Torture and Resistance In Iran
Written by: comrade Ashraf Dehghani Eary 1970s
Table of Contents
MEMORIES OF LIFE IN SOLITARY CONFINEMENT
BACK TO EVIN
IN QASR PRISON
Memories Of Life In Solitary Confinement
The Basement Of The Police Headquarters
The Intelligence Department is a three‑storey building. During the year I had been there, the first floor was staffed by a number of employees dealing in matters connected with passports. The torture room, the Chief of Operational room, and those of the prisoners were on the ground floor. These rooms had previously been used by the intelligence agents, but in that year they were set aside for the former due to an increase in the number of prisoners.
The basement had previously been used as a storage and filing section. In that year, however, they built 12 dark and damp calls in the basement, each 2 x 11 meters. In some of them, there was a coarse piece of rug and in others, beds to which prisoners were tied. The cells had small metal doors with a small eye‑hole at the top, and could be looked in from the outside. On top of the door there was a small compartment covered with mesh and a faint light burning inside. There were two rows of six such cells facing one another with an open space between them. The constables walked up and down this open space. A large iron-gate separated this space from a square‑shaped hall used by the prison guards. There was a large room in this hall used by the constables for sleeping and two rooms used by the prison guards, later set aside for female prisoners. There was a large frosted glass door in the hall, which opened onto the courtyard. On the other side of the hall there were steps leading to the ground floor.
They have now built prison cells outside in the courtyard as well. There are at the moment altogether 25 or 26 cells and the whole set‑up forms part of the Committee (Joint Committee of SAVAK and Police). There was one prisoner to each cell. Some comrades, with severe burns and broken limbs, were tied to metal beds in these cells. The constables were in the space between the cells all the time. When I assessed my new environment, I realised that here I would only be dealing with the constables. I looked round the cell and felt happy to be alone for the first time in two months. What an unexpected gift! I was completely on my own, without any noise and without the women guards.
They undid my handcuffs at suppertime. They brought me a few unripe apricots, which surprised me. I did not want to accept them, thinking they belonged to the guards. But then I was told it was part of a prisoner’s ration. Oh yes, they wore definitely concerned that the prisoners should not go without vitamins, hence the squashed grapes, rotten cucumber and watermelons!
An Approximate Plan Of The Basement
Late at night, I wanted to go to the toilet. I waited for a constable to look through the hole, when he did, I moved my head and he opened the door. I told him what I wanted. He said nothing and promptly shut the door. About half an hour later, I heard the commanding voice of the woman telling the constable to unlock my handcuffs. Outside the cell, I tried to throw a glance around to acquaint myself with the surroundings. But several constables formed a ring around me and the woman ordered them to hold me tight. They were clinging to me so tightly as though they were certain that had they let me go, I would have disappeared into thin air! The woman was leading this “formal procession” towards the bog, and I was trying to push the constables aside by jerking my arms and legs. Near the door of the lavatory, they let go of me and, with an embarrassed look on their faces, moved a bit further away from the toilet.
“Come on! Hurry up” she said, contemptuously; “I told the constables to stay away….”I retorted; “Go, they must stay right here”, she blared; I looked askance at her and told her in a threatening voice, “Tell’m to stay away!” “Look here, that’s how it is, like it or not she screamed, “From now on you go to lavatory like this. You don’t deserve to be treated with respect!” I gave her a look full of hate and said “You think you can hurt me this way, you slut!” She was absolutely bursting with rage, and told the constables: “Take her back” and turning to me, “You either go to lavatory like this, or you don’t go at all!”
Back in the cell they tied up my hands and feet again and left. I remembered the courageous Arani (28) and how the executioners had dumped this great revolutionary in a tiny cell and gave him nothing but a piece of dried bread. The door opened once more, and this time it was the second woman. With a kind of idiotic pride she gave the keys to the constables and told them to untie me. I went to the toilet accompanied by two constables and the woman. This time she stood near the door as usual and left the door ajar. Back in the cell they shackled my feet, which was more comfortable than the usual ropes, and the handcuffs were put on slightly looser than before.
That night Farid and Niktab came into my cell and asked why I had behaved as I did; “We were going to give you a hell of a time, but the lady stopped us and….” I did not say a word, and did not even turn to look at them. On his way out, Niktab whom, due to his “niktabi“* simply had to do something, picked up the shackle and hit it against the bed, while muttering some swear words.
I slept through the night and was awakened in the morning by knocks on the wall of my cell. It was from the cell next door and it was the comrade’s way of saying “Good morning”. I was beside myself with joy. In an enclosure where one is surrounded by the enemy and sees no one but the enemy, even a knock, which comes from a comrade, is a source of happiness. One listens always for the knocks and wishes that they would always echo in one’s ear. The comrade was knocking very hard on the wall and wanted me to respond, but I was chained to my bed away from the wall and could not even knock my head against it. Therefore, I answered his greetings by shaking the chains on my feet. After breakfast (consisting of a piece of bread, a bit of cheese and a large mug of tea, bigger than the one upstairs) a new prison guard began checking the cells (the guards and constables were changed every 24 hours) and came into my room. He was a Turkish fellow of about 45‑50 years, and was called “Farhang“! ** He tried to be friendly and said, “We Turks are a bit too excitable and tend to lose our tempers too quickly….” adding “…and I told these interrogators to leave it to me for a while to train you and lead you to the correct path so that you would eventually write a letter to the Shah asking for mercy!!”
I was taken completely by surprise, “What? What did you say? Write a letter to the Shah?” Suddenly I was filled with hatred, and remembered the traitor who did write a letter to the Shah. To give in and submit to such a shame is the ultimate in humiliation and misery! I shook with hatred and revenge. I looked at Farhang and decided that it would be a waste of time to reason with a simpleton like him. Therefore, I said to him in a nonchalant way, “What the hell are you on about, mate? Obviously, you have no idea…. You are off your rocker, old boy….” “You’ll see he said impudently, “you’ll get to know the facts, after a time”.
My next door comrade kept knocking on the wall. From time to time a comrade, on his way to toilet, would knock on my door and say something; or I would hear others calling, “a glass of water, officer”, “what’s the time, officer?” and so on. What a nice place! The comrades could hear one another, thereby boosting their self‑confidence and solidarity with each other. We could know one another’s reaction to the enemy and to the constables, and, being alone in my cell, I could work out a timetable for myself. I could think coherently about various topics. I could exercise by moving my fingers, toes and neck. I could recite poetry …
About noon, Farhang came into my cell again, talking and ‘advising’. What a rude and utterly idiotic fellow! If he thought that there was any benefit for him in doing something, he would shamelessly do it, and would not be put off by any amount of swearing and telling‑off. A Master Sergeant, he was one of those old‑established cronies who was deeply proud of having once traveled to Tabriz with the Shah and the royal household. As well as being a Master Sergeant, he also had an estate agency in civilian life. He started talking about the woman, trying to bring us together. Despite what I had imagined, the woman not only did not feel bad about what I had done to her, but judging from what she had said to others she was actually proud to tell about the incident. Thus, there was no question of personal animosity, and my punishment was to be sent to the present cell.
Farhang returned in the evening and reported that the women would like to come into my cell, providing I did not swear at them. “What do you say then; shall I tell them to come?”, he asked.
I was in a quandary. I had nothing to do with their comings and goings. I decided not to swear and told Farhang that I saw no reason why they should come to my room. Of course, I was indifferent to it and since they had taken it, personally, it was, I thought, unimportant. Anyway, they came in and I stared at them. The woman, looking at me, said to Farhang, “Do you know, Farhang, I have always said that Ashraf is just like my own daughter: a bit short‑tempered and…” and such drivel. I knew she was fishing for an apology, so I said, “No, it had nothing to do with temper, I had planned it all beforehand”.
The following day they undid the shackles on my feet for an hour each day. This made it possible to answer the comrade’s knocks on the wall with my feet. The comrade would knock the tune of the song “Oh, Comrades!” on the wall and I would respond at lunchtime, when my hands were free.
*The literal translation of “niktab” in Persian is: one with a good and charming nature. (I.C.)
** In Persian, “Farhang” means “Culture”. (I.C.)
A Fighter Is Never Alone
One hot afternoon when I was lying on my back, I felt very hot. The accumulation of sweat on my back was giving me a peculiar burning pain and I tried to move myself in order to air my back. After a little while I thought, ‘well to hell with it’ and I lay back again and started singing a song. I managed to fit the song, “When the enemy asks where Amir* is, I beat my breast, point to my heart and say, they are still fighting” into a tune and replaced Amir with other names, such as Samad, Behrouz, Javad, Rahmat and continued with the song. I turned my head to the wall and seeing the lines on the wall, remembered the battle in which Comrades Pouyan and Payrove Naziri took part. I had heard the conduct of the battle from the women in the room upstairs, and I would always think about it. Although they were very happy about the death of the comrades (especially that of Comrade Pouyan, who was a member of the Central Committee of the Organisation and had played an important part from its inception), they were unable to hide their admiration and respect for them, for the courageous way they had faced the enemy. The news of this battle was well known to everyone. These mercenaries were so dazed by this first urban guerrilla battle that they would tell it like an unbelievable fairy‑tale. They would swear and say, “The bastards had no fear at all, in spite of all those heavily armed police. Goodness me! How long they managed to resist!”
I could easily visualise the comrades, full of hatred for, and revenge against, the enemy, fighting with determination while shouting slogans about their great ideals and I would feel deeply happy. I could also see the enemy feeling …utterly helpless against such brave fighters.
Even when, due to our mistakes, the enemy got hold of an address, there was still the problem of facing the guerrillas with their guns pointing at his head. In the end, they would get hold of nothing but corpses. With a feeling of excitement and hatred, I turned my head and murmured, “Oh, hatred! Thou art as important as love!” and then I sang, “Revolt, revolt, revolt to the tune of Koor-Oghli.
*Comrade Amir Parviz Pouyan.
How The Comrades Break The Silence Of The Cells
It was three o’clock in the afternoon. The noise of the changeover of constables filled the basement. I heard a voice saying, “What’s your name?” I thought one of the constables was talking to a prisoner. But the question was repeated again and again. It was so noisy outside that the voice kept getting lost. I heard a hard knock on the wall and, “What’s your name?” Only then did I realise that the comrade next door was talking to me under the cover of the noise outside. This seemed clever to me since I never realised that one could talk to a neighbouring comrade. We talked a bit, exchanged names and told one another the reason for our arrest. “You have not grassed to the enemy, have you?” we both asked. Outside was quiet again and we stopped talking. As I started whistling the tune of “Oh Comrades!” there was this loud knock on the wall. I stopped and waited to see why he had knocked. I started whistling once more and heard the knock again. I realised that I should not whistle, but did not know why. I thought, “Well, I’ll ask him some other time”.
After a time, I heard the comrade whistling the tune of “Oh, Comrades!” He whistled the first line and I followed with the second, and thus we sang it to the end. I heard the voice of a guard saying, “Who is that stupid…whistling? Where do you think you are, at a party?” I heard him walking along the cells. Then I learned why the comrade knocked on the wall every time I whistled. His hands were not tied to the bed; therefore, he could make sure by looking through the hole that nobody was around before he whistled. I realised that here the guards try to stop any form of communication between the comrades to make them feel completely isolated. I felt that I should fight against the wishes of the enemy by any means, of which whistling was one. By whistling we could establish contact with each other and boost our morale. I heard the guard’s steps fading away and began to whistle again. This time I was happy to hear a second comrade joining in. The three of us continued whistling. The guard came in at suppertime, unlocked my handcuffs and left for other cells. Having been untied from the bed, I walked to the wall and at the first opportunity, knocked a comradely message on the wall and the comrade knocked a revolutionary tune in response. As soon as I heard footsteps, I walked away from the wall. They brought in the food, consisting of some split peas, two pieces of aubergine floating in some stock and a loaf of bread.
The number of prisoners whistling increased. It could be heard from all corners of the basement and it was difficult for the guards to know where it was coming from. This was our way of pestering them. As soon as they approached a cell to check the whistling, it would stop and start in another cell.
On bath day, they would open the cells one by one, let the prisoners out for ten minutes and bring them back again. Outside they would shave the male comrades, after which the comrades had only five minutes to have a bath. There was a commotion again, and a good opportunity to talk to the comrade next door. It seemed he was a member of the Armaneh Khalgh Group. (29) I asked him about their strategy. We talked about various things and felt a sense of comradeship between us. Our talk did not last long. The constables heard us talking and were trying to find out where it was coming from. The comrade knocked a warning signal on the wall and said: “Tomorrow….”
But the following day he was transferred to another prison.
We Shall Triumph
One day I heard a woman’s voice from the cell next door. It was not the voice of the woman guard. Could it be Comrade Feran? * I had guessed correctly. Comrade Shahin was put in the cell next to mine and Comrade Roghiyeh was in the cell near the iron gate. We immediately began the knocking routine and kept it up as long as we stayed next to each other. This routine never became monotonous for us, since we both knew with what fervour we had been trying to convey to one another the meaning of every line of poetry we knocked on the wall. The line, “We shall not take one single step backwards, till death” from the song “Oh, Comrades!” we would knock more often than any other.
In the mornings, the doors were normally unbolted with a noise. They would put a little bread and cheese outside the door. We would wake up with all the noise and the guard would unlock the handcuffs (These days, the handcuffs were put on only at night). At the first opportunity, I would knock on Comrade Shahin‘s wall for her to get ready for the morning’s exercise. We would begin the exercise with a tune which eludes me now using such phrases as, “One must exercise, to keep gay” and so on. I could hear the comrade breathing heavily.
With all three of us gathered in the basement, there was a perceptible change in the prison atmosphere. We would not keep still for one moment, trying to break the quiet of the prison. This was our duty, if the fight was to be carried on in any condition and form.
It was a relatively busy day. The constables were busy chatting in a corner. It was a good opportunity for reciting poetry, so I sat in the doorway and read part of the poem of Nguyen Van Troy.
Then we read one or two lines from other poets. Shahin read:
On the battlefield of love,
Only the true lover is slain.
The sly fox preserves his mean person;
The true lover is not afraid of
Giving up his own being for another.
If you are not killed in love’s battle,
And fit for nothing better than carrion.
Then I read:
He who is baptised in love can never die;
His name is written in the annals of eternal love.
Lastly, Comrade Roghiyeh recited the couplet she had written for the third of Khordad* * anniversary (the martyrdom of Comrades Pouyan, Payrove Naziri and Eskandar Sadeghi Nezhad):
Oh, thou enemy! The slayer of humanity!
With the fall of every comrade,
With the death of every fighter,
We renew our vows with the people and their friends.
The male comrades were all sitting near the doors and listening to our recital. Comrade Habib Farzad had recently been brought to the basement. He was full of enthusiasm and fervour, and listening to our recital he was moved. He began with “Oh Comrade! Get the sword in your manly hand….” and his gruff voice reverberated in the basement. However, other comrades begged him to stop, “Please comrade don’t. The mercenaries will hear you and stop the female comrades!…..” He complied.
Such was the atmosphere in the basement in those days; whistles sounding from all corners of the prison; the songs of Freedom, The International and the tune of the “Z” song, in memory of Siahkal. Comrade Roghiyeh and I would occasionally whistle some Turkish tunes and so on. This was our way of ignoring the order of the guards who had forbidden us to talk to each other, and of keeping up our comradeship. Whenever there was silence we would break it by knocking the tune “Venceremos” (We Shall Triumph) on the door. All the other comrades would do the same, to show that they were still alive. Since the constables did not know the meaning of these knocks, they would come to the door of the cell asking what the prisoner wanted, and we would, in turn, justify them by asking for something or other.
There was so much to do that there did not seem to be enough time for everything. Whenever there was no opportunity to read poetry or sing, we would busy ourselves making pawns out of bread dough, or things like a clenched fist, rifles, machine guns, grenades, small black fishes, tulips, daggers, etc., and, at an opportune moment would give them to one another.
We would use the smallest opportunity to make contact with each other. Sometimes, concealed from Farhang and the women, the constables would leave the doors of the cells open so that we could see each other on our way to the lavatory. How heartening it was to see the comrades and exchange messages with them and show each other our clenched fists! Being near the iron-gate, Comrade Roghiyeh was constantly near the door of her cell and, with a clenched fist and fiery slogans, urged the comrades to resist and persevere.
The women used to make difficulties about us going to the toilet. First, the constables had to ask the women’s permission excuse like and every time they would concoct some sort of like, “Tell’m to wait”. “We are eating at the moment.”
My cell was at the end of the basement, therefore, I had to walk the length of the corridor to the toilet. Passing by the cell doors, I could see the comrades looking through the holes, moving their hands and heads as a sign of comradeship. I used to feel terribly elated by all this kindness shown to me, and would say to myself, “The pain of torture, no matter how unbearable, will soon be forgotten. One can then bask in the affection shown to one by the people, the prison comrades and those who are still fighting outside these walls. One can draw strength out of all this affection and carry on the fight in any conditions, with a deeper hatred for the enemy”.
* Comrade Roghiyeh Daneshghari used to be called this Turkish name in her family.
**Khordad is a Persian calendar month, roughly about June.
The Mercenaries Admit Their Humiliation
One day Farhang came into my room and started blabbing as usual. He was the sort of man with whom you could start a conversation, before you knew where you were. Once more he started imposing on me his uncalled for advice, chatting about the petit‑bourgeois pleasures of life. I said to him, “Do you know, I don’t care two hoots about what you say; so, just shut up!”
But he was far too cheeky to be put off by this sort of talk. He gave a jarring sort of laugh, stopped in the middle of it, put on an incredulous look and said, “Really, what sort of people are you? How can you possibly suffer all the tortures and remain silent? You don’t seem to be afraid of anything! I saw you the day they brought you from Evin, slumped on the shoulder of a constable, you looked more dead than alive. I could see there was no hope you would survive and said so. Now, tell me, for what reason were you prepared to accept all that torture?” Without waiting for my reply, he carried on. I’ll tell you something, I’ve been working for this system all my life and owe them everything I have, yet if I were to be pounced upon by your lot, I would tell you anything you wanted to know before so much as receiving slap in the face. I am at a loss to know what sort of people you are. I think you must have lost your senses”. And as if noticing his own humiliating position, he lowered his voice and talked about the courage of two fighters who they condemned to death in 1953. He had taken part in their execution and was full of admiration for the way they had courageously faced the firing squad.
Some other times, he wanted to talk about the aims of our struggle and I tried to talk about the revolution and the aim of our Organisation. Occasionally, I would suddenly stop talking and blame myself for wanting to speak to someone who was up to his neck in the morass of personal interests, without any hope of redemption. But he would not give up and sometimes I would find myself answering his drivels by such phrases as, “Victory is ours; you will all be destroyed.” and so on.
Once in the middle of such a talk, the woman came in and went into a tirade proving the justice of our cause. The woman was less moronic than Farhang, and would soon realise that it was useless to argue with us. She turned to Farhang and said, “You have no idea what ‘love’ is, have you really? It is not something you can prove or disprove with talking. And there is not one kind of love only. Some people love their kids, others love their mothers. Well, these people are also in love and you can’t do anything with them”.
In the evening, a frivolous song was blaring out of a tape recorder outside in the hall. The mercenaries would while away their time by listening to such music, playing with matchsticks and eating fruit and bits and pieces. Farhang came in with a pear in his hand insisting that I should have it. He used to do this for the male comrades as well, but often he would take his own fruit to female comrades. I simply could not understand him. He spent a good half an hour insisting that I should have the pear. I got utterly fed up with this, and told him angrily, “Look here! How many more times do I have to tell you that I don’t want it?!” I might as well have been talking to a brick wall. At last he put the pear on the table and left the cell. His behaviour and talk left me annoyed and giddy. I picked the pear up and with all my hatred, squashed it in my hands, blaming myself for not having taken it from him half an hour earlier. He might have left the damn cell, then!
He was a picture of shamelessness and impudence. I thought about my attitude towards him and concluded that no matter how rough or normal and pleasant my behaviour might have been, it had not had any effect on him. He would not receive any better treatment from other male and female comrades. Despite all this, he was fond of keeping up the facade of “affection” and “chumminess”. Only then did I realise that my attitude towards him was different from that which I had with the officers and interrogators. Instead of being rough with him, my behaviour was mocking. I could not fathom the reason for this. Maybe it had something to do with his own peculiar character.
The door of the cell was open and I heard Comrade Shahin reading the verse she had written in connection to Farhang:
A moment ago, the prison guard brought me a bunch of grapes.
Behind the ruby coloured grapes,
I seemed to glimpse the bloodstained hands of the executioner;
Then I heard the treacherous guard say:
“Come on, sweet child, eat them”;
I did not stretch out my hands to grasp them,
Lest the guard should think, my sorrow could be quenched
By a bunch of grapes.
Forty‑nine grapes of wrath, forty‑nine drops of blood,
The blood of my loved ones; those martyrs who gave their blood.
The sweetness of the grapes seemed like poison to me, nay, worse still.
I squashed the grapes with anger and counted the drops of blood pouring from them:
15, 2, 3, 2, and 1*
23 drops of blood, 23 martyred bodies.
There were 26 grapes left.
I squashed them, hoping they would be the blood of my foul enemies.
Yes, even the gift of the enemy is a provocation to anger.
Farhang was by no means the only mercenary who could show how shameless and impudent a person can be. The prison governor Sheikhavandi, was another example (he was one of the officers who had recently returned from Israel). I was given to understand that there was some animosity between him and the woman. When he saw me for the first time, he said, “Just as well you have come here. You will be more comfortable, and left alone. I am glad you gave that woman a good hiding”.
I was not at all surprised to see animosity existing between the mercenaries themselves , since this was a natural consequence wherever personal interests were involved, and therefore enmity was inevitable. Even when this same interest becomes a focus for unity, it cannot last long.
I did not comment on what he said, and completely ignored it. I had no intention of talking to the officers. He was there practically every day inquiring after my health and so on. Although I would not utter a single word, and merely confined myself to giving him a look full of hatred, he would not be put off. He would insist that I say something. Sometimes he would stand in the doorway and drivel for an hour about how he was only an ordinary officer and not part of the team of torturers; how his work was confined to the governorship of the prison and had nothing to do with anything else; how he treated the prisoners with respect, irrespective of their offences, and so on and so forth.
I told him once, “I am perfectly familiar with your trade. You all say the same thing and. behave the same way. As far as I am concerned, you are all the same. You are all enemies of the people!”
Sheikhavandi and Farhang were in a class of their own. Other mercenaries, faced with my attitude, would at least change their approach. Not so these two mercenaries. Once I screamed at them, “Get out of my cell!” and they stayed away for two whole days!
Although I was strapped to the bed during those two days, I felt happy that I had succeeded in getting them out of the cell. Farhang would never come to my cell again, and Sheikhavandi (perhaps due to other reasons) was never to be seen in the basement again. The same day a constable unstrapped me at mealtime and I immediately ran to the door and showed comrade Roghiyeh my clenched fist (they had recently moved the comrade to a cell opposite to mine). I jumped up into the air with happiness. After lunch, they strapped me back on to the bed.
I became ill after a few days. I was brought in the usual prison ration of pain‑relieving tablets and a spoonful of cough mixture by Farhang. I looked at him with indifference but did not swear. This approach caused him to begin his usual comings and goings. However, I felt elated for a few days for having won a modest victory.
*15: Martyred comrades of the Siahkal Unit;
2: Comrades Javad Salahi and Khalil Salman‑Nezhad;
3: Comrades Pouyan, Eskandar Sadeghi‑Nezhad, and Payrove Naziri;
2: Comrades Kazem Salahi and Ahmad Koram‑Abadi;
1: Comrade Behrouz Dehghani.
Steadfast And Heads Held High Despite Tortured Bodies
My hands were free now and I could look outside through the hole. Once I saw a medical orderly standing in the doorway of cell No. 9. 1 became curious and wanted to learn what was going on there. A doctor or an orderly would normally indicate that a prisoner had been severely tortured. The medical orderly had also been to Comrade Roghiyeh’s cell. They had burned the comrade’s toes with a cigarette lighter and he had gone in to apply some ointment. The orderly left the cell after a short time, but I was still looking through the hole. They turned on the ventilator. I looked at the holes of other calls and noticed that other prisoners were also looking intently through the holes. The comrade in cell No. 9 (a fighter from the Armaneh Khalgh Group) walked out of the cell with great difficulty. A constable tried to help him but the comrade brushed him aside. He had obviously been brutally tortured. They had burned his back as well as the back of one of his hands. His hand did not lie straight on his arm and, because of fresh scabs on the soles of his feet, he walked with great difficulty ‑ in fact it would be true to say that he was dragging his feet. Despite all the pain, he moved with dignity and pride paying no importance to physical pain. He was on his way to the toilet. It made me dizzy to see the effects of torture on the body of a fighter. As soon as he disappeared from my view, I turned round and hit myself against the door with some force and hit the wall with my fist. My whole body was contracted and I was burning inside with a deep feeling of revenge. I felt absolutely choked and tears poured down my cheeks ‑ tears of anger and revenge. I asked myself, “Why should these sub‑humans be allowed to commit such crimes? Now I know why they start the ventilator, so that the noise of it should make it impossible for the prisoners to hear the comrade dragging his feet!” We witnessed numerous scenes like this. To see these tortured bodies with heads held high, to see the tired feet of the fighters walking resolutely, would give us strength to hate the enemy even more.
Comrade Asghar Arab‑Harisi, with his boundless hatred for the enemy, was another uncompromising character. He was a young, a well-informed worker who had won the admiration of everyone with his amazing resistance, including the enemy. I remember how he made not the slightest sound while being whipped by the enemy who was utterly humiliated by his indomitable spirit and said in despair; “Damn it! It is as if we were whipping the bed and not Asghar!” Even after such savage sessions, the comrade would not relax his aggressive attitude towards the enemy and was constantly shouting at them. This was a life‑long anger, which he felt for his class‑enemy. He was tied to the bed 24 hours a day but as soon as he was unstrapped he would attack and kick the nearest mercenary. That was why his feet were chained together even when he wanted to go to the lavatory, and his arms tightly held by two constables in the room upstairs. Every prisoner had one constable guard, but he had two.
That was the way this heroic son of the people would treat the enemy ‑ and they admired him for it.
One day a prison guard, who had mistaken him for somebody else, asked how he was. The comrade, who would never allow a mercenary to be friendly, shouted, “Mind your own business, you self‑seeking traitor”. All the mercenaries were well aware of the comrade’s boundless hatred for them and their plundering and would not dare go near him.
Comrade Asghar believed that there was no difference between a weak and a powerful enemy: they were all enemies. A proletarian fighter will talk to his class enemy only through the barrel of a gun.
Experience has taught me that, for a fighter, there is no pain and suffering greater than a feeling of shame and surrender before the enemy. Therefore, it used to hurt me a great deal to see some of the weaknesses of prisoners. For example, one day the prisoner in cell No. 4 kept knocking on the door and asking the constables for cigarettes. Other prisoners followed suit. The prison guard came over and shouted, “Where do you think you are? In a bloody party! (his usual catch‑phrase). No, you ain’t going to have any cigarettes.” I walked up and down my cell, feeling rather unhappy about this incident. I remembered Comrade Kamilo from Cuba who gave cat’s meat to the raw recruits in order to test their resistance. This was only one of many tests the new guerrillas had to face to prove their readiness to accept all kinds of hardship. And yet some prisoners were unable to go without cigarettes. Of coarse, I knew that not all the prisoners were guerrillas. Most of them were sympathetic towards the revolution and their only offence was that they had some proscribed books or pamphlets in their possession.
Prison Guards: People Or Enemy Of The People?
One day I heard the shrew doing her nut again. I looked through the hole and saw her in front of Comrade Habib Farzad’s cell. She looked angry and distraught and was telling a fawning little prison guard, “What rude creatures these people are. This boy tells me I am not ‘people’! yet he himself says that whoever works hard is ‘people’ and I tell him, well, I work hard here from morning till night, he still insists that I am not people.”
I heard Comrade Habib shouting in reply, “…No, you are not part of the people, you are the enemy of the people. To work hard does not automatically entitle anyone to be part of the people: it depends on the purpose of the hard work. You have willingly put yourself at the disposal of the enemy and try hard to further his unjust aims. You are standing against the people, and not on their side. You cannot possibly be for the people; you are their enemy”.
Apparently, the woman had asked Comrade Habib, who these ‘people’ were that he treated with such respect and the comrade had replied that they were the toiling masses. Having heard the comrades talking with great affection about the people, and having heard other comrades saying that they endured hardship and torture for the sake of the people, the woman desperately wished to be part of the people and be respected by these brave fighters. Obviously, it was the height of selfishness and stupidity on the part of the woman to expect this. She felt that since she worked from morning until night, she should be reckoned as part of the people!
The evening of that same day the tune of “Venceremos” (We Shall Overcome) was knocked on the door by Comrade Habib. He had kidney trouble, which forced him to go to toilet every hour. This had become a real problem for him. A bad diet, nervous disorder as a result of torture, listening to the screams of the prisoners who were being whipped or tortured, had all contributed to general discomforts in the digestive and other systems. Therefore, not being allowed to go to lavatory in time was an additional problem. Because of his extra special condition, Comrade Habib Farzad was given permission to go to the lavatory out of turn. Nevertheless, every time he knocked at his cell door, the mercenaries would burst into laughter and crack jokes about it.
However, they opened the door and he came out with his jacket hanging on his shoulder. I heard a commotion, looked out and saw the prison guard punching and kicking him and shouting, “Why the hell have you got your jacket like that? Don’t damn well drag your feet so much….” There was a lot of noise and I could not hear all that was said. I found out afterwards that the woman, because of the argument she had had with him in the morning, had told the guard to give him a hiding with some pretext.
An hour later I heard more noise coming from Comrade Habib‘s room. The constable reported that Habib had refused to take food and intended to go on hunger strike. The woman went into his room and I heard her shouting, “You must eat! I shall not allow you to go on hunger strike. A prisoner must do as he is told. You can’t do as you wish” and so on. I could hear the comrade’s angry protests, but could not quite make out what he was saying. There was a moment’s silence and then Amini, the comrade’s interrogator, went in. Again, I heard his protests. After a short while Amini came out and told the guards to leave him alone. “Why the hell do you argue with him?” he added.
Life In The Cell
I was concerned that our time should be spent usefully, and at the same time, I felt that a fighter’s action should be related to the general aims of the struggle. I and other comrades set ourselves a daily program of work: physical exercise; reciting poetry; talking to comrades by knocking on the wall; making little balls out of dough and using them for target practice ‑ the nearest thing to a proper shooting practice. This we would only do when the ventilator was on, so that its noise would drown the sound of the balls hitting the wall. When the ventilator was off, we would do this on the floor, since this too was a kind of target practice. We would also think about a particular topic, paint on dough, shape it into figures, search the walls for poems or otherwise write poetry on them, and so on.
The atmosphere in the cells was stuffy. The woman felt that she was the boss in the basement as well. To show off her authority to the prisoners as well as to her colleagues, she ordered the constables to leave the cell doors ajar one hour a day. As well as showing her authority to the prisoners, she expected respect for this act of “generosity”. But in any case, it gave us an opportunity to talk to one another.
Being shortsighted, I could only manage to see the cell opposite with difficulty in the semi‑dark atmosphere of the basement. In the cell opposite there was an ordinary prisoner: (i.e., not political ) who desperately wanted to get out of prison. Therefore, he behaved very “correctly” and would always sit at the end of the cell and would not come near the door. The comrades were all standing at the doorways and chatting to one another. The constables told us to speak quietly so that Farhang would not hear. Some of the comrades, who were too far apart, would talk to each other by knocking the words on the door. On one such day, Comrade Roghiyeh told me all about her torture and interrogation.
She was arrested in her brother’s house and, after considerable threats, was tortured, whipped, her nails put in a vice, pinching her flesh with a pair of pliers, directing flood‑lights into her eyes. They also burned her toes with a cigarette lighter.
During the torture the mercenaries undressed the comrade and applied an electric truncheon to various parts of her body. They had ordered a number of constables to stand outside the door, and would from time to time, open the door to give them a glimpse of the comrade’s naked body, an old practice of combining physical and mental torture. The comrade came out of both these tortures with her head held high. There is no limit to the shamelessness of the enemy and his base and depraved agents.
The depraved mercenaries of the police had committed similar shameless and disgraceful acts during the arrest of Comrade Shahin Tavakkoli. Between the house and the police headquarters they tied the comrade’s hands and feet and bound up her mouth. Then while holding a bottle of araq* each in their hands they treated the comrade in the car in the most depraved manner.
However, having failed to break Comrade Roghiyeh under torture, the enemy embarked on an elaborate deceit. After the torture, she was dumped in a cell with a constable as her guard. In fact, he was an interrogator dressed as a constable. He pretended to be sorry and swore at the torturers, and started talking about his family and children, and about how hard it was to bring up a family on his salary. At the sound of someone walking towards the cell, he would keep away from the comrade, or talk in a whisper, with other such play‑acting. To complete the picture, the sly fox actually managed to shed a few tears for the inhumanities suffered by Comrade Roghiyeh. Thus, he managed to win her confidence. On the other hand the comrade, quite erroneously, believed that one either dies under torture or talks and so becomes a traitor. Therefore, she was surprised to see good and trustworthy comrades still alive, and accepted the drivel of the mercenaries that the prisoners’ thoughts could be recorded on a special piece of apparatus! She had also formerly heard one of her university professors talking about such a device. Thus, she had no doubt that the mercenaries were right. Having refused to divulge the address of her comrades’ “safe house” under torture, she now felt that she could send a message to her comrades in the house through the bogus constable. She believed that in this way she could stop the efforts of the mercenaries to use the ‘miraculous’ device on other comrades. The “constable” agreed to pass the message with some reluctance! Fortunately, the comrades had already left the house and the enemy’s trick failed.
Comrade Roghiyeh was extremely distraught about this and asked us whether it was treason. We assured her that it was merely simple‑mindedness and a neglect of revolutionary vigilance.
There was not a lot of constructive thinking going on in the basement. Comrade Mohammed Taghi‑Zadeh was teaching other comrades how to unlock handcuffs with a flat‑ended pin, which used to drop out of the brooms used by prison staff. Escape was a dream, bearing no relation to practical reality. It was wrong even to think about some ideas: that a bomb might be thrown into the prison and we would be able to escape in the confusion! I rejected this kind of escapism out of hand. I believed that this kind of talk put more value on the outside factor and less on the inside one. I also believed that we ought entirely to depend on our own resources and completely discard the outside factor in tackling such problems. Of course, in practice, we never approached it seriously, because we lacked a true guerrilla spirit. Nevertheless, I was intensely aware of what Comrade Marighela (33) had said in reply to those who denied the effectiveness of armed struggle, “You can train fighters who will bear the hardship of prison life for years and years; but you will never be able to train somebody to escape from prison according to a predetermined plan”. I knew that it was the duty of every guerrilla to escape from prison and think about the constructive and practical ways to do this, and I was thinking about it.
One day the woman took me to Comrade Shahin‘s cell (she did so a few times). Picking at the loaf of bread, I had under my arm, without being conscious of it, comrade Shahin said jokingly, “Maybe you are picking the floor of your cell the way you do the loaf?”
“No, not yet” I replied, “Oh, yes, no doubt about getting out, but not here… in the general wing….”
The woman interrupted, “Put it out of your mind dear. With all these police and guards it would be impossible for anyone to escape”.
I did not plan to create an opportunity to escape, but waited for it. Although a guerrilla should try to exploit any possibility for escape, the possibilities were unknown. I did not know how many guards there were, where they were; when the guards were changed, and so on.
That was how we spent our days. No doubt in a small place like that, one’s thinking must be limited. Life was restricted to reciting poetry, making figures out of dough tang and making fun of Farhang. Given the opportunity, we would occasionally talk to sympathizers about the tactics and aims of our Organisation. In that fateful summer, history was being made outside, things were happening which demanded the attention of the comrades. Others were furthering the cause of the movement, while we were boxed up in the basement unaware of everything Occasionally, a new comrade in the basement, would bring in some news. The women would also, from time to time, give us some news with the intention of lowering our morals; for example, they told us of the execution of the Armaneh Khalgh comrades.
It was now the beginning of Autumn. These days the woman would leave the basement in the mornings and evenings, and be absent for hours on end. We found out afterwards that she would go out with other henchmen and their absence had probably something to do with pinpointing the house of Comrade Gobadi (34). Immediately after her long absence, she gave us the news of the battle near Comrade Gobadi‘s house. She was very pleased about this and told us with great pride, “We flattened the house and killed three guerrillas in it!”
She never said anything about the gallant fight put up by the comrades. Of course, we knew full well that when three guerrillas lose their lives in a confrontation with the enemy, it must be an epic battle.
She imagined that such news would demoralise us, whereas exactly the opposite was the case. It was clear proof that the unrelenting fight against injustice was in full swing. This martyrdom, these battles, gave us more strength to keep up our own uncompromising fight inside the prisons against the enemy.
In The Middle Of Autumn, it turned very cold. I used to roll myself into a ball under the blanket and still could not sleep from cold. I felt as if my brain cells were freezing up. I would put the prison coat over my head, and knot the sleeves to keep the cold out.
Every comrade had some sort of trouble or other. Because of ulcers, some comrades could not eat the prison diet, and would therefore only eat bread.
New prisoners had arrived and I was waiting for an opportunity to talk to them. The door of a cell was left ajar and I put my mouth on the hole and asked the comrade if there was any news. “Yes”, he said happily, “the guerrillas have shot down Farid‘s helicopter and he is dead”. I was very happy to hear this news and I wanted him to repeat it and he did. I walked round the cell and put my mouth on the hole again and asked him for more news.
“Have you heard about Mehr‑Noosh?” he went on “She was a member of the Fadaee Guerrillas and has been martyred in an action against the enemy. She put up a gallant fight and the news has reached all the people. She engaged the enemy long enough for another comrade to escape….” (35)
It was a very heartening piece of news and I could well imagine how gallantly the comrade must have faced scores of enemy agents, single‑handed, with a deep love for the people, an unshakable faith in the righteousness of her ideals ultimate victory. I felt a deep affection for this Fadaee guerrilla and swore by her blood to remain always uncompromising in the fight against the enemy.
It was afternoon. The women were standing near my cell, talking the Mickey out of Colonel Amir‑Aslani, the head of the No. 2 Intelligence Department. They would pretend that he was about to enter a comrade’s cell. With the utmost caution he would glance furtively through the hole, and pull himself back immediately. He would stand still for a while trying to pluck up courage to enter the room, but fails again and repeats the previous motions. He turns to the officer accompanying him and asks distractedly whether the guerrilla’s hands and feet are tied up. The officer reassures him. He then walks into the cell, keeping as close as possible to the other officers!
I have no idea which brave comrade had struck such fear in the heart of this colonel.
The women would scream with laughter, and I, too, would at their stupidity in mimicking their chief in front of me. I also laughed at the cowardice of that chicken of a colonel. I thought of the audacity of our brave comrades in facing the parasites that had struck such fear in the heart of their chief that he would not dare to face even a chained comrade.
Comrade Roghiyeh had her hands and feet tied to the bed because of an argument she had had with the shrew.
Comrade Nabdel was transferred to a basement cell, and was also tied to the bed for having given the prison governor a hiding. Other prisoners had kicked up a row and shouted slogans, and Yasha Aktai Yasha!**
At lunchtime, they undid the comrade’s handcuffs. Our cell doors were left open. I stood in the doorway and looked at Comrade Nabdel‘s cell. The comrade came near his door. We were both shortsighted and therefore could not read one another’s lip movements. I saw him holding up his clenched fist and humming, “We shall fight like the Bolsheviks….” Hearing a constable’s footsteps, the comrade moved back.
One day a comrade joyfully told me that there was a religious group active outside that accepts historical materialism . Another comrade said that this group has adopted the line of armed struggle. I was overjoyed to hear this since not only did the group approve of our tactics of struggle, but it also gave us hope that we could fight together with other groups against the bloodthirsty enemy.
They transferred me to cell No. 1, which was near the iron gate. I could clearly hear whatever was said in the hall. One day I heard the domineering voice of the woman, shouting, “It is your duty to do as I order…come on, pick up these dishes and wash them up!”
The constable said, “My duty is to guard and not to wash up and he refused to do it. 1 was happy to hear the constable’s reply, and felt revulsion for the woman.
I thought of the beautiful world of communism where there would be no trace of an exploiting class, and domination would be eradicated. The thought of having a share, however small, in creating such a society cheered me. 1 burst into laughter. Hearing my voice, the woman asked me what 1 was doing? “Are you reciting poetry?” she said. Yes I am!” I answered.
At the end of Aban*** all the comrades were transferred to Evin, that is, all except me, Comrade Roghiyeh, Comrade Shahin and Ahmad Riazi(36). They intended to free Ahmad Riazi. The basement was empty and we three were also going to be transferred to the Evin Prison. A few days later we were blindfolded, put in an ambulance‑type vehicle with windows blacked out, and taken to Evin Prison.
*A strong Persian spirit. To face the courageous guerrillas, the mercenaries have to take Dutch courage beforehand. (I.C.)
**”Aktai” was Comrade Nabdel’s non‑de‑plume. “Yasha” is Turkish for “Long live”.
***A Persian calendar month, about October.
Back To Evin
A Look At Life In Evin
They took us out of the ambulance and led us, still blindfolded, into a hall where they kept us for some time. From the corner of our eyes, we could see some people sitting on chairs and then each one of us (Comrades Shahin and Roghiyeh and myself) was taken separately into different rooms. When they took off my blindfold in the room, I saw Mustafavi, Fahimi, Tehra‑rii, Hosein‑Zadeh and Javan. When they saw me they laughed as though at some recollection, and in a tone of great friendship they exclaimed, “What senseless answers you gave! You made a mockery of the whole thing. Your interrogation sheets gave us a good laugh”.
Then they said, “Now we are going to give you papers so you can write everything in detail”. The papers were brought and at the top was written: “Explain your motive for following such a path, and describe all the activities in which you have been involved up to the present time”. They stressed that I should give detailed answers.
I knew that when they transfer a prisoner from police Headquarters to Evin, they do so to find out whether what he has written on his interrogation sheets is true or not. The prisoner is given new sheets in Evin on which the same questions are asked, then if the prisoner has given false information to the police, contradictions can be established by comparing the two sets of question sheets. In this way, they check the validity of the interrogation, and this procedure is carried out with everyone who has first been interrogated by the police. I repeated, in a shortened form, the answers to the questions in my police interrogation.
The thugs then had the shameless effrontery to say, “We are very sorry that Behrouz died, he had a great deal of information which would have been very helpful to us”. The butcher, Hosein‑Zadeh said in a tone of regret, “Yes, he took a lot with him….”
In the police prison, I had heard from the woman that the traitor Shah contacts SAVAK and the police every day by telephone and inquires about the interrogations, torture and their results. When he was told of the death of Comrade Behrouz, the Shah said, “I am sorry about that; you might have obtained a lot of information from him”.
I was alone for two days. On the third day, they put all three of us together in one room. For each of us, when we were in solitary confinement, the mere thought that one day we might be together again brought us happiness. But when, for the first time, we saw each other at close quarters, our joy was so great that we did not know what to do. We embraced each other over and over again and wiped tears of joy from each other’s eyes. So great was our joy that for half an hour we just laughed without being able to say a word. Then Comrade Roghiyeh recited in stages a poem entitled “Victory”, which she herself had composed while in prison. For us that poem brought back to life memories we shared, and so had great interest for us. We had so much to tell one another that for two days and nights we did not sleep at all. Amongst other things we told each other how we were arrested, the things we had experienced in confrontation with the enemy during this time, the lies they had told us, and what that woman had told us individually in order to make us feel isolated from one another.
From the central courtyard three or four long, narrow steps led to a large square hall. To the left there was a big room, which was the workroom, used by Javan. Next to this room, there was a corridor 2 1/2 to 3 metres wide with two doors leading off on the right‑hand side. At the far end was a door linking it to another corridor, which led to three or four rooms and the toilet was next to this door. In the corridor, chairs had been placed on which prisoners were seated and interrogated. The room we were in was opposite the entrance from the courtyard to this corridor. Dense trees blocked the view from our window. Everywhere in the place the silence weighed down on us, and apart from the cawing of crows which flew from one branch to another, no other sound was to be heard. Only very rarely, a dog would begin to bark and a few moments later stop. This only added to the heavy silence.
This type of atmosphere is exploited by the mercenary thugs in the staging of mock executions of our comrades. This “execution” is a kind of psychological torture, which has been carried out on many of our comrades. It goes like this: early in the morning, they inform the prisoner he is to be executed by firing squad. They blindfold him and tie him to a tree, then the firing squad falls in and the usual ceremonies are carried out. In a special formation, the firing squad stands opposite the prisoner and the death sentence is read out to him: “You…(details of identification) are accused of according to Article…of the…Act, and are sentenced to death. The verdict will now be carried out”. Orders are given to the firing squad: “Ready, aim…”but just one moment before the word “fire” is uttered, someone rushes in, shouting, “Halt! We have just received an order to postpone his execution”.
By means of such “shows”, the enemy intends to give the prisoner a foretaste of death, so that he will experience the fear of the moment of execution. And to weaken his morale and determination, so that when confronted by threats of death, he breaks down and talks.
In our room were three beds with comfortable mattresses and pillows. And the SAVAK, unlike the police, were pleasant, understanding people and they treated us with great respect!! Hosein‑Zadeh, Javan, Tehrani and two or three others whose names I did not find out, called at our room a few times. But mostly it was Mustafavi and Hushang Fahimiwho came. Fahimi, who had a high-pitched, effeminate voice, tried to establish friendly relations with us through his “witty” remarks. Mustafavi, stupid and shameless as he was, every day when he came to our room, wore a smart new suit, as if he wanted to give himself a romantic appearance. No doubt the thought lingered in the back of his mind that, after all, we were girls.
Though the food was worse than the police gave us, at least here we had enough. Breakfast was magnificent. They brought us jam and butter, or eggs and cheese every day, in quantities more than sufficient for three people. We could have tea at any time of the day. Once every hour a soldier would knock on the door to inquire whether we wanted tea. Such strange behaviour! They even gave us a radio and a few copies of “The Weekly Book”, “The Red Yellows” and a book, “Look” by Mustafa Rahimi.
We were suspicious of the radio because it could have contained a tape recorder, and our attention was also drawn to a wire that led from the corner of our room to Javan‘s room. We would examine it to try to find‑ out what purpose it served. Whenever we went to the toilet, we would try to see whether it led to other rooms as well. Anyway, because of the radio and the wire we talked in low voices or wrote on the floor things we did not want the enemy to find out. At the same time, when Fahimi and Mustafavi talked to us, we were very attentive and tried to establish, through what they said, whether they could, in fact, hear us.
From time to time a SAVAK agent would come and ask Comrade Roghiyeh about how to make TNT, introducing himself as a student of chemistry. He claimed he was carrying out research. How absolutely stupid of them to think that anyone could believe such nonsense. Mustafavi used to say that this “student” really knew a lot about explosives, and that whenever they were about to enter a house under suspicion, he would go in first to see if there were any explosives and defuse them.
Early in December, we looked out of the window and saw that the SAVAK had lined up cars (Aria, Benz, etc.) and two military trucks loaded with certain equipment which seemed to be supplies and ammunition, with some soldiers sitting in the back. And the “simple student of chemistry” (which is how we referred to him when talking between ourselves) the would‑be spy and explosives expert, together with other mercenaries in camouflage uniform (green and gray) and another group in civilian dress, got into the car and drove away. At first we thought they were going to surround a house, but wearing camouflage to surround a house in the city seemed rather senseless. Were they going to a forest or was it an ordinary manoeuvre?
They did not interfere when we wanted to go to the toilet, and we were allowed to go any time. This fact was particularly important to us because it meant we could see other comrades who were sitting on chairs waiting to be interrogated. The times when there were comrades were the most important for us. We could each leave the room one after another, using the excuse of going to the toilet. We would exchange greetings with the comrades, give the sign of the clenched fist and repeat some slogan and by some means or other, would remind each other of our solidarity. Such occasions filled our whole life with extreme excitement and the highest enthusiasm. They were happy and valuable moments. We would say to people filling out their interrogation sheets, “You are now sitting the People’s examination and you must pass it”. To others we would say, “At the People’s examination there are no second chances; take great care to pass”.
In an environment where the enemy tries with all its power to create a feeling of loneliness in the individual, constantly reminding him that other comrades are traitors and trying by all possible means to make us become suspicious of each other, to see the happy faces of true freedom‑fighters and exchange even one single greeting, which expresses our comradeship and continuing loyalty to the People, creates new zeal and ardour. We met many such true freedom‑fighters in that corridor, whose behaviour was so heroic that even the enemy could not help but praise them. Mustafavi would say, “Now when we hear anyone use the word “People” with such fervour, we know for sure they are members of the OIPFG. The fact is that they become really annoyed at the way in which people answer under interrogation. To such questions as: “State citizenship, occupation, activities, etc.” our comrades would write: “We are citizens of the People of Iran; we are guerrillas of the People; we are fighting for the People; victory to the People”.
Our male comrades were kept in solitary confinement but once, for a time, they put 35 veteran comrades from our Organisation together. Comrades Masoud Ahmad‑Zadeh, Hamid Tavakkoli, Saeid Ariyan (37), Abbas Heftahi, Asadollah Meftahi (38), Ali‑Reza Nabdel and a few members of the People’s Mujahedin Organisation were among them. Comrade Manaf (39) was put in a cell together with a comrade from the Organisation of People’s Liberation of Iran (40).
Here the guards were Privates and Sergeants, not policemen. In order to find out what they thought about our work for the revolution, I would say to them, “You know, these butchers around you murdered my brother”. One of these soldiers told Javan and other SAVAK agents what I had said. This was two days after our arrival at Evin, and Javan summoned me to his room and asked me why I had said that. I replied, “I spoke the truth. Anyway, you take pride in being a butcher. So what was wrong with my saying it?” Javan frowned and said threateningly, “Be careful what you say. You are no longer with the Police here. Our soldiers are loyal to us and report the slightest thing. Anyway, everyone knows that SAVAK and police agents killed Behrouz Dehghani, so what’s the point of saying so”. The height of shamelessness! In my mind, I completed his sentence: “and by this, they have further incensed the People’s wrath and desire for revenge”. So, let it be; the People shout, “Fear my anger, for it is the red mound of suppressed hopes”.
Hoseini‘s wife, who was 35 or 36 and wore a veil, used to visit us and her manner towards me was one of respect and humility. Once she went with me into the town to get a pair of glasses. One evening as it was getting dark we got into a car; I sat in the back, which was completely blacked out with one door connecting it to the front. A short Sergeant in a well‑worn uniform accompanied us. I observed him closely to find out whether he was armed, but I didn’t see anything. Our destination was Dr. Khorrami’s surgery. As I couldn’t see the streets, I did not know where it was. My short‑sightedness and the darkness of the evening combined, meant that I could not see further than 5 paces. So when I got out of the car and looked around 1 could see nothing but moving shapes and the light from street lamps, but nothing more. We walked 20 metres, then crossed the street, naturally I was all the time thinking of escape but however much I looked around, I could not find my bearings. I could not tell whether a person standing a few steps away was an ordinary man or a policeman or whether there was a street nearby. For these reasons, I abandoned all hope of escape.
I asked the SAVAK mercenaries whether we would be tried jointly with our male comrades. They answered, “If we do that, you will get some of them into trouble because if some of them should be sensible enough to want to behave well in court, they would be ashamed if you were there and through their own actions would make the judge pass the death sentence on them!”
In this way, we became closely acquainted with the idea of justice as conceived in the Sun of the Aryans’ Court. In other words, a death sentence or imprisonment is not related to the charges brought against a person.
In every prisoner’s file is a page where SAVAK’s opinion of him is recorded. The Court Judge’s decision as to the type and duration of sentence is made according to SAVAK’s opinion. So it is SAVAK’s opinion, which determines the limit of sentence, and the prisoner’s behaviour in court can only marginally affect the duration of his sentence.
Of course, in some cases, the behaviour of the accused in court does not confirm SAVAK’s predictions. In such cases, the file of the accused and a record of his behaviour in court is later returned to SAVAK and they express a second opinion of him which will decide his sentence in the Court of Appeals. In some cases, this second opinion has had such a profound effect on the court’s verdict that, for example, a 3 year sentence has been changed to 10 years, 10 years to 15, and 15 years to a death sentence. In the case of a death sentence, the accused’s behaviour in court can have no effect on the judge’s decision because the death sentence has already been decreed by SAVAK.
In order to try our morale, the mercenaries reminded us that if we put up an ordinary defense in court and did not talk of our ideology and the torture we had undergone, we would be sentenced only to a maximum of one or two years; if not, we would be sentenced to death. They would add, “Are you ready to be on good behaviour in court and not to repeat slogans? Then we will let you appeal in court together with your male comrades?”
But when a mercenary is confronted by revolutionary morale and true freedom‑fighters for whom the interests of revolution are part of their very existence, who never think of themselves but for the advancement and victory of revolution, then all the enemy’s devices collapse. That day Mustafavi talked about death sentences in order to create fear, and our comrades talked of the happiness of becoming a martyr for the People….” Their helplessness was a spectacle.
Meeting Comrade Masoud ‑ A Great Event
On that day, they arranged to bring Comrade Masoud Ahmad-Zadeh to us. All three of us were standing behind the door. It is impossible to describe how anxious we were to see him. At long last, the door opened and our comrade was brought in. We all three shook his hand with passionate warmth. His face radiated true happiness mingled with grave solemnity. As we shook his hand, we noticed that he could only lift it with difficulty. We glanced at each other, feeling uneasy for having shaken his hand so carelessly, so we asked him, “Are your hands still in pain when so many months have passed since they tortured you?” He moved his hand a little and said, “No, it’s nothing”.
He sat on the floor and we very proudly sat around him. Comrade Roghiyeh began, in a trembling voice and holding back her tears, describing how she had reacted under interrogation. When she had finished, she asked Comrade Masoud the same question she had asked us before. “In your opinion have I betrayed the cause by what I did?”
Comrade Masoud shook his head and said, “Of course not. This cannot be called a betrayal”. Then, as though remembering some past event, which brought a look of pride to his face, he said, “Have you heard about Comrade Majid (Ahmad‑Zadeh)?”
Mustafavi was going to prevent him from telling us, but we took no notice and excitedly asked, “What happened, what happened?”
He told us, “SAVAK agents, with the help of Azad‑Sarv(41) the traitor, arrested Comrade Majid. They put him in the back of a car between two SAVAK agents, his legs chained to a machine gun, and another agent and Azad‑Sarv were in front next to the driver. Comrade Majid was carrying a grenade with him, who the agent’s didn’t notice when they searched him; they had only taken his gun. Majid put his cyanide capsule in his mouth and pulling out the pin, threw the grenade onto the front of the car. Azad‑Sarv the traitor immediately picked up the grenade and tried to throw it out of the car, but before he could do it, it exploded in his hands. Azad Sarv and the driver were killed on the spot and the other two agents wounded. One of the SAVAK agents got out of the car to radio for help with the walkie-talkie but at that moment a police patrol car drove past and seeing the machine‑gun, thought they were guerrillas and started shooting, injuring the SAVAK agents further”.
While Masoud was calmly telling us this story, Mustafavi was writhing with frustration, but he said nothing. Finally, to console himself, he said, “That was just an accident”.
We laughed for joy and Masoud, paying no attention to Mustafavi, continued, “Azad Sarv was the first traitor to be punished”.
Our hearts overflowed with things to tell each other, so that we did not know where to begin. There was a moment of silence. Our comrade was accustomed to talking little, but Shahin objected and said, “You know how valuable every word you say is for us, so why don’t you say something?” Masoud just smiled. I had a question in mind, because in the cell I had previously been in, one of the fighters had asked me about the running of our Organisation, but I did not have much information. So, I thought I would ask this question and said, “How about the organisational set‑up. Could you tell us as much as the enemy already knows?” Mustafavi laughed and repeated the word “enemy” in a tone of mockery.
The comrade talked a little but I felt he did not want to say much on the matter, so I changed the subject. Mustafavi, now at his wits’ end, frowned and said, “Even when I’m here you talk about the interests of your Organisation”, and then decided to take Masoud away. We felt unlimited love for our heroic comrade. Comrade Shahin felt such pure, sincere love for him that she could not refrain from embracing his head in her arms. At that moment, we were witnessing an instance of the purest feelings of comradely love, and we felt that only true revolutionaries could enjoy such a glorious and great love. That was the first and only time we met our heroic and unforgettable comrade.
Meeting Other Comrades
Once we had the chance of meeting Comrades Saeid Arian and Hamid Tavakkoli, although we could not talk to them much. The despicable Hoseini was in the room and objected to our talking to each other. The miserable creatures expected that when we met one another, we would start to weep and moan. They really hated the high morale of our joyful resistance. This meeting between Shahin and Saeid and Hamid was especially arranged in order to arouse the feelings of kinship between brother and sister, husband and wife and so to weaken them. However, the meeting of our three heroic comrades was so much in the spirit of warrior‑guerrillas, that after a few minutes, the SAVAK agents regretted having brought them together. For during their meeting, the one thing the three comrades did not think about was their family tie; surely, there is no relation, which is as stable and joyful as comradeship. These three revolutionaries were, first and foremost, comrades. They sang guerrilla songs together and talked only of the masses, for which they felt such love.
The SAVAK agents, by talking of their own children to each other, tried to make Shahin and Saeid, these two comrades in arms, remember Samad, their little boy, and by arousing their most tender emotions, to weaken them and throw them off the path of revolution. But these were true revolutionaries who did not think only of their own son, and only of one Samad. They remembered the deprivation of millions of children in the world and their thin, waxen faces working in factories under any an oppressive puppet regime, such as the despotic Pahlavi regime in Iran, where right from infancy they are humiliated and exploited. They were friends to all the deprived children of the world and felt the responsibility to free them all from the grasping hands of exploiters. Saeid reminded Shahin of a poor, working class couple whom they knew and said, “You know, they cannot have children; they would just die from lack of food and medicine”.
I also met my younger brother Mohammed once. Beforehand, Mustafavi advised me that he was in low spirits and that they mere bringing him to me to give him some reassurance, so would I please talk to him in a normal manner, not chant slogans or recite guerrilla songs.
I had not seen Mohammed since a year before I was arrested, and I did not know what he had become. Had he joined the Organisation? At any rate he had been arrested for some reason connected with our Organisation. The enemy wanted to use him to counteract the effect of the martyrdom of Comrade Behrouz‘s death under torture. They were planning to interview him on television.
In the past, Mohammed and I loved Behrouz for his revolutionary characteristics. Our true happiness lay in being in his company. I remember clearly how happy we were each time he knocked on the door, and how eagerly I would jump up to open it. He was the one who satisfied all our material and spiritual needs. He understood the path of revolution and the way to liberate the masses from the oppression of long centuries; he taught us that we should follow this path to the end with firmness and resolution. He would talk to us about Marxism at every available moment, no matter how short the time, expressing himself in such clear, simple language. When we asked him a question on some small point he would expound patiently and enthusiastically on sides of the problem. There was no movement or action of his life, which did not have a bearing on the immortal cause of the Revolution. He was convinced that we could even teach Marxism to our old and illiterate mother. So whenever he had the chance, he would try this. He knew many Turkish sayings and proverbs which expressed dialectical laws in a simple way, some of them were, in fact, very stimulating slogans, such as:
“Bulanmassa, durulmaz” “Without change (Revolution) there is no purity”; and:
“El chekmeyen, el chekmez, gerek Jar. cheke’ lerdi”
“The true pilgrim is not deterred from the way,
Tho’ he must lay down his life to overcome obstacles”.
This last one he would often repeat.
Comrade Behrouz’s life was filled with only love and faith; love for the deprived masses throughout the world, faith in the final victory of their revolutions. With all this I have explained, how could it be possible for us not to love him? This was exactly the weak spot in Mohammed, which the SAVAK was working on.
They had kept Mohammed in solitary confinement for some time and in the cell next to his they would play tape recordings of someone being tortured and they would tell him it was Behrouz they were torturing. Sometimes, early in the morning, they would fire guns near his cell and tell him they had been executing people. They would also wake him up in the middle of the night and tell him they were soon going to torture him. Such continual psychological, and at times, physical torture, and the fact that he had found out about the death of Behrouz (his elder brother) left him psychologically weakened and disturbed. When he was brought to me, he looked faint. He could not focus his attention on anything or produce a coherent sentence. So, his words were a meaningless jumble. He closed his eyes and made every effort to concentrate, but he did not succeed. His suspicion of the enemy was extreme, so when he saw me he could not believe I was really his sister, but imagined there was some trick involved, as though he was telling himself that, in his present state, he should not trust his eyes. He said to Fahimi, “I know that afterwards you will take me away and torture me, but I don’ t care, I will go on saying what I think”. Then, pointing at the picture of the Shah on the wall he said in a naive child‑like way, “You know this is the matter… I’m not loyal to him…he is the enemy”. While he was in the room, he showed such simplicity and honesty that we were all deeply moved. I really understood the depth of meaning behind his simple sentence, “I’m not loyal to him”. I knew that if he had had enough political experience to be able to express the true depths of his feelings, then he would have phrased this in a far more eloquent and powerful way.
After his primary education, Mohammed had started work at the age of 12 at a number of garages and mechanical workshops and at the same time, he studied in the evening. After a short while he had become a competent, skilled worker, which had certain practical advantages for us.
I knew him well and was perfectly aware of his immense hatred of the enemy, so I was not in the least surprised when I learned of his clash with Khatayi in the first few days after his arrest. On one of the occasions when Khatayi woke him up at midnight to torture him, Mohammed jumped on him and bit his foot savagely. He would not release his hold, so it took several SAVAK mercenaries to drag him away.
So on that day when we met we all three tried to find things to say to him which would strengthen his morale before we were separated from him. Later when I was in the Qasrprison, I heard that after he started recovering they again began to torture him and once kept him in solitary confinement for a month. At the court, he was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment.
We were held for about 20 days in Evin. It was about the middle of December that some members of a guerrilla organisation (People’s Liberation Organisation) were arrested, and as there was not enough room, we were transferred to Qasr. It often happens that a chance incident means someone held in solitary confinement is moved to a shared cell. Sometimes people who had been arrested for minor offences would be released because of lack of space.
Before we were transferred from Evin, Hoseini came into our cell, carrying three pieces of paper and told us that we should each write what we thought of our treatment over the past few days and whether we found it satisfactory or had any complaints. We all three looked at each other in a puzzled way, asking ourselves what new trick they were playing on us. And of course, we guessed the reasons for our wonderful reception there. They wanted to know how the good treatment of a few days would alter our opinion of the SAVAK.
Comrade Shahin took the sheets of paper, glanced mischievously at them and wrote: “Here we received no treatment we had not expected from you”. Roghiyeh and I wrote down comments meaning the same, but phrased a little differently. It was generally known that serving tea and showing favours was done for a purpose, only when it suited them.
Before we were transferred to Qasr, we were taken to Qezel Qale Prison and from there to the Police Intelligence Centre for photographs and fingerprints. The room in which we waited to have our fingerprints taken was large and full of cigarette smoke where there were many unwashed and unshaven male prisoners. One small old man, holding a bowl of lentils and rice, was amazed to see us and wanted to be kind, came over and insisted that we share his food. Another very thin and pale boy of 12 or 13 also offered his food to us, but with the same feeling of affection and solidarity as did the old man.
Witnessing such scenes in those circumstances was an unforgettable experience for us. Those kind and sincere faces remain with me deep in my heart. I will never forget their pure and sincere affection for us.
In Qasr Prison
Better Conditions In Prison: Only Another Conspiracy Against Prisoners
We arrived at Qasr Prison. After entering the main gate of the prison we saw two large halls where visitors were received. In the prison, apart from the women’s quarter, there were 8other quarters for political and non‑political prisoners. Quarters No. 3 and 4 were for political prisoners. There was also a small hospital, public baths, a kitchen, workshop and a mosque, which, though looked like a mosque, was full of prisoners. We went to the women’s quarter, which was located at the far end of the prison. Near the door stood a colonel with an expression of foolish pride on his face, another officer and some policemen. These were the Prison Governor, the Duty Officer in Charge and the Prison Police. In Evin, they had told us, in order to frighten us, that Qasr was full of corrupt and depraved women and that they created such a bad atmosphere that a normal person could not bear to live there. So we were expecting a rough, harassing life there, When we reached the women’s quarter we found ourselves in a big courtyard where some women were walking about. We were kept waiting for some time in the Prison Office. We looked out of the window and nodded greetings to some women who were looking in at us. This was our first short encounter with the women. Later we discovered that, contrary to what SAVAK agents had told us, these were kind and virtuous women. The terms “corrupts, and “depraved” should be applied to the SAVAK agents themselves, not these unfortunate women who have landed in prison because of social injustice, inequality and poverty. Later I will describe these women’s miseries and what they confided in me, though there is no Persian who has not met many examples of such women.
The women’s quarter was a two storey building. The upper floor was for ordinary prisoners and separated by one door from the ground floor and this was locked at all times except when we were taken outside for exercise. On the ground floor were the Governor’s office, the Quarter’s office, the medical room and a room next to that for female political prisoners.
Mastureh Ahmad‑Zadeh and three of her friends who had been arrested in connection with our Organisation, together with another girl whose ‘crime’ was possession of a leaflet, were the very first female political prisoners to be brought to this prison. When we were transferred there, they had been released and others had taken their place. These were four girls (the female half of a group of eight members) who had no links with political organisations, but independently influenced by the Siahkal movement and the heroic battles of Comrades Pouyan and Pairov‑Naziri, had written slogans on a wall and were arrested for that. There were also Atefeh Jafari(42) and Sharon Laber‑King, an American girl whose name appeared in the newspapers that year, and two other girls who were sentenced to short‑term imprisonment.
I was truly happy to see so many girls accused of political activities. After a few days I had gained a sound knowledge of the ways of the prison and I found that the atmosphere was not the sort where one could be completely happy. Activities to do with food and work were carried out collectively, but there was no great coordination or friendship between individuals. In this room there were 5 big sets of bunk-beds, a large table in the middle and a dustbin which we used as a chair, and these things practically filled all the space in the room. We could not cross the room without making a lot of noise and knocking something over. There were only 2 or 3 books like Nasekh‑al‑Tavarikh (an antiquated and boring historical account). There was no ordered discipline. Certain changes had to be made to the room. Shahin, Roghiyeh and myself were all, more or less to the same extent, emotional people fired with only enthusiasm; we had no real experience or capacity for analysis and working out solutions. We were also too optimistic in thinking that anyone who had ended up in prison must be like ourselves. In thinking this way we had formed
expectations of others which could not be fulfilled. The main disrupting factor between us was the fact that individuals with different leanings were all brought together into one group, and we had to spend our days and nights together in an enclosed environment. Then there was also our limited insight and incomplete understanding of problems. But, these circumstances helped develop our capacities and widened our perception of problems all the time. A month after our arrival, the four girls from the group of eight, were released. With the passing of days, the face of our room changed as some people left and new ones arrived. But we tried to give our lives a proper sense of direction. We were convinced that every freedom‑fighter must, in any circumstances, continue the struggle and remain a fighter.
Altogether, in the relatively comfortable circumstances at Qasr, we discovered that the enemy does not use only one tactic to destroy revolutionary morale. Living in a dungeon is not the only misery for a revolutionary; on the contrary, a warm, comfortable room is just as demanding, and the effect it has is even worse. In such places, desire for comfort, and for an existence without any dynamic force, is created. This was the method the enemy was now trying out on us.
The room we lived in was large with windows facing the sun and a hand‑basin. It had large comfortable beds with soft mattresses and pillows, which some of us did not even have at home. Also inside the women’s quarter was a room where food was sold, such as milk, eggs, yogurt and onions, etc. On the hygiene side, we could also take a bath once a week. This was a minor example of the sort of comforts and the dependency on them which the regime provides for a section of the petit‑bourgeoisie, encouraging a love of bodily comforts and peaceful conditions, diverting their thoughts from more fundamental problems.
We were well aware that getting used to a life of comfort can cause a dangerous addiction to them. So, because of that, we tried to organise a program for ourselves which would not permit such inclinations to take root in us. Some comrades believe that such measures are unnecessary because a revolutionary can face difficult conditions through the power of faith and conviction. But most comrades, on the basis of their experience, did not agree, but believed that such comfortable conditions are a part of the enemy’s conspiracy and that we should consciously confront them and not let ourselves be deceived.
On The Offensive In The Shah’s “Courts”
Before I begin to describe the events which took place in court, I must give the background conditions under which members of the Organisation of Iranian People’s Fadaee Guerrilla (0.I.P.F.G.) were being tried. Due to the constricting pressures brought to bear on our comrades it was not possible to smuggle out the exact testimonies of defense which they used. Even we ourselves could not find out about other revolutionaries’ defenses. In spite of that, I will give the summary of my own and others’ experiences and scraps of knowledge which gleaned from various sources.
Our comrades, including some core members of the Organisation, were put on trial during the months of February and March 1972. They did not consider the court sessions a tribunal. They did not accept the court as a legitimate place for their actions to be judged and declared guilty or not guilty. For the guerrilla revolutionaries, these courts were a ludicrous puppet‑show on the part of the Shah’s regime, to conceal realities and to legalise their own criminal behaviour. For this reason our friends ignored the question of the Court’s competence and other legal technicalities and made their statements freely. The revolutionaries did not need to defend themselves against the mercenaries. Someone defends himself against other party only if there is some common denominator between them, whereas between the People and the exploiters, there is no criterion or values in common. The laws of the exploiters are not the laws of the People. They try us according to their own laws, but we attach no importance to them, for their laws are worthless even in their own eyes and are rarely carried out. Between us and the enemy there are hostilities which cannot be compromised, hostilities which, in the long run, will result in the destruction of our enemy. This is because our fight is the revolutionary fight of the People against our enemy, and it is a matter of course that the end result of such a fight is the annihilation of counter‑revolution and the destruction of the enemies of the People.
On the basis of this revolutionary concept, we, in our usual manner began to launch an offensive instead of defending ourselves in the court. In this way, for the first time in the history of our country, we laid down an entirely new precedent to the courts, which clarified the path for future revolutionary behaviour. Therefore, the revolutionaries were not in the least concerned about rejecting the allegations of the Prosecutor and the “respectable” President of the “Court”. Instead, they attacked the enemy from the ideological position. This was a verbal continuation of our guerrilla attacks. Thus, the enemy’s mercenaries were put on trial in their own courts by the fierce attacks of the guerrillas. In this way it was the regime that was sentenced to destruction ‑ gradual destruction by the forces of the People, an inevitable destruction laid down for them by History. In the courts, the revolutionaries cried out with one voice: “You, the mercenary enemy, History has given you the death sentence, and we, Fadaee Guerrillas of the People, have now begun to carry out this verdict. Your existence at this very moment is in the process of disintegration. With every day that passes, a part of you is sent into the realms of non‑existence. You will be destroyed through your own selves, and we, together with the People’s forces, will accelerate this process of destruction. You servile rats of Imperialism, you will be the first to be killed in this historical and inevitable destruction and then your masters will follow you to the land of non‑existence”.
It was in such an epic atmosphere, filled with the battle cries of this Guerrilla offensive, that the Shah’s servile “courts” were held one after the other, and groups of guerrillas continued their attacks. Pieces of news leaked out through the soldiers who accompanied the guerrillas to “court”. The following is a summary of the information received about proceedings in the courts.
The 21 Fadaee guerrillas had really frightened the officials of the courts with their revolutionary spirit. In the very first session of the court, the revolutionaries, without paying any heed to the ludicrous ceremonies of these men of straw in their yellow uniforms, attacked some of the SAVAK those who were present, and Comrade Ahmad-Zadeh hit one of them, Hossein Zadeh, as hard as he could. So from the second session on, the guerrillas were brought in only in groups of five and all contacts with the outside world were stopped. On entering the court the groups of Fadaees stamped on the floor and sang the Organisation’s chant. Paying no attention to “respectable” Defense Councils, and the shining decorations of this laughable court or the thick files on the tables, they would go and sit next to each other somewhere in the court, and would continue their conversation on the problems of the movement, not getting up when the Judge arrived. The court found this indifference intolerable, and so the soldiers were ordered to make them stand up. They resisted and the soldiers had to lift them up in their chairs. Such was the sort of respect our comrades paid to the “respectable” judges. While the Prosecutor’s Indictment (which was actually written by the SAVAK) was being read out, they went on talking amongst themselves. When the Clerk of the Court asked them to state their nationality and profession, they stood up out of respect to the People and said, “We are subjects of the People of Iran. Our profession is Revolution. We are guerrillas of the People’s Fadaee, and sacrifice for the People is our profession, our existence and our future.
This type of question and answering was repeated monotonously in the court and when the time came for the revolutionaries to plead their so‑called last defense, they would shout, “You mercenaries; who are you that we have to defend ourselves in your presence?” With that introduction they would launch crushing ideological attacks. It is said that Ahmad-Zadeh talked for two hours without reference to notes, presenting a brilliant analysis of the conditions in Iran and the Middle East and how Imperialism works in this part of the world and finally indicted the regime of Iran and its imperialist masters. All other revolutionaries behaved in the same way but frightened, the Shah’s regime imposed strict controls on the “courts” so that the people should not hear the opinions and thoughts of their vanguard revolutionaries. But they are fools if they think that these points of view are not heard outside the prisons. The obstacles they set in our way will never stop the People from discovering the truth of the situation.
In this way, the trials of our comrades were concluded and 21 guerrillas were sentenced to death. Some of them died under torture before they could be executed. The Shah’s regime showed its impotence in the face of their unflinching belief by torturing them to death.
Our trial took place in February 1972. In this tribunal, Shahin Tavakkoli, Roghiyeh Daneshgari and myself were tried at the head of a group of minor “offenders”. For us the military tribunal was a farce, but because we considered it a stage in our struggle, we had to put on a good performance. None of us wondered whether the final verdict would be death, long‑term imprisonment, hard labour, etc. Such things were irrelevant as far as we were concerned. All of the preliminary ceremonies, such as arranging the file, and the indictment, the session appointing Defense Councils and the session for reading the file, and the actual tribunal proceedings were performed mechanically by servants of the regime and were of no interest to us. All these procedures would be repeated in the Court of Appeal.
But we were very happy to go to Court, because we met others who were being tried and, also others in the prison buses which took us there and in the corridors of the “courts”.
We were all in elated revolutionary spirits, and on seeing one another, we would give the sign of the clenched fist, or if we had the chance, we would sing the Guerrilla chant together. When we saw such enthusiasm, love and zeal among the revolutionaries we were convinced that the enemy could not possibly crush such honest and faithful people or stop the powerful revolutionary process in our country. Has all that oppression, those arrests and killings and the interminable firing squads succeeded in halting the revolution? Are the prisons of the Shah’s puppet regime not still full of revolutionaries? No doubt, the regime’s actions have caused certain temporary and passing setbacks, but on the whole, the People’s movement has been increasingly growing. During this period, I also met revolutionaries whom I had not seen before, and this was a great source of happiness to me. Once in the corridor of the court, I met Comrade Armadi who was a student at the University of Tabriz and a member of the Tabriz branch of our Organisation. He was very young, but so lively and full of life that he made everyone around him laugh and be happy. I asked him, “Comrade, was this the last session of your court?” He said it was, so I asked what the sentence was. He answered with a proud smile, “Death sentence”.
These are examples of the kind of people who helped one to resist the enemy and their conspiracies to the last drop of one’s blood. Even the indictment against Ahmadi made no accusations of any major charges, but his courageous attacks in court had irritated the enemy greatly and in order to break his morale, they sentenced him to death. But these decisions had no effect on his morale, nor on others. Later, they would inevitably declare that the Shah‑in‑Shah Aryamehr had commuted the sentence to one of life imprisonment.
Another revolutionary I met was Abdullah Afsari, who was a sympathiser of the Organisation, but not yet a member. He had been a pupil of the late Samad Behrangi. Samad used to write letters to him, which played an important role in building Abdullah‘s revolutionary character. In these letters, Samad talked of our future duties and our commitments to the People. In one of the letters he wrote, “Whenever I think that, in future, you, like hundreds of other young people, may become the victim of this corrupt imperialist culture, instead of thinking of the oppressed people of this land and devoting your life to their liberation, that you may be drawn into a routine way of life and petit‑bourgeois pastimes, then I am deeply grieved”.
Roghiyeh Daneshgari who was being tried together with him, would tell us how he had said in his peasant’s honesty and vehemence, in his Turkish accent which was a target of ridicule for the chauvinist members of “Court”: “You talk about the workers’ comfort and welfare. You don’t know anything about the workers. I am a worker who put in long hours in order to pay for my education and my family’s expenses. I, a simple worker, know very well, how ignorant you are and what great lies you tell”.
When I heard about his courageous stand in court, I could not help remembering Samad. I said to him in my mind: “Dear Samad, your wish has been fulfilled. Now, not only Abdullah, but thousands of other young people, have taken up machine guns to destroy the exploiters. The same kind of machine guns that were in shop windows and which you wished they would land in the hands of Latif*. The revolution is marching on and the time is not far off when all Latifs will be armed with machine guns”.
During one of the court sessions, the Prosecutor General addressing one of the sympathisers of our Organisation who had already been sentenced to 1 year in prison, said, “As you have been talking to Ashraf during this court session, we are adding 1 more year to your sentence”. So he was sentenced to two years. This was to destroy his morale, but it had no effect on him. This was just another example of their feeble attacks against Fadaee combatants.
In my trial, I started my offensive with an analysis of the way of life of Azerbaijani peasants and land reform because I had a lot of first hand knowledge on these themes. Thus, it was I, who tried the enemy in his own courts. Shahin and Roghiyeh also continued their attacks in court, taking revolutionary stands. Comrade Shahin revealed the shameless treatment she had suffered at the regime’s hands when they arrested her. We did not expect anything from a regime at the head of which is a Shah who is a moral pervert in the widest sense of the word, but one should always try as far as possible to reveal the regime’s fascist behaviour. The truth about the oppression prevailing in Iran should be publicised so that the people all over the world shall know. The world is bound to object to so much corruption, degradation and crime. This is a shameful blemish on the face of our 20th Century. We are, of course, Fadaees (one who surrenders one’s life) for the People and we will not stop our struggle until final victory. But the world ought not to remain indifferent to our situation.
*Latif is the name of the hero in the story 124 Hours of Sleep and wakefulness by Samad Behrangi.
The Determination Of Prisoners
During these court proceedings, I received certain information, including the fact that a prisoner is allowed to have books and newspapers. In our prison, we sometimes received one newspaper if we insisted long enough, but we wanted to have one every day, and for that, we had to argue with the Officer in charge. Once the Prison Governor even sent Shahin to solitary confinement because he thought she had been too rude in her objections. By this he meant to humiliate us, but he failed to keep her there for longer than one hour, because as soon as she was taken away we all started shouting and screaming. We were so angry that we broke down all the doors in that corridor, so they had to release her in order to restore quietness and order. We all ran up to her and embraced her, as though we had not seen her for years. We meant to demonstrate our solidarity and unity before the Officer in charge.
So we had to take serious measures to obtain newspapers. We wrote a letter to the Prosecutor General’s office and warned them that if we did not receive newspapers every day and were not allowed to receive books from visitors or use the prison library, and if we were not given the permitted medium wave radio, then we would go on hunger‑strike. The Prosecutor’s Office did not reply in the stipulated time, so we began our hunger‑strike. As usual the enemy wanted to break down any signs of resistance and protest and they began to give us advice. The Prison Governor told us that he was taking steps in the matter, so we had better stop the strike, adding that best results were always achieved by peaceful means. This was ironical, for some of our fellow prisoners said that a hunger strike was a bourgeois form of protest and they wanted to do something more serious. So we decided that if our demands were not met, we would stop the strike and use a carefully planned attack on the Governor in his room and break all the windows.
Three days later we received a letter telling us that it was allowed to receive newspapers and books, but the question of having a radio was postponed. So we stopped the hunger strike and for a month things went alright. But then, for a reason best known to themselves, they closed the prison library and forbade visitors to bring us books. We were well aware that this was another tactic the enemy was using to upset prisoners. This means that the enemy wants to repeat the process so often that the prisoners become tired of protesting This is the actual procedure: prisoners’ protests; surrender by the Prison officials; obstruction by the officials; prisoners’ protests…etc.
In this way, the enemy hopes that the prisoners will keep quiet and not protest in future.
We know that the enemy, in order to suppress rebellion among the People, engages mainly in two tactics. First, they try to silence people by resorting to the most violent end savage treatment, but when things come to a head, they try being peaceful and conceding certain points. Examples of this were the machine-gunning of the workers of the Jahan Cheetfactory in 1971 and the compromise with protesters in Tehran on the matter of increased fares in the city transport in 1969. The same methods were also used with prisoners. That is, as far as possible, they ignore their demands, but when they see them determined and angry, they make concessions. They have different people who adopt certain character roles. In our prison, the man who made concessions was a certain Colonel Teymoori who called himself a logical man and an advocate of education for young people. We knew this, and used him until 1972, by asking him for books, visits and individually receiving visitors. It was this last request which made my escape possible.
The enemy imagined that they were supervising and controlling every little move we made and that we were completely under their control. Once a month, the prison guards would rush into the room in a group and search every inch of it to find anything we might have obtained, such as books or other writings or anything at all which they might consider corrupting. Once we had a visitor from the SAVAK itself. Whenever they found out that we had done something wrong (in their opinion) they would try to weaken our morale by taking us to Evin Prison or to the Committee or they would keep us in solitary confinement. For instance, after Cyrus Nahavandi (43) escaped from prison his sisters Simin and Fateme (44) were taken to Evin Prison. Another girl, Atefeh Jafari was taken to Evin for one month and Shahin for two months. Nahid Jalal Zadeh (45) was taken to the Committee for 20 days. This procedure, far from working against us, benefited us because in the generally quiet and monotonous life in prison, where nothing of such importance happens, being taken to the SAVAK for another confrontation, gave us renewed strength. This kind of confrontation would act as a reminder of our duties and obligations to the People and renew our realisation that not one moment of our lives should be free of struggle against the enemy and that we should become increasingly more determined in the execution of our revolutionary duties.
A Victim Of The Class Society
In prison I became acquainted with some women who were typical of those who suffer lives of pain, deprivation and who are, after all, only victims of the class society in which we live. All the injustices, which had been inflicted on them, are only a small part of the large‑scale injustices suffered by the majority of the People. I will tell the stories of two such women.
Foruzan was a 17-year-old girl, who was imprisoned for vagrancy, Her parents died while she was very young, and the family was poor. She was forced to live with her sister and brother‑in‑law. As a child, she fell in love with a Persian film star and a boy from her neighbourhood tricked this poor uneducated girl into going away with him, saying that he would take her to her film idol. After some time, the boy left her and she did not have the courage to go back to her sister. Forced to earn a living, she fell into the trap of prostitution and vagrancy. The first time she was sent to prison was because she was unable to pay a fine of 12 tumans (60p). She was pleased to go to prison because she was pregnant and thought that would be the best place to give birth to the child. As soon as she was released, she committed some minor offence in order to return to prison. Before this she had slept in questionable accommodations at night, and during the day she had to spend her time in the streets. I found out that the father of her child was a police officer. Finally, she gave birth to the child in prison. She had no clothes for the child, and she herself had only scant clothing and shivered in the cold winter days. We managed to find something in which to wrap the child. Unfortunately, she was released 3 days after this and on that day it was snowing and she had stomach pains and nausea. She begged the prison officials to let her stay another few days, or even just for half an hour until her stomach pains had gone. However, no one paid any attention to her. They thrust the child in her arms and sent her away.Foruzan, clasping her child to her and weeping, said that she would soon have to abandon it. Obviously, a poor woman like that could not take her child to an orphanage. There are only a few such institutions and children can only be left there with someone’s authority.
Sakineh was another of the unfortunate women in the prison (she will be mentioned again in later chapters) she was a simple peasant woman with the great characteristics of the working people, to which she belonged. She could not bear to remain idle and live without work. So she was put in charge of keeping the courtyards clean, and worked at that from morning until evening. If she once became aware that she was being forced to do something, she would refuse. When facing the Prison Governor and others in authority, she showed pride and determination, which could only be admired, She was kind and loving. She did not understand the meaning of the word flattery. She was frank and outspoken with everyone, and she had been imprisoned on a murder charge. What was the story behind that?
Her husband had died and she was living in a village with her children. To earn a living, both she and her children worked on a wealthy man’s farm. The owner paid her a wage but nothing for the children’s work. As a result, she was always quarrelling with the man and constantly asking for her rights. This had no effect on the owner, so she started a campaign against him in the village to give him a bad name with everyone. The owner was constantly waiting for an opportunity to get Sakineh off his hands. After some time Sakinehremarried and gave premature birth to a stillborn child. This was an excuse for this wealthy owner to accuse Sakineh of having murdered her child. He notified the authorities and Sakineh and her husband were taken to prison. No one listened to their pleas of innocence. They spoke no Persian but no translator was used. A year later in the comical farce called court; she was sentenced to 2 years in prison. In this “court” they played shameful tricks upon her. For instance, the judge took out a revolver and showing it to her said that if she did not admit to killing her child, he would shoot her.
While Sakineh was in prison there was no one to take care of her children. Probably the older ones had gone to the cities and, being innocent and helpless, they could easily have joined the thousands of victims of this despicable class society who become involved in all sorts of corruption and evil ways.
Is it possible to talk about justice and law in a class society without seeing the bloody hands of the authorities behind it all? Is it possible not to feel hatred and a lust of revenge against this ludicrous and shameless facade of justice?
Struggle In Prison: The Duty Of The Captive Revolutionary
We always thought of fighting the enemy’s agents one way or another so as not to forget our relations with them. We had clashes with the Prison Governor and officers, some of which may be interesting to relate.
After Shahin, Roghiyeh and I arrived in prison, according to the written order of SAVAK we were not allowed to mix with ordinary non‑political women prisoners. SAVAK even intended to keep us away from other political prisoners, but because of lack of accommodation and the Governor’s claim that he would not be able to control us, we were thrown in with other political prisoners. In spite of SAVAK orders in September 1972, two influential and wealthy women who were accused of fraud and writing dud cheques, were accommodated in one of the rooms in our quarters by the Governor and the Assistant Governor of the prison. These women furnished their room as if they were living at home and the Governor and his Assistant paid them a visit every day. All the women in prison talked about these two women! They complained that they did not have specialist doctors and protested about this, but their attitude showed that they expected us to do the complaining for better amenities, as they happened to be in our quarters! At the same time, the Governor and his Assistant treated us with more rudeness, shamelessness, and all this persuaded us to do something about it.
Therefore, one morning, all of us in the room decided to go out together and start shouting and screaming and swearing at the Governor and his Assistant for their ill‑treatment of us. We were only allowed to spend half an hour in the courtyard in the mornings and an hour in the afternoons and our noisy presence in the courtyard at that irregular time was quite conspicuous. A policeman approached us and asked why we were in the courtyard at this time of day. We said very seriously that this had nothing to do with him and that we wanted the Governor. He insisted to be told of the matter. Therefore we started calling his chief names loudly and angrily and he quickly noticed that we meant business and informed his chief who told him to tell us that we could go and see him. But we told him that it was the Governor who is guilty, not us; therefore he should come to see us. Finally, the Governor came into the courtyard. Now all the women prisoners were watching this confrontation between the Governor and us from their windows. As soon he the Governor appeared, we started swearing at him and to let the other women prisoners hear us, said at the tops of our voices:
“You call these poor women “depraved and corrupt”, but the truth is that you are more corrupt and depraved than anybody else. We do respect these women because they are poor and most of them are here out of desperation and the need to fill their stomachs. You are most corrupt because….”
The Governor felt apprehensive and tried very hard to quieten us down. His concern was not, of course, to cover up their corruption and crimes because they are used to these sorts of things; but the important thing for him was that he had housed two ordinary prisoners in our quarter without seeking permission from SAVAK. He tried to patch up the matter peacefully but we were not to be silenced. We rejected all his reasoning and everything else he said to break down the sham personality he had built up for himself for those poor women and to persuade them to ask for their rights. For this purpose, we called him the most offensive names, which a mean person like himself deserved. He was standing and we were sitting on the ground. Now he sat on the ground in front of us and said in a calm manner that everything was his Assistant’s fault, and that he was not to blame. We did not wish to give this mercenary agent a chance to “justify” his actions in this stupid way so we rose one after another and moved away. It was a ridiculous sight, the Governor sitting on the prison grounds alone in such a pathetic way. His “dignity” was crushed. He rose after awhile and said, hardly able to control himself: “What do you suggest I do now then?” We told him he should send these two women away. He begged for time but we insisted and it was finally arranged that the two women should leave the room.
In this way, one of our protests came to an end but the poor women who watched us from their windows and witnessed our firm stand against the Governor, were excited. They waved their hands, laughed and applauded us. This incident not only increased the respect of other prisoners for us who saw us in future as a source of power, but raised our own morale too. This sort of firm confrontation ended some suggested conservative approaches, such as saying “hello” and being polite with the Governor so that he would allow us to read books and newspapers. Everyone knew now that paying respect to the Governor was a comic and despicable act. After this incident some of the officers and policemen and, more importantly, the Governor’s Assistant were replaced. But before he was removed, we had had some clashes with him. He was, incidentally a counterintelligence agent too.
This man tried from the very first day he was appointed to this prison to treat people harshly and create an atmosphere of awe around him. He had threatened other women not to talk at all to us and whenever he noticed that one of them talked to us, he would send her to a solitary cell and threaten her with allegations of “anti‑state activities!” He had such a grudge and hatred against us. He wanted to stop us from doing any little thing we wanted to do. If he found photographs of friends and comrades on the walls in our room, he would tear them up. He swore at us when talking to others and hated our spirit of resistance and hope. Once one of us walked passed him, with her head high and in a happy spirit but did not pay any attention to him. He was so angry he could not control himself and shouted loudly: “The f…bastards even walk proudly”.
Anyway, one day, one of us visited another woman in the prison’s so‑called Medical Centre. The Assistant Governor was there too. Of course, we did not know at that time that he was a counter‑intelligence agent. Our comrade, seeing the state of affairs at this Medical Centre, had protested: “What sort of a Medical Centre is this? A person suffering from jaundice has been here for five days, with constant vomiting and pains so bad that she could not stand for a few minutes and your responsible doctor, although he knows that a patient is dying there, did not even look into the room once!” To this, the shameless Assistant Governor retorted: “This has nothing to do with you, why have you come to visit this person anyway?” And, our comrade shouted at him: “Why are you here? I have every right to be concerned because it is exactly to put an end to the suffering of such people that I have ended up in prison as a political prisoner. You and people like you have no right to visit such people because you are the cause of all this suffering. My duty is, on the contrary, to think of these people, whether inside or outside prison”.
After this incident, the man’s hatred against us increased a hundred‑fold and he tried to revenge his humiliation. He fooled one of the poor women there whose lumpen characteristics were stronger than others, to pick on us and somehow create quarrels and fights with us. The Assistant Governors clever plan was to start some sort of disturbance in prison and make it appear that the ordinary women have rebelled against us.
But our attitude and affection and love for these deprived women never allowed any sort of quarrel with them. In fact, the very same woman, who had been impressed by our treatment and respect towards them, came to us one day and confessed to what was going on and revealed the plot.
Ashraf Pahlavi, the notorious sister of the Shah, the traitor and filthy tart, visited the prison once. Everyone in Persia knows that she leads a crime and drug smugglers’ syndicate. She is directly responsible for the gradual death of thousands of youths and others involved in all sorts of corrupt practices. All the poor, unfortunate women in prison hated her; especially all women accused of drug-pushing knew quite well that this evil women was responsible for their miseries. It is usual practice that every now and then one of the so‑called “responsible” authorities visits prisons and prisoners. On previous occasions, the Governor and other prison officials had witnessed our “special reception” of such “responsible” authorities. For this reason they were never led into our room and if they opened the door by mistake, our “greetings” to them would immediately compel them to go away. These visiting “authorities” came to prison with pomp and arrogance and would inspect the lines of the poor ordinary women prisoners who had been threatened to behave themselves. On the other hand, they were told that there was another quarter in the Prison which was better for them to avoid, that here no one would give a damn for their presence. Not only that, they might hear certain unfavourable remarks and so they obviously avoided us. On the occasion of Ashraf the traitor’s visit, we were actually moved to a room in Prison No. 2 so that there would not be any unpleasant incident.
Prison No. 2: Here is a short description of this prison.
After the big old iron gate is opened, there is a long, damp, dark corridor and the prisoners, cells are on both sides of this corridor. In every cell, there are two old army blankets. The ground is very damp. Every cell has a very small window in the wall, which cannot be reached. There is a very small courtyard, about 6 to 7 cubic metres which has very high walls. Sunshine never reaches it. When one enters this prison, one cannot help imagining prisoners who are all suffering from pain in their bones and who, with pale faces, are looking up in the hope that one day they will see the sunshine again.
The Struggle Within
A public prison with its limited environment and special conditions and the individuals who happen to be imprisoned there, could be either a good or a bad place. In fact, the high walls, locks and handcuffs of the prison could not, on their own, isolate the prisoner from what is going on outside the prison walls and lead him to a silent, unresponsive type of life. It is the prisoner’s own behaviour and attitude towards the special conditions of the prison, which is the deciding factor in his mental progress or regression. The presence of various people with differing characteristics, tics and habits which are mostly, at the moment, of the petit‑bourgeois kind together with the monotonous life in prison may create an atmosphere which promotes the growth of bourgeois ideas and characteristics. In such pressing circumstances, everybody’s bourgeois characteristics come to the surface, and it takes constant awareness and real strength to combat them; this can only be practised by the individual himself. We tried to create a suitable atmosphere in the following way.
Leading a collective way of life did not pose a problem because there were not too many people. But for a long time, the community remained in its most primitive form. The prisoners did not act with complete unity and co‑ordination because of imperfect relationships between the people in our room. In facing up to the guards and the Governor and in our behaviour towards them, we were all of the same opinion. In our quarrels with them and our objections against them, we were united, But our internal relations were by no means satisfactory because petit‑bourgeois characteristics would clash, as a result of which, they became stronger and led to trouble. Even some of the characteristics which had been suppressed outside prison, would find an outlet here. Lack of a broad outlook on new problems, and of the advice and guidance of other comrades (which we had enjoyed outside where we did not tackle all problems alone) had landed us in a very confusing and uncomfortable position. We could see the problems but could not find solutions to them. So we had “sessions of critical discussion”.
Of course, we were all constantly trying to solve problems and improve the atmosphere. In spite of everything, we all tried to correct ourselves. We were dissatisfied with our internal emotions, but a simple analysis would clearly show that these were all attributable to the embryonic stage of the struggle. We had not yet acquired revolutionary characteristics. In general, constant effort in this direction would improve matters. The negative side to this approach was that we became immersed in the problems of our room, our small community and our individual weaknesses and petit‑bourgeois characteristics which could destroy our revolutionary spirit and even lead to betrayals, for we had practically stopped being concerned with anything going on outside our room. So much so, that every time we uttered the word “enemy”, before visualising the Shah’s regime and its imperialist supporters, we thought of our own weaknesses. In other words, we were looking at “weakness” in an abstract way, divorced from its material surroundings. We ignored the fact that, without creating suitable material conditions, it is impossible to overcome weaknesses and petit‑bourgeois characteristics merely by resolutions and mutual advice. This useless part of our struggle occupied most of our time.
Apart from that, part of our time was spent in uselessly telling each other old stories, but after we succeeded in forcing the authorities to give us books and newspapers, things changed automatically and the atmosphere improved. In this way, we found out that to better ourselves, we had to better our conditions. From then on, when criticising each other, we were not satisfied merely by discussing a particular case, but we delved deeper into its background and causes, recreating the conditions under which it occurred, in order to remove it.
The orderly organisation of the room was made more difficult by the fact that its occupants were constantly changing; some being released and new ones taking their place. This in turn resulted from the fact that our way of life was not like that of a real community. If it had been, then all newcomers would have had to accept our ways and rules. Our way of living was actually like a primitive syndicate, where people of all shades of opinion and differing backgrounds were thrown together by one narrow common feature. The members of longest standing had to undertake the arrangements and the creation of an ordered program, because in those circumstances, life became more pleasant. This was beginning to happen by the end of my stay there.
Our favourite pastime was reading newspapers. Through newspapers and the radio, we could learn about the world outside although news coverage of the Movement was always altered and manipulated by the Iranian Broadcast. Their purpose in broadcasting such news was to deceive people and create a state of helplessness, but still for us, it was proof of the continuation of the struggle and the inability of the police to suppress it.
Every single armed clash with the police and every action, even if unsuccessful, pointed to the fact that the revolutionaries were resisting the regime in an indefatigable struggle. This was a great source of hope and happiness for us. This is why the enemy tries, as far as possible, to avoid sending out any news, even in a distorted form, because they know that the Iranian people can read between the lines and fill in the details omitted. Sometimes, when one of us had to go to court, she would bring back news she had heard from male comrades. These pieces of news influenced us greatly, living as we were in a closed environment and involved with trivial matters. Knowledge of the outside world, despite all the enemy’s efforts to the contrary, made us think of fundamental problems, and we were aware that we were still responsible for the revolution, even in prison. For, even in prisons, people can take initiatives in the struggle.
The most important task confronting those with long-term sentences is the creation of an atmosphere in which newcomers with short sentences could be trained for more important tasks after their release. This confuses the enemy. He does not know whether to send people to prison or not.
We all know that resisting torture, withholding information, deceiving the enemy and using any means to confuse him is the continuation of revolutionary struggle inside prison, but that is not the final stage. Time and place are no obstacles for a revolutionary and the struggle can continue under any conditions. In a public prison, the enemy’s aim is to distract people’s attention, discouraging them from political activities from the work of the revolution and the struggle for the People, to lead them to betray the cause or at least to be neutral and indifferent. Therefore, it is essential to be on one’s guard against the enemy’s stratagems.
In this respect, ruthless suppression of one’s petit-bourgeois characteristics, outside prison as well as inside, is one of the revolutionary’s most important duties. The fact that traitors, such as Nik‑Khah, Parsa‑Nejad and Nooshirvanipur make a political ‘about face’ in prison is due to the gradual development of such hidden characteristics so that when they have developed strongly enough, the person turns his back on the people. In fact these people had never really come to terms with their weaknesses, but had merely hidden them.
Some of these people, while in prison, dream of freedom and escape. Note that I say “dream” of escape, not take action or attempt escape. But as time passes they see in their dreams all the privileges and amenities of living outside prison and they constantly compare these to the conditions inside. In this way, they reach a point where they can no longer bear to tolerate living in prison. Then the dreamer wants to be free at any cost. Moreover, in this he would find some sort of justification for his betrayal.
It is through an objective observation of such living examples that the importance of criticism and self‑criticism in revolutionary organisations and in the individual life of every revolutionary can be fully appreciated.
In any case, we should not forget the fact that although we are the enemy’s prisoners and have been deprived of all freedom, it is we ourselves who have brought ourselves into this situation. For a true revolutionary, who sees all life as a constant struggle, prison does not mean non‑freedom. A true revolutionary is always free. In other words, prison is a continuation of the struggle, and continuation of the struggle means freedom. If taking up arms to fight the enemy outside prison is called struggle then using every possible means against them inside prison is also struggle.
But what is struggle after all? It is refusing to give in to anything, which is in contradiction to human progress and perfection; to silent despair and death. Different circumstances demand different methods of struggle. The true revolutionary is the one who responds to the necessities of his time by tackling the fundamental problems of his surroundings.
Our American Cell-Mate: Laber‑King
An American girl called Sharon Laber‑King was arrested, supposedly for spying, and the newspapers made a lot of hue and cry about the incident.
She was a girl with a relatively limited political awareness. She was engaged to an Iranian student who was a member of the Confederation (of Iranian Students abroad). Because he was unable to travel to Persia, he sent his fiancée to meet his family in Iran. She was asked to take photos of various parts of Persia. She came to Iran at a time when the regime was desperately trying to use such persons in its fruitless attempts to stem the tide of the revolutionary movement.
To force the authorities to try her in a court, Sharon went on hunger-strike twice. This was before we came to her cell. She went on hunger‑strike for a third time when she was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment by a court that presented no evidence against her. She was a sincere and determined girl and was anxious to leave the prison. In court, she was asked to write a letter to the Shah repenting her actions. But she did not fall for this trap and decisively brushed aside the authorities’ request. The same request was made to her by the Yankee Ambassador in Iran. The Prison Governor also insisted on this, which caused Sharon’s angry outbursts. Her resistance forced the authorities to water down their request a little.
She was asked to write a letter to the Ambassador describing her prison conditions and for his help for her release. Yet, although Sharon found life in prison difficult, and therefore wished to be released, she flatly refused their request and told them that she would obtain her release by other means. So she went on hunger‑strike. Unlike previous occasions, this time nobody took much notice of her protest: no doctors, no prison guards, no one. Now and again a dumb looking prison officer, who seemed devoid of any brain, would come in and write a report without looking at the unconscious figure of Sharon.
We (the cell‑mates) were constantly near her and took turns to keep an eye on her at night. On the third day, her condition deteriorated to such an extent that we feared for her life. We were surprised at the little attention she was getting from the authorities, whereas we felt that the death of a foreign girl in prison could have negative repercussions for the regime. We held a talk about her condition and decided that we should do our utmost to help her. We went to the duty officer and asked for some action to be taken. One of the comrades saw a newspaper on the officer’s desk with Sharon’s picture on it (in those early days we were not allowed any newspapers) and the officer was apparently unconcerned about the comrade reading the paper. “Sharon Laber‑King, the American girl who was convicted of spying and sent to prison for six months, has sent a letter of repentance to… and has been pardoned”. A disgraceful and enormous lie! We took some water to Sharon. The enemy had carried out his scheme and the continuation of the hunger strike was fruitless. Sharon was dumbfounded…How was it possible…!?
It was the second day of the New Year. Our families had all come to visit us in prison. We found great happiness in being able to embrace them. The room was in twice turmoil of movement and filled with the sound of many voices. Some of our comrades had gone to the official reception room where they were separated by partitions from their visitors. Some of the mothers of our male comrades had mingled with a crowd of other women and had managed to get behind the bars of the reception room unnoticed by the police, in the hope of seeing us, the women guerrillas. Friends told me that a lot of people were waiting there to see me. I went there and talked eagerly and at length to those who wanted to see me. They said they would very much like to see us in our room, but I told them they would only be admitted if they were related to the prisoners.
On the third day of the New Year, a great crowd of women, young and old, wearing chadors (a long cloak for women, which covers the body and head, leaving only the face showing) came to see us, pretending to be our relations. We were delighted to see them because they were not there because of family ties, but had come only in order to see revolutionaries. We began to sing revolutionary songs for them as there were no policemen in the room. They were satisfied with looking in on us from time to lime. Because of the many people who had come to see the non‑political prisoners and because it was the New Year visiting period, there was such a crowd that it was impossible to control the commotion. During these exceptional days, we could even meet non‑political women prisoners whom we had not been allowed to see before. Sometimes they stayed with us as late as midnight, never tiring of putting their questions to us. I thought that singing revolutionary songs was not enough and that I must write a text that we could read to them the next time they came to see us.
Now it was time to take leave of our visitors. They all kissed us and we accompanied them as far as the gate. As they were going out it occurred to me that these circumstances were favourable for escape attempts. There was a policeman at the door, but he neither counted the people nor looked at their faces. I thought for a moment that I could just mix with the crowd and go out, but remembered that I was wearing old prison trousers and a worn‑out blouse which would be very conspicuous. I was also wearing the big slippers, which they had issued and in no way could I pass for one of these ordinary people. I looked at the policeman and realised that this was the best opportunity for escape, but I felt greatly distressed because I was not prepared or equipped to take advantage of it. The same notion had crossed my mind the day before, but in a less serious way. I went back to my room, but I had no time to collect my thoughts because the non‑political women prisoners had come and I had to talk with them. I felt that I was facing a big responsibility and that I must think it over. I got up and went into the courtyard, but even there, many of these women who were happy to see me talked to me and once again I could not be alone.
It was evening. I was still thinking of writing a text. I was just about to begin when I asked myself whether, in the circumstances, writing a text was the most important thing I could do, or whether there were other things to be done. Having asked myself this question, the thought of escape surged up in my mind and 1 told myself that if I could achieve that, then writing a text would be a waste of time. I put my paper and pencil aside. I tried to think more seriously about the question of escape.
At around this time, Nahid Jalal Zadeh came into the room and asked me with a sly look if I had noticed the great chance for escape. We talked a little and encouraged in each other the hope that we would escape.
I began serious preparation for escape. First, I had somehow to change my clothes. But this would attract attention. I would have to find an excuse and I remembered my mother and other visitors. So I said to the people in the room: “Really, these mothers, the things they pay attention to. My mother just insists that I should change my clothes. But I don’t know whether to or not it’s right to follow her wishes in prison. What do you think? Should I change these rags of clothes?” One of those in the room who had been greatly impressed by my mother (because my mother still did not believe that Behrouz, my brother, had been killed, and she was constantly giving alms and doing charitable work in the hope that she might be rewarded by seeing him again) said, “There’s nothing ‘wrong in that. You shouldn’t annoy your mother when it comes to such trivial matters. Anyway, you’re not going to wear terribly smart and fashionable clothes, are you?” Others agreed with her and I pretended great reluctant when I said I would change my clothes for my mother’s sake.
Later that night when everyone else was asleep, I lay awake, going over in my mind everything I had to do in my attempt to escape, picturing the scene as best I could. I was filled with excitement, tossing about in my bed. Nahid was also awake and at that moment our glances met and we smiled. She whispered, “Where will we be the day after tomorrow?” We both smiled and put our fingers to our lips, for we did not want to wake the others. The other matter preoccupying me was the thought that no more than two people could escape. I wanted Shahin and Roghiyeh to escape too, but if four out of the seven inmates of a room were missing, it would be too conspicuous. I was sure they could execute the attempt much more successfully than myself, but the question was that whenever we talked of escape in the past, it was agreed that for various reasons, including propaganda purposes, I should be the first to escape. Therefore, I hesitated no longer and made my decision.
4th of Farvardin (March): The visitors came. I had to take into account every little movement and every little incident. I had to weigh all obstacles. On that day things were changed Two policemen were standing at either side of the room, watching our visitors and us very carefully. There were also more policemen outside, but there were not as many visitors as the day before. I said to myself: “How silly of you, you are too late, the best quality of a guerrilla is to surprise the enemy; now there was no opportunity to surprise them”. Anyway, I tried to talk to most of our visitors; their presence was vital for my plan. I got some money from my mother and others who insisted on giving us something; I thought I might need the money as soon as I am outside. I tried to get all the prisoners talking to the visitors so they would not notice my actions. Of course, I reached the conclusion that I could not escape that day. I reminded the other prisoners that tomorrow was the last day for visiting prisoners, so their visitors had better come again tomorrow.
When the visiting hour ended, I saw a police officer and two policemen standing at the door and scrutinising everything. I said to Nahid: “How we have wasted our time, we should have started from the first day”. Then we speculated that if one of us were arrested at one of the gates, would the other be able to escape from the other gate. We came to the conclusion that the gates would be immediately shut. Now, the visitors were gone but we did not return to our room. We wanted was our roommates to get used to not seeing us in the room after visitors leave so that tomorrow they would not be looking for us, because this might make the prison guards suspicious and look for us before we had escaped.
In the evening, all the prisoners were lined up in the courtyard and counted. The police were now suspicious and actually told us that no one can escape from this prison.
“We are controlling everything”. They meant to nip in the bud the idea of escape in case some people had thought of it. I told Nahid: “Now I think we have a 40% chance of escape, but we must still do it. In every action, there is some risk of defeat”.
After the counting was over, I walked in the yard waiting for a chance to go to the “cloakroom”. This is the room where you change your clothes upon arrival in the prison. I wanted to pick up a pair of shoes and a “chador” for my escape. I saw Sakineh sitting in a corner and weeping. I wrote about her previously, one of the victims of His Majesty’s “justice”! I approached her and tried to console her, but she was too angry and depressed; she wouldn’t let anyone sit near her. When she wept, I felt a pain in my heart. Another young woman called “Qadam‑Kheir“, accused of pushing drugs, was crying and telling of her miseries; “How could I live on…this is how I came to prison… I had a miserable life, three children, unemployed husband who had been looking for a job for more than a year, he finally went mad. I had to support my children and myself… I was led into selling drugs to make a little money. I don’t know now what has happened to my poor children?” and she cried again: “Why should I be in prison?”
Other women had similar stories to tell. We heard the stories of their miseries every day. I was angry again but I tried to control myself. It was time to go to the “cloakroom”. I kissed those women and said good‑bye.
The woman in charge of the “cloakroom” was an old, crafty woman. One can easily call her a shameless and rude bitch. So far, she had made some profits by searching women. She used to strip non‑political prisoners in search of heroin. Once when I was going for my “trial”, she searched me and found a piece of paper on me which contained a message from Simin Nahavandi to her husband and some lines of poetry which I was taking to give to my male comrades. She was awarded 200 tumans (18 pounds sterling) for this.
Now she was sitting there, watching me very carefully. I had said I have come to take my blouse back. It didn’t take long and I went back into my room with a pair of shoes and a “chador” which I put in the basket I was carrying. I hid them under my bed so no one could see them.
Late that night I looked at my comrades’ notebooks. I knew that after my escape the enemy would search every corner of the room. I meant to tear up anything they had written down that the enemy should not know about.
That night, I was awake for hours. I was thinking of comrades waiting for me outside, of the important job I had to do. I was also thinking and visualising the days when I could, once again, take up arms, with the decisiveness of a guerrilla and aim at the hearts of the enemies. I was thinking of the struggle waged by my fellow‑combatants, which is constantly and unceasingly shaking the foundation stones of the enemy’s castles and which has left the despicable mercenaries in constant fear for their lives.
5th of Farvardin: It was early morning. We had to execute the plan of escape today. I was excited without being able to control it. My heartbeats were rapid. I did not like this and I was admonishing myself: “What does this mean, why should you feel like this, what difficult mission is being carried out…?”
I remembered an arrested comrade whose identification was not known to SAVAK. He was being ceaselessly tortured. This is what he said later to another comrade: “Each time they take me to the torture‑chamber, my body shakes with fear but under torture I do not utter a word. And this is the glory of man. He is tortured. He is shaking, but does not say a word”.
I tried to regain my calm. At about noontime everything was ready. There were more visitors and they were all wearing black “chadors”. I had placed the basket in the corner of one of the rooms where there were many visitors. Two policemen and one policewoman were standing around the room. Another officer would come into the room every few minutes. I told my mother and others to ask the policeman all sorts of questions and keep them busy.
The time to escape came. A few minutes before the visiting hour was up, I said goodbye to my relations. I fetched the basket; Nahid joined me then. In the midst of the crowd, we put on our shoes and chadors and mixed with them. No one saw us. The police‑woman looked terribly tired and bored. The policemen had to answer the mothers constantly. Now we were out of the room and then at the exit. The Governor, his Assistant, some officers and policemen were standing at the door. I was now very calm and behaved very normally. We had walked a few metres when a policeman shouted behind us: “Where do you think you’re going?” and he ran towards us. I was two steps away from Nahid and looked very normal. He caught Nahid and took her back to the yard. The policeman returned soon and started looking at all the women. He pushed their chadors away from their faces to look at them. I was one of the women; I did not know what to do. The policeman approached the woman standing next to me and looked at her face. I tried to be as normal as possible. Without paying any attention to him I started swinging my basket around in a gay mood and then looked at the policeman deliberately with a face only half‑covered. He thought everything was alright and started looking at others whose faces were covered.
Now some of the visitors had noticed me and felt that time was being wasted. They sort of encircled me and said: “Oh, let’s go, we can’t wait here all day”. Some other visitors joined us on the way and they all happily surrounded me to protect me. I was really hidden by all this. I remembered the first time I was arrested by SAVAK thugs and from behind the window of their car I looked at the people outside and addressed them in my heart: “I promise to stay loyal to you”, and at that moment, when I felt that I had kept my word with the people, I was immensely proud and happy. I said to myself: “These are the people, their love is like the ocean, deep and endless, and its power superior to all power. When it starts moving, then it will not be long before the enemy is destroyed”.
Up to the main gate, we had to pass by three prisons where policemen were standing. The most important thing was to control myself and behave in the most normal manner. Sometimes I walked a little faster and sometimes a little slower. I did not want to walk too fast to attract attention. These were most exciting moments. Every moment I expected to hear police officers or policemen shouting after me: “Catch her. Arrest her. She is escaping!”
Now that they already knew one person had tried to escape, my chance of success was less than 1%. Most probably before I got to the main gate, all the gates would be shut. They might have already telephoned. Were my steps forward taking me to freedom or to danger? There was nothing to be done but to go on. I had to take the chance. We got to the main gate. There we had to show our “passes”. Those around me pretended that people behind us are carrying the passes There wag a crowd, things moved fast and “passes” were given to policemen. I simply walked out.
Now I was outside. I got into a car, safe from search of the enemy*….
So, in this way, I escaped from the Shah’s prison to take up arms again and to fight again, outside prison, shoulder to shoulder with other revolutionaries; to pay my debt to the revolution which would liberate our people, with all my strength.
“With faith in the victory of the liberating revolution; with endless hatred for the enemies of the people”.
*In this section, for security reasons, details of the plan of escape and its execution are not given.
An Analysis Of Resistance Under Torture
The factors that can help comrades to resist torture may be summed up as follows:
1) Faith in the justice of the revolutionary path: this faith must be so strong and unshakable that, even in the unlikely event of all other comrades turning their backs on the struggle, it cannot be lost or dented. It is impossible to resist torture and all the other enemy tricks without an unshakable faith in the ideals for which we fight.
2) Hatred for the enemy and love for other comrades: these feelings must be so strong that they are an intrinsic part of a fighter’s whole being. For me it was unimaginable to think that I could ever, by divulging names, make another comrade endure the tortures I was suffering. With the love that I felt for my comrades and the boundless hatred for the enemy, how could I possibly be instrumental in bringing my comrades to the torture chamber? It would be more agonizing to witness their torture than to endure the pain I suffered. It would have been an utter betrayal of the cause that I was fighting if I had felt otherwise. To betray my comrades to the executioner in order to escape torture myself, would have meant a life‑long endurance of mental torture, which I was not prepared to accept. Moreover, surrender to the hated enemy was to me tantamount to hating the people. The enemy imagined that we took up arms to achieve high positions. I, on the other hand, knew that I would fight for the liberation of our people from the claws of the exploiters. To surrender to the enemy would mean that I had turned my back on the people and let the exploitation go on unabated; that I had a hand in the whole grisly business of exploitation. Throughout my life I had conditioned myself to hate all exploiters; and to think that I would ever behave according to their wishes filled me with revulsion. Was it possible that I should now forget the people in chains? A people to whom I had always been bound by affection and love. The enemy’s crimes were so real and self‑evident that it was hard for me to see him as a human being, hence the thought of surrender never occurred to me.
3) To see the whole thing in a historical perspective and in the light of Marxist theories. Dialectically, it is possible to see the relationship between resistance and the triumph of the revolution, whether it is achieved in a short or a long period of time. In the short run, it might be that our resistance could save a comrade from falling into enemy hands or stop an attack on the Organisation. However, what is far more important is the fact that our resistance, our refusal to surrender, is a step toward the final victory of the revolution. If this “step” is taken into account, in isolation, it may appear very small and insignificant, but we must not forget that similar resistance is being shown by countless other comrades. One can well imagine the cumulative effect of all the resistance and realise that to take even one “step” back, to fail to resist, is a betrayal of the revolution. Thus, looking at the whole thing in its proper perspective will increase our resistance to torture and enemy tricks.
4) Objective approach to realities: A Marxist awareness enables us to approach realities with due objectivity. In the case of torture what causes fear, demoralisation and loss of the spirit of resistance, is quite apart from its physical effect, primarily a subjective view that most people have about it. This view has been augmented by a deliberate propaganda put out by the SAVAK about torture. However, if we look at it objectively, the whole sordid business of torture will lose its real significance. In the final analysis, nothing more important than death can occur under torture, and this presents no problem to a fighter.
Psychological torture does have an effect on those who fail to look at it objectively. For example, when they stripped me naked, I reasoned that there was no difference between a bare leg and a bare hand and therefore refused to be affected by it; or that when the muzzle of a revolver is put to one’s temple to frighten one, its ultimate physical effect was a bullet that could kill me, and, since I had no fear of dying for the cause, this obviously was of no significance. Hence, it is important to analyse things objectively, to face the enemy with added strength.
5) Absolute distrust of the enemy: The motive behind whatever the enemy does to a captive is one thing and one thing alone: to persuade a fighter to part with his secrets, and, thereby, weaken the movement. Kindness, torture, threats, abuse, various tales about traitors who turned their backs on their ideals, are all designed for this purpose. Hence, it is imperative that we should face the enemy with constant vigilance, and distrust his actions, whether they seem important or apparently insignificant. It is fatal to forget this. It is vitally important to refuse to accept the enemy’s kind gestures. Loneliness, constant torture and various mental occupations are a breeding ground for the acceptance of such gestures. There is a bad motive behind the enemy’s kind behaviour. A little resistance to it will reveal the real motive behind his action and will also strengthen the fighter’s morale.
6) A correct and philosophical understanding of such terms as “freedom” and “captivity”: under torture and in chains, I had always felt free ‑ and this was truly so. No feeling of conservatism ever prevented me from expressing my hatred of the enemy in the words of my choice. I had given everything for the cause I believed in, and all I had to preserve were my beliefs. In the torturers, I could use their utter dependence on petty and disgraceful matters of day‑to‑day existence. This knowledge was a source of great strength to me. I had absolute faith in the fact that as a people’s fighter, it was I who should try them; it was I who should determine their fate. Hence, I would have shown myself utterly helpless if I had allowed them to bring me to heel. I believed that my cause and my desires were beyond their comprehension. This feeling of an all‑embracing freedom in the face of captivity increased my power of resistance.
7) A prior knowledge of the enemy’s methods in dealing with the fighters: it is imperative to study the experiences gained by other comrades in facing the enemy’s tricks so that they can be neutralised. For example, the enemy tries to pinpoint somebody’s weak spot and dwell on it. The fighter simply refuses to reveal his weak point. Or, by carefully arranging a set of common and useless data, the enemy tries to impress upon a fighter that he (the enemy) is aware of everything. The fighter, having prior knowledge of this enemy ploy, will see through it, and refuse to lose his balance.
8) An unshakable faith in human will‑power: if we make a conscious effort to strengthen this faith, all the enemy’s fancy chatter about hypnotism, injections, and force‑feeding of some kind of drug, which is supposed to make a prisoner tell secrets while one is asleep, become ineffective.
Inculcation is particularly effective in withstanding pain. Thus, under torture I felt no pain for some time. When the torture was prolonged, I desperately wished for the end. Nevertheless, despite such feeling, I never felt morally weak, since I knew that there was eventually an end to such pain ‑ death. Until death came, I was determined to stand upright. Hence, the question of speaking or not speaking had never been a serious problem. I ought to mention here that in our previous day‑to‑day living, Comrade Behrouz and I had always tried to strengthen the power of inculcation in ourselves.
9) Thinking about the resistance of other fighters and their courageous stand against the enemy. The history of the movement of the world is full of epic resistance by fighters; no less so is the history of the Iranian people’s struggle, particularly in recent years. This can be a source of strength to all true fighters.
Needless to say the factors mentioned above can operate in a negative way; for example, insufficient hatred for the enemy; seeing the movement as a momentary episode and failing to realise its historical importance; trusting the enemy and treating him leniently; lack of sufficient faith in one’s own will‑power; these are the factors that help to demoralise a fighter.
Moreover, a fighter who fails to face his weaknesses with absolute honesty and does not criticise himself, fails to tackle his selfishness and bourgeois tendencies; and he who fails to take steps to correct his weaknesses, will be unable to resist torture, in spite of the faith he has in the struggle.
A man who becomes used to deluding himself, who fails to face his own faults with revolutionary honesty and even lies to himself, is the most likely to become a traitor, since lying is the beginning of treachery.
To The Enemy! I Say…
To the imperialists and our home‑grown capitalists who have sold themselves to foreigners, to the international plunderers!
To the treacherous Shah, this lackey of the Yanks and the Israelites, this peddler of the fate of our nation!
To the servants of the system!
To the enemy at large!
I know very well that you will read this book. Hence I wish to express my innermost feelings towards you, and declare with utmost conviction that: this time I shall fight against you with a deeper sense of revenge ‑ revenge for my martyred comrades; revenge for the blood of the people, whom you kill in the battles and then accuse us for the killings ‑ a stronger sense of love for the toiling masses, with whom I feel an unbreakable solidarity, and with a deeper awareness of my duties and responsibilities.
I do know that you dearly wish to capture me alive, but I assure you that you will take this wish to the grave. But I ask you, even in the unlikely event of capturing me alive, what can you do? Can you strike the tiniest blow to change the course of the revolution? You will torture me? You will shoot me dead? Can you offer anything more than death? You know perfectly well that for us, the People’s Fadaee, there is no greater honour than death and after all your efforts, you only succeed in fulfilling our wish.
Yes, there is no honour greater than dying for peoples’ freedom. Like my other comrades in the Organisation of Iranian People’s Fadaee Guerrillas, I have taken up arms and will fight for the annihilation of the regime that protects you, and will spend the last drop of my blood for the liberation of our people. We do not fear death, whether death in battle or death under torture.
There are many fighting hands now that will pick up a fallen weapon. There are many ears that will hear our battle-cry. Our way has now been recognised as the only way and it is firmly established. It is moving forward with increasing strength and sweeping away all impediments in its onrush.
Your defeat is not only a reality, which has been historically proven time and again. It can also be seen in your helplessness and your inability to suppress the movement, in your desperate conduct when faced with our guerrillas and the vanguard of the people.
For a while longer you may be able to carry on with your plundering and murderous crimes, but you will not escape your ultimate fate. We shall exhaust and then destroy you in a difficult and prolonged battle. When one of us falls, there are tens of others who will rise. Our death is no ordinary death and our life no ordinary life.
A P E N D I X
(28) Dr. Taghi Arani: A founder member of the lranian Communist Party, he died as a result of air being injected into his blood during the dictatorship of Reza Shah. The story of his courage and indomitable spirit has always been a source of strength to fighters that follow him. His “Dialectic Materialism” is constantly studied by various fighting groups.
(29) The Arman Khalgh Group: A communist group that began armed struggle at about the same time as O.I.P.F.G. Five members of its Central Committee (Homajoon Katirai , Hooshang Targol, Bahram Taher‑Zadeh, Naser Madani, Naser Karimi) were shot in September 1971, after bravely resisting torture.
(30) Habib Farzad: A member of the O.I.P.F.G. He was arrested in the Summer of 1971 and sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment.
(31) Khalil Salman‑Nezhad: A member of the O.I.P.F.G., he died as result of sustaining extensive burns while preparing a molotov cocktail. Despite excruciating pain, he preserved his fighting spirit to the last breath.
(32)(i) Ahmad Khoram‑Abadi: A brave army officer, who was an O.I.P.F.G. sympathiser of the O.I.P.F.G. He was shot in the Spring of 1971 together with Kazem Salahi.
(ii) Kazem Salahi: A member of O.I.P.F.G. He confronted the enemy in January 1971 with a knife as his only weapon and managed to kill an enemy agent before being overpowered. He was under continuous torture for two months before being shot in May 1971.
(33) Carlos Marighela: A Brazilian revolutionary who fought against imperialism for forty years. He was martyred during a battle with the enemy at the age of 54. “Urban Guerrilla” which is a collection of essays based on the experiences of the revolutionary urban guerrillas in Brazil, is one of his works.
(34) Changhiz Ghobadi: A member of a guerrilla unit for rural operations, he was also the commander of an urban guerrilla unit of the 0.I.P.F.G. In the Spring of 1970, while on a rural reconnaissance mission, he broke through an enemy encirclement using a suicide tactic. In September 1971 the “safe house” in which he and two other comrades (Seyad Nozadi and Salemi) were using, came under enemy attack. After putting up a brave fight and using their last bullets, they blew themselves up.
(35) Mehr‑Noosh Ebrahimi: The wife and fellow revolutionary of Changhiz Ghobadi, she was a member of a unit of guerrilla operations. She, too, broke through the enemy encirclement, while on a rural mission. In September 1971 while changing “safe houses”, she was surrounded by the enemy. After using up all her ammunition, she was martyred in the battle.
(36) Ahmad Riazi: A sympathiser who was used by the enemy to capture Manaf Falaky, a member of the O.I.P.F.G.
(37) Saeid Arian: The husband and fellow revolutionary of Comrade Shahin Tavakkoli, he was a member of the O.I.P.F.G. While changing “safe houses” he fell into enemy hands through lack of arms and was shot in the Winter of 1972.
(38) Asad‑Allah Meftahi: A member of the O.I.P.F.G., he fell into enemy hands in the Summer of 1971. He was shot in the Winter of the same year together with his brother and fellow revolutionary, Abbas Meftahi and four other brave guerrillas.
(39) Abd‑Al‑Manaf Falaki‑Tabrizi: A member of the Central Committee of the O.I.P.F.G. (Tabriz), he fell into enemy hands in the Summer of 1971 and was shot in February 1972together with ten other fighters.
(40) The Organisation for the Liberation of the Peoples of Iran (O.L.P.I.): The members of the Central Committee of this organisation were initially active in the Revolutionary Organisation of the Tudeh Party (R.O.T.P.). They broke away from the latter to set up the O.L.P.I. This organisation began armed struggle at about the same time as the general armed struggle. However, after two military operations, they reexamined their strategy, and decided against armed struggle. Most of its members were betrayed by the R.O.T.P. in November 1971 and arrested by the police. A member of the Central Committee (Syroos Nahavandi) of the O.L.P.I. escaped from prison and revived the organisation with armed struggle as its strategy. Now they are once again engaged in armed struggle.
(41) Azad Sarve: The man who was instrumental in leading the enemy to Majeed Ahmed Zadeh, and who was killed by the latter in the process.
(42) Atefeh Jafari: A member of O.I.P.F.G., she fell into enemy hands in 1971 and was sentenced to 5 years’ imprisonment in 1972.
(43) Syroos Nahavandi: A member of the Central Committee of the O.L.P. I., he organised the first urban guerrilla operations in Iran (a raid on the Anglo‑Persian Bank and an attempt to kidnap the U.S. Ambassador in Iran). He fell into enemy hands in November 1971 and escaped from prison hospital in 1972.
(44) Simin and Fatemeh Nahavandi: Two members of the O.L.P.I. Simin has been sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.
(45) Naheed Jalal‑Zadeh: A Mujahedin Khalg sympathiser, she was arrested because of her contact with the martyred Mujahed, Mehdi Rezai, and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.
(46) Manoochehr Nahavandi: A member of the Central Committee of the O.L.P.I., he was first sentenced to death in the Summer of 1972 and subsequently had his sentence commuted to life imprisonment.