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Witness Statement: Mahdis

18. In the cell directly in front of mine, there was a woman named Mahnaz. She had a master’s degree in Persian literature. She had breast cancer. In the prison, her breast had swollen a lot due to stress. But she was not given access to a doctor or medical care.

19. I remember that five solitary cells were kept empty to be used for women arrested for social vices. When prisoners in general wards got involved in a fight, they were brought to these solitary cells as a form of punishment. One night, the guards brought a number of vulgar women. At first I thought they were men but later found out they were arrested for social vices and had been brought to the solitary ward because they had been involved in a prison brawl. At three or four in the morning, one of them was screaming in a manner that even scared the guards. She was yelling and asking for diazepam.1 Mahnaz, who had cancer, suffered a seizure from hearing that woman’s vulgar insults. We later found out that the woman had been imprisoned in Evin for a year and had become addicted to heroin while in prison. She needed her fix that night. I suddenly heard the sound of breaking glass. We realized she had broken the window in her cell and slit her wrists. She did this in order to be taken to the prison medical facility. Also, the woman who was in the cell adjacent to mine had a psychological illness. Once she bought two cigarettes and a lighter from a guard for 50,000 tomans. This was in 2002.

Interrogation

 

20. After five days, the guards started to call us in groups of five. They blindfolded and handcuffed us with our hands crossed, and put us in a Peykan.2 An elderly man who had a white beard told us that if we raised our heads we would be shot in the head. Then we were taken to be interrogated. When we got out of the car, they made us form a line and told us to put our hands on the shoulder of the person in front of us. The guards pulled the chador of the first person in the line, and the rest of us were pulled along with her. We were taken to another building and were put in solitary cells. I was under a lot of stress. I was sitting on a chair facing the wall. I was told to sit like that and not turn around.

21. The torture chamber of Evin prison is located three stories below ground level. It is an acoustic chamber. However, the room in which I was tortured was not soundproof and had green or blue tiles. There is another place where they torture prisoners so much that no one gets out without sustaining a major injury. It is a red building and is fully soundproof.

22. I sat in the torture room for about an hour. Then a female interrogator entered and sat behind me. She told me not to turn my head. I later realized this was done so that we couldn’t identify the interrogators on the street. I heard this from people who had been imprisoned before. I could see their shoes and realized that they were all wearing the same kind of shoes. That woman told me that I should answer every question she asked me. She put a sheet of paper in front of me and told me to write down my answers. She asked me how I had found out that there was going to be a demonstration. She told me that I could lift my blindfold a bit so that I could see what I was writing. Once I accidentally turned my face and saw that she was holding an A4 sheet in front of her face. “Turn around!” she scolded. One of her questions was what I thought about Zia Atabay. (Zia Atabay had a TV show on the Turkish Satellite channel NITV). Then she asked me why I had gone to the demonstration and what I wanted to achieve by attending that demonstration. At that point, the interrogator repeated what I was previously said. She said, “Write that you like the Supreme Leader.” I realized that they wanted to fill a questionnaire and show it to the U.N. My first interrogation was four hours long. That woman was the only person present.

1 Diazepam is an anti-anxiety medication and is used to assist with withdrawal from certain drugs.

1 Peykan is an Iranian car.

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