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Witness Statement: Amir Atiabi

15. Most of the time there were forty to forty-five prisoners in one room. After my first year of stay there, the numbers decreased to about thirty to forty prisoners per room, and then increased again to about forty or so. Even though the prisons were not as populated as they were in 1981, there was no space for all of us. We could not sleep properly. We were sleeping head and toe. There were someone’s feet on either side of us. We could not sleep on our back—only on our side. The prisons were still very populated. We were allowed visits with family once a month (and sometimes once every two months).

16. Overall, I believe there were about 400 to 500 prisoners in our ward. We were imprisoned in closed-door rooms and banned from stepping outside the room. Many prisoners in this ward were members of the Tudeh Party. Some had been arrested long before the organization was banned, and others had been arrested after the organization was declared unlawful. Some openly identified themselves as political activists for their respective parties. Almost all the prisoners in our ward refused to repent, give interviews, or pray.

My Initial Trial

17. In the spring of 1985, I was told to put on my blindfold and leave the room. They took me to a building near Section 209. I was blindfolded and could not see the surrounding area, but I remember that I was not taken outside the Evin campus because the minibus only drove for a few minutes and then stopped. At the time, I do not believe any prisoners were taken out of Evin prison for their trials. When I entered the court room, I was told that I was present at my trial and ordered to remove my blindfold. I was not expecting to be tried that day. I knew nothing about my trial before this, nor was I aware of my charges. Nothing was ever given to me in writing.

18. Inside the court room, there were two people seated behind desks. One of them was Hojjatolislam Nayyeri, and the second was Eshraghi. Nayyeri was the religious judge of Evin prison, and Eshraghi acted as the prosecutor. Nayyeri had on a turban—Eshraghi did not. I sat on a chair in front of them, across from the desks. There was no guard in the room. Eshraghi read a long list of charges, including accusations of being a mohareb5 (because I continued my political activities long after the party had been declared unlawful), membership in the Tudeh Party, distributing fliers, newspapers and texts, believing in Marxism, paying party memberships dues, and so on. I do not remember all the charges. They did not give me much time to defend myself. After reading each charge, the prosecutor would pause and ask what my response to the charge was. Basically, they read the charges and I only had time to say a few sentences in response to each charge. I told them that I never fought against the regime, that the party was still lawful at that time that I was paying party membership dues, and that I did not have any knowledge that the Tudeh Party had infiltrated the army. Eshraghi, the prosecutor, did not rebut my arguments. There was no discussion. Judge Nayyeri occasionally asked some questions, but overall he remained silent and listened to the conversation between Eshraghi and me. After about fifteen minutes, the trial ended and I was sent back to my room.

19. I was waiting to hear the outcome of my trial. It was a difficult period, because many prisoners who had already been tried were sentenced to death and executed. I was very worried. Three or four months passed. One day, a guard came and told me to come to Ejrayih Ahkam, which was the office officially charged with informing prisoners of their sentences. I was told to put on my blindfold. I did, and a guard escorted me to the office. Once I got there, they handed me a paper and told me to sign it. I read the paper and realized that I was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment. The sentence began from the day the decision was announced. I signed the verdict and returned to my room. I was relieved that I was not to be executed.

5 A mohareb is someone who is “at war with God.” In Shari’a law, the punishment for a mohareb is death.

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Tagged as:

Imprisonment, 1988 Prison Massacre, Freedom of Religion