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Witness Statement: Amir Atiabi

35. On Friday, July 29, 1988 (I have marked these events in my calendar), the guards came and took out our television set and cut the electrical wires that were connected to the loudspeakers. We were pleased when they disconnected the loudspeakers, because they usually broadcast government propaganda on them. For instance, they broadcasted the interviews of the prisoners who had broken and repented. They also played religious songs, Koran recitals, news of government successes on the battlefield, news regarding the crushing of opposition groups, etc. We were tired of listening to this propaganda.

Mojahedin Prisoners are Summoned

36. On Saturday, we were scheduled to have family visits, but they did not allow it. Usually, at the beginning of every week, the guards took two prisoners from our ward to the dentist. That week, they did not take any prisoners from our ward to the dentist. We sensed that something extraordinary was occurring, but could not figure out what it was. The next day, we noticed that a guard pushed the trolley with food inside our room without exchanging a word with us. Before that, non-political prisoners, mostly Afghans, were responsible for delivering food to us. After that day, I did not see any Afghans working in prison anymore. Around evening, I saw several guards coming from the Husseiniyih Hall.7 I saw them with prisoners’ clothes and blindfolds in hand, but within a few seconds they set fire to all of them. Again, we knew something strange was happening, but we did not have enough clues to connect all the dots.

37. Late Saturday night, July 30, 1988, we heard the sounds of footsteps coming from our corridor. Prisoners were being sent downstairs from the upper floors. The sounds continued for some time. We became suspicious and went to the window to see what was going on. We saw that prisoners were being transported by a minibus that drove up the road in the field, around the prison building, and to Husseiniyih Hall. Those prisoners never came back. From that night on, prisoners were taken out of the building from the upper floor of our ward on several consecutive nights. We kept hearing their footsteps. We never saw any of them come back.

38. At midnight on Sunday, July 31, 1988, we heard some strange sounds coming from the Husseiniyih Hall. It seemed like someone was throwing cooking gas into a covered, metallic container. It produced a strange kind of sound which was repeated over and over again throughout the evening. That night, I marked my calendar with the number of sounds I heard. I counted fifty-five that first night. One or two nights later, I saw a truck with a covered container moving back and forth from the Husseiniyih Hall. It was the kind of truck used for transporting meat. These trucks usually had refrigerators used for keeping the meat fresh. After seeing the truck, we heard similar sounds coming from the outside. Again, I began to count the thuds I heard. I counted fifty clear drops. After that, the frequency and volume of the sounds reduced. There may have been more of them, but I could no longer hear anything.

7 The Husseiniyih Hall was located at one end of the prison building at the end of the main corridor. It was on the ground floor. From the outside, it looked like an industrial building with a large trussed roof and a gate to the surrounding field and the circular road around the prison building.

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Tagged as:

Imprisonment, 1988 Prison Massacre, Freedom of Religion