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Witness Statement: Amir Atiabi

49. Some prisoners have also testified that they had seen a lorry that was stuck in the corner of the Husseiniyih Hall and the prison ward. This lorry could not be seen from our side, but was visible from the opposite wing on the opposite side of Husseiniyih. In fact, there was a narrow turn around there. Apparently, the truck was stuck in the mud there. The prisoners noticed a stench and witnessed some guards spraying the truck with something. I never saw this truck, but I believe their testimonies are credible.

50. I do not know for certain what method the regime employed to kill such a large number of prisoners. I am positive prisoners were not shot at Gohar Dasht, since we never heard any shootings. I believe that all the prisoners in Gohar Dasht were hanged with rope.

51. There was a period of inactivity for a week or two toward the middle of August. It seemed that prison authorities had been satisfied with their slaughter of the Mojahedin prisoners. We were somewhat relieved. Nobody checked in on us during this time. We did, however, hear the sound of helicopters on several occasions. We guessed at the time that they were shuttling officials from one prison to another prison. But the silence did not last for long. In late August, it was our turn.

Leftist Prisoners are Summoned

52. Once we realized that the killings had not come to an end, we began to discuss how we would respond if we were summoned to go before the Death Committee. We did not come to a conclusive result. We simply decided that each individual should make his own decision. We did not know what the Death Committee members would ask us, but most of the prisoners I spoke to had decided to hold on to their beliefs. In fact, I think most of us had decided not to give in to them after witnessing the horrible events surrounding the massacre of the Mojahedin members.

53. Then on Saturday, August 27th, they summoned two of the prisoners in our ward to the dentist. Initially, we saw this as a sign that things were quieting down. But immediately after they summoned them, Davood Lashkari (the head of security at Gohar Dasht) and several guards entered our ward and ordered everyone to drop what they were doing. Some people were still sleeping, others were washing up. The guards did not care. They began beating and insulting us as they hurried us out of our cells and emptied the place out. Some of the prisoners did not even have time to put on their pants—they were taken out in their underwear and pajamas.

54. We were among the first group of leftists that was summoned to go in front of the Gohar Dasht Death Committee. Generally, they summoned prisoners to the Death Committee based on the answers we had provided on the previous questionnaires, and on a review of the prisoners’ case files. They sorted prisoners according to their beliefs and activities in prison. Naserian (the ruthless head of Gohar Dasht prison) and Davood Lashkari (the head of security) were also responsible for determining who was summoned to go before the Committee from each ward. In our case, they emptied the entire ward.

55. When we exited our cells, we realized that the two prisoners they had summoned earlier were standing out in the corridor. Before we exited the cell, they forced us into a queue. Those whom they believed were party leaders or were more respected inside the prison were sent to the front of the line. Several prisoners who were particularly hated by the guards, Naserian and Lashkari, were also sent to the front of the line. What was very apparent was that they were in a real hurry—it was as if they were quickly running out of time and they wanted to kill as many prisoners as possible.

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Tagged as:

Imprisonment, 1988 Prison Massacre, Freedom of Religion