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Amnesty International, the London-based human rights organization, reports that the situation in Iran has gotten worse. Scores of political activists have been arrested while others continue to be held or imprisoned unjustly. Prisoners are tortured and abused to extract false confessions. There has been a surge in executions of political prisoners.

Iranian women have been among the Islamic fundamentalist regime’s main targets. A so-called “morality force” has been set up to combat alleged “un-Islamic behavior.” Members of this force, among other things, beat and harass young women in the streets for wearing makeup or clothing deemed immodest. Members of a pro-regime vigilante group, Ansar-e Hezbollah, also single out women whose clothing does not cover their hair and all parts of their body except the hands and face, or those who wear makeup or nail polish.

In some cases, members of the Iranian regime’s Revolutionary Guards have raped female prisoners on the pretext that they were preventing apostate women from going to heaven. Roya Sepehrrad, an Iranian-born U.S. citizen, was imprisoned from 1981 to 1985 for disagreeing with the clerical regime’s policies. She tells what happened to some of her friends:

"I am here today only because these corrupt clerics extorted my family's wealth in exchange for my life. Two of my best friends, ages sixteen and seventeen, were executed. Many of my friends were raped the night before their executions. The clerics believe that this disgusting act performed by the Revolutionary Guards is a sacrifice for God. This rape, this so-called sacrifice, is done to prevent virgins from going to heaven."

Such barbaric practices explain why Iran’s theocratic regime has become increasingly unpopular and why the Iranian people are demanding fundamental political change -- including the right to choose a civilized government.