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Witness Statement: Amir Atiabi

8. The guards told me to lie down on the bed again. A while passed, but no one came in the room. I just sat on the bed, until someone stormed in and ordered me to lie down. I did, but they did not whip me. Instead, he threatened me and attempted to break me by applying psychological pressure. He left. Again, a while passed and then the interrogator came and asked if I was ready to provide him with further details. I remained silent. When he realized that I was not giving up very easily, he ordered some of the guards to tie me to the bed. They whipped my swollen feet, which were still in bandages. They continued beating me until blood began to drip from the bandages. Every once in a while they would allow me to get up and force me to walk on my feet in order to prevent further swelling. I was in pain and I did not want to do it, but they lashed the tops of my feet and forced me to jump up and down again. But I continued to resist. My feet were in horrible shape, so they took me to the hospital cell again. I could not walk—I crawled up the stairs and into the cell. I was not able to walk properly for six months after that incident. The lashing left permanent scars all over my feet. Although more than two decades have passed, the scars are still visible.

9. While inside the hospital cell, I felt as if I was dying. It was hard for me to breathe, all my muscles were cramped, I was paralyzed, and I could not move or speak I could only cry and mumble. Later, I found out that my cellmate had violently knocked on the door and informed the guards that I was seriously ill. I had apparently gone into shock. The nurse came in and gave me some injections. I was on IV for a couple of days. I was in the hospital for another week, after which I was discharged. My feet were still in bandages and swollen. From the hospital, I was transferred to a solitary cell in Section 209. The cell had an open area toilet. Though the cell was normally used for solitary confinement, I actually had a cellmate. Whenever one of us used the toilet, the other one would turn his face toward the wall. My cellmate was leftist tavvab2 who prayed regularly. My guess is that my interrogator chose to detain me with a tavvab so that they could put pressure on me to disclose more information. Yet, I was cautious and did not speak with him about my political activities. We were together in one room for more than two weeks.

10. I was not taken back to the interrogation room for some time. Apparently, they were no longer in urgent need of the information I had. I think the interrogator realized that those I had connections with had already discovered that I had been arrested because I had not attended my “paroles” for two weeks. They probably suspected that my colleagues had already gone into lockdown mode, or perhaps they had simply arrested people who had more current information than I did. In any case, some time passed. Then one day they took me to the interrogation room. They asked me a few questions and I provided them with some answers. There was no mistreatment this time, but they warned me that I should count my days as I would soon be executed. Later, I learned that most of my colleagues were able to escape, but a few had been arrested. My Internal Committee colleagues who had important leadership roles generally escaped arrest (in part because I refused to speak under torture), but some of the rank-and-file members below me were already under surveillance. Several of them, such as Mohammad Javad Lahijanian, were arrested and executed during the summer of 1988.

11. After a while, I was transferred to another solitary cell in Section 209, but this time they assigned four inmates to a room. I cannot clearly remember the names of all of my cellmates, except for two of them—Manoochehr Sarhaddi and Khalil. Both were members of the Fedaian (Majority) and were executed in the summer of 1988. The cell we were detained in measured 2.5m by 2m. I learned from some of the other prisoners that during the peak of arrests in 1981, they used to keep six to twelve prisoners in one such cell. In the cell, we neither had access to fresh air nor a sufficient amount of food. They allowed us to shower occasionally, but not more than once a week. We were almost always hungry. I did not have any visitors and my family did not know my whereabouts at that time. I was in the same set of clothes for more than a month. After that, I received clothes and some money from my parents. I did not meet them in person—they sent me the clothes and money. I remember they allowed me one short phone call to my parents toward the end of my time in Section 209. Despite these conditions, the four of us were relieved that there were no tavvabs in our cell. In total, I spent about three-and-a-half months in Section 209 of Evin prison, including two weeks in the hospital.

2 A tavvab is anyone who has engaged in the act of tawbih, or penitence. It usually refers to “reformed” political prisoners who agreed to cooperate with the regime while serving out their prison sentences.

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Tagged as:

Imprisonment, 1988 Prison Massacre, Freedom of Religion