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Witness Statement: Arash Sigarchi

44. I was imprisoned for two months before I was finally released on bail when my detention order was changed to order of release on bail. The first twenty days I was in solitary confinement, fifteen of which I was tortured. I was placed in a cell that was 1m x 1m, so there was no room to sit or sleep. It was winter in Rasht, which made my cell cold and humid. Day one, they beat me. Day two, a group of soldiers beat me some more. Day three, my interrogator, Mr. Samadi, arrived and when I complained he said that he had no authority at the prison. He said that a man named Alami was now in charge of my case file. Later I realized that Alami was in charge of the Rasht Prison’s Protection Office. In prison there are two units for supervision. One is an investigating unit that supervises everyone, like prisoners, social workers, and officials. The other is the prison protection unit that supervises everything including the work of the prison protection unit.

45. On the fifth day, they hung me from a fan. There was a pole attached to an engine on the ceiling that would propel me around the room. My arms were attached to another pole, as if I was on a cross. The two poles were connected. When the engine was turned on I literally became a human fan. On the sixth day, in the middle of the torture session, they told me that my mother was coming to visit. She came but it was a very short visit and I wasn’t allowed to talk. They threatened to torture me if I did. On the seventh day, they made me stand outside in the bitter cold for three hours. On the eighth day, they gave me a photocopy of Kayhan newspaper which read: “Arash S, who was collaborating with the CIA in the north of the country, is sentenced to one time execution.” On the ninth day, I was taken to a room where the floor was covered with feces. Around 3:00 or 4:00 a.m., they took me out to bathe and sent me back to my cell. I was there for 2-3 hours when they came in and bastinadoed the soles of my feet. On the tenth day, they took me to a room where there was a noose and a video camera. They told me that they would either execute me or film my confession. On the twelfth day, they pulled both of my big toe nails out. That same day, they imposed a form of torture that was literally called Jujih Kabab, or grilled chicken. They tied my wrist between my ankles and put a rod through it. Then they fastened my arms and legs to the rod and suspended me upside down.

46. On the thirteenth or fifteenth day they took me to court and I found that my all my family and relations were there. My parents and brothers were in the judge’s chamber. The judge said, “Come here and sign this,” and gave me a piece of paper that listed ten to twelve crimes for which I was to be executed. I consented and wrote, “I have no objections.” This is what Aghajari had done as well. I was sure that they would not actually execute me. The judge read what I wrote and said, “you want to become a ‘hero’? I won’t allow it!” During the same time, the judge was talking to my father. I heard him tell my father that I am “a brave kid,” and that I would be pardoned. Then he told his secretary to tear up the paper I had just signed. In prison, they called this type of act a “horror verdict,” meaning that it was not the real verdict but one designed to disturb and intimidate the prisoner. My brother, Ashkan, came over and hugged me and placed a piece of paper in my hand that I placed in my mouth so the guards wouldn’t find it. When I returned to my cell and opened the paper, I found that my brother had printed out all the titles of articles that were written about me in very small font. It was around 12:00 or 1:00 p.m. in the afternoon when I read this.

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Tagged as:

Cyber Journalism, Secret Prisons, Imprisonment, Torture, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, Punishment, Travel Restrictions