Witness Statement: Mahdis
“Mahdis” was a student activist and a follower of Ayatollah Kazemeyni Borujerdi. She participated in the Student Day demonstrations of 2002 and was arrested along with around 50 other participants. In Evin prison, her interrogators accused her of being in contact with the Mojahedin and repeatedly raped her. She was finally released from prison and served a suspended sentence but was called back to appear in court five years later. Fearing further prosecution and detention, she left Iran in August 2007.
Full Name: Mahdis (pseudonym)
Date of Birth: August 3, 1975
Place of Birth: Tehran, Iran
Interviewing Organization: Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC)
Date of Interview: April 19, 2010
Interviewer: IHRDC Staff
This statement was prepared pursuant to an in person interview with Mahdis. The statement consists of 44 paragraphs and 9 pages. The interview was conducted on April 19, 2010. The statement was approved by Mahdis on April 19, 2010.
1. My name is Mahdis. I am 35 years old. My family used to live in Golshahr, which is located in Mehrshahr, near Karaj, Iran. I participated in Student Day demonstrations in 2002. I was studying clinical psychology at Azad University in Roudehen. It was towards the end of my studies when the raid on the University of Tehran’s dormitory took place. At that time, the authorities identified me and a number of other students who were attending Roudehen’s Azad University..
2. One day before Student Day in 2002, the Interior Ministry announced that President Khatami would be giving a speech at the University of Tehran. I liked Khatami, so I went to hear his speech. Once I reached Enghelab Square, I saw that there was a huge police presence. The crowd was not allowed entry into the University of Tehran compound because we were not students at that university. They only allowed those who carried university ID cards to enter. At that moment, the students who were inside pushed their way outside and were able to join the people who had gathered outside the university. Then, we all marched together in silence. Our only slogan was, “Honorable people, support us please!” Some protesters gave flowers to the police. Meanwhile, I saw a colonel kick an old woman. The kick was so strong that she was thrown across the street into the gutter. When the security forces realized that they could not control the crowd, they closed the street with a pincer movement and started to arrest everyone.
3. At about 3:30 p.m. on the day of the demonstration, a red-haired officer attacked me in front of the University of Tehran’s main entrance. He struck me in the chest, and I fell to the ground. I kicked his testicles with my knee so that he’d let me go. When the people saw that I had fallen on the ground they tried to help me, but a very tall officer, who did not look Iranian, grabbed me by my neck and threw me into a bus. Police officers were standing in front of the bus door and they wouldn’t let anyone escape. Later, a woman was brought into the bus. She had been peppersprayed in the face and her face was very red.
4. Eventually, they took us to Police Precinct 147, which is located at the Hafez Bridge. They kept us there until 9 p.m. There were so many of us that we had to sit in the corridors. It was hard to breathe. They interrogated everyone, but our numbers were so great that I was able to evade interrogation. I did that by pretending that I had already been interrogated. Those who were interrogated said that they were asked why they had attended the demonstration, and how they were informed that a demonstration was planned. Then they searched our bags and put us in the precinct prayer room.
Transfer to Vozara Detention Center
5. At 9 p.m., they put us in a number of green buses and transferred us to the Vozara detention center. They put us in cells that were four meters long and three meters wide. They placed ten people in each cell. There was not enough space for us to sit. They first placed us among women who were arrested for prostitution and similar crimes. We protested that we had not committed any crime and were political detainees, and that we shouldn’t be kept in the same place as prostitutes and people who committed such vices.