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Witness Statement: Amir Atiabi

The Aftermath

72. I believe we were finally allowed visitation on October 11, 1988. The executions came to an end a little before this date. They continually moved us around the prison, but we were kept separate from the very few Mojahedin members who survived the massacre. I believe we were allowed our second visitation rights on the October 31, 1988. After this second visit, they transferred all of us to Evin prison. I believe the transfer occurred sometime in February 1989—I think it was on February 15. The transfer took place after the officials announced a pardon in response to the growing international campaign to free political prisoners in Iran. Just before the transfer, they allowed all the remaining prisoners to visit with their families. These visits occurred in the very place where the executions happened—in the Husseiniyih Hall.

73. After things quieted down, many of us cried for all those who had perished. We could see their faces—their last few moments before they were summoned out of their cells and marched off to the gallows. We also cried for all of those families who visited the prison gates day after day to catch a glimpse of their loved ones. Many of them would never again see the faces of their loved ones—whether alive or dead. The visits we had with our families after the massacre were some of the most painful moments I experienced while in prison.

74. At Evin, they informed us that we would be released if we agreed to attend a demonstration in front of the United Nations building at Argentina Square, Tehran. The demonstration was planned to show the United Nations that the Islamic Republic is merciful and compassionate toward its prisoners, despite rumors that thousands had been executed over the past several years. They also required us to attend an indoctrination ceremony prior to being release. The ceremony was held inside one of the halls at Evin. There, they informed us that we needed to sign our repentance letters prior to release. It was clear that they wished to stage and publicize the release as some sort of amnesty for prisoners who had supposedly agreed to repent.

75. We were finally released on February 23, 1989. I believe we spent less than two weeks at Evin prior to our final release. Our release was only secured after our families posted bail for us. In addition, prison authorities required a guarantor other than family members. Even after we were released, we were required to regularly report our activities to special police stations. If we refused, they would threaten our personal guarantors with arrest. It is important to note that our releases were conditional. If we did anything to annoy or irritate the regime, they could summon us back to prison and force us to serve out our prison sentences.

76. Some of us signed the repentance letters, while a handful refused and remained in prison. In the end, they hauled all of us into buses and took us to the pre-planned demonstration in front of the United Nations building. There they made a big show out of granting amnesty to former prisoners. It was a surreal experience. We resembled the walking dead, and were accompanied by tavvabs and guards who were assigned to make everything go as planned. Several former high-ranking leftist and Mojahedin party members who had survived the executions, such as Nouroddin Kianoori (Tudeh Party) and Saeed Shahsavandi (Mojahedin), gave speeches.

77. I believe they finally released us the day after the staged demonstrations in front of the United Nations building (and a follow-up seminar conduced by Ayatollah Jannati at Vahdat Hall). They requested that all the family members assemble in front of the Parliament building on Imam Khomeini Street. Here, they arranged yet another publicity stunt. A high-ranking Parliament member addressed the prisoners and their families. We were only allowed to join our families after the speech was over. I will never forget that moment—when I looked up at the sky, a few black crows were going after a white dove just above the Parliament building.

The End

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Tagged as:

Imprisonment, 1988 Prison Massacre, Freedom of Religion