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Witness Statement: Amir Atiabi

44. Increasingly, we became more and more suspicious about the strange happenings that were going on around us. But we kept silent most days. We were afraid, and extremely worried. At the same time, however, we tried to find more clues that would help us figure out the big picture. Then, we came across something that made things painfully clear for all of us. It was the night of August 3, 1988. We saw a truck that was not covered in front of the Husseiniyih Hall. We went to the bathroom which located at the far end of our solitary ward. The windows there were situated just under the ceiling. For access to the windows we needed to do a bit of climbing. Through the window, we could get a good look at what was happening in front of the Husseiniyih Hall. This is because Ward 20 came out from the main building to form an “L.” The toilet and showers were on one end of the “L,” so we could clearly see across the field to the amphitheatre.

45. In any case, we helped each other climb up to see what was going on out there. What we saw there, through the steel blinds, completely shocked us! It was absolutely unbelievable. We had never witnessed such a scene during our time in prison. We saw guards loading dead bodies onto the truck. These were the bodies of the executed prisoners who had been hanged in Husseiniyih Hall. We understood there and then that those prisoners who had been marched down from the upper stairs and transported by minibus toward the Husseiniyih Hall were being executed, one by one. We saw the guards pushing dead bodies toward the front of the truck, and rearranging corpses in order to make room for more dead bodies. We realized that the strange sounds we had heard were the dropping of corpses in an empty truck. Once the floor of the truck was covered with dead bodies, the sounds would disappear. The dropping sounds we had counted throughout the evenings corresponded to the number of prisoners that had been hanged that day.

46. In addition to that horrific sight, we were disturbed by the cruel behavior of the guards who handled the bodies. They held the corpses by their hands and feet, swing them while counting from one to three, and then throw them inside the back of the truck. Some were laughing; others made fun of the dead bodies. Some of them were smoking cigarettes while the others were piling the corpses in the truck. The echo of their hysterical laughter in the dark of the night still rings in my ears. How could a human being be reduced to this level of cruelty and senselessness?

47. The marks on my calendar show that on August 3, 1988, two trucks were loaded with dead bodies. On August 4 and 5, there were no trucks. On August 6, 1988, one truck was loaded with dead bodies. On August 8, two trucks were loaded. On August 9, again, there was no activity. On August 10, two trucks; August 11, no activity; August 12, two trucks; August 13, one truck; August 14, one truck; August 15, one truck; and August 16, two trucks. After that, there was no activity until late August.

48. We, the leftist prisoners, were not summoned during the first phase of the execution. At that time, we tried to reach out to the Mojahedin prisoners who were living on the second floor (in a supplementary ward) and whose window was perpendicular to our window, and let them know what was going on. We communicated with them via Morse code. They responded that they already knew about the executions, and told us that they expected to die soon. A few of them tried to give us their names.

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Tagged as:

Imprisonment, 1988 Prison Massacre, Freedom of Religion