Witness Statement: Amir Atiabi
Amir Atiabi, who was a political prisoner in Iran, narrates his experiences during the summer of the 1988 when thousands of political prisoners were summarily executed.
Full Name: Amir Atiabi
Date of Birth: 1957
Place of Birth: Tehran, Iran
Occupation: Senior Engineer
Interviewing Organization: Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC)
Date of Interview: June 13, 2009
This statement was prepared pursuant to a telephonic interview with Mr. Amir Atiabi. The statement consists of 77 paragraphs and 20 pages. The interview was conducted on June 13, 2009. The statement was approved by Mr. Atiabi on 17 November 2009.
1. I was arrested on March 5, 1984, around 8 in the morning. I was a member of the leadership committee of the Tudeh Youth Organization, an affiliate of the Tudeh Party of Iran. The Tudeh Party did not believe in using violence for political gain. We believed in legal and transparent political activity. We supported the revolution against the monarchy as an indication of the will of a majority of Iranians for change. Nevertheless, the regime banned the Tudeh Party in May 1983 and arrested its leaders. After that, they went after other party members, who were often placed under severe physical and psychological torture in order to obtain intelligence, force them to repent, or pressure them to cooperate with the regime.
2. I had been expelled from the school of engineering at Tehran University because of my political activities with the student union. I was expelled once during the Shah’s regime in 1976 and a second time after the cultural revolution initiated by the new revolutionary regime, which began in 1980. During this time, all universities were shut down and all students and faculty members who did not support the new Islamic Republic were removed. Immediately after this, I noticed that I was under surveillance by a group of plainclothes agents. I tried to escape, but was unsuccessful. After entering a public building on the morning of March 5, I was surrounded by a group of agents. The commander drew his weapon and I was arrested. They communicated with their senior officer by radio and were instructed to transfer me to Evin. I was transferred to Section 209 of Evin Prison which was primarily used to interrogate and torture political prisoners.
Interrogations and Torture
3. The beatings and interrogations began while I was in the vehicle en route to Evin. Immediately after I was admitted to Evin, I was blindfolded and taken into an interrogation room, which was located inside a corridor. I could not tell how many people were present. They supplied me with some paper and asked me to write about myself, my connections and my rank. I only wrote my name and the fact that I had been expelled from the university because I supported the Tudeh Party’s youth organization. After that, I remained silent. They then took me to a torture room located in the basement of the building. They ordered me to take off my pants and lie down on a bare bed in the middle of the room. I stripped down to my underwear. They forced me onto the bed, face-down, and then tied my hands and feet to the bed such that the soles of my feet were exposed. Then they began to whip me. They whipped me with a bunch of electrical cables. Sometimes they used hoses to ease the blood circulation. It was extremely painful— intolerable, in fact. I shouted every time they struck me so that I could take the pain more easily.
4. As they struck the soles of my feet, they asked me reveal my “paroles”1 with other party members. But other than the shouting and groaning, I refused to say a word throughout the torture session. My interrogator, Rahimi, sat on my back and shoved a dirty blanket underneath my face and mouth. He pushed my head down on the bed so my voice would be muffled. This made it very difficult for me to breathe. The whippings continued and were even more forceful than in the beginning. My feet became heavy and numb, and began to swell. After a while, they forced me to stand up and jump up and down, but I could not do so because of the severe pain. So they whipped my legs in order to force me to jump up and down. At the same time they slid wood strips and cables under my feet in order to stimulate the blood circulation and to make sure that open wounds were not exposed. I jumped up and down, and the blood that was causing the soles of my to swell moved to the other parts of my feet, causing my feet to turn reddish-blue. After a little while, they forced me to drink water, and continued the whipping.
1 These are secret meetings between two members of an underground organization. Usually, the members do not know anything (i.e., full names, residence, etc.) about each other.