

Without saying who contacted the sources, Bagherzadeh said they told them either they rescind their statements or would be charged with insulting the clergy. He added that one of the sources was called in by the judiciary earlier in the day.

The original report was published by Etemad newspaper on June 11, revealing cases of child abuse at an orphanage operating under the supervision of the State Welfare Organization of Iran.

The operations of the center,whose employees were reportedly clerics, were suspended after the report published by the daily was also confirmed by several other sources.

In one of the cases, the clerics who were working as social workers put burning-hot clothing-iron on the hands and feet of a seven-year-old child as a punishment for bedwetting. Then they imprisoned him in an old bathroom infested with cockroaches and he was fed with dry bread and water for about a week.

According to one of the sources, who blew the whistle after he was fired from the center, the situation of all the 24 children kept at the orphanage for the past eight years were suffering from somewhat similar abuse.

For example, the clerics had devised a scoring system to evaluate the behavior of the children, subjecting them to serious psychological torture.

The accounts of these abuses and their validity were also confirmed by other sources, who also used to work there.

One of the sources was cited by Etemad as saying that “The children of the center were strangely afraid of one of the managers, who himself explained the reason for this fear: Since the early days, I scared the hell out of the children, so they would know who’s the boss here. I told one of the kids that I would cut his tongue and hit him on the mouth repeatedly until it was full of blood; and now these children are afraid of me like death.”

Another source told the paper that in one of the cases, a child was so traumatized by the physical and psychological sufferings inflicted by one of the female managers of the center that wanted to commit suicide, but he was finally dissuaded from any high-risk behavior and was put to sleep with a pill.

Mohamamd-Javad Hosseini, one of the senior officials of the State Welfare Organization of Iran, said that the center was given a warning and was only suspended temporarily because there were no prior complaints against it. The guardianship of the children was terminated, and new staff took control of the center, he added.

Reports of such abuses are usually buried by authorities but even with all the coverups the number of cases that made headlines is very high. The most recent case took place less than a month ago, when the manager of a center was arrested for abuse of handicapped children in the city of Shiraz.

Source » iranintl