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Witness Statement: Reza Azad

106. The regime exerted severe mental pressure on prisoners and drove them to repent due to extreme duress not because of a true shift in ideological belief.

107. As part of this repentance process and its attendant religious indoctrination, the guards forced prisoners to pray. This was a personal hardship for me. I was forced to join the prayers and watch other prisoners pray.

108. Those prisoners who had repented treated the non-repenting prisoners with unrelenting harshness. During my one year sentence, the attitude of the repentants progressively worsened with encouragement from the prison administration. The prison administration brought repentants who were formerly Mujahedin, Tudeh party members and from other political leftist groups to help threaten and control the non-repenting prisoners. The repentants really wanted to show the wardens that they were not like the rest of us “normal” prisoners. They cursed at us, insulted us, reported on our movements and even told lies about our political activities. Non-repenting prisoners were forced to stand all day on our feet and suffer beatings at the hands of the repentants, who did the dirty work of prison guards.

109. The prisoners far outnumbered the guards but we did not dare to challenge them because we were scared of what they might do. Ten guards with boots and batons could beat us to death.

110. The prison administration received reports from the repentants about those prisoners whose sentences were about to end. Rahmani asked the repentants whether they “approved” of the character of each individual prisoner or not. As expected, the repentants often answered with a NO.

111. Occasionally, we were asked to watch in groups TV confession show of repentants. There was a large hall in ward one and ward three that occupied 3000 prisoners. A number of closed circuit televisions were installed every few meters in that room. We were instructed to come to the front of our ward and sit on the floor facing TV. Then repentants gave interviews that were broadcasted to the big room.

112. For the prisoners that received unfavorable reports, their interviews were akin to a trial. The interviewer attempted to break the person down in front of the camera and in front of all the prisoners watching in the other ward. In contrast, prisoners who had cooperated with the repentants and received favorable reports were treated differently. In front of the camera, they accepted everything their interviewer said about them. In turn, the interviewer declared that the prisoner was free and took them to a separate room to be released.

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Tagged as:

Imprisonment, 1988 Prison Massacre, Torture, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, Punishment, Free Association