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Witness Statement: Fariborz Baghai

15. At the beginning of the revolution, many Iranian sent their children for higher education to India because it was cheap. As Tudeh Party policies were more rational than their Maoist counterparts, many students in India joined the Tudeh Party. They, however, did not have any political experience. I had to write them letters everyday instructing them how to organize themselves, describing what party and memberships are for, and what positions they should adopt with respect to daily political issues. The students supporting us were competing with the Maoists in India because we supported the Islamic regime and considered the new establishment revolutionary and democratic, while the Maoists considered them reactionary and labeled us “cooperators of the imperialists.” Therefore, our supporters were under huge political pressure to justify their political stance against the Maoists. As they did not have any political experience, I asked them to send me their press releases before publishing them. I wanted to review their writings so that they did not write things against the Iranian government and create trouble for us inside the country. The students used to send their writings and the money they had collected for the party through someone who was coming home to visit his family.

16. In June 1981, People Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK) started an armed struggle and the government started arresting members of MEK, all the leftist organizations but the Tudeh Party and Fadayian (the Majority). Around this time, I had an appointment in front of a mosque with a person who had brought a letter from Afghan students in Bangalore, India. The following was written in the letter, “Comrades of the central committee of Tudeh Party, Iran; we appreciate the information you have given us about the Iran revolution and government. We wish you success, the supporters of Parcham Party, Afghanistan, in Bangalore”. The guy with the letter was arrested.

17. The reason for writing this letter was a dispute about the nature of the Islamic Republic that divided the communist parties throughout the world, including in Afghanistan. The two pro- Soviet ruling communist parties, Khalq and Parcham, in Afghanistan disagreed with each other about the Tudeh Party policies. The Khalq believed that Khomeini was an agent of the imperialism; therefore, they denounced us for supporting the Islamic government. While the Parcham Party supported us but they did not have sufficient information. In response to a Parcham Party member’s inquiry in Bangalore about our policies, we sent them our official public bulletin called “Mardom”. The said letter was a thank you for sending them our bulletin.

Arrest

18. After the person with the letter was arrested, they came after me at my home on July 6, 1981. I was about to enter my home at around 11 or 12 pm in my car, when I saw my son, eleven or twelve years old, riding his bike. The moment he saw me, he came running and said, “Father, don’t go home. Pasdars (IRGC officers) are at home and searching everywhere. They want to arrest you.” Two other members of the central committee, Manouchehr Behzadi and Nik Ayeen, had come to visit me before. My son had informed them about Pasdars presence at my home and they returned. I told my son that I had not committed any wrongs, I had supported the regime. No danger would threaten me. I would go in.

19. There were five or six persons at my home. They did not have uniforms because it was the early days of the revolution. But I knew they belonged to the committee. I noticed that they had searched my room, my books and shelves. As I entered, they asked me if I had a gun. I said, “Weapon! No.” They asked, “Haven’t you hidden it somewhere?” I said, “I’m a doctor and it’s not my profession to carry weapons. Besides, our party is legal and does not have weapons. We support you and when you ordered that all weapons should be handed over to government, the only organization that complied with the order was ours.” He said, “You have a lot of books. Are you involved with some sort of cultural work?” I said I was because the Tudeh Party was doing only cultural work. Then one of them was contacted through wireless and reported that I had come and they found no weapons but books at my home and asked for further instruction. Then he received an order to pick me up. I told my wife that I was going with them. I would come back because there had to be some misunderstanding. At this time, my neighbors had gathered around my home. When they took me, because of the fear and in support of me, they loudly sent me their religious blessings.

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Tagged as:

Imprisonment, 1988 Prison Massacre, Free Speech, Right to Protest, Equality Before the Law, Discrimination