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Witness Statement: Mahdis

6. Then they took us to a different ward where there were five cells on each side. All the cells were full. They kept us there for three days, and our families did not know where we were. We were not given any food or water. We were only allowed to use the bathroom and that was only possible after we begged, cried or yelled at them. Despite our repeated protests, we were not given any food. We had to drink the tap water when we went to the bathroom. We were all women, ages from seventeen to sixty-five. The guards were female, too. I don’t know their names, but later on, when I was in Evin prison, I learned that one of them was named Amiri. After three days, and with much difficulty, I tried to persuade one of the guards to give us some food. She took me to her room in order to speak with me. While in her room, I took a number of sugar cubes from her table when she was not paying attention. I later shared those sugar cubes with the women in my cell.

7. Some of the detainees were well-connected, meaning that their families knew some high-level government officials. These families had found out that their children were being held at the Vozara detention center. At 7 p.m. on the third day, they told us that Revolutionary Court officials were coming to get written promises from us. When the interrogators came, they called us in groups of four or five and asked us why we had participated in the demonstration. Everyone who left her cell returned to the cell after having spoken with the judge. We didn’t know what was going on and why our cellmates were returning to their cells. Weren’t we supposed to get released after we gave our word? The prisoners who returned after seeing the judge said that they were given a sheet of paper and asked to sign it. The prisoners were not, however, allowed to read what was written on the sheet!

8. When it was my turn, I was able to read what was on that sheet. It said that I had been arrested for acting against national security, participating in an illegal demonstration, uttering slogans against government officials and a number of other crimes. At that point, I realized that this wasn’t a written promise. Instead, it was a list of my alleged crimes and I was being asked to admit to them. “What kind of a crime is this?” I asked the judge. “After all, Interior Ministry had declared it a legal protest.” I signed it anyway. The judge said, “I will release you if you just say that you like your Supreme Leader.” That judge went back and forth with me for half an hour in order to persuade me to write “I like my Supreme Leader,” after which I would supposedly be released. I said, “Do you see horns on my head? Do you think I’m an idiot? If I liked the Supreme Leader, then what on earth am I am doing here?” He said, “Ok, so go and rot in prison!” I later realized why he was insisting on this. U.N. representatives were due to visit the prisons, and they were about to investigate how prisoners felt about prison conditions, and whether they liked the Supreme Leader. There were a number of other men in that room, too.

9. The guards made us form a line in the main corridor of the Vozara detention center. They told us to sit down facing the wall and wait for our names to be called. They said that we would be released when our names were called. I remember that it was raining that day. A number of families had come to Vozara, hoping that their children would be released but had realized that they were being transferred to Evin instead. One of the mothers forced her way into the facility, passing through security forces. She begged them to not send her child to Evin. Instead, they arrested her as well. The prison authorities said, “We wanted to release you, but your families came here and created a ruckus. This has made things difficult for you.”

10. Finally, they put us in a bus at 10:30 pm. When our families saw that, they lay on the ground and told the authorities that they should first go over their dead bodies before taking their children to prison. Using batons, the security forces started to beat the family members. When we realized we were being taken to Evin prison, we started to shout and were beaten with batons as well.

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Sexual Violence, Imprisonment, Torture, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, Punishment, Witness Statements, Witness Statements, Statement