A boy named Amin rescued from torture
Entekhab (Islamic Republic)
September 30, 2005
Amin is no more than 7 years old. Like many children his age he should be preparing himself for school. But his fingers have been hammered so many times, they’ve been pierced by so many nails, and his arms have been bitten and burned with cigarettes so regularly that he cannot hold a pencil properly.
Amin does not know the meaning of happiness. He does not know how to laugh. Amin has only learned how to cry in the darkness of a stable in a remote area of the town of Shahre Rey.
The child, with his slight figure, is sitting in front of me. I turn my eyes away from his face; I cannot bear to look at the black and blue bruises. I lower my eyes to look at the floor but my heart aches when I see his weak and disabled legs. At 7 years of age, Amin’s legs have been paralyzed from torture and the poor diet provided him by his mother and Afghan father.
An assistant from the “Aba Saleh al-Mahdi” charity talks to us about Amin: “In the vicinity of Shahre Rey there is a place where, due to either the absence or inaptness of family guardianship, people live in extreme poverty. The charity takes them under its protection by providing relief. Two months ago some people informed us that a boy by the name of Amin was being abused and tortured. We immediately headed for the address they gave us and after hours of searching found the place where they lived.”
Amin’s mother is 38 years old. She says that Amin’s father left her when she was pregnant, and that despite all her searching she was unable to find him. After Amin’s birth, she has lived alone in hardship: “I’d spend my days and nights near the mausoleum of Shahre Rey, and made my living selling tea.”
After living like this for some time, one day she met an Afghan man 13 years her junior. Although she was severely addicted to drugs, the two entered into a temporary marriage a short while after this acquaintance: “I had saved $50 from selling tea, and since we had no place to live, I gave the money to my Afghan husband and he used it as down payment for a stable which formerly sheltered cows.”
After their marriage her husband was without work and she herself remained an addict. As they were unable to earn their livelihood, they thought of putting Amin to work: Gathering used and bent nails, the couple would sit Amin on an old, worn out rug and have him straighten the metals with a hammer in the darkness of the stable. The boy earned 120 Tomans (12 cents) for every kilogram of nails that he straightened.
From then on Amin took up the hammer, and faced with the abuse and blows administered by his father and the torture he received from his mother, had no choice but to hammer the nails faster and faster. That way, his parents would earn more money.
Fearing beatings and torture, Amin would gather all his strength in his fragile arms and bring down the hammer on the bent nails in the hope that the couple would not bite him, beat him or burn his body with cigarettes.
After finding the family, the assistant from the charity provided the couple with some household items, and also some food and eatables on a weekly basis. This kind charity worker had hoped to see Amin put down the hammer and pick up a pencil, and to eat some warm food. But…
He recounts: “You may not believe Amin’s reaction when we gave them a television. When we switched it on he was petrified but then, moments later, began to laugh. He was laughing at how the people inside the TV had shrunk. To see such reaction at that age would have moved anyone.
We asked his family not to hurt him anymore and to come and see us whenever they needed something. Every night I would take food for Amin personally but most of the time the Afghan man would not let me inside the stable, and would just take the food and go. Sometime later, I made some enquiries in the neighborhood and found out that Amin was being severely beaten.
I went to the Welfare Organization, for I had to save Amin anyway I could. I took me two months to find a place for Amin in a welfare center, because they asked for money and a sponsor. During this two-moth period, I provided money to Amin’s parents to prevent things from getting worse.
But I saw that Amin was confined to a dark corner of the stable with the hammer and the bent nails. He had lost his ability to speak. And he could no longer walk.”
He continues, “When a local branch of the Welfare Organization finally agreed to take Amin in, I learned that the couple had gone away and taken Amin with them. When we found their new address, we learned that they had sold the little furniture we had provided for them. But I ad finally found Amin. This time, his face was horrifically bruised and his eyes were red from the rupture of some blood vessels. No matter how I tried to take Amin away they would not let me. As there was no one else to protect Amin, I bought him for $50 and gave him to the office of welfare.”
Mr. Assadzadeh, the director of the center where Amin is being cared for, told our reporter: “When I saw the child I realized that he had been severely tortured.” For this reason he referred Amin to the coroner. After examining the 7-year-old child, experts from the coroner’s office revealed: Injury to the gluteal muscles, bruises on both sides of the face, wounds on the left side of the face, hemorrhage under the conjunctiva in the right eye, injury to the left and right forearms, skeletal disfiguration of the right forearm and the right leg, indicative of older untreated injuries…”These injuries were caused by heavy objects; the child has been physically abused.”
Amin was immediately transferred to a hospital for treatment, unable to walk or speak. “During the period I’ve worked for the Welfare Organization, this was the first time I had seen a disabled child so abused,” says Assadzadeh. “I called department 110 of the police and was told to contact 123. I contacted them and they told me to bring in the mother and the child. This was not possible, so I called the police, but they told me that they do not have the authority. I don’t wish to criticise these various departments, but I do know that children are innocent and that there are more children like Amin in our society, children who are kept hidden from those who do care.”
A doctor working in this medical center tells our reporter: “There are burn marks all over Amin’s body. There are so many injuries to his hands that they cannot be counted. His entire body is also full of bite marks. There are also some indications of sexual abuse, but that is being investigated by the coroner.”
I look at Amin. The 7 year old boy weights only 12 kilograms. He understands my words but is unable to answer my questions. I look at his blood-red eyes. He wants to revenge his heartrending fate, but a smile comes to his lips instead. He does not want to share his stories with anyone; stories that could mortally wound those who hear them. He extends his hand for a manly handshake. I place his hand between my hands. I feel the wounds, the blisters and the burnt flesh.
---Where did you live?
Garden, he gestures.
---What did you do during the day?
He places a pillow over his legs, rests one of his disfigured fingers upon the pillow, takes my cell phone and starts beating the finger.
---Who beat you?
He shows his injuries.
---Is there anything you wish for?
He shakes his head. The child has no wishes whatever.
I find Amin’s mother and her husband, hiding away in the home of a relative. Amin’s mother comes to the door. “A kind person wants to help you out with a few million Tomans, I tell her. The couple laugh. The Afghan man has come to the door with a rather tidy appearance. Amin’s mother laughs and says, “My husband is shy.”
I ask about Amin’s father. She tells me that he was a grocer: “It was sometime after our marriage, when I was seven months pregnant, that his family came to see me and I found out that he had a wife and children. After that he left me. When Amin was born he wanted to take him away but I didn’t let him. I said I wouldn’t give him up even if I had to beg on the streets.”
I remember the welfare worker. He had told me that while Amin and his mother were in the welfare office, she had beaten Amin and told him, “I wish you’d die so I could be relieved.”
I know that Amin has died a thousand times. Perhaps death was that wish which the child kept to himself.
But Amin’s death is not of his own doing.