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Witness Statement: Fariba Davoodi Mohajer

Fariba Davoodi Mohajer Tehrani is a writer, journalist and prominent Iranian women’s rights activist. She was one of the founders of the One Million Signature Campaign and the Campaign to End Stoning. In this witness statement, Davoodi Mohajer describes her February 2001 arrest by plain clothes agents at her home in Tehran and her experience in solitary confinement in an undisclosed men’s detention facility


Full Name: Fariba Davoodi Mohajer

Date of Birth:

Place of Birth: Tehran, Iran

Occupation: Journalist, Writer, Human Rights and Iranian Women’s Rights Activist

Interviewing Organization: Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC)

Date of Interview: September 23, 2008

Interviewer: Habib Rahiab

Witnesses: None


This statement was prepared pursuant to an in-person interview with Mrs. Fariba Davoodi Mohajer. The statement consists of 54 paragraphs and 13 pages. The interview was conducted on September 23, 2008. The statement was approved by Mrs. Davoodi Mohajer on February 26, 2009.


Witness Statement


The History of Secret Prisons in Iran


1. The history of secret prisons in Iran goes back to the beginning of the Revolution. Iran has never had a unified [political] system, and fragmentation has marked the regime’s [history] from its founding to the present. This fragmentation and factionalization led to the formation of secret prisons in Iran. In the past, each and every faction inside the regime had access to its own [government] channels which it used to suppress opponents. During the early years of the revolution, when the regime was consolidating its rule, groups such as the Mujahedin-i Khalq or the Mujahedin-i Feda’i (or other government-sponsored groups such as the Basij or the Revolutionary Guards) often relied on these illegal measures without repercussions.

2. However, after Khatami’s victory in the election of 1997 (which became known as the victory of the 2nd of Khordad Front) the situation changed. The Ministry of Intelligence fell into the hands of Khatami’s supporters after the commission of the Chain Murders. A number of the ministry’s agents were either forced out or left voluntary. These individuals were absorbed by other intelligence organizations, such as the ones connected to the Revolutionary Guards or the Law Enforcement Forces. A particularly radical branch of these organizations established the Parallel Intelligence Apparatus (PIA).

3. Structural defects within the regime eventually led to partisanship and allowed political opponents of Khatami to exploit the friction between various power centers in order to protect their own interests. One of the agencies that entered the political fray during this period was the Judiciary, which established an Intelligence Protection Center that was linked to the PIA.

4. As the factional infighting between the reformists and conservatives worsened, radical elements within the regime that operated under the leadership of the PIA began to use secret prisons in an effort to crush the reformists. It is alleged that during the early years of the revolution the regime had confiscated or bought a large number of private residences owned by political opponents. Groups linked to the regime such as the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij used these confiscated residences to imprison and force confessions out of opponents. To the extent that little dissent existed within the regime during the early years and most regime opponents were foreign elements, there was little public resistance [regarding the use of secret prisons]. But this changed during Khatami’s time. A number of individuals who backed the reform movement and were moderate supporters of the regime were arrested by plainclothes agents and disappeared. This caused an uproar and the issue of secret prisons became the subject of daily discussions in Iran.

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Tagged as:

Cyber Journalism, Secret Prisons, Imprisonment, Statement