Surviving Rape in Iran's Prisons
Witness Statement of Saeeda Siabi
Name: Saeeda Siabi
Place of Birth: Azerbaijan, Iran
Date of Birth: July 11, 1960
Interviewing Organization: Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC)
Date of Interview: January 19, 2011
Interviewer: IHRDC Staff
This statement was prepared pursuant to an interview with Saeeda Siabi. It was approved by Ms. Siabi on May 28, 2011.
1. My name is Saeeda Siabi. I’m from Azerbaijan, Iran. On December 22, 1981, I was arrested with my husband and my four month old son. I spent four and a half years in prison, and suffered severe mistreatment, sexual harassment and rape during interrogation.
2. It’s painful to remember the bitter memories of the past. I’ve forgotten some incidents that happened to me in prison 29 years ago but there are things that I can never forget. Today, I would like to share with you some of those bitter memories.
3. I grew up in a politically active family. My husband and I were both political activists. Like our families, we were engaged in political activities against the Islamic Republic right from the inception of the regime. We believed that the establishment of a clerical system was a step backward for the Iranian people. We believed the clerics were ignorant, savage and barbaric people who would lead our beloved country to destruction. Thus, both of our families were against the regime.
4. The early years of the revolution were very difficult years for all Iranians. The regime brutally targeted the opposition. They arrested, tortured, decapitated and executed them. The regime gradually curtailed the political freedom of political activists.
5. Due to financial hardship, I was living with my sister and brother-in-law, a newly married couple, in a house in Tabriz city. After a while, we understood that it was unsafe for us to live in that house. Therefore, we started looking for a new house.
6. Realizing the imminent danger and that our comrades had been arrested, my brother-in-law and sister left the house. My husband and I looked for a new house. Meanwhile, one of our comrades who were arrested betrayed us and gave our address while under torture. Thus, my husband and I were arrested.
7. It was 4:30 in the morning. I was awake breastfeeding my baby. We had a guest, a young guy, that night, too. Because oil was rationed and we did not have extra oil, he was sleeping with us in the same room. We could hardly heat one room. Around that time, I suddenly heard beating on all the doors and then a rush of footsteps on the stairs and roof. I looked outside and saw that IRGC guards were everywhere. We lived on a dead end road. The street was full of guards.
8. Immediately, the IRGC entered my house. They were armed. Without questioning, they arrested everyone including our young guest. I asked the reasons for my arrest. They said, “Madam! We have a question for you and you’ll be back soon. There is no need to worry.” It was the common lie they told everybody who was arrested during those years. We all knew it.
9. They searched our house thoroughly, even inside our shoes. We had placed a Tofan party’s publication in a pressure cooker. They found it and took it with them. Half an hour later, they took us out of the house, blindfolded us and made us sit in a Pikan car. They didn’t allow me to put on my shoes. They took me with sandals. They separated us and put us in different cars and blindfolded us. Before covering my eyes, I noticed in a blink that there were four cars ahead of us and four behind us in front of the house. They drove us to a Sepah center. Some guards stayed in our home though. Later we found out that they arrested everyone who had happened to visit us. They believed it was a team house.