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Witness Statement: Ensafali Hedayat

9. I am 90% sure that the individuals who attacked us and sexually assaulted my friend were employees of the government of the Islamic Republic. The area in which they attacked us is under the control of the military. No investigations were ever launched pursuant to the complaints we filed. After I went back to work I realized that the police never investigated my complaint. Similarly, Salaam newspaper failed to ever publish anything regarding my attack.

10. My guess is that secret prisons also exist in other parts of the country, but I don’t have any specific information regarding this issue. It was alleged that in Tabriz – the capital of East Azerbaijan province – several secret prisons exist. One of the areas people often talked about was at the intersection of Bahar and Monajjem streets, which used to house a revolutionary committee office and was later taken over by the Revolutionary Guards. Residents of the area claimed that the Revolutionary Guards ran a secret prison underneath this facility. It was also said that another secret detention facility existed at the northern corner of Tabriz railroad. The Tabriz railroad is a very expansive area that covers the Tabriz power station until the beginning of Qaramelk. This whole area is fenced off. One of my friends who had disappeared for a while told me that he had been detained in this area. He said that he could hear the sounds of many passing trains coming through the top of the prison. Another friend of mine, who was the chief editor of a daily in East Azerbaijan, also disappeared for a short while. A couple of days later he showed up with injuries. They had tortured him with electric shocks. When I went to visit him I noticed a one centimeter deep burn mark behind his leg. This friend of mine was an engineer and was very familiar with the layout of Tabriz. He told me that when they arrested him in Manzariyih, they blindfolded him and drove him past Azadi Street towards Division 31 of Ashura [of the military]. From there they took him to the technical factory at Jahad Sazandegi. He said that the Sazandegi factory is a secret prison, and that he was tortured by Revolutionary Guard agents there. It’s possible that this detention facility is linked to the Revolutionary Guard’s Division 31 of Ashura, because it is located within 200- 300 meters from their base.

11. During the reform movement of Mr. Khatami the reformers paid little attention to the problem of secret prisons outside of Tehran. There are two reasons for this. The first is that from 1924-25 the Iranian state sought to perpetuate Persian identity and transform it into a political ideology. This ideology encouraged central government authorities (who were primarily of Persian ethnicity) to pay less attention to the problems of other areas in the country. The other is that the reformists were in fact some of the most radical government officials in Iran during the 80s and 90s. Some of them were responsible for running secret prisons during the early years of the revolution, and were involved in the assassination and torture of the regime’s opponents. Most of the reformists also have military experience. They were commanders and lieutenant-governors and played important roles in the establishment of the Islamic Republic. But the reformers were slowly removed from the mid-1980s. Later, in order to regain power they became part of the reform movement and founded newspapers such as Salaam.

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Cyber Journalism, Secret Prisons, Imprisonment, Travel Restrictions