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Witness Statement: Amir Atiabi

31. A couple of weeks before the beginning of the prison lockdown at Gohar Dasht, a new wave of prisoners arrived in the prison. We saw them arrive by minibus before they were taken upstairs. We heard their footsteps through our metal door, which opened to a staircase that led up to the two upper floors. The newly arrived prisoners were placed on the first and second (top floor) of the wing (Ward 20 was on the ground floor). The upper floors, as well as the adjacent three-floor wing, belonged to the prosecutor and interrogator offices of the city of Karaj. The prisoners were also interrogated there. On several occasions when we were taken outside for fresh air, we heard screams, shouting and the earnest pleas of prisoners requesting compassion coming from the third floor wards. We were very disturbed by these noises. Some of my comrades shouted out slogans in protest of the torture that was being committed by the guards. In fact, for most of us, the screams of the tortured prisoners revived the abhorrent scenes of our own tortures. One night we heard the scream of a woman who was crying for her child. Her wailing continued for hours that night. We also heard the voice of a young girl screaming and wailing. We did not understand why. Around the same time, a prisoner fell from the top floor. I think he was attempting to commit suicide because there was no way he could escape. Every prisoner knew that the field surrounding the prison was protected by two heavily fortified and high walls, which were regularly monitored by guards in towers. We used a mirror to see the ground floor through our window and saw the injured body of the moaning prisoner squirming on the ground. Later we found out that he was a recently arrested Mojahedin prisoner. He had managed to break the steel window of his cell and jump out.

32. Regardless of these limitations, we still had regular access to news outlets. We received newspapers, listened to the radio and watched television. We were in our rooms when we heard that Imam Khomeini had accepted the UN 598 resolution and ceasefire. We had predicted that this would happen. The regime had no choice but to accept the ceasefire. The country was in chaos; the war with Iraq was not going well, the regime had suffered severe causalities on many fronts. In addition, there were growing tensions among the top leadership over the handling of the war. We knew that Khomeini would sooner or later be forced to drink the cup of “poison.”

33. We were happy when the regime accepted the ceasefire, particularly when we heard Khomeini say that he would drink the cup of “poison”—after poisoning the people of two countries for more than eight years by rejecting several peace offers. The Tudeh Party had urged the Islamic Republic to accept the ceasefire a long time before when the Iraqi troops were pushed out of Iran, less than a year after the Iraqi invasion. The Tudeh Party also urged the government not to cross the border. But the clerics did not accept our pleas. The war had completely devastated the two countries. While we were in the supplementary ward, an Iraqi missile exploded near our prison. The shock waves from the explosion shook our ward. There were no precautions for air attack and long-range missile inside the prison. Despite all of this, they wanted the war to go on. They said that they would eventually occupy Iraq’s holy Shi’a cities, and push forth towards the al- Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

34. After the regime accepted the ceasefire, we tried to reach the Mojahedin in the ward across from using Morse code. They informed us that the Mojahedin army had launched an attack against the regime from the west. They believed that the Mojahedin were moving toward Tehran.

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Tagged as:

Imprisonment, 1988 Prison Massacre, Freedom of Religion