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Witness Statement: Amir Atiabi

64. As we were waiting, the guards came up and read the names of individuals who were to be directed toward the Husseiniyih Hall. Here, I will have to explain something. When I entered the large room with the members of the Death Committee, I noticed that there was a black curtain that separated them from the other side of the room. Behind the black curtain I could see (because I am tall) a lot of activity. There were lots of intelligence officials and investigators working feverishly. I think they were reviewing prisoner case files, trying to determine who should be executed and who should be spared. When I realized this, I told several of the other prisoners who were waiting in line with me what I thought was going on. Each prisoner reacted differently to the news. A younger prisoner could not bear to hear it, while another middle-aged prisoner smiled and stood up proudly.

65. In any case, every time they came and read the names of prisoners, I listened for my name. During this time, I asked one of the guards to take me to the bathroom. He obliged and escorted me to the bathroom blindfolded. When I got there, I quickly wrote my name on my underwear. I did this because I expected to be executed within minutes, and wanted to be identified after burial. It sounds silly to me now, but when you are in such circumstances, you resort to desperate measures.

66. I went back and waited in line until late afternoon. Then someone came, pulled me out of the queue, and took me to a room which was adjacent to the Committee’s room. This time, the only person there from the Committee was Eshraghi. There were others there too—they were dressed like guards and I guessed they were intelligence officers and interrogators, but they kept quiet. Again, Eshraghi tried to convince me to accept prayer. Again, I refused. So they escorted me out of the room and back into the queue of prisoners waiting to be sent for execution. A little while later, my former interrogator, Rahimi, paid me a visit (while I was still waiting in the queue). He asked me several questions similar to the ones they asked me on the questionnaires. I do not remember all of them, but he did ask whether I had stopped praying and rejected God after I entered the university. (When I entered university back in 1974, I considered myself a Muslim and performed some of the rituals. But by the second year, I had given it all up. I think my interrogators had gathered this type of information from university students who previously knew me and now were working with the regime.) Regardless, Rahimi kept asking questions so he could definitively prove that I was no longer a Muslim and deserved to be executed.

67. I continued to wait in line, but my name was never called. Finally, late evening arrived and there were still several of us remaining. All of a sudden, the Death Committee came out of the room. Nayyeri said: “Take them upstairs— we will deal with them tomorrow.” So they took us back upstairs. Jalil Shahbazi accompanied me. When we arrived at the top floor corridor, the guards asked all the remaining prisoners whether we would agree to pray or not. I started thinking that it was no longer necessary to endure lashes if I was to be executed the next day anyhow, so I decided to let them know that I would agree to pray. That night, I finally told them that I would pray (with the full belief that I would be sent to the gallows the next morning). Jalil continued to refuse to pray.

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