“Interview” with Iranian climber believed to be forced confession

Screen grab from Rekabi's interview.

A video interview with an Iranian climber who competed in Korea without her hijab is believed to be one of the Islamic Republic’s notorious forced confessions. Forced confessions are a tactic the Iranian government uses against journalists, activists, and others who deviate from Iran’s strict religious laws.

In the interview with 33 year old Elnaz Rekabi on the state media channel IRNA, Rekabi said she was called unexpectedly and was busy putting on her shoes and gear, and forgot to put on her hijab. She said this as a cheering crowd gathered to welcome her at Imam Khomeini international airport in Tehran.

But one human rights lawyer thinks there’s more to the story. Lawyer lawyer Gissou Nia said in an interview with DW that it was “pretty clear” that Rekabi was forced to say that she “forgot” her hijab. Nia said it must be understood that the Islamic Republic of Iran has a long history of forced confessions. She said…

“With political prisoners who are in interrogation, there are multiple attempts to get them to forcibly get them to confess to things they haven’t done, haven’t said, and a lot of times these confessions have been televised and broadcast for a global audience…”

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BBC journalist Rana Rahimpour has also spoken about Rekabi’s interview. She noted that, “The people present in that video are all state media reporters.” She also noted that Rekabi’s mobile phone and passport had been confiscated.

In the past, Iran’s government has tortured journalists, intellectuals, and other “wrong thinkers” to push them into false confessions.

The news around Rekabi has added fuel to the fire surrounding Iran’s treatment of women. Just last month, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini’s arrest over not wearing a hijab properly, and subsequent death, sparked deadly protests. Such treatment of women by the country’s morality police has ignited protests that have seen women cutting their hair and burning their hijabs while chanting freedom slogans.

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Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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