A first-hand accout from a Basij member....
A defecter from the Iran Basij militia talks...
A defecting member of the infamous Basij militia, the men who wounded and killed in the aftermath of the Iran elections in the summer, talks to Lindsey Hilsum about what he witnessed.
Basij member describes election abuse to Channel 4 News.
"I've lost my world and I've lost my religion" - the words of a former Iranian Basij militia member who says he witnessed killings and tried to stop rapes during the uprising that followed the disputed Presidential election in June.
After months of stories by witnesses and victims, we are now getting a picture of what went on by a man who claims he was part of the group ordered to carry out attacks.
He is now seeking refuge in the UK and has spoken exclusively to Channel 4 News about the orders the Basij were given to ensure President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the election.
In her blog, Lindsey Hilsum wrote: "Maybe the most convincing authentification we have is that his story confirms the reports we've had from victims and human rights groups, who say rape has been used all over Iran in the brutal months since the June election. That and his desperation. Rarely have I interviewed someone so distressed."
Lindsey Hilsum's report contains flash photography.
"In truth the orders didn't come after the election. The orders for all that you witnessed came before the election.
"We were prepared. But we didn't ever imagine that people’s actions would be so great. We had received orders regarding student activities.
"From three or four months before the election we had attended classes on ideological and political thought and crowd control.
"We knew what we had to do but nothing prepared us for what we saw. There were severe clashes in the first few days, and so new orders were given for forthcoming days."
"I'm in complete turmoil all the time. I spent more than twenty years raised like this, and before me a household of martyrs. I keep thinking, which is right? What I’ve chosen now, or the path they've taken.
"We are a prominent religious family - always there on the frontline, always with memories of war, frontline and revolution. Since these events I keep thinking, who is right?"
"From three or four months before I had a social undertaking, preparing to see how people would encounter the elections, the level of attendance - would it be well received, do they believe in it, do they think something could still be done?
"It was going well even though they spoke of Khatami (reformist former president) coming, and then he wasn't coming. All this created excitement. People came with genuine enthusiasm.
"We got various statistics and analysed them. We wanted to get an idea of what the mode of clashes would be.
"When the campaigns began the excitement reached a new height.
"We had received orders a matter of months before that there is jurisprudence, that there is the jurisprudence of the Imam Zaman, (the 12th Imam, who is expected to return like a Messiah) whose incarnation is Ayatollah Khamenei, and that he had announced that for the advancement and development of Islam and the development of the revolution no-one could be more effective than Mr. Ahmadinejad.
"Therefore the order came that Mr Khamenei has him in mind, that Mr Khamenei has Mr Ahmadinejad in mind for the presidency and so he must be announced as the winner.
"It's he who is best suited to this revolution, order and Velayat Faqih (Iranian system of Islamic jurisdiction)"
"Scary and horrifying"
"I was extremely taken aback. How can I explain? This is someone who I couldn't even entertain a conflicting thought against.
"It was truly a scary and horrifying scenario to go against wishes or opinion, especially if that opinion belongs to the Supreme Leader or that of the Velayat Faqih, for you to express a personal opinion.
"It was a terrible situation. On the one side I saw the people and on the other there was the order."
Ballot box fraud
"The answers to your questions go back to before the elections. In the private meeting we had for those responsible for the ballot boxes, it was made clear.
"The orders were announced as to how everything would be conducted on the day of the election. We were among those responsible for the ballot boxes."
Role of the Basij
"I don't know how much you know about the Basij but it is an extremely vast organ, much more extensive than you would imagine.
"Although you may think that it is without formal organisation, it is in fact very precise and extremely organised with sophisticated planning and everything is specified.
"The foundations of Islam and the foundations of Shi'ism and Velayat are such that we have accepted the Velayat. When the Velayat has an opinion, everyone's opinion must follow, because if it's outside of this there is no place for you. You're an outsider.
"He [Khamenei] makes his announcement and it is translated this in the form of advice and discussion.
"Everything has a hierarchy. It doesn't call for Mr Khamenei to come and directly make an announcement to the soldiers, when I say soldier, I, or we, saw ourselves as soldiers of the Imam Zaman.
"He doesn't need to come and make his announcement to the forces directly, he expresses his opinion and according to the hierarchical system, the news will reach those who need to hear it.
"In the private meeting I mentioned to you, the commanders of the Sepah (Revolutionary Guard) were present as well as those of various Basij units from different areas.
"It was imperative to have the leader's vision, and it was announced then that his vision is this, that he elects Ahmadinejad."
"For us who were responsible for the ballot boxes the order was this: that Aqa's [Khamenei's] wish is for Ahmadinejad to win.
"For illiterate people and those not able to complete their ballots, you must do so for them and complete them accordingly (for Ahmadinejad), no matter who their vote was intended for.
"Same with blank votes. In the counting the blank votes wouldn't be announced as void.
"They [the illiterate] were generally made up of elderly men and women - and they are great believers in the mosque community and religious matters and areas where there is a lower literacy rate like the villages or areas of the big cities."
Youth vote suppressed
"Our problem was the young people and university students, we had prepared for the others.
"Well they [the students] weren't around for the count. When they left, how can I say, I'm very ashamed now, but they just came up to the box and then left.
"After the voting was over it was only us who were there. We were honest in that the command was followed.
"When the voting was over, the boxes were opened, but not all of them.
"A few were opened and counted, then we received another order to send the boxes to the main centre."
Stopping the protests
"Because a reaction was expected, we had been ordered from before the election for all security forces to be ready for the following day.
"They told us to come early for group prayers. We went along with others who'd been invited. Prayers took place. This was followed by a short speech confirming Mr Ahmadinejad's victory and the congratulations in order.
"Sweets and pastries were offered and the forces were organised into two shifts.
"There were areas that had been previously noted as problem areas - we called them the red points - where security presence was essential.
"These were announced, the shifts were determined and everyone was deployed. It was early.
"We had set out very early before anyone could get started. Everyone took their positions and were armed.
"The command was that we were to prevent any gathering of people to take shape.
"Any hint of protest was to be firmly supressed. If anything occured, to attack.
"Attacking people meant nothing. As I told you, anyone who thought differently to Ayatollah Khamenei and outside of the Velayat Faqih was considered an outsider.
"Therefore his protest has no place, therefore his opinion and protest is meaningless.
"It was simple. It was not for us to think anything of them - both voters and protesters.
"In our view, it was not a protest against the issue but a protest against Ayatollah Khamenei himself.
"And it's just not comprehensible to us that someone should want to question him. He is our guide."