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Witness Statement: Amir Atiabi

28. They eventually moved us from our supplementary ward into one of these solitary wards. Some time later, they changed our location again and moved us to another solitary ward just for one night. They moved us from one place to the next in search of a place that allowed the maximum isolation. Each time they did this, we were forced to clean and wash the whole ward before being moved in. Finally, they moved us to a solitary room in Ward 20. This happened about three to four months before the massacre began. Ward 20 was located on the ground floor of one of the two wings, at one end of the main corridor of the prison.

29. As they were moving us around from one solitary ward to another, they took us to another block/wing that was on the other side of the prison for very comprehensive questioning. This happened several times. The closer we came to the summer of 1988, the more intense the interrogation sessions. These interrogations were unlike any I had experienced before. The interrogations were comprehensive, tense, regular and very organized. I call those series of questionings “inquisitions,” because they did not interrogate us; rather, they asked us about our political and ideological beliefs and contemporary political issues. They gave us long questionnaires to complete. It took us hours to complete them. I think we completed these questionnaires two or three times in the spring and the summer of 1988. The first time they gave us a questionnaire was around the time the prison authorities separated us from other leftist prisoners. The questionnaires had questions like, “Do you pray?”, “Do you repent?”, “Would you give a video interview?”, “What is your opinion about the Iran-Iraq war?”, “Do you believe in Velayat-e Faqih?” Some answers were in “Yes” and “No” format and we had to choose and circle our answer. The last series of comprehensive questionnaires were provided to us about two months before the beginning of the summer executions. In addition, the prison staff/guards came to the wards several times and completed a series of statistical tables in the spring and early summer of 1988. These statistical tables included information identifying the prisoner, and were completed by guards in front of them. This type of statistical information-gathering regarding the prisoners’ status was conducted regularly throughout our period of imprisonments, but it occurred far more frequently in the months before the start of the massacre.

The Lockdown Phase

30. Ward 20 actually occupied approximately half a solitary ward. By erecting a wall in the middle along the ward’s corridor, they made two perfectly equal solitary wards. This had been done long ago, when they used the cells for punishment. Because of this, the doors of our cells opened to a wall in the corridor (unlike normal solitary cells that had cells on both sides of a wide corridor). The windows of our cells opened onto an open field at one end of the prison building. For the prison authorities, this was a perfectly isolated location in which to detain us. There was neither a way for us to get in touch with other prisoners, nor to communicate with them. We occasionally had access to fresh air. The only opportunity we had to see or to speak briefly with other prisoners was when we visited the dentist or the general practitioners in the hospital. Another way was to attempt Morse code via the window.

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Tagged as:

Imprisonment, 1988 Prison Massacre, Freedom of Religion