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Witness Statement: Shahrara

22. During the winter of 1987, these interrogations had become very orderly and systematic. In addition to the forms filled out by the prisoners, authorities also conducted in-person interrogation sessions. They summoned prisoners and orally asked them the same questions that were included in the forms. I do not remember exactly when they first summoned me for my in-person interview (because I was taken in for questioning several times). They asked me about my views regarding the regime, my personal beliefs, and my political convictions.

23. We spoke about what was going on among ourselves, but we never imagined that they were making plans for a widespread execution of the prisoners. Even the first series of the prisoners who were executed did not know that they were about to be executed. When we heard the news inside the prison, we could not accept the fact that the regime was capable of committing such a brutal massacre of defenseless and innocent prisoners.

24. After the inquisition, I and other prisoners whose terms had ended but who were not willing to give interviews or sign repentance letters (“Azadi-ha7) were transferred to other cells. Gradually, other prisoners joined us and our number increased. Prisoners from different political spectrums, like Mujaheedin, Tudeh, Rah-e Kargar, Fidayan minority and majority, were living together in the Azadi-ha cells. They were all steadfast prisoners. There were some prisoners among us who were not steadfast prisoners, but had not accepted one or two conditions of the release and remained in prison long after their prison terms had ended.

VI. Beginning of the Execution

 

25. I knew nothing about the ceasefire between Iran and Iraq in July 1988 because I was in solitary confinement at the time. One of the inmates who had access to a newspaper informed me that the regime had accepted the ceasefire. This inmate also told me (via Morse) that prison authorities had entered the wards and taken several women Mojahedin prisoners with them. She believed that these prisoners were executed in groups. She also informed me that just prior to being taken away, these prisoners had really stepped up their resistance against prison guards. This news was surprising to us because before that many Mojahedin had adopted a much more flexible and tactical stance in order to gather intelligence inside the prisons. This was one of many disagreements that had caused a major split between Leftist and Mojahedin prisoners inside the prison. In any case, this prisoner also informed me that authorities had taken away all the newspapers and television sets inside the wards and prohibited any access to the outside world. It was only after this news that I began to realize that Evin was now in lock down.

26. Around the same time, one of our friends (who had previously complained about our lack of regular access to bathrooms) was called in for questioning. Apparently, Hosseinzadeh had told her that prison authorities were taking steps to improve the situation. He specifically told our friend that the situation surrounding access to the bathrooms and food would soon improve. In reality, Hosseinzadeh was indirectly referring to the massacre of prisoners, but simultaneously insinuating that they may soon open the prison doors and solve our problems.

7 Azadi-ha is a term used by the prisoners to identify prisoners whose sentences had ended, but continued to endure imprisonment because they were uncompromising in their ideological or political views, or refused to accept the prison authorities’ preconditions for release. Azadi-ha were also referred to as Mellikesh.

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Tagged as:

Imprisonment, 1988 Prison Massacre, Personal Liberty, Arbitrary Detention, Free Speech, Child Rights