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Witness Statement: Reza Azad

29. Still the discomfort of our living conditions was just a minor irritation. When we were locked away in our cell we felt a sense of security. Evin was very chaotic and being locked in the cell gave us the feeling that the guards would not come harass us.

30. Unfortunately our feeling of security was a false one. Just two days after I arrived, the guards started calling prisoners’ names one-by-one. I noticed that the guards only used first names, not surnames. I later realized the guards did this so that detainees would not recognize the names being called out of others imprisoned there with them, whom they may have known previously.

31. The average age of prisoners was around 22 or 24 years old. At some point we realized that the cells were becoming segregated. Those prisoners that were singled out for capital punishment and badly tortured would be put in certain cells. As for the rest of the prisoners, the guards divided them up according to whether they had leftist or religious ideological leanings.

The detainees shared a strong mutual bond and helped one another get through the many hardships in prison. Strong networks of communication had formed behind bars. The Regime realized this and in a speech Lajevardi6 said that if he could build a cell of solitary confinement for each one of us, he would. In time, such a cell was built and was named “Amoozeshgah”. However during my first stint at Evin, it was still under construction. We heard that the prisoners were made to work like slaves.

32. One day, one of the young people in our cell was taken out for interrogation. He returned and told us that the guards were asking about every individual in the cell to get a better understanding of each person’s identity. The guards wanted to know the divisions among the prisoners housed together in the same cell, who were from different political parties and affiliations, in order to use this to their advantage in later interrogation.

33. During the time I was in the common cell, there were 70 prisoners packed into a cell that had been designed for only seven people. Funnily enough, in the Shah’s era, when there were eight people in the same type of cell, the prisoners protested for lack of space.

34. However having these 70 to 100 people housed together was actually a good thing. The close physical proximity fostered a sense of unity among the prisoners and we supported one another. If we had been housed in solitary cells from start to finish, we would never have formed the alliances we did.

6 Sayyed Asadollah Lajevardi was the warden of Evin Prison in Tehran from June 1981 until 1985 when he was replaced due to complaints of other clergy.

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Tagged as:

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