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Witness Statement: Amir Atiabi

12. While in the cell, I witnessed the harsh and cruel treatment of prisoners at the hands of the prison authorities. I saw prisoners who were handcuffed to a door and forced to stand there for days. These prisoners endured sleep deprivation, exhaustion, and accumulation of blood in their legs and feet. It was very difficult to witness these things. They were no longer able to stand, but their hands were locked to the door so they essentially hanging off the doors and railings. Some of these prisoners seemed to have lost their sanity after spending long periods of time in such conditions.

13. As I mentioned previously, I had one main interrogator whose name was Rahimi. He was a special interrogator assigned to members of the Tudeh Party and the Fedaian (Majority). There were also clerics in Evin prison who specifically authorized the mistreatment of prisoners. They authorized and justified torture. The clerics acted as quasi-judges in prison and had religious authority to authorize harsh interrogation techniques for the purposes of extracting information from prisoners. In fact, we were told by some of the interrogators who conducted the torture sessions that they had previously secured permission from the responsible cleric to do what they were doing. The clerics often gave permission to subject the prisoners to whippings after the interrogator requested permission to torture. The religious reason often given for the lashings was that the prisoners were lying.3 Of course, I never witnessed such an exchange taking place between a cleric and an interrogator.

14. After three-and-a-half months, I was transferred to another ward inside Evin. This ward was located toward the north end of the prison, near the foothills of the Alborz mountains. It was referred to as the prison’s Amoozeshgah.4 The Amoozeshgah was a three-story complex that had a wing on either side of the main entrance. Each wing constituted one ward, and each level had two wards. Overall, the building had six wards and three yards. After I entered this building, I was asked a few questions such as whether I was ready to repent, pray, or submit to a video interview. I said “no” to all of these questions. As a result, I was assigned to Ward 3, which was set aside for nonrepenting leftist prisoners. From what I could remember, the room numbers in our ward began with 61 and continued to 73. The rooms were large, and measured about 4m by 6m. Some had shelves and a window that had fixed steel blinds on the outside. The blinds were designed to allow fresh air in but prevent us from seeing the outside.

3 Pursuant to Shari’a law, judges may prescribe discretionary punishment (known as ta’zir) for individuals who refuse to tell the truth.

4 In Persian, this building was referred to as the Amoozesh-gah (literally, a ‘teaching institution’ or ‘academy’).

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Tagged as:

Imprisonment, 1988 Prison Massacre, Freedom of Religion