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Witness Statement: Mitra Lager

58. I quickly hid my blouse and asked the interrogator for forgiveness. I tried to explain to him that I had been taken from my home by the guards and that I happened to be wearing the red blouse at the time. I told him that I was alone with my son at my home and there was nobody else around to be offended by the blouse, which is why I felt comfortable wearing it. Unfortunately, he refused to leave the issue.

59. He claimed that there were anti-Revolutionary pamphlets being spread around my town and that I was responsible for disseminating them. He said, “To the average person, it might seem like you’re innocent but we know what you’re up to. You don’t fool us.” He told me that I had gotten off very easy for my previous crimes. He said that I should have received at least 10 years imprisonment or the death penalty. He told me that this time would be different; this time they wouldn’t let me go so easily. I did not know what to do. I was innocent. Over the past year I had done nothing but raise my child and take care of my husband. My life had been very normal.

60. I was taken to the prison section which didn’t have any ward. It was just some solitary cells and I was placed in one of them.

61. My interrogators brought up issues that I had forgotten about entirely. They asked me about a type writer. When I was involved with the MEK, we had been given a type writer by the MEK and I kept it for awhile. I had given it to someone else. I couldn’t believe that, after all these years, they were just bringing this up. My interrogators also said that they had traced some phone calls from my home to France and that it was clear I was still communicating with the MEK. When I thought about it, I remembered that on their specific date, we were not in Jahrom at all. We had gone to Tehran. It was clear from their questions that they were trying to build a case against me.

Threatening rape

 

62. My interrogators often told me that if I did not speak, they would do something to me that was so bad, my husband would spit on me, my father wouldn’t allow me into his home and my brother would spit on me. Initially, I had no idea what they were referring to. I thought to myself, “This interrogator knows me and knows that almost everyone in my family has gone to prison at some time or another. What could he possibly do to me that would make my family members spit on me?” I thought he might have meant that he would leave marks of torture on my face and that my husband would spit on me in disgust. Still, I didn’t think anyone would spit on me if they knew I had been tortured. If anything, I thought they might feel sorry for me and treat me with compassion. At that time I didn’t understand that he was threatening to rape me.

63. One night, I was sitting in solitary confinement when it finally hit me. These men were talking about raping me. They didn’t come out and say, “We’re going to rape you.” but it was suddenly obvious what they meant. I, like many people in Iran, had heard stories of raping female prisoners as a form of torture. Typically, those targeted for rape were in one of two categories: married women and women set for execution. Married women are no longer virgins so it is impossible for a married woman to claim that she was raped in prison by showing that she went in as a virgin and came out a non-virgin. Furthermore, a married woman wouldn’t dare speak of such events upon her release, at least not if she cared about her husband’s dignity. Similarly, women on death row never get a chance to accuse their captors of rape because they are not allowed visitors. The two-fold theory of rape was confirmed by my own experience. When I was a virgin prisoner, nobody threatened to rape me. Once I became a married prisoner, however, the threat of rape was present, even if it wasn’t obvious.

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Tagged as:

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