Revolution #146, October 26, 2008

From A World to Win News Service

Revolutionary Defiance of Torture and Death: Iranian Ex-Political Prisoners Bear Witness

September 29, 2008. A World to Win News Service. The secrecy surrounding the execution of 10-30,000 political prisoners by the Khomeini regime in August and September 1988 is a crime on top of a crime. In the last twenty years, dozens of books and memoirs have been written by people who were political prisoners during those years, who experienced the terrors and torture and witnessed their comrades being taken to be executed. They have managed to reveal some aspects of those horrors. No doubt much more will come out in the future.

"A Pasdar (so-called Revolutionary Guard) came with a list of names in his hand. He called the names of ten prisoners. They were taken away with their eyes covered. None of them returned.

"They called my name along with those of a few other prisoner... then, as I remember, I was stood in front of a table.  I could see someone's hand. He was wearing a suit. He started to interrogate me.  After questions about my identity and the accusations against me, he asked if I was a Moslem. I said no, I am not a Moslem. He asked if I was a Marxist. I said yes, I am a Marxist. Then he asked if I was prepared to condemn my political organization in front of the other prisoners. I told him no. When I was returned to my cellblock, I found out that the majority of leftist prisoners had answered similarly...

"In Evin  (the infamous prison near Tehran built especially for political prisoners by the Shah), as we found out later, as well as Gohar Dasht (Tehran) where we were, the first groups executed in June 1988 were people who had been arrested a long time before but had not been tried and sentenced yet, or even charged. The next batch executed the following month were people who were already serving life sentences... Later the prisoners in sections 7 and 8 had noticed that during the night, and even sometimes during the day, big refrigerator lorries were leaving Gohar Dasht full of bodies...

"August 31, 8 am... They took all of us, with eyes covered, to the ground floor... We waited there. Those who were waiting on the left hand side of the corridor had already been tried and were waiting to be executed. We were waiting when suddenly we heard loud voices and swearing from inside the room. The door opened. Several Pasdars were beating a prisoner, swearing at him continuously. Naserian (an assistant prosecutor) was slapping his face, and the comrade was condemning their Islam and all their brutality, swearing right back at them and at Eshraghi (the chief judge). He was Ali Raiisy, a well-known prisoner. That was the last time I saw him. He was executed the same day...

"The court smelled blood. In the last two months, the people in this room had been busy sending prisoners to be killed. Naserian was nervous and angry. Eshraghi was behind a desk in front of me. His big fat body covered the chair completely... In Gohar Dasht, there were five sections for the leftist prisoners. Nearly half of the prisoners of these sections were executed.  This was the case in Evin, too... The same month the prison authorities claimed the belongings of the executed prisoners that we had been keeping until then. We had shared their belongings among their closest friends as remembrances of them; this had become a tradition in the prisons. But we also gave some to their family, so that they would understand what had happened. As I understood it, the regime kept the executions secret and was leaking the news slowly. Some families didn't learn about the execution of their loved one until December of that year, or even several months after that.

"They called two names—Vahid Khosravi and Ahmad Shirazi—to get ready to go after lunch. We had become close friends during the time they were staying in our cells. When their names were called, I unintentionally started to cry. They hugged all the prisoners in the cells. We all knew they would be executed in an hour. But why were these young men of 22 and 24 years of age going to be executed? I only realized later that most of those executed were youth who were particularly brave and revolutionary. Their courage terrified the regime. We had our last lunch together. Before they left, we sang the Internationale. In the last moments, before the cell doors closed, we voraciously kept our eyes on each other. These were their last words: 'Don't forget us, keep our names alive.' I cried all night that night. We held a memorial for them that night, reading poetry."  

(From An unfair battle, a report of seven years of imprisonment, 1982-1989, by Nima Paraversh, Thought and Struggle Publications)

"Toward the end of August, we got hold of a piece of a newspaper from section 2. There we read that the spokesman for the Supreme Council of Justice, after using all sorts of filthy language and names to refer to the 'dishonorable' communists, had demanded the maximum punishment for them. He said that after the Monafeghin  ('false Moslems', the name the regime called the Mujahedeen organization), now it was the turn of the Kafirs ('infidels', in other words, the communists).

"Immediately they started whipping the leftist women... Once in the morning, on a bed in the corridor, five lashes each... the second time at noon, at 4 pm and 8:30 pm in the evening and finally just before midnight. Each woman received 25 lashes every day... In the courtroom, they were told that if they didn't repent, the punishment for a woman Kafir would be to be whipped to death."


(From A simple truth, the memoir of a women prisoner in the Islamic Republic of Iran, by Monireh Baradaran)

"In various regions of Iran, a kind of competition to kill human beings had started among the officials and heads of the holy Islamic regime. Every one of them wanted to prove to their dear Imam how firm and decisive and quick they were in purging the opposition and dissidents. In cities such as Hamedan (about 200 kilometers southwest of Tehran), Rasht (in the north by the Caspian sea) and Urumieh (northwestern Iran), more than 90 percent of the political prisoners were executed.  In Karaj (20 miles west of Tehran), in November 1988, a mass grave was discovered, with 725 people buried in it. Other mass graves were found in Tehran, Rudbar and Manjil (both north Tehran)."

(From Memoir of an Ex-Inmate in an Islamic Republic Prison, by Dr Reza Ghafari, Arash Publications, Stockholm)

Women's Prisons

 "As far as I know, all the women sentenced to be executed were raped by an interrogator called Hamid and his gang. But shame kept these women from saying anything to anyone. So Hamid and his gang continued this torture. I don't know how this secret got out, but prisoners' families organized a protest against it, right in front of the prison. That action encouraged the women prisoners to start a hunger strike and continue until someone came to investigate. He (the investigator) said that anyone who had been raped should come forward and complain. Nobody said anything. Then he repeated his request.  Again no one answered. The way he talked had made everyone angry. He said, so all this fuss is pointless, the 'counter-revolution' (the communists and other revolutionary organizations) were interfering and they had to be stopped. So, he said, I will report that no case of rape has taken place.

"The problem was that we were caught by surprise. We had not talked about this among ourselves and didn't have a united and concrete view. We were prisoners from different trends. But as he finished his comments, Fariba, one of the prisoners with a clear voice, spoke up: Who says our silence means a negative answer? I emphasize that rape is one of the regime's specific tortures against militant and revolutionary women. Then she turned to the prisoners and said: Please, our silence will be considered as approval of this torture that we all are going thorough. How much longer is our women's shame going to allow this torture to humiliate and destroy us?  We should understand this rape as a kind of torture. The enemy has not been able to force us to cooperate and betray or achieve its aims by humiliating us, but we should not feel shame because of what has happened to us. We should handle this consciously. In fact this torture does not make us despicable. What it makes despicable is the regime that has imprisoned us. So, Mr Investigator, I want to tell you that in this section of 50 women, not even one, yes not even one, has escaped rape by Mr Hamid and his colleagues. We will continue our hunger strike until this kind of rape and torture is really investigated, and as you know our families already know about this and will follow the case from outside."

(From ...And Here the Girls Will Never Die, by Shahrzad, Nour Publications)

"They have shaped a graveyard with no border
Where those who remain living still shed
Blood like tears from their eyes"

(Ahmad Shamlou, the Iranian progressive poet who died in 2000)

A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine (, a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world’s Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.

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