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Witness Statement: Ali Kantoori

20. I don’t know any of the names of my interrogators. Over there, everyone is called Haji, and if they use a name it is a pseudonym. The team that interrogated me consisted of four people. Two of them played “good Haji” and “bad Haji” roles. The first one would beat me and the second one would give his word to the first one that I would cooperate. Then the second one would say, “Accept your charges and write it down. Rest assured that nothing will happen to you.” Those four guys would change occasionally, but the person who took my signatures remained the same.

21. Let me tell you about the difficult aspects of it. Interrogations took a very long time, sometimes from morning to night. I wasn’t given any food. These were the kind of questions they asked: “Who guides you?”, “What is your movement?”, “Who tells you what to do?”, or they would ask whether I was a member of a particular group. I don’t remember all of the questions they asked me because they were unrelated to my activities and I can’t remember them now.

22. Long interrogation hours, physical abuse, and hard verbal humiliation were difficult aspects of interrogation. The worst, however, was psychological abuse, which targeted my identity and my family.

23. I was in solitary confinement for twenty five days in Evin Prison (in early March). I was completely cut off from the outside world. After a while in solitary confinement, they informed me that my mother was doing well, and that, in fact, she was at the prison. At that point I would have given anything to see my mother for a minute. After a while, they allowed me to make phone calls and have visitors. My family came to Tehran from Qazvin every week in order to see me.

24. One day my family didn’t show up for the weekly visit. I was continuously worried about what might have happened, but in fact, the roads were closed due to snow. That night, they put a lot of psychological pressure on me. They said, “It’s not a big deal. Your mother is doing ok. It wasn’t anything serious.” I am giving you this example to show how a small thing could have been very difficult for me. My younger brother, Abolfazl Kantoori, is a renowned karateka.1 He is the runner-up in world club championships. They continuously called him to harass him using very offensive words, and put pressure on him because he spoke publicly about my arrest.

25. One thing that was common in prison was the use of electric batons, though they did not beat me with electric batons that often. For the most part they used their hands to beat me because my interrogator was a well-built guy. He used his large physique to intimidate me. He had a ring on his little finger. He would give his ring to me and he would tell me to put it on my large finger. The ring was too big for my finger, and it would fall off. Then he would say, “This is my hand. Now are you going to talk or not?” This is how they exerted psychological pressure.

26. When they were tired of beating me, they would intimidate me and say, “Dear Ali, do you think we killed Pouyandeh and Mokhtari? Do you think we were responsible for serial murders? Yes, we admit to it. Now, you’re in our hands. Are you going to sign what we tell you or not? You’re not more important than them, are you?” Or he would say, “A president of a country is asleep, and a cat moves and makes a vase fall on the president’s head. The president dies. That’s not the work of the Ministry of Intelligence... or is it? Or a political activist is struck by a car and dies. It’s not the work of the Ministry of Intelligence... or is it?”

1 A karateka is a person who practices the martial art of karate.

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Tagged as:

Imprisonment, Torture, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, Punishment, Personal Liberty, Arbitrary Detention, Illegal Search and Seizure, Witness Statements