Torture and Resistance
Written by: comrade Ashraf Dehghani
... all the heroes of the masses who, martyred under torture, or facing murder squads, raised the red flag of their cause,
... all those dedicated revolutionaries, who died fighting the enemy of the people, and watered the tree of our people's liberating revolution,
... all the political prisoners whose resistance and fortitude strengthen the people's front, and to all those warriors of the masses, who have joined the path to people's liberation ... the path of revolution.
Iran, my land, from the Gulf, streaked with blood, to your tall, proud mountains, rabid dogs rave
Iran, my land, look how the ugly hyenas plough clots of blood in your rich soil, look how the clear water from your depths, is sucked into the sewage that is imperialism,
Table of Contents
armed struggle for the liberation of the people of
Our age is the age of liberation of the enslaved masses exploited by imperialism. It is the age of peoples' liberation movements. Everyday the masses of the world open up a new front against world imperialism, and everyday a new blow is inflicted on imperialists.
the masses have risen, in
The guerrilla movement in our country has arisen out of both objective and subjective conditions and phenomena. The deepening hatred of the people for world imperialism and internal reaction, the rule in Iran of the comprador‑bourgeoisie and the intense and systematic political and economic exploitation of our masses coupled with imperialist deculturalisation of the country; the failure of the regime's 'reforms' which aimed to reduce the revolutionary potential of the Iranian masses; the phenomenal political suppression in Iran which has made any kind of open or semi‑overt struggle by the masses impossible, together with past experiences which had shown 'peaceful' opposition to be vulnerable and sterile; the impact of the revolutionary movements of the Third World in general and of the Middle East in particular; increasing political and historical consciousness of the young generation in Iran; and, study and analysis of former methods of resistance and struggle by those who pioneered the armed revolution; these were all among the basic elements that brought about the armed guerrilla movement in Iran.
the advent of armed struggle in our country, there existed a few
revolutionaries who were able to perceive the bright horizon of the future
while submerged in the darkness of the Iranian political scene. It was these
people who set the wheels of armed revolution in motion. The armed struggle in
It was under these conditions, with painful memories of past defeats casting a dark shadow on the minds of the people, with the blind hopes and the cold hearts that the young generation of our land rose to its feet. A young generation had achieved a level of political, intellectual and practical maturity to be able to undertake its historic mission. A young generation that was emerging from the darkness, with a firm belief and a revolutionary dedication, to raise the arms of revolution and open the way for the struggle of the oppressed masses.
The young generation in Iran has risen to wipe out the degradation of the past two decades; to wipe out the gloom and the doubts; to break the silence, the suppression; to end the, impotence; to condemn looking abroad for all inspiration and patterns of action; to eliminate the sewage of opportunism; to destroy the yoke of imperialism and reaction, and to accomplish the rule of the people in their homeland.
This heroic young generation set to work without any external source of support. It stepped out on the road to revolution without the benefit of any practical experience and unable to draw on the experience of previous generations, as no positive and creative experience had been left behind. The work had to start from the very beginning.
experiences of the past generations could only teach the young how a struggle
that fails to arouse the masses and rely on them is doomed; how political
servitude and the lack of an independent line compatible with the particular
conditions prevalent in
This was how the young generation of our country undertook the grave responsibility of cleaning up the sty of the Iranian political scene and laying the foundations of people's revolution.
In the beginning, their hands were empty but their hearts were full of hope and determination. The movement grew in the course of revolutionary action, under the darkest tyranny, in fire and blood. This generation has had to build from the very foundations, without any support but that of the masses. It had to create everything, and so learned to be creative, constructive. This generation has given all, dedicated all, to gain all for the people. This generation has solemnly accepted its historic mission, has courageously faced difficulties, and emerged victorious, has terrified the Shah, his masters and his terrorists.
Ashraf Dehghani belongs to this generation. Comrade Ashraf was arrested (in the
Ashraf Dehghani's fortitude and her resistance in the face of the regime's
mercenaries, the agents of imperialism in
With unwavering belief in our final victory
The organisation of Iranian People's Fadaee Guerrillas
Armed Struggle in
The brave children of the nation had risen to fulfil their historic mission, breaking the silence of many years, to shatter the enemy's myth of invincibility, to raise the tremendous force of the masses and open the way to freedom from oppression, suffering, deprivation.
In the space of four months after Siahkal, many police stations were successfully raided and many banks expropriated. Preparation was successful, although inexperience had taken toll and many revolutionaries were captured by the regime and summarily murdered by firing squad. More action followed, and much more was to come.
the trial of the murderous traitor, General Farsiou (l) in the People's
Court and his execution, the enemy, still in a state of shock, unleashed a
widespread campaign of terror and intimidation. After murdering some heroes of Siahkal
The regime distributed 'wanted' posters with photographs of the nine throughout the country with promises of rich rewards. Newspapers told the people there were only the nine left out of the movement. The nine revolutionaries were Comrade Amir Parviz Pouyan, Javad Selahi, Hamid Ashraf, Manuchehr Bahai‑Pour, Eskandar Sadeghi‑Nezhad, Abbas Meftahi, Ahmad Zibrom, Mohammad Saffari Ashtiani and Rahmatollah Peirov Naziri). The enemy was naive enough to expect the people to betray their heroes. The only result of this action was that the masses throughout the country learned of the existence of the revolutionary forces and of the beginning of the armed struggle. The regime had thus unwittingly achieved what the revolutionary forces had tried to achieve. Nine pioneers of the people's revolution were thus known to the people. The reaction was breathtaking. The posters ended up in people's homes, over the mantelpieces where heroes belong. The nation was exalted. At long last, it had found hope, and it had all happened overnight. The heroes were cherished: "We would not sell them for anything", "the money would be haram*, "these are like the Viet Cong"…
The effect on the intellectuals was also overwhelming. They took up armed struggle at an incredible rate. The revolution began in earnest, and this all helped to drive it on to its logical and historic conclusion.
with my revolutionary brother, Behrouz, I had joined the armed struggle
at the beginning. When the enemy was leaving no stones unturned looking for the
nine heroes of the people, I shared the same operational base with two of them;
Comrades Pouyan and Nabdel (
Every revolutionary action brought new hopes and elation. The correctness of the path was not in doubt and armed guerrilla action was clearly the only way left to overthrow the rule of reaction and imperialism. However, we did not know, because of our inexperience, how long it would take to establish a wide base of support. What was in question was not the direction of the struggle, but its tempo. Comrade Pouyan's view was: "In this struggle, the Organisation may be dealt heavy blows. There may be many casualties, but the struggle we have initiated is just, and even without the O.I.P.P.G., the fight will be continued by other revolutionary organizations".
Comrade Nabdel was taken to the police hospital. Without attending to his injuries, the enemy began torturing him. Indeed his wounds were mauled and whipped with an electric cable. His resistance in those critical first days was astonishing. It was such that the torturers were left full of admiration! He had been told that a bullet in his leg would not be extracted if he refused to talk. His response was typical: "the bullet is yours, the secrets mine. I will keep what belongs to my people and myself". At last, the enemy relented. He was given medical attention but interrogation went on. One day, he hurled himself out of the window of his third floor room trying to take his own life lest the enemy extract any information from him. He survived the fall, with a few broken bones and burst stitches. He had then tried to tear out his intestines but was captured.
Then he was told: "we have arrested all the members of your organisation and soon you are all going to be shot". His reply was: "that is not important. The struggle goes on. We may be torn apart, but we shall never break, we shall never bend". For many days, he had withstood savage tortures without revealing a word. He even resisted for twenty days before disclosing the address of the house our team had used as base. But the enemy attacked an empty house.
*Haram: unclean, profane, and religiously prohibited. (I.C.)
lost hope for Comrade Nabdel's return, we stayed the night in the same
house. The following morning we cleared the place out and burned some
documents. I wont to
day I warned the comrades in
Each and every one of our activities immediately following Comrade Nabdel's arrest, was an error. Inexperience, lack of objectivity, and our ignorance of the enemy's mode of operation created many false images in our minds.
More than twenty days after the capture of Comrade Nabdel, I was instructed to contact, in a nearby mosque, the landlady of the house we had left, to learn of developments. There was also a plan to attack the SAVAK agents in the house. I went to the mosque in the evening in time for Nemaz*, as it was easier to spot her at that time. I approached her and talked to her. She was quite obviously frightened. It was plain, SAVAK agents were in the house. Nemaz started again and I slipped out.
I later learned that, after my visit, a herd of secret agents had daily accompanied her to the mosque. As if I would return there!
*Nemaz: Moslem prayer. (I.C.)
many days of torture, and after much heroic fortitude, Comrade Nabdel
disclosed the identity of Comrade Behrouz to the enemy. SAVAK agents
raided our home in
mercenaries then raided my sister's home and arrested her husband, Comrade Kazem
Comrade Kazem had once again proved the regime's impotence and inefficacy in the face of revolutionary determination and absolute dedication. His last words to my mother were: "the enemy may murder your children under severe torture, but do not ever plead, do not ever beg. The enemy is too base for that".
elaborate efforts for our arrest even extended to setting up roadblocks on all
routes out of
In one instance, a shrew of a woman, probably the same one who later acted as my jailer, went to the dormitory of a girls' boarding school at With the building surrounded, the woman awakened the students one by one, introducing herself now as my aunt, now as my sister‑in‑law, asking their names, telling them my mother was gravely ill, and she had come to take me to her. Having noticed her varying identity, the students began asking questions and a group of them were ready to throw her out, forcing her to abandon her search and run to safety. Yet another unsuccessful ploy! The only result of these raids was that groups of students were made more aware of the regime's nature and given a glimpse of the enemy's stupidity and brutality.
Arrest, Torture, Interrogation.
the blow, we reorganised and resumed revolutionary activity. In the morning of
vacated our hideout in
When I was struggling with the Shah's ruffians and more of them were joining in, I saw his wretched face. He must have been hiding from me, so that the enemy could feed me lies about their invincibility: "We are very powerful. We know all. We see all and some such nonsense, but he had to join in. What a ghastly face he had! The struggle went on for some fifteen minutes. My clothes were torn. I felt pain everywhere but still found great strength. Finally they managed to grasp my arms and legs, and I was dragged into the car. I was still struggling, surprised by my own strength. They could not hold me still. When unable to drag an arm or a leg free, I would bite them. One of the thugs was biting my finger as hard as he could. Another was aiming with his revolver, shouting he would shoot if I moved. What a clown! I moved more violently than before and knocked his revolver out of his hand. The bravos had panicked, scrambling to get it out of my reach. I pulled one leg free and kicked the rear window, breaking it. They grabbed me tight. I could only move my head. Raising it, I saw a bus. As usual it was packed. Tired faces were looking out of the windows. The bus was undoubtedly from the south of the city, from the slums. I thought to myself: these are the last proletarians I shall ever see. They had not noticed me but I shook my head to them, trying to tell them that I shall love them forever, that I will never turn my back on them….
The thought that I had been captured so soon, without having done anything for the revolution, made me feel ashamed. I thought: at least now, I must carry out my duty well under torture.
The car stopped at the Police Intelligence Department. I was dragged out of the car and into the building. I was shouting and struggling. Some pulling and others shoving, they made me run the length of a long corridor. They kicked me in the back. I fell on my face. They forced me up again and the marathon continued. Thus, we got to an 'interrogation' room.
started "…(obscenities)…"Where is Amu-Oghli? (nom de guerre of
Comrade Javad Selahi)(
"With each squeak,
The fact is revealed,
The aging machine shall run down to ruin"
"Fight we must,
Like the Bolsheviks
What is to our hearts,
Burning in flames,
Shooting by the foe?"
They attacked. Punching, slapping, kicking and passing me from one to another. What was left of my clothes was now torn in pieces. Beatings went on. After a while "Khatayi" the 'Head of Operational of the Police Intelligence Department', said to be a close and favoured underling of the Shah, walked in shoving others aside: "What is this? Can't you treat people with respect? What do you want of her? Her address? That is not important. It can be asked without beating and shouting".
In the past, Behrouz and his comrades had often been taken to SAVAK. I had heard of their treatment and was somewhat familiar with the enemy's techniques, brutalities, fooled by words of kindness and concern. His warm face and his calm and polite tone did not fool me to change my attitude toward him. He was an enemy, mean as the other mercenaries, hiding his ugly criminal face behind a mask of humanity! He went on: "Tell us the address. We wish you well. The sooner your friends are arrested the better it is for them. Because they commit fewer crimes. Isn't it a shame that so many good and well educated young people should die?"
Looking at the ghastly beast, seeing thorough his transparent duplicity made my blood boil. I cut short his speech: "You enemy of the human race, I shall never compromise, I will fight to the end…." His 'kind and gentle' face went sour. Now it reflected his true self:
"Then get the hell out of this… (more of their obscene vocabulary)…."
The thugs strapped me to a bed. The room was packed with them. They had all come to watch. They presumably found the torture of a revolutionary girl interesting. Some looked calm and composed. I found that strange. I had never imagined a torturer could be so indifferent. As if to them, it all seemed routine. The main torturer was Captain Niktab. Others helped him. They were whipping the soles of my feet. It was unbearably painful, but chanting slogans and singing gave me strength. The words made them angry. They would whip harder. Naming the Shah and calling him what he is, particularly angered them; or they have to pretend that it did. Whipping went on. Stroke after stroke. Now all their faces began to twist, A few came close: "Have mercy on yourself. Tell everything". Their expression of concern came simultaneously with the strokes of the whip, so that while feeling pain one would also see the way out! It seemed a good opportunity for playing games with them:
"How can I tell you the address when I am taken there blindfolded?
How can I tell you an address I do not know?"
They saw signs of resignation. Whipping stopped:
"Alright, which area was it in?"
"I don't know"
"What colour was the door? Was it an apartment? Facing, north or south?"
"I don't know, My eyes were always shut".
"I will now open your eyes" Khatayi said sarcastically and took over the whip. The 'kind‑hearted' few started again "Have mercy on yourself…."
The pain was unbearably intense now. I needed a breathing apace to think, to gather my strength, to build up my will power. I said, "the name of the main road was Khani Abad". They smiled in triumph: "What was the name of the side road?" "I don't know…" The strokes began to land again. Until I could concoct a fake address, whipping stopped and restarted a few times. Another advantage was that they were convinced that I did not want to disclose any information, but that I could not endure the pain. With the 'address' complete, I was unstrapped and told to walk. It felt strange, as if thousands of pins were piercing my body. I could not walk, could not sit, and could not stay still. They grasped me and walked me the length of the room. Then a woman came and bandaged my feet. They had thought the address genuine. Their attitude was different now, trying to get more information softly. My behaviour must have seemed inconsistent. While my resistance had supposedly crumbled and they had obtained the address, I was so saturated with hatred that it was impossible for me to look at any of those criminals without describing his true nature, his hideous inhumanity.
I noticed a man sitting in a chair, looking pale, petrified, his eyes wandering aimlessly. He obviously did not look like a SAVAK thug or police, more like a stunned, involuntary onlooker, one forced to watch a horror film and deeply shaken by it. I did not dwell on him then. Later I learned that, passing by at the time of my arrest, he had been so outraged by the savagery of the Shah's ruffians, that he had attacked them, injuring one. He had the attempted to escape but the mercenaries had given chase and arrested him, firing warning shots.
A herd of mercenaries had gone on a wild goose chase to the address I had given them. I felt quite pleased, having sent them across the city making fools of them, and gaining valuable time for myself to think. Later on, however, I regretted that manoeuvre, because the police kept vigil in the area. Perhaps some comrades did live there. Perhaps I had unwittingly led the enemy to some revolutionaries. In fact, I had not, but the idea was a mistake.
I could not feel my legs. They were totally numb. Dumped on the floor, it was very difficult to move. It was about . A man came in with two plates of food, spoons and forks. One plate was for a uniformed pig sitting behind a desk in the room, the other was for another next door. He paused, asked me if I wanted lunch. An idea occurred to me. I accepted the food.
The plate was put in front of me. At first, the officer watched on, I started eating. He turned his attention to the food. That was ample opportunity. I sat up straight and rammed the fork into my throat, trying to thrust it in as far as possible. I thought this would kill me, I tried and tried but no use. The officer jumped on me, grabbed the fork. Swearing, he started to punch and kick. Then the other thugs burst through the door. They had received word the address was false. They were not amused.
Torture started again. This time they gave me electric shocks using truncheon‑shaped electrode. Before going on to use the shock to inflict pain, they were using the electrode to humiliate me, the target was the morale rather than the physique. They had completely undressed me and, uttering revolting obscenities and sick 'jokes' that at worst reflected their state of mind, set about administering shocks to the sensitive parts of my body….
That filthy beast, Niktab, walked into the room. He looked dejected, downtrodden and miserable. "How can anybody descend to such extremes of nothingness, of wretchedness?" I wondered. My attitude was wrong. How could it be otherwise? In the class society, a person without a class base is an object, a meaningless, worthless venal object.
The embodiment of
misery, the manifestation of defeat, he cried: "So you wanted to rob
banks, ha? We've caught you all…." That day a bank in 'Eisenhower'
Street** in central
He strapped me to a bench, face down. The shameless vermin dropped his trousers and assaulted me. Would they stop at nothing? They wanted to degrade me, shatter my nerves, overcome my resolve. I was infuriated, seeing blood before my eyes. But no, I had to try to keep calm so that they would feel the shame and degradation instead. I wanted them to know that their degenerate and shameless barbarity did not affect me, was unimportant to me. Why should it be otherwise? To me, what was the difference between this and being whipped; they were both tortures. They were both being carried out with the same aim. The evil aim of extracting my secrets, the people's secrets. And I would endure both for a worthy aim. To further my glorious cause, I had to keep the secrets in the interest of the struggle, of the revolution. For me the torture, the degradation was short‑lived and would pass. I thought of the toiling masses who endured it not for an hour, not for a day, but every moment of the suffering that is their life. The retarded vegetable who had expected to enjoy watching me struggle and suffer had failed again.
Once more, I was strapped to the bed and whipping resumed. This time, with the whip landing on the earlier wounds, the pain was more intense. Relying on my will power, I tried to overcome the pain and imagine myself as an onlooker, as if watching another's torture. I succeeded to some extent, yet the whip was a material fact, which could not be endured in this way. I needed a reality to turn my mind to. Every time the pain increased, I would call Eypak, Reihan, Robab, and Kasem…. These were some of the workers in the village where I had taught. It was as if I could see their anxious eyes watching me, as if I could touch them. They were anxious, impatiently waiting to learn of my love for them. Would I remain faithful? I could see in their kind eyes what they rightly expected of me. I could see in their kind eyes the anxiety lest I who had closely witnessed their sufferings and pains, and who had joined in the struggle to free them from centuries of slavery, would now compromise with their class enemy who had inflicted so much pain on them for so long.
I could see Eypak's hand, deeply cut with a sickle, yet not nursed because the work had to go on. I would think of the acute backache that plagued Robab and Reihan. Yet, they had to irrigate their tiny piece of barren land with their hands. I had before my eyes the sufferings of Golnar, the tears of Zahra, the sincerity of Ghorban, the innocence and childish happiness of Marzan who would run to me shouting "Aunt Ashraf" in the rags that were her clothes. I could remember that every time watching her unwitting joy, I would think of the agony and humiliation waiting to swamp her, to degrade her and to ruin her life. I could remember how my heart bursting with sorrow and choking with hatred of those who bring about so much misery, I would smile at her, caress her, and vow in my heart; "I shall fight for your freedom and that of all those others like you, chained by the oppressors". Now I could see their anxious faces before my eyes. With every stroke of the whip, I would call their names. I was trying to assure them, in fact to assure myself, that I would keep my pledge.
How wrong were those torturous mercenaries who thought I was revealing the names of my comrades in the armed struggle. How unfounded was their joy. "Who else? What are their family names?"
At last, they were tired of whipping. They tried a stupid manoeuvre. Khatayi aimed his revolver and threatened to shoot through my nose. He was some four meters away. I believed him at first. Just when he pretended he is pulling the trigger, I moved my head forward in the path of the bullet. They laughed mockingly. The hoodlum aimed again. Once again, I moved my head to line up the bullet. Pretending he was angry, Khatayi shouted; "Don't move, I only want to make a hole in your nose". I realised this was their idea of fun! They only wanted to threaten, and more than that to mock me. I stopped paying attention. The game was repeated three or four times, changing the revolver or the distance. Were they hoping to break my resistance with such clownish acts? How very naive!
They took me back to the wooden bench. Lying me on the back they passed my arms down the sides and handcuffed me under the bench. Then they all walked out. The bones in my back were pressed tightly against the wood. I felt as if a big hole was gaping in my back. The pain was intense. It seemed more than the pain from the whip. There were no torturers around to shout at to take my mind off the pain. I started reciting a poem by Comrade Mao. The poem ended but not the pain. My arms were so stretched I felt they were being torn off. The piercing pain of the wounds on my back was burning through my body. I could not rest. I wanted the pain to go away. That feeling was new and unwelcome. I reproached myself. This shows that in the past I had failed to get myself used to pain and suffering.
The ugly face of a mercenary appealed through the door. They came in one at a time, tried to persuade as to go along with them, and left in despair. one would talk of my mother's sorrow, another would utter: "To hell with the masses and all the barefoot and poor. You should think of yourself"! Others would promise me money and trips abroad!
Apparently, there was a prize for anyone who could extract any information. One thug leaving disappointed, groaned: "You could have talked and made me a little money"!
I do not know how time went by. Perhaps I had passed out, or perhaps I had fallen asleep. When I came round, they were threatening: "You think this is it? This is nothing. We are not SAVAK men. When you go to Evin and face the SAVAK people, you couldn't possibly keep silent. It is dreadful in there. We are taking you there tonight".
A horrifying picture of SAVAK and torturers had been in my mind before. While telling them "it does not make any difference, you are all the same", I thought these police torturers must be novices compared to the animals in SAVAK. Yet, my resolve to preserve the secrets of my comrades, and not to surrender to the enemy, remained indomitable.
*The regime's propaganda machine accuses revolutionaries of sexual perversion, addiction to drugs, etc., so familiar to its leaders.
**The puppet 'honours' his masters. (I.C.)
It was night time. Niktab and a few others came to take me to Evin. They had a large prison coat for me to wear. Every time one of them came close, I kicked. At last they all grasped my arms and legs and put the coat on me as I struggled. Then I was blindfolded, carried outside and dumped on the floor of a car. They sat on the seats, holding me down with their feet, kicking all the time. That filthy beast, Niktab, put my neck on his knee, pressing my head down every time I tried to move. Thus, we left the Police Intelligence Department for the Evin torture chambers.
On the way, I thought of a Brazilian comrade who had bitten his own tongue off in order not to talk. I tried to do the same, unsuccessfully. Of course, I was not firm enough in my decision, reasoning that if one wants to disclose anything, it is always possible to write it down.
In Evin, they dumped me on a bed. Looking through the blindfold, I could see vague figures of the 'expert' torturers. Among them, was the large gorilla‑like mass of Hosseini. "Where have you taken me?" I asked, "Who are these?" It was Sabeti answering, trying hard to sound impressive: "These are my slaves. I have cut off this one's ear", and, patting the gorilla's chest: "and I have cut off this one's tongue…. this is my land of…." I do not remember what he said. Something witless like; land of strange, bloodthirsty beasts. Then
they measured my height! I felt totally relaxed, in high spirits. There was no fear, no worries.
After their silly japes, they started naming some people, asking me which ones I knew. I was trying not to hear any of the names for fear of reacting to the name of a comrade.
Then they asked where my hideout was. I repeated the faked address. They removed the blindfold and took me to a large room with a bed and two wooden tables.
First Hosseini, twisting his face, grabbed my head shaking and turning it violently, howling like a wild boar. His cries were deafening. He was trying to frighten me. Niktab, Hossein Zadeh, Javan and a few other mercenaries whose names I do not know, burst into the room swearing "Where is this…." Hossein Zadeh shoved others aside, sat on the bed holding my body shaking me, uttering: "Look into my eyes, darling, into my eyes". I would look down, or around, I did not want to pay him any attention. He was furious, shouting, jerking me, repeating "into my eyes…." What did the criminal savage want of me? What did he expect? Perhaps he thought he could hypnotise me. Gradually he got bored and told one of the underlings to get the whip. Turning to me he said: "Do you know me? I am Hossein Zadeh, the famous torturer, executioner". So they even take pride at that! Pulling his ghastly face, he would growl: "This is Evin, and I am the expert torturer". He was truly the embodiment of ugliness. They seemed so stupid, so detestable, but were not frightening. The realisation that I was not at all frightened filled me with joy.
They threw me on the floor, tied my hands to the bed. A few of them grabbed my legs and ankles, pulling me away from the bed. Hossein Zadeh started whipping my legs, others would kick me and swear: "Come on you…. let's have it out…." Javan and two old Turkish men who looked almost identical and quite ridiculous, were doing the soft talk: "Come on girl, don't hurt yourself needlessly, talk".
My silence was driving Hossein Zadeh insane. He looked wilder with every stroke, he did not seem to know quite what to do. Whipping harder and harder, he would howl louder, scream and swear…. Finally, he got tired and stopped. They untied me and told me to walk. My legs collapsed underneath me. They were shoving me in the back, forcing me to walk. The two old men were going on:
"Come on, tell them what they want to know. Your comrades have certainly left the house by now. You don't know how clever these agents are. Another day or two, and everybody will be arrested. They might even kill your friends. You must also think of others, isn't it a shame for those young people to get killed? Never mind about them, what have their parents done to deserve losing their beloved children? You know yourself this sort of thing can only lead to death. But if you help, we can arrest them, and make them see sense. We promise not to torture them. We know you have been misled"!
was quite hilarious really. Did they actually expect anybody to believe that
nonsense? I wanted to pass the time somehow to lessen it. Saying a few words
now and then, I would pretend that I was about to answer their questions, as if
I was making a decision: "No, its no use…. what can I say?….no, I
shouldn't". The old couple would insist: "No, you must, it'll be
good, it'll be useful". My pretence of indecision went on. Hossein
Zadeh was frustrated, shouting: "If you don't, I'll get the hell out
of you with this whip, again and again". I was ignoring him, listening to
the old men, saying "But you don't believe me. I told you it is
I was tied to the bed again. They had brought in a thick, large stick, all mocking me and uttering obscenities. The traitor mercenary, Hossein Zadeh, was glaring at me furiously, insanity written on his face. He was a mad criminal and he looked like one. But, beneath, one could see nothing but helplessness and impotence. He was holding the stick, growling: "This'll take care of you. Just wait and see what tortures we have in store for you…. We'll stick this up your…."
I was burning with hatred. It was very hard to remain silent. I knew that any reaction from me, shouting and swearing* would only give them perverse pleasure. When tormenting a victim particularly when this involves the victim's private parts, they expect cries of anguish and indignation. I wished my hands were free to strangle them all. Being tied up, helpless, was most frustrating. Those filthy mercenaries who tremble when faced with a revolutionary guerrilla, were now displaying bravery against a powerless fighter in chains. What admirable courage! They would lift my legs with the stick, rushing from all directions, taunting, harassing me ... I could only retaliate against their utmost shameless, impudent insolence with eyes saturated with hate.
At last they put the stick aside. Now Niktab picked up the whip. I was looking at his face, a ghastly face, drenched with crime. He was a venal object, a base mercenary serving the enemy of the masses. The masses I truly loved….the masses whose pain I had witnessed and every time bitter tears of hatred of the enemy, had run down my face. Were those feelings shallow? Superficial? No. I had dedicated my life to the cause of the masses, and this was a meagre price to pay for such a glorious cause. I remembered that in the past, before reading a pamphlet, I would think of the difficulties that lay ahead if one were to take action, and would tell myself, if you are prepared to face the difficulties, go ahead and read; otherwise, it is the height of dishonesty to read simply for the satisfaction of intellectual curiosity.
And now, faced with those difficulties, with this terror, it would be the height of dishonesty to forget the cause. To me, a spoken commitment to the cause, without action, and without being prepared to endure pain and torture has always been and will remain, abhorrent and revolting.
Thinking about the nature of torture infuriated me. I thought about the cause of all this savagery. The traitor, the mercenary, the servant and puppet of U.S. imperialism, does not stop at any crime to buy more time for his tyranny; and now, what did he want of me? To help him keep the people in chains even longer? To what would the disclosure of our secrets lead? Would it not enable the treacherous enemy to deal a blow against the movement? It would. By talking to the enemy, I would be serving the despotism of the Shah, even if only for one moment. But every moment in the existence of a revolutionary must be spent in the service of the revolution, the proletarian revolution. The enemy impudently wanted me to talk, to reveal, so that it could survive even longer and torture even more. Could I justify that? Never.
With every stroke of the whip, Niktab howled "Address, address". The pain grew more excruciating; more and more difficult to endure. There were moments when I really wanted the whipping to stop. I did not want to aggravate him further with swearing at him. There was no way out of the agony. I really felt that. There was nothing I could do.
I was like a mother delivering a baby. The pain is there and goes on. Nothing can be done but wait for the birth of the child. And in that situation, the birth of the child was the arrival of death. I had to wait for that.
Gradually their repulsive faces filled with dismay. Looking at them, my confidence soared. They looked more and more bereaved. What else were the poor, feeble beasts to do? The worst and most important thing they had to offer was torture, and they had seen it fail miserably. The whipping stopped. They picked up a pair of tongs, gripping and twisting my flesh. Then they began compressing my fingers in a vice. They said they were going to pull out my nails, but they did not do that. Perhaps they did not want to leave any permanent proof of their crimes. They were helpless, frustrated, infuriated. They seemed to be exerting more pressure on their teeth than on my fingers. Other tortures were painful, but not as painful as the whipping. In between other barbarities, they would also whip me. They had lost their rhythm, seemed to have forgotten the order. Their hateful and cretin faces were covered with despair. I can still remember Hosseini, his face twitching with nervous tension, trying to thrust the tongs into my flesh and then compressing it with all his gorilla strength. Dejected, they were desperately looking for a weak point.
They brought in a box full of snakes. Some were expressing horror, cowering: "Oh, I can't even look at the box!" They were uttering a lot of nonsense, trying to make frightening, horrifying creatures out of snakes. They opened the top of the box a little, themselves taking refuge in a corner of the room. They were frightened lest the snakes rushed out! One mercenary opened the box a little wider with a long stick. A snake crept out and under a table. They were all running around the room in panic. It was a distasteful show with incompetent actors. I was looking at them. Filthy beasts that had the appearance of human beings, but there the similarity ended. They were lacking in the most elementary human values. Their very existence infected the Earth. This was the lowest ebb in human decadence and degeneration.
Finally, one of them who had opened the box and who called himself a snake‑charmer, picked up a snake and brought it close to my head. The snake coiled round my neck. Had I not analysed their motive and mentality, I would have been surprised at their idiocy. The point was quite simple. The snakes were either poisonous, in which case they would kill me, an end I longed for and had tried to achieve; or they were harmless, in which case there was nothing to fear. Yet, they expected me to be frightened for they could only imagine 'women' as weak and cowardly. Their mentality is a product of their base and ignorant lives. They had indeed found 'women' weak, but had never been able to analyse the reasons for this. The 'woman' in their mind is indeed weak. She has throughout the centuries, in class societies and in the reproduction process, suffered twice: once together with a man, she has been exploited, humiliated. Her energies have been wasted. She has been 'enjoyed'… and once again she has suffered the same from a man.
But when a woman attains class consciousness, and together with a man who has also regained class consciousness, an awareness and understanding that leads them to uproot the corrupt class structure, then she is no longer the 'woman' of reactionary standards and values but a "human being". She helps to build a structure, a society, in which human beings regain their just and glorious place. To that end, she steps on the path to freedom, freedom for all. She helps to build a society in which the question ‑ how much freedom for women is irrelevant- a society in which all human beings, men and women, have attained true freedom, and for the progress of which, women and men work side by side.
How could these mercenaries, understand this glorious reality? They could not and I did not expect them to.
Once again, they had failed. The snakes crawled over my body while I was sitting, coolly, telling them "So what? Do you really expect me to be frightened?" Then I realised how painless a torture this was and started pretending that while not horrified, I did find it unpleasant, so that this particular stunt would be prolonged. While they were laughing and mocking, it was easy to see that their laughs were artificial, that they were not enjoying themselves. They had faced failure yet again.
They began talking about "enema with boiling water, tormenting pain, unbearable suffering, shoving a bottle up your…" and that: "So far we have done nothing. It has been child's play, but the bottles of boiling water? No one has ever been able to endure that. What this wretch needs is the bottle…. Will you talk or do we have to get the bottle? …" Then the farce started with Hossein Zadeh and Niktab, laying the 'hard', and Javan and the two old men playing the 'kind and soft', and the others looking on. The old men said they were so upset they wanted to commit suicide! Pleading: "Oh no, Mr. Doctor, Mr. Engineer**, for God's sake don't do that, how can this poor girl bear all that pain and discomfort? She is going to die… it makes our hearts bleed…." Javan was not so good at his role, rather inconsistent, switching between 'hard' and 'soft'. Some of the bravos went to get the bottles. Javan, now playing the concerned, was offering 'expert advice' (!):
"You know, I myself respect your beliefs. I am not saying I am a Communist (!) but I so a disciple of (Imam) Ali. Some evenings we get together and discuss Ali's teachings. We also believe that poverty must be erased. Why should there be so many poor and hungry in a society? But, well, there's a way of doing everything and nothing changes suddenly. The way you are following is wrong. First, the People must be taught to defend their rights. They must be educated, cultured…."
To remind me of what was to come, one of the thugs opened the door shouting: "What happened to the bottles? Is the water not boiling yet?" The old couple were trying to look as if in agony: "For God's sake, tell them, have mercy on yourself. Don't let them do that to you, these rogues (pointing to their partners‑in‑crime) are truly outrageous. Honestly we can't take it, our honour does not allow us to tolerate that sort of thing.…" Javan, angry and in despair, simply said to them: "What are you talking about! This girl's whole being is dedicated to their organisation". The poor beast did not know how much strength this gave me. I felt very proud.
The bottles were brought in. The old couple left the room so that their 'hearts' would not bleed and their 'honour' would not get in the way of others. Of course on the occasions that they play the 'hard' characters for other comrades, they leave their 'hearts' and 'honour' at home!
I was strapped to the bed face down. They kept bringing the bottles closer then pulling them back, talking about the pain and threatening to use the bottles and the boiling water. Then they carried out their threat. I did not react. At last, they gave up in despair. It was morning now. They untied me a and as an epilogue, set about slapping, punching and kicking me This was not to make me talk, I felt, but to make them feel better. Walking away, Hossein Zadeh muttered: "Tonight I hated myself".
Perhaps their demented chief, the puppet 'Shah of Shahs, had ordered them not to murder a woman under torture for the time being. I did not think this was the end of this torture session. I felt a burning, agonising pain, thinking my death is at last near. I was surprised to be still alive, wondering why. I was sure the torturers would come back soon, thinking to myself: this time it is certain death. One more hour. At most one more hour to suffer….
I cannot remember what happened next. I had passed out.
*By swearing at them, here and elsewhere in this book I mean describing their true nature and their role in society.
*The thugs are fond of titles. The Shah holds many 'honorary' degrees. (I.C)
When I regained
consciousness, I was being carried on a policeman's shoulders in front of the
Next time, coming round I found my hands tied to a bed. They had put a large open shirt on me that did not cover my body. Two policemen were flanking the bed, with a police officer* and two women were also in the room. Five people were guarding a harmless, tortured prisoner lying half-dead, unable to move and with hands bound! This is typical and indicative of the enemy's panic and weakness in the face of armed struggle. I had done nothing to cause so much alarm and fear. They only knew that I belonged to an organisation determined to destroy the despotic regime and its mercenaries; an organisation that had successfully executed their chief thug; an organisation not held back by any fear; an organisation of devotees. How easy it was to see that what had induced so much fear in these mercenaries, what had destroyed their confidence in their regime and in themselves, is armed struggle.
They had created a
powerful picture of me in their minds. I was told later that in the first few
days the mercenaries of the Police Intelligence Department had been waiting in
line to come in and take a look at the monster who had survived Evin without
breaking. They had also speculated that I was a karate or judo expert, an
untruth they had come to believe. Later,
consciousness, I first saw the two policemen sitting on either side of my bed.
There was a dark hazy ring before my eyes. The policemen looked like ridiculous
characters of a 'horror' movie. Then I saw a woman, "who is she? Is she
one of the women who had many years before danced naked in front of Navab
She began uttering 'words of wisdom'. Their inept childish logic was unbearable. I decided to ridicule her, interrupting her: "I didn't follow that". She would explain again, I would nod in agreement from time to time. Everybody was elated: "Only a woman can tame a woman". Then I would ask a question, forcing her to repeat most of what she had she had said. At last, she gave up.
Officers were walking in and out of the room almost constantly. I noticed that they were clumsily trying to draw my attention to their wristwatches, which they were displaying before me quite conspicuously. The two policemen in the room were trying to do the same, giving the game away and not faring much better than their superiors. They had presumably thought I was waiting for a certain hour before revealing the address, and it follows that they had put their watches forward. How feeble‑minded, how immeasurably frivolous. The whole idea was idiotic and the actors left a lot to be desired. Besides, I was determined never to divulge the information they wanted and it was not a question of hours or days.
I knew that my comrades were immediately aware of my arrest. At the time, Comrade Behrouz was not too far away and could not have failed to notice the hue and cry. Furthermore, I was due to meet some comrades shortly after the time when I was seized. They had no doubt vacated our hideout, which was, after all, a temporary base of operation. The point was not to betray even the location of the empty house, in order not to add to the fallacy of the enemy's omnipotence, not even in the minds of the people in the immediate neighbourhood. At this stage in the struggle, one of our main duties was to shatter the regime's myth of invincibility. The enemy must be weakened, and it must be seen to be weakened. To go against this would be an unforgivable act of treason. To me, it was unimaginable ever to turn my back on the People's glorious cause, let alone breaking in this, my first test of dedication.
was brought in to plead with me. She was totally in the dark regarding our
activities. The enemy had raided her house and had not even allowed her
children to go to school to sit for their examinations. She was broken, on her
knees: "What do they want of us Ashraf? Please tell them. Tell them
what they want". "Listen", I said, "to what is
involved", and I recited: "With the head, held up high, One must
live, and with the head, held up high, one must die. To the foe, one must never
submit, and one's life, and one's all, one must give, for the cause, for
freedom, for the freedom of people"(
Khatayi decided it is better to take her out.
They had forced a friend to come to me with a transparent, ludicrous pack of lies; "Pouyan had attempted to kill Behrouz. He will try again. In a letter to me, Pouyan says that a disagreement has developed between them, and that he is determined to rid himself of Behrouz"! What intellectual destitution! The lie does not only reflect their impotence of mind, but also the mercenaries' murderous, unprincipled mentality: if you disagree, murder!
The ruffians also brought two of my brothers to my bedside. They did not have much to say. My little brother's hands were swollen and his face was bruised and scarred. The other one had also been beaten up. Perhaps the Shah's rogues were trying to tell me that they have arrested all the members of my family, or, maybe they did not even know why they brought my brothers there!
When a friend or a relative was brought in, I would ridicule the enemy's 'leaders' and 'generals'. Pointing at the villains I would say "Look at them. These parasites can only exist if they can suck the blood of the likes of us. They can only exist if, and as long as, we allow them to. We must not let them continue their criminal life…." One of the jailers, a shrew of a woman, who was vainly trying to appear in control of the situation, would on such occasions attack me furiously, grabbing my hair, which was long, jerking my head vigorously and slapping me until my nose bled. For a while she did this every day.
That night they talked about an injection and a syrup that would make one talk involuntarily. I mocked them: "Yet another childish ploy? If one is truly determined not to talk, nothing can break one's resolve. Still, if you have such a medicine, why did you not use it to begin with? Would you not have obtained the information sooner that way?"! The answer was typically stupid: "But it is expensive, we can't use it for everybody"! I was, however, concerned about the possible effects of a drug, because, as a child, I used to talk in my sleep. The thought of talking under sedation was unbearable. No, I should not do that. I was trying to forget the address and the names of the few comrades known to me. I would divert my thoughts to other things. I was seriously concerned. They brought some milk, but I could hardly drink it because of the wound caused by the fork when I had rammed it in my throat.
A herd of officers had gathered around my bed, insisting that I should drink the milk. I was suspicious and, besides, their aim was to keep me alive and, at some stage, make me talk. I had to frustrate their efforts.
To me, revealing any secrets to the enemy was such an atrocious and repugnant crime, and even the thought of committing such a crime was so far from my mind, that I could not imagine for one moment talking as the enemy willed. I decided to commit suicide and rob the hoodlums of any hope of extracting the slightest information from me. Furthermore, I considered my action would be of propaganda value.
Next morning they again brought me milk, which I refused. First, they calmly insisted I should drink it. Gradually, their tempers rose, the shrew did her slapping stunt again, to no avail. Finally they relented and left the room, saying, "We are not going to let you die. You can be sure of that. We'll get food into you even if we have to force it up your…."
Later a physician came in with a container of glucose to feed me intravenously. I swore at him. He responded coolly: "Why do you attack me? I'm not a torturer, I'm a doctor. I go to many government departments, this is one of them." I blasted out at him again: "Shame on you. Accomplice of murderers, venal filth serving the murderous regime and its evil aims. Witnessing crime and remaining inactive is a complicity, let alone actively serving the criminals…."
When he came close, I kicked him and his assistant. The woman and the policemen came in and tried to hold me. Later others also joined in. At last the physician managed to give me a few injections and glucose feeding got under way.
I refused to take food for thirteen days and they had to feed me intravenously every day after a struggle. I had heard that the entrance of air into the vein could be fatal and hence I tried to force the physician into a mistake, struggling particularly hard when he was entering the needle into my vein. I later realised that it does not work, I kept up the struggle not to submit to their will, and not to make their task easy.
Physically, I felt extremely weak, drowsing most of the time, not knowing how many days had passed. The room would often fill up with uniformed thugs. Generals would come in their absurd uniforms, trying to talk me into submission, presumably hoping to overwhelm me with the 'might' of those scraps of metal gained not because of bravery, leadership quality, etc., but for flattery, for lack of any qualities, for servitude. Their underlings would stand to attention, like slaves who had accepted inferiority, at a cheap price. They all looked so ridiculous, I did not even have to make any special effort to mock them and describe their true nature and value. It would all happen automatically, without any effort. They would talk for a while, then, with their 'dignity' and 'values' harshly but objectively questioned before their subordinates, they would invariably cut short their 'speeches of wisdom and authority' and leave the room concluding: "This girl is crazy". They also had a so‑called psychiatrist who had officially declared me insane!
is considerable 'class' difference between policemen and officers of police in
Two or three days
after I was brought back to the
"We don't want the address at this stage. There are other questions. You talk, we'll write. First your name".
I looked at them with hate, remaining silent.
They began mocking: "This one's crazy her mind hasn't grown…." "She's trying to do a Leila Khaled* on us". "Come on, tell us your name? We've got your birth certificate here, but we want you to tell us yourself".
Looking at these mercenaries, dispensers of injustice, traitors to the people, would make my blood boil. They went out and came back with an electric prod. Giving me shocks: "What's your name? You won't talk, ha?" They gave me electric shocks for about an hour, looking more and more dismayed under the weight of my silence When leaving, they threatened: "This was only a joke. We'll come back at and the real torture will then begin".
I was not frightened, but concerned. I wanted to be awake when they came. Under sedation and drowsy, perhaps I could not concentrate. However, they did not return that night.
The next few days were rather uneventful. I would sleep most of the time, and fight when they came to inject the needle for feeding with glucose solution. Some of my actions seemed quite childish, but I felt I had to resist them all the time, I had constantly to remind them that they were enemies and that I never would or could compromise or make peace with them.
One of the daily occurrences was the shrew's slapping exercise. My nose would bleed and I would try to wipe the blood on the blanket with my hands cuffed, an act, which seemed to immensely displease and irritate the shrew. She would explode with anger, swearing at me, telling me that I was rude, devoid of manners, not having lived in a 'decent' society! She would pull my hair, jerk my head and slap me again. Another favourite punishment of hers was shamelessly to order the policemen to tickle me. That was most degrading.
Various officer torturers would come in from time to time, uttering some nonsense, having fun! These were in fact reminders of their baseness, stiffening my will never to reveal any information that would in any way help them and the criminal regime they represented to survive any longer. Niktab was the least bearable. This mercenary vermin was always uttering the foulest obscenities, trying to keep up the ruthless and savage criminal image that he had shown in my torture. Seeing him would draw a violent reaction in me and it was only with tremendous effort that, I could face him with pride and coolness. I wanted him never to come into the room. I was aware that they were always seeking a weak point to exploit, and I did not want to provide them with one. He had sensed my immense hatred. Once, entering the room he announced proudly: "Your executioner is here", as if that pleased him. "You are all the same filth", I retorted, "there is no difference between you thugs". The truth of that struck me. Later I succeeded in remaining cool and composed with all of them, dismissing them all as the vermin they were.
Some of the officers coming to the room offered insulting sympathy when the jailer shrew was denouncing me as rude and uncivilised: "It's not the poor girl's fault. Who do you think her father was? Some pauper, a penniless worker"! Such occasions provided an opportunity for politicising the policemen in the room. When the villains talked of the toiling masses with such insulting arrogance, I would point out: "This is precisely why we have risen to uproot you. You and the regime you support are exploiting the masses, sucking their life‑blood as parasites, deceiving them, pretending you care for them and support their interests, and yet, you do not even have the decency to respect them for their toil, for carrying the burden of your regime's existence on their shoulders…." Typically, the Shah's henchmen would not even bother to defend the despot and his regime, or to justify its crimes. Their response invariably was to disassociate themselves from the regime, implying that they may even be against it but: "Alas, what can one do? One must make a little money, win a little bread…."
Going to the toilet was a major problem. In the first two days I was too weak to be moved, so they had to bring a chamber pot. Later they walked me to the toilet supporting me under my arms. Five women came in and the two policemen waited outside. The pipes attracted my attention, would I not die if I ram my head against the pipes? I tried to get closer to the wall but they were preventing that, as if they knew what I had in mind. I tried to pull myself free but I was wanting in strength and, besides, I could not stand up without their support and had to lean on them. They were holding my arms tightly. I could only move my head, so I attacked them butting their heads. The poor 'tender' and 'fragile', helpless women! Anyone of them would have been able to overpower me, but they screamed in panic: "Help, help, she is beating us up"! A bunch of officers and policemen invaded the toilet, grabbed me and handcuffed me. The women told the policemen to stay. I protested, demanded that they should leave, and tried unsuccessfully to force them out. I was taken back to the room and they did not take me to the toilet for the next few days.
*Leila Khaled ‑ a heroine of the Palestinian freedom movement
The day before Comrade Behrouz was arrested, a Major by the name of Makhfi came to the room as usual with his sick witticism. They were not seeking information now, but simply coming to torment me, to implement the foul thoughts that entered their morbid minds. Makhfi told one of the policemen to fetch a spoon and feed me the excrement from the chamber pot. The idea was so stupid and meaningless that I took it as a mere threat. The policeman came back with a spoon. They put the pot next to my bed and were actually going to carry out the order. I was so infuriated that I even forgot my hands were tied to the bed. I jumped to pick up the pot and empty it on the ruffian's head, but with my hands tied, I fell over, tipping the pot over myself. The thug who had not anticipated my reaction and was very angry, ordered the policeman to rub the excrement over my face and pour some down my throat. They strapped me to the bed and carried out his order. The only thing I could do was to look at the animal with the utter hatred I felt. My eyes were burning in my head with hate.
It was a ridiculous situation. The vermin who were devoid of even the most primitive human values found it amusing. One officer after another would come to the room, laugh at me, utter some sick remark, leaving with a hand over their noses: "She has rubbed shit over herself. There you are, she is crazy". The two policemen guarding me were complaining about the smell and the mess, holding me responsible!
I am not able to
describe exactly how I felt then. While feeling proud, ignoring their
utterances and dismissing the whole thing as yet another sign of the enemy's
frustration, I still felt the insults and humiliation and endured them in the
sense that one forces oneself to do or not to do something, not because one is
indifferent. I felt the insults, the disparaging remarks, with the whole of my
being. I was inflamed with hatred. I would remember the life of all the
deprived, oppressed people
The next night Comrade Behrouz was arrested. Suddenly there was a commotion. The mercenaries were running around in panic. The epic of Comrade Behrouz's life was reaching its climax. He had been captured and the building was shaking with his cries of anger. The Shah's terrorists were petrified. They talked of him as a mighty monster. Their fear had magnified him immeasurably, into some unrealistically massive, powerful, and legendary prodigy. Some policemen who had witnessed his arrest were talking of his fight with the numerous enemy thugs, how he had fought to his last bullet, how he was seized before he could take his own life, and how he had attacked the enemy, in spite of his broken leg. He was left tied up in a room but the mercenaries could not summon the courage to go in. They were crowding at the door watching him in amazement. No one would go in to start the torture. They had called on SAVAK's murderers to come over and deal with him, for the police criminals did not have the confidence to face him. They knew they had to use each and every method in their bloodstained book of torture, in order to have any chance. Comrade Behrouz was born of pain. He had witnessed and lived with torture and suffering all his life. His life was the life of the people, and it belonged to the people, to the peasants he had lived with most of his time, to the deprived workers whose miseries he knew so well. He embodied love for the masses, and hatred for the enemy. The enemy had seen that, and was frightened by what it had seen.
That night the mercenaries were like rabid dogs. The sounds of the lash, crashing heavily, mixed with the angry shouts of Comrade Behrouz, increasingly revealed the beast in the savages, their insanity became even clearer. I could hear Comrade Behrouz shouting at the enemy even when whipping had ceased. I was not quite able to distinguish the words but I knew what he was saying "Ignorant parasites, what do you want of the masses?" ‑ trying not to explode with hatred, when faced with the regime's daily crimes against the people. The mercenaries had left the door of my room open so that I could hear the sounds of torture. A group of them would torture Comrade Behrouz and, when tired, they would come to my room and another group would take over. Hossein‑Zadeh had stripped to his underwear, like a raving lunatic just rid of his chains, he kept running barefoot back and forth between my room and that where Comrade Behrouz was being tortured. With other degenerate underlings, he insulted me and spat at me. Because of the smell of excrement, they could not stay in the room for long. They were mocking and clowning. Hossein‑Zadeh kept repeating: "That is a good trick. She has covered herself in shit so that we don't stay with her"! He must be well aware of his own repulsiveness to say that! At the height of their savagery, it was' easy to see their helplessness, their dejection. They were all hysterical, frantic. As if even the sound of torture was driving them insane and they somehow had to escape from it. My two jailer scolds were dancing around my bed, spitting on me and singing: "We got your brother. We got your brother". What clowns!
I was not paying any attention to them. In those critical moments, I felt history was being made. Where would it end? This was the main question. With every scream, with every stroke of the whip I asked myself that question. I was anxious yet confident. I had complete faith in my comrade and revolutionary brother. I remembered when he first told me of the Organisation (of Iranian People's Fadaee Guerrillas). He had talked of the glorious and insurmountable resolve and endurance of Comrade Nik‑Davoudi, proudly saying that he was an example of the comrades' belief and determination. I had no doubt that Comrade Behrouz would accept the honour of martyrdom under torture.
A group of mercenaries poured into my room declaring; "We're going to undress you"! They had told Behrouz that if he still refused to talk, they would take me to him naked. I can imagine how he must have laughed at their sheer stupidity. Threatening someone whom has given all for the cause, for the People's revolution, with such a frivolous action! I was preparing myself to tell him: "Comrade, the glorious moment of our lives has come. Now is the time to sacrifice ourselves for the victory of the Revolution. Now is our chance to prove the weakness, the helplessness of the enemy". His reaction must have been most discouraging to the enemy. Word came not to take me in. The animals were bursting with frustration. The two shrews were scolding me: "Shame on you for having such a callous brother. He couldn't care less if you're taken in there nude"!
I did not hear much about Comrade Behrouz after that night, only the stories that filled the Detention Centre about his brave resistance. A witness of his torture related how one of the torturers had thrown up his hands in the air: "What else can we do to you! How are we going to make you talk?"! That must by now be a familiar feeling for the thugs: that feeling of helplessness and frustration in the face of the indomitable will of a dedicated revolutionary.
Comrade Behrouz, his heart full of the love of the mass throughout his life, brought the enemy to heel with his unbreakable belief.
He was a true human being who was aware of the sufferings of the people and who knew the answer; total and absolute dedication to the revolution. He had always lived with the people and for the people. He had nourished immense hatred of the enemy all his life. How could he be expected to betray the proletariat? He could not. He did not. He endured all the enemy could do. He died after eleven days of torture. His heart was damaged and his kidneys were ruptured. His secrets remained buried in his heart. The 'bravos' rushed him to hospital but it was too late. Comrade Behrouz had joined the glorious martyrs of the People's Revolution, as he had always wished.
Some of the Shah's ruffians later boasted to me that they had sawn off his leg below the knee. Others said that they had only cut off his fingers. They had kept turning and twisting his broken leg until his bones were exposed. During the days that he was being tortured near the room where I was being kept, they kept bringing me pots full of his blood. That was also their idea of fun! The enemy later claimed that Comrade Behrouz had a weak heart! But he was a healthy athlete, an experienced mountaineer. He would run many kilometres every day and had never suffered any heart ailment.
I first learned of his martyrdom from my jailer shrews. They were imitating Comrade Pouyan in front of me. I had violently protested. One of them said: "Poor wretch. Your brother died yesterday. We didn't want to tell you out of mercy".
At first my heart felt heavy. I looked at them in disbelief. Then I proudly whispered to myself: "Finally Comrade Behrouz died under torture. For the People. As he always wished. May his memory be honoured".
After three days covered in excrement, I was washed and the blanket was changed. I was so weak that I passed out every time they tried to sit me up. They were giving me numerous injections and nasal feeding me with milk and egg yoke. Niktab had repeatedly said that they would not allow my hunger strike to continue and that they would keep me alive at all costs. There was no doubt that they were determined to do just that, but hunger strike was the only way open to me to defy them and weaken myself hoping for death. The mercenaries had changed their tune now: "Why should you want to starve yourself? We're not going to hurt you any more and we no longer even want the address. Why should you die then?
You'll stay here for a while, then you'll be freed…." Their insistence made me suspect their aims, suggesting that I should continue to refuse food, although I did not know why. After a while, however, I decided there was no reason to die, and ended my hunger strike. The enemy had now put on a kind polite facade. The jailer shrews must have been ordered to try be kind, and calm me down. They were constantly talking of the future and the promises it holds! They told me that I could eventually be transferred to a prison where I would be together with my comrades; insisting that "all the torturers are really very nice and kind people! It is only that they go berserk at times when they have to torture people A task they have to carry out"; they 'reasoned' with me that "at any rate, now that your torture is over there is no point in being unfriendly! We don't have to bother one another! We are like a family in this room…."! "Some family" I thought! I saw myself as totally apart, not so much apart, as opposite.
The more senior jailer woman, the shrew, was a rather interesting person. She did not treat the filth higher up in the hierarchy with quite the same respect and attention that the others did. As a comrade remarked later, it seemed "she had connections high up". Or, perhaps that was her character. She did not take kindly to orders, acting as if she should run the show, and she certainly had an insatiable appetite for power. From the beginning, I found it unusual that her vocabulary, unlike that of the others there, was not centred on the lower parts of the body. This indicated a high rank. Yet, she was not above carrying out the more menial tasks. She would even fetch the chamber pot, a task the hierarchy, class and caste‑respecting enemy would normally leave to people from the lower ranks. My initial reaction was of concern. She seemed to be prepared to do absolutely anything, as if deeply dedicated to a genuine cause. Later I found, however, that it was ambition that drove her. She sought more power, which also meant more bonuses and awards as well as higher pay, and 'dedication' and hard work appeared to be the way she recognised as the best means of achieving that end. She would not balk at anything aimed at 'taming' me. Sometimes she would attack and beat me even in the presence of their generals, considered a disrespectful act the pleasure normally being reserved for the highest-ranking ape present! However, she justified this unorthodox conduct as a sign of extreme respect for the general in the fact that she could not tolerate the 'venerable' being insulted by me.
One day, during the period of my hunger strike, that old criminal fox General Samadian‑Pour came to my bedside. He was sitting there, 'reasoning', with all the patience and 'kindness' in the world: "Do you want to see Behrouz? Why do you behave this way? We're not going to hurt you. Nobody is. Come with me, I'll take you to Behrouz. Spend a little time with him". The jailer shrews had just ended a slapping session which, as usual, had left my nose bleeding. I kept annoying the shrew by wiping my nose with the blanket, yet firmly telling the General to pass me some handkerchiefs. He reached for the table, took some tissues, and gave them to me. I duly tore them up and told him to get more. The chief hoodlum's patience was incredible. He was still talking calmly and kindly, and passing tissues over. At last I shouted at him; "Shut up, stupid mercenary clown. Base criminal". The jailer shrew swiftly intervened with her slapping. The venerable General sprang to his feet and immediately left the room to save his fragile 'dignity' from further damage in the presence of his subordinates.
The jailer shrew, with the mentality typical of mercenaries, opportunists, and flatterers, criticised me: "There aren't any of your comrades and friends here to show off to! Whom do you want to impress by swearing at the generals?…." I smiled!
After the night when Khatayi and Niktab had fruitlessly, as they put it 'joked' with me with the electric prod to extract information, there was a distinct change in the interrogatory attitude. Presumably, they had realised that I did not appreciate their 'sense of humour'. They decided to opt for a soft line and use some of the mercenaries whose savagery I had not yet known. Clearly their 'polite and gentlemanly' approach was as futile as ever, in spite of their tone of speech and whether they whipped hard or talked softly, they were enemy mercenaries and their nature was unknown to me.
One of the
ruffians who was not present during my torture sessions and had hence been
chosen for the 'gentlemanly' approach was a Major Farid ‑ a
mercenary who has now met the death he deserved (
"It is really unbearable for me to see you like this. I basically oppose this sort of behaviour. We are supposed to be human beings and we are supposed to be logical and reasonable. These people are illiterate! I have myself read most Marxist works! I know that you are logical people. We only differ in ideology, which is unimportant. People have different beliefs the world over…."
It was difficult
to believe that the enemy expects one to be deceived by the 'civilised'
approach. It was impossible to forget for one moment the character of the
torturers. I knew too well that the mercenaries who now appeared so humane,
behaved quite differently towards other comrades according to their orders for
the day. Major Farid, for instance, who could not bear to see me in
handcuffs, was one of the thugs who tortured Comrade Roghieh.Daneshgari.
Many of the criminals who were now given the polite role to play were not at
Having failed to extract information, the mercenaries were increasingly content with merely going through the formalities of interrogation so that my records could be completed. Such records are necessary when a prisoner's affairs are handed over to the Military Prosecutor's office, in order to arrange a 'trial'. Without the so‑called 'interrogation sheet', the prisoner cannot be sent for trial. Thus at that stage, the enemy's aim is merely to obtain a 'confessional' which is a formality (in their words a "legal process"!), although if one's not on one's guard, one may disclose information useful to the enemy. With care and diligence, however, it is possible to go through this stage, filling the forms with inaccurate and false information.
Lacking in experience and not being aware of the nature of this interrogation process, I refused to talk to the enemy; not even telling them my name, which of course they knew. I was concerned lest during the questioning any information of value to the enemy would be revealed. The mercenaries, on the other hand, were trying all conceivable means to complete the process and "get me off their hands!"
Major Farid visited me over and over again, as an agent merely concerned with the formalities of the case and responsible for completing my records. Having observed the regime's inefficient mindless bureaucracy at work before, I was increasingly inclined, from experience, to accept that the interrogation phase was indeed a formality. It was just another useless practice of a regime that disregards each and every law ‑ the Iranian Constitution, its own 'laws', international and human laws. Yet it insists on having a confession by a prisoner for his trial, never mind how the 'confession' is obtained, and although the trial is nothing more than a farce, carried out behind closed doors and by the military.
However, I decided to experiment with their interrogation process, answering only those questions the answers to which they already had. Farid asked the questions. First, what books had I read? I named a few. Then he tried to go into details, but I refused to answer. Furious, but not allowed to betray the gentlemanly role he had been ordered to play, he had no choice but to leave. Again, others came, "reasoning" and reassuring me that these formalities were unimportant. The next evening Khatayi came in thundering: "This is not your Auntie's home you know! Listen to what you are told. You can expect no endearments in here. You have to go through interrogation. He then threatened me with torture by SAVAK. It was interesting that the threat of torture had no effect on me. If anything, my concern was that I might inadvertently give some information away during interrogation.
The next day a mercenary came in "to give me a last chance". He was quoting Khatayi: "Ask her for the last time. If her answer is negative, we'll send her over to SAVAK". He showed the torturer's concern for my well being! "Khatayi is anxious. He knows if you're taken there, you won't come back in one piece". Then the hub of the matter; "Khatayi doesn't want to tell the SAVAK people that we've failed to do the interrogation. That's why he hasn't made a decision yet. But now your answer will determine his action…." That was quite believable. It indicated the rivalry between SAVAK and the police. It is a fact that competition between the two camps of SAVAK and the police, as well as cut throat competition within each camp, had grown out of all proportion.
From the beginning of the armed struggle, the Iranian regime had seen its own interests and that of its imperialist masters seriously threatened. It was petrified in the face of growing struggle. It knew full well that once the revolution explodes the rule of the exploiting, comprador minority is doomed. It had therefore embarked on a massive counterrevolutionary effort. The Shah's regime deployed all possible means to suppress the struggle with increased repression and intimidation of the people, in a massive and unprecedented propaganda campaign, in the mobilisation of armies of mercenary thugs and criminals in the police and SAVAK. Money and "position" were the two carrots with which the regime tempted the venal SAVAK and police ruffians as incentives for the arrest and the torture of the revolutionaries. The mercenaries responded with murderous enthusiasm, each one trying to outdo the other in savagery. Inevitably, an acute antagonism developed between SAVAK and the police, which caused severe damage to the enemy's camp. One such instance was the shoot‑out between the two gangs when Comrade Majid Ahmad‑Zadeh was arrested. In another case, SAVAK had embarked on a widespread search for Comrade Masoud Ahmad‑Zadeh, terrorising his sister to obtain information about him, though he had long been arrested by the police.
With the growth of the movement and of the victories of the revolutionary forces, the regime's impotence was increasingly revealed. The enemy later took steps to coordinate the crimes of the police and SAVAK. At present, the murderous forces of the police, of SAVAK, of the Gendarmerie and of the 'Investigation' Department operate under the umbrella of the so‑called "Inquisition and Anti‑Terrorist Committee". There have been other cases where even the joint forces of the regime's various mercenary gangs failed miserably. One case was the confrontation at Khelazeer, in which the revolutionary forces faced the enemy, fought and successfully escaped, leaving the dull‑witted 'joint forces' to share the blame.
It was this inter‑torturer rivalry which, in the case of my interrogation, was preventing Khatayi handing me over to SAVAK, hoping to succeed and reap the 'awards' and 'riches' for himself and the police.
The threats of transfer to SAVAK and my refusal to go through the interrogation process went on for some time, without the threats materialising. The jailer shrews also continued to express their 'concern' and give advice!
One evening I was taken to Khatayi's
office. There were two large tables in there, a piece of carpet, a refrigerator
and his fiends, Makhafi and Faroughi. Photographs of the nine
comrades for whose arrest the enemy was promising rewards decorated the wall. Khatayi
offered me a seat and went on: "See if you recognise this carpet? Look
at it carefully. Do you remember where you put it?" Adding victoriously!
"In the house at…. and this refrigerator belonged to Shahin Tavakkoli (
Having seen only the twisted faces of the mercenaries for a long time, I had now fixed my eyes on the photographs of my comrades. It was a joy to look at their faces, filled with great revolutionary spirit, faces of dedicated revolutionaries prepared to give all to the cause of the people. My comrades were looking down from the wall, watching my encounter with the enemy. Comrade Selahi seemed to be urging me to stand up to the enemy, Comrade Pouyan was telling me how to ridicule a ridiculous enemy. Khatayi showed me a photograph of Comrade Hamid Tavakkoli, asking me if I knew him. "No" I replied (he was one of my contacts). He then handed me an album containing many photographs of the comrade: "Look carefully. Where did you first see him'" No answer was forthcoming, I just went through the page amusing myself. At last, Major Makhfi's patience ran out. Pulling the album away, he said: "Hamid says he first saw you in ... Khatayi interjected: "Let her say that". They really. were ridiculous, playing the same old game. I paid no attention. "Do you know him?" Khatayi repeated. "No" was the answer again. It was Makhfi's turn: "What if he comes in here and says that he knows you?" "Since he does not know me", I said, "why should he say such a thing? Unless, of course, he has a reason for saying so in which case I will confirm what he says". It was of no significance whether I knew Comrade Hamid or not and I could have acknowledged the contact there and then, but I did not wish to forfeit the opportunity to see the comrade. Furthermore, there was no point in making life easy for the enemy.
It was about when Comrade Hamid was brought in handcuffed. I stood up, saluted the comrade with the greatest respect and love that contrasted sharply with the way I treated the mercenaries. When asked, Comrade Hamid said that he knew me ‑ a useless piece of information for the enemy. Khatayi turned to me in triumph: "Did you hear that?"
"No, I wasn't listening"!
The comrade was asked again and he repeated the answer. Makhfi groaned in frustration: ''You heard?"
"Well I heard but I didn't quite understand", I said, "Could he repeat that again?" Then, addressing the comrade, I asked, "Where did you see me first?"
Khatayi did not let him answer and ordered the guards to take him out and turned to me: "Do you still deny knowing him?" "I've seen him, but I don't remember where". They started naming some streets: "Wasn't it in…?"
I told them that I did not intend to answer any more questions. For a while they talked among themselves, then Makhfi casually asked: "Had you seen Shahin before?" Then there was silence. I was taken back to the jailer shrews.
I slept that night. In the morning, I noticed the two women guards were busy packing up their belongings. Normally when they were at their wits end and angry at their inability to control me, they would turn to Khatayi and ask for a transfer. I asked them, "Are you being replaced, then?" They immediately pretended to look unhappy and answered in friendly but reproachful tones, "What have they stuffed into that head of yours? Look here, why can't you think a bit, girl? What sort of clownish behaviour was that you cooked up in the interrogation room last night? My goodness, how childish! You should talk logically and with some dignity. You are absolutely lacking in tact". And one of them, lowering her voice added, "At least go and cook up some lies so that they don' t nag you about your lack of cooperation in the interrogation room. They might even fail to realise that you are lying. Now really! What can we do? You refuse to take any advice, and are so simple‑minded that you are unable even to think. We have been told that there is no need for us to stay here any longer, since they are taking you to the SAVAK".
At this moment, a police constable entered the room, glanced at me and, with a worried look on his face, whispered something to the women. One of the women said in a low tone of voice, "Really! You have been told too. Where did you hear that?" All of them, with a pitiful and worried countenance, began moving up and down the room, as if something terrifying and unimaginable was about to happen. The woman guard, this so‑called honourable friend and affectionate mother, said, "I tried my best in the morning and told them that last time they handed over to me a half‑dead girl, and that if I had not used all my energy, the girl would not have pulled through. But this time, I said I refuse to take charge of her and I assure you (the authorities) that you will not find anybody as willing and devoted as I have been". "How do you know that this time I'll come back alive?" I retorted with a chuckle.
"You think I'm kidding, don't you", said the woman. "Khatayi was ringing the SAVAK in my presence". I kept quiet and they persisted in giving advice. I interrupted, "Look, why are you wasting your time? I have heard all this before".
A few days passed, and there was no sign of a transfer to the SAVAK. I thought about this phase of the interrogation after that night. To arrive at some sort of conclusion, I asked them for a few sheets of paper. Khatayi, thinking that I had decided to answer questions, brought in some marked paper and emphasised that I should not tear it up, but hand it back as it was. In fact, I wanted the paper, not for answering their questions but, by jotting down my thoughts, give them some shape and order, and thereby to come to some sort of conclusion. This was a habit I had formed outside, where I would put down my ideas and in so doing, would decide on a course of action. I was doing the same here with a difference, that is, I would write words, the meanings of which were comprehensible to me alone. I took a day and a half to write, but my conclusions were incomplete and as yet unacceptable to me. My main concern was that lest they should be helped by my answers. I was not able to get to the root cause of their persistent questioning, the reason being that, as yet, I did not know how much information they had about me, However, Khatayi sent for the papers, which, despite his instructions, I had disposed of.
They took me to the interrogation room at night and, from the moment I entered, I started scanning the photographs on the wall again, to which a few more had been added. He was in a jocular mood. "Looking at the pictures again, I see", he said, in a light‑hearted manner. "They have increased in number, haven't they?" As I am shortsighted, and therefore unable to see the photos clearly, I asked for my spectacles. I stood up and started walking towards the photographs for a closer look, but Khatayi stopped me and told me the names of the comrades. Interrogation papers were brought in, and he asked me whether I like to write the answers or would I prefer him to write. I thought for a while, and in order to determine the extent of the information they might have about me, and also to find out what kind of questions they would ask, I said, "Write them yourself".
Question: "Name, pseudonym, surname….
Question: "How did you get acquainted with politics?"
I thought a bit,
wondering what sort of answer I should give. The fact that I should not show
myself to be too politically aware presented a problem, since these written
answers were going to be produced in court as evidence. I used to think that I
should present a facade of relative ignorance regarding politics. I told them
to give me the paper so that I could write myself. I began to write but
inadvertently went into deep thought again. I wrote a word and crossed it out.
I wrote a sentence, crossed it out again, Thinking, writing, crossing out
followed in succession and lasted for a good while. Khatayi lost his
patience with the process, and blurted out: "Well, look here….initially, Behrouz
gave you some books. Then you had connections with Javad Salahi. Now
then, tell me, was it in August or September that you travelled from
"Well, if you know everything I shan't be able to add to your information.
And really, it is not important whether it was August or September when I
"No, no, we want you to write it down yourself". He fired off a few more questions in parenthesis. "What was the address of the house where you and Javad lived together? How long did you live there? The house opposite the school, with a tenant on the second floor; how long did you live there? Your first reconnaissance work was in the Bazaar and the second one was…. No, no, you tell me yourself".
His questions obviously jogged my memory, and to complete my knowledge of the amount of information he might have about me, I would fake a protesting posture and fire cross‑questions at him. For example, I would ask him: which house opposite which school and he would answer the three‑roomed house in the southern part of Tehran; or, which house with a tenant on the second floor and he would answer that the house we had rented through the Sa'adat Agency, with a rather fat and so called intelligent man on the second floor*. Suddenly, Khatayi, realising that he should not answer such questions, lost his temper and fuming with anger shouted: "I am interrogating you, not you me!" To get this information was extremely helpful, since I could use it in arriving at some sort of conclusion.
There followed questions of a purely intelligence nature, which made me absolutely furious and filled me with hatred. I thought to myself, these traitors, these enemies of the people and tools of a regime which is responsible for our people's suffering, expect me to answer questions and use them against the armed struggle for which I should be only too happy to die a thousand times. How shameful! What vain thoughts! I put the pen on the table with anger, and told them I shall write no more. Asked why, I said I did not want to answer such questions. They said something to me, but I kept quiet and gave them a hateful stare. Nothing was said and I was taken back to my cell.
The following night they came again to take me to the interrogation room. I told them I would not say a word and had no wish to answer their questions and that I did not care to go to the interrogation room. They took me to the room and, when there, I repeated the same to Khatayi, he started reasoning with me. "Now look, it is really in your own interest to answer the questions and…" the phone rang and after blabbering for a while he said at the end "…Oh, yes, we are busy talking…. Yes", adding mockingly, "yes…yes, talking to dear Leyla. No, not really. I shouldn't think there will be any need for that. She will talk here…. Well, You will have to wait a bit…. No, no…. Oh, yes, sure….!"
Although he did his best to sound natural on the phone, I had a feeling that it was all stage‑managed. Perhaps I was wrong. In any case, it was of no importance to me.
He turned to me and said "Them, you know…from the SAVAK…. On the phone, you know. They have given me a few more days…. Anyway, you are going to answer our questions, aren't you?".
I told him, "Look here, I am not prepared to help you at all. You can treat me in any way you wish: you can be rough or kind it makes no difference to me. You will not get the slightest co‑operation from me. I will not answer your questions". With utter helplessness and in full knowledge that there was no point in continuing the fruitless talk, plus the fact that he had to make a decision one way or another, he said, "Honestly,…what can we do to persuade you to answer our questions?"
It was comical and I wanted to laugh. It had never occurred to me that they would ask that question. I said: "It has nothing to do with me. I can't help you there, I am afraid". He didn't say another word.
*This is a reference to Comrade Farhoodi who took part in the expropriation of the first bank by the OIPFG. After this operation, the enemy got hold of his photograph, and since we (Farhoodi and I) were not to have any contact, he lived on the second floor.
For the last few days, my quarrels with the women had been increasing in intensity. I would not talk with anybody. For a time, they had untied my hands during most of the day. But, now they would angrily leave my hands tied up to the bed all day, except for mealtimes.
My memory is rather hazy now, but it seems that after four days of the last interrogation, they barged into my room in the middle of the night, woke me up, handcuffed me and carried me to the interrogation room. Having awakened with a start, I was somewhat giddy. I saw Comrade Nabdel sitting on a chair in the interrogation room. The comrade looked completely emaciated, with eyes sunk deep in the sockets. His right hand, resting on his knee, seemed somehow unnatural. (Later I found out that when the comrade hurled himself from the third story of the police hospital, the bones of his right hand were smashed and consequently after an operation, his right arm was five centimetres shorter than his left one) Seeing me, the comrade's eyes shone with happiness. I was surprised to have been taken by the mercenaries to a room where he was. I was curious as to what they intended to do.
A chair was put in front of Comrade Nabdel and I was asked to sit on it. Khatayi asked me, "What part did you play in the preparation and editing of the Siahkal handouts?" I did not say anything and fixed my attention on Comrade Nabdel. Also, ever since I entered the room, the comrade was scanning me with a shrewd and attentive eye. Khatayi, not waiting for my answer and obviously having some other aims, asked again: "Who wrote the text and who typed them?" Again, I said nothing. My silence was so complete and expressive that it could not be interpreted as a defeat or a loss of sense of proportion. A little later Khatayi turned to the comrade and asked him the same questions. Looking at the comrade's face, it was obvious to see that he was analysing the enemy's questions. He did not say anything for a while, and then repeated what he had already said in his own interrogation. After that they did not say anything to me and told the constable: "That's all. Take her away".
Back in my room, I spent hours thinking about these tactics of the enemy. I could not make head or tail of them. First, I paraded before my mind's eye what the comrade had said. "Can the enemy really get the slightest benefit from what has been said?" I repeated the words again and again, and eventually decided that the enemy could not possibly benefit from what the comrade had said.
"So what was the aim in staging such an act?" I could not find an answer then. However, now I have got to the bottom of it. They put a question to the comrade knowing full well that he would only repeat the answer in my presence. Their intention was to give me to understand how easily he answered their questions and talked freely to them, thereby weakening my morale and destroying my resistance. Why, after the comrade's answer, did they not put any more questions to me? Today when I think of the episode, I can see how the acts were stage‑managed: entering the interrogation room; sitting opposite Comrade Nabdel; irrelevant questions and unimportant answers. Yes, this was a trap set by the enemy, which could only be seen in the light of the revolutionary behaviour of the comrade. Comrade Nabdel was a true revolutionary who kept up the fight until the very last moment of his glorious martyrdom, which he welcomed with open arms.
As far as my personal experience allows me to judge, physical tortures without mental tortures, and without such stage‑managed episodes are wholly ineffective. That is why the enemy tries his damnedest to create a sense of despair in the individual regarding the struggle and to sew the seeds of distrust amongst the comrades. To see or hear a person in a state of despair and resignation has a harmful effect. On the other hand, to see other fighters steadfast and resisting, gives one the strength and enthusiasm to resist the enemy's torture and to avoid their traps. Therefore, it is the important duty of every revolutionary to preserve his or her morale in the face of adversity and always talk or behave in the presence of the enemy in a way which raises the morale of other comrades. The enemy tries to destroy this attitude by various means. A most effective way of neutralising these efforts is to not allow him to be kind. We ought to behave in such a manner that he is denied the benefit of false kindness.
Another method was also employed to make me answer their questions. In order that I should not get bored (and this is a laugh) two typists would come to chat with me in my room. In the course of a light‑hearted chat, they would put some questions to me. The enemy imagined that I might fall for their masquerade. They were cheeky and shameless, and egged on by the enemy to such an extent that they were completely impervious to my abuse. Initially, they were bent on winning my confidence and would say: "Darling, say what you will, but we have grown to like you so much. You have every right to abuse us since, quite naturally, you believe us to be some kind of interrogators. That's alright, you are not to be blamed for thinking that. At the moment, you are not to know that this is not the case. You will soon realise that we are only two ordinary office employees, who come in the morning and leave after work, just like in any other office. It makes no difference to us which office we work in since we have nothing to do with the running of it". I would tell them: "Look here, go and find somebody else for your little bedtime stories. I can't trust even the cleaning-woman here, let alone you two."
They took me to the interrogation room again two nights later. During that time, I managed to learn more about the information the enemy might have about me. But they had as yet failed to fill in the interrogation papers. I found the opportunity in my room to appraise the meetings I had had and the interrogations to which I had been subjected. I decided that I knew all the information the enemy had about my work my connections and me. My resistance during the course of various interrogations had paid dividends and in order to clear up my position, I felt I was able to fill in the interrogation papers without giving any useful information to the enemy, and thereby end the state of purgatory I was in. Once more I made an appraisal of all the incidents, for the last time, analysed unclear points and made a final decision.
I entered the interrogation room with the clear intention of filling in the papers with concise but unclear and altered facts, the safety of which I was absolutely certain.
Khatayi, this base mercenary who wanted to take the opportunity of denigrating the comrades in my presence, said: "We have received some news concerning Pouyan, which is quite embarrassing to recount, really. We have got a woman here who claims that Pouyan, with a few others, raided her house, kidnapped her, and the woman was so upset that she could not stop swearing".
I said, "Ha, ha, very funny! You can't even manage to tell a plausible lie".
"Honestly, it's absolutely true what I have just said" he insisted. "I will order them to bring the woman here tomorrow".
He was talking so forcefully and with such confidence that had one entertained the slightest flicker of doubt about the comrades, and had one not known that their whole lives had been tirelessly devoted to the service of the people, one might have seriously asked oneself whether there was any truth, however minute, in what Khatayi had been saying. He uttered these base accusations at the end of the interrogations, and to ensure that his talks had the desired effect he added in an apparently kind and affectionate manner, "Would you like to see Pouyan's belongings. They are all in that big room opposite: arms, mountaineering implements, handouts…and all". We walked into the room opposite. The things were all displayed on two oblong tables. Ranging on a wall there was a dummy with Pouyan's disguise on. When I got near the dummy, I felt it was time to show the treacherous serf that all his desperate efforts to denigrate the comrade had not had the slightest effect. I kissed the clothes on the dummy. Khatayi and the rest, who until then attempted to show me every item, gazed at me in amazement. To reiterate and emphasise my love for the dead comrade, I said, "Oh, yes, looking at the clothes now I can clearly visualise the comrade". In order to cover up their embarrassment and justify their foolish behaviour, they showed me a few more items, as if nothing had happened. After that I was taken back to my room.
They took me to Khatayi's room twice more after this episode and thus the sham interrogation that had lasted one and a half months came to an end. It was a truly spurious interrogation, with all my acts recorded on the paper. Khatayi had recorded all my moods and attitudes. Reading in the "court" afterwards, I could not stop laughing at the childish, disconnected and badly written material. You could not make head or tail of the contents. The gist of the whole childish composition was that the incomplete information of the enemy could only be completed by my martyred comrades! For example, it was not clear, why I had been waiting in front of the University every day (reported to the enemy by the mercenary who was a neighbour of my brother's). I told them, "Well I don't know anything about that. Comrade Behrouz never told me anything. Perhaps he wanted me to accompany him as a cover". Some of the works had been attributed to them (the comrades). Even the most unimportant talks had been falsified.
Let us go back for a while to the days after my hunger strike had failed, that is, to the time when the enemy was frantically trying to interrogate me.
After my decision
to resume normal eating, they completely changed their tactics and tried to
smother me with kindness. For a time, they brought me exotic meals normally
reserved for officers. Until then, I had no idea that they had two different
types of meals: one for constables and prisoners, and another for officers and
employees. I was genuinely surprised and said: "Do you intend to fatten me
up so that you can torture me well and truly again? But I am happy to tell you
that there is no information you could possibly extract from me. I wish I did
have some and could bask in the pleasure of not giving it to you". They
would pretend that they had no idea what I was talking about, and that their
main concern was my physical well‑being, as if I were a member of their
family! Later on I found out that the idea behind this was that
The two women guards
in charge of me, directly or indirectly, carried out the wishes of the
interrogator, by being profusely affectionate so that I should feel embarrassed
about my quarrelsome attitude; by having a friendly chat about family matters;
by teasing or generally play‑acting. . Since they were women and spent
In the case of
Comrade Shahin Tavakkoli, they tried a charade, hoping to get
information from her concerning Comrade Jamshid Roodbari (
The first few days after my hunger‑strike, I was amazed at the excessive kindness shown to me by the two women. Had they forgotten that I was their enemy, I wondered. So what was the meaning of all this kindness. I could not fathom out the reasons behind such behaviour therefore, I decided that probably they were genuinely kind people. As soon as I was up in the morning they would unlock my handcuffs, bring me milk, tea, and egg, and with sincerity and respect, they would order the errand‑boy to serve tea in a large mug, since "being a Turk, Ashraf loves tea!" They would buy fruit out of their own money and insist that I should have them, as if I were a guest at a party. They would put the peeled fruit in my mouth and with a mother's deep affection, would say, "Damn those SAVAK agents! They nearly killed the poor girl…. What ruthless people! Now, one's got to be fair…. the police are really human". And as if suddenly noticing their lies, "… Well, of course, there are a few officers here too who are no better than those SAVAK agents." They would say this together with such flattery as "Ashraf is really genuine and sincere ‑ and look at that nose ‑ how shapely! And, my goodness, what a beautiful set of teeth!" One of them added, "She is so like my eldest daughter, like two peas in a pod!"
Such was their behaviour after my hunger‑strike. However, the time could not be used solely for these tactics, since they had to have some other, less affectionate, response to my reactions. Through their behaviour, they were trying to prove to me that they were intrinsically good and sincere people, and that there were only a few who did the actual torturing. One of the women would say, "Do you know, these torturers torture themselves first and only then do they start with the victim. Their nerves are absolutely shattered", and about Niktab*, "he gets so utterly disconcerted during torture that I am sure he will have a heart attack with the whip in hand".
Although I would behave normally during this, for example, talking about their families, I would also try to analyse their behaviour to try to discover the abominable aims hidden behind the cloak of fine conduct. One could not get to the bottom of it by analysing a single act in isolation. The sum total of the whole was the general strategy of the enemy to destroy the spirit of a fighter. It was a well tried strategy that had frequently paid dividends in the past.
*Niktab has recently been blown to pieces in his car for the crimes (I.C.)
Every day I became more and more aware of the calculated kindness of my prison guards, and thought of its harmful effect in quieting me down. "No, I must not allow them to treat me with gentleness". Therefore, any time the opportunity presented itself, I would talk about such facts as I felt would make an impression on the guards; or would explain to them the nature of their work which had made criminals out of them. With this approach of mine, they could not help but change their kind and gentle manner after a couple of days, hence the usual quarrels, bickering, swearing and buffoonery began again.
The repetition of this made them absolutely furious therefore, I felt I had succeeded. Their reaction was: "Terrible… absolutely awful… this girl bites the hands that feed her…." What silly reasoning, I thought. They were at the service of the enemy and as such my class enemy and yet they took my reactions personally. I would laugh and tell them, "I cannot be friends with my class enemy. When does a wolf make friends with man? Although we are living in the same room and you insist that in the absence of the interrogators, we can carry on without interfering with one another's ideology, the fact remains that we are still class enemies".
Since we were enemies and living so close together, it was impossible even for them, not to cause friction. What made them happy was exactly what infuriated me, and vice versa. All their lives had been spent in frivolities. Even their jokes were reactionary. They would ridicule and mimic my comrades. Naturally, I would not accept this and reacted in such a manner that they were provoked: "You bite the hands…." Initially, it was very hard for them to appreciate my reaction to something so trivial, from their viewpoint, as the mimicking of my comrades. After all, they would argue, how could I possibly have forgotten all the kindness shown to me only five minutes ago!…
Later on, of course, they realised that their mimicking and general denigration of my comrades were incompatible with their false affection, and therefore they did not repeat their mistake These incidents were their stock in trade. They would try to look upon me as an individual independent of my Organisation, since they were not directing their abuses at me personally, they felt they could say what they wished about my Organisation. Whereas, it was obvious that my Organisation and I were only separate in their limited and narrow vision.
Some of their attitudes I find puzzling even today. They would at times feel even proud of me, as if I were one of their nearest and dearest. For instance, one day when apparently they had been listening to some mercenary or other, talk glowingly of my reactions under torture, the two women came into my room in a very happy frame of mind. They were respectful and extremely kind and obviously bursting to talk.
One of them eventually blurted out, "…Yes, they are talking about your resistance and steadfastness (under torture)". Later on in Ghasr Prison I was told by some of the girls, who had previously been under one of these two women, that the latter kept talking about my resistance under torture with some pride, adding, "You are nothing, mates. I was in charge of a guerrilla!"
Thus, day followed day. When it was no longer possible for them to be kind, the ridiculing and mimicking would start again. Even those constables who were part of the prison guard, the most backward of all the mercenaries, would join in. I used to attach great importance to having good relations with them. The fact that the enemy was setting this section of the population against us and using them for its own ends, would worry me for they lived deep in misery, poverty and ignorance, and we were fighting for their release from slavery.
The women and the officers would try to show their support for the constables, and at the same time to set them against us, by mentioning the attacks on police stations. I would in turn ask them, "If they are really serious about this, why do they invariably give you the most dangerous tasks and pay you the least salary? Why do they despise you, treat you unfairly and have not the slightest respect for you?" However, they were unable to accept my reasoning and would do what their own superiors ordered. One day, immediately after my arrest, a constable came in and began ridiculing me by saying: "People…people…. Where are these beloved people of yours now to come and rescue you?" The women, screaming with laughter, said, "Lovely… lovely… how original…. What beautiful jokes you tell! …People… people" adding, "Now you are a captive and at our mercy. It is in your own interest to behave properly!" I could not possibly accept their blabbering, no matter how I tried. Our thoughts and attitudes were poles apart. How could they know that I had no sense of being a captive, I wondered. Compared with their slavish attachment to a pitiful existence and a frivolous life, I felt positively free. They did not know that they were captives and not I. In my brain there was no room for the word "self". Who was this "self"? I felt positively sick of these petit‑bourgeois concepts: "For me; my interest… I… I…" I could not steer a middle course. I did not want their affection, nor did I like the constant bickering. The woman's assaults infuriated me, since, after every such incident, she would feel pleased with herself and would say. "What can you do? Nothing. You are unable to do a thing". She was right. I could do nothing whatsoever for my hands were tied to the bed. They would even handcuff me to go to the toilet. I decided that it was silly to give her the chance to attack me on any and all these unimportant points, since I found it particularly hard to stand the self‑satisfied expression on her face after each such attack notwithstanding the fact that I myself had provoked them. She would get very upset at my abuses and talks. Because of these unpleasant after‑effects of my behaviour, I decided to alter my conduct slightly.
In my life outside prison, it had been very hard for me to see someone in a state of helplessness and distress. Here I began to experience the same feelings regarding these women. In one instance, one of the women got into such a rage that she had nervous convulsions. To see her in such a state made me think deeply. I said to myself, "Well, there is no personal animosity between me and her. Since our attitudes have become rather personal towards each other, I don't think it is right and proper that I should torment her". If I had been more aware of the importance of my work, I would not have taken such a decision, because I would have been able to see how I was weakening the morale of the woman and the rest of the mercenaries. This would help to crush their self‑satisfied composure when dealing with other comrades; and not knowing how to tackle me, they would surely have transferred me to a solitary cell, which I wanted and which would have been a relief from the bourgeois existence in that room.
The two women and the two constables were constantly looking for an excuse to laugh, to be merry and to talk of their memories to each other. Coming back on duty after a day off, they would spend days chatting about every detail of what they had been doing, particularly about the ice-creams they had had and the films they had seen. Sometimes they would deliberately dwell on these to make me feel sorry for myself! Another of their pastimes was to exchange the most obscene jokes with the officers. Occasionally, however, they would talk with the constables about the causes of poverty in society, in which case I would cleverly manipulate the talks in the sense that I would not tell them straightaway that they were talking unmitigated junk, but would handle the talks in such a way that they led to inescapable conclusions, so that they were unable to wriggle out of it. Needless to say, I was attaching undue importance to what the constables thought. They were absorbed in their hollow military and petit bourgeois existence. It was an agony to see them behaving obsequiously towards the women, in the hope of receiving officers' rations. Worst of all was their talk about the two women's debauchery while sitting at the end of my bed. There was a never‑ending story about food and other such matters. Sometimes, having had a bellyful of such stories, I was literally sick.
Outside the prison whenever there was talk of torture, I would say: "The worst torture of all is to be condemned to a petit bourgeois existence". Here I was, right in the middle of such an existence! I would hear and see, and yet I could do nothing about it. I tried not to talk to anyone and to ignore them, and this would provoke questions: "Why don't you talk, dear?" I would tell them that I could not be bothered; or, bluntly, "I don't like talking to you, and you may stop talking to me, if you wish", but as far as they were concerned, this was not to be. The longer I kept silent the worse their conduct became, although this would not go beyond tightening my handcuffs, refusing to give me water, delaying my toilet routine and talking more glowingly about their "happy lives". Nevertheless, the situation was worse than before and nothing could be done about it or maybe I did not know what to do.
I would set a timetable for myself to think about such subjects as: Why armed struggle is the only way to achieve victory; or recite poetry every day; and so on. But with their constant meddling and interruptions, I almost never managed to keep to such timetables. To the women a "prisoner" was synonymous with a "slave", and as such, they required me to do the most trivial things according to their wishes. One was not even allowed to determine the length of time one would sleep! Every time I dropped off, the woman would order the constables to kick the bed. The vibrations caused by their violent kicks seemed like an earthquake. "Come on…wake up…the 'honourable lady' is getting bored seeing you asleep!" At the slightest excuse, they would try to annoy me. I was allowed to go to toilet twice a day, as a favour! The shrews would accompany me to the lavatory together with a constable, and leave the door ajar. If I needed to go a third time, she would kick up such a row that her voice could be heard at the other end of the corridor. This would cause the officers to come out of their rooms and see that I was going to the toilet. Everyone would make a personal remark and go back to their room. In the case of Comrade Shahin Tavakkoli, there was the added row about the amount of food she ate. Comrade Shahin ate little (two or three spoonfuls). The woman would shout, "Here, you can't do as you please you must eat enough!" Or she might want us to wash our hands and feet, and yet another uproar; and so on. This bossiness was a habit the shrew had formed there, otherwise she was generally so scared of us that, on the whole, she went as far as we allowed her to, and normally liked things to go peacefully. She was well aware of our hatred, and our fearless attitude and knew that her rough treatment of us would have dire consequences for her, which they had frequently experienced in practice.
Once two women guards were lying on the floor, near Comrade Shahin's bed. The comrade, who also always had her hands tied to the bed, was thinking how to knock the chair, which was near the women, over their heads, She stretched herself out on the bed and, being too short, only just managed to kick the chair. It fell just short of the women's heads and made a bang. They were so frightened of the noise that one of them fainted.
The days when I would not talk in the interrogation room infuriated the women, although they had frequently protested that they had nothing to do with such interrogations. Therefore, they had to find any old excuse to vent their anger. One of them would say, "Interrogation is none of our business, but I can't stand your behaviour. When a 'gentleman' like Khatayi enters the room, you don't even look at him. How arrogant!" Sometimes she would put it more strongly. It is a pity that I did not swear at her. I would only say that they had better keep quiet since it had nothing to do with them.
My decision not to swear had created the impression that I was unable easily to assume an aggressive approach, and that my replies had a polite air.
At interrogation times,
bickering was the order of the day, although, as I have already pointed out,
this was made out to be for other reasons. They would also mete out punishments
such as refusing to give me water, tying up my hands even tighter etc. However,
when such mercenaries as the two pseudo‑typists (whom I have already
mentioned) were busy trying, as they thought, to glean information from me,
then the women's behaviour would assume a kind manner: my hands would be
untied, except during the night. I could even walk up and down the room
escorted by two constables. This was the height of their kindness. Of course,
compared with Comrade Hamid Tavakkoli* in the room opposite, who had his
hands and feet tied up to his bed day and night and would have his hands untied
for only a quarter of an hour's meal‑time each day, my relative freedom
could, I suppose, be called kindness. (Having heard of the
At such times, their kindness
had an air of sincerity about it. They seemed to forget that I was their enemy.
I cannot claim that they were play‑acting
These two women were actors who had become victims of their own masquerade. To me they had become like two cancerous growths that I desperately wished to uproot…. This, of course, was my weakness; namely, I did not know how to react to their conduct. I was unhappy to have a friendly chat with them, and if I did on two consecutive days, I would criticise myself on the third day for having been so gentle with them. I would reason that since we are aware of the enemy's aim behind the tortures, we must behave exactly the opposite to him. But their aims were not as clear‑cut as they seemed at first. Indeed, I could not attribute all their actions to the fact that they were interrogating and this, in fact, had not always been the case. But, one thing was perfectly clear: they were the enemy and as such all their behaviour was abhorrent, particularly when the incidents were personal and trivial. I would criticise myself for feeling distressed about the conditions in the room, and for expecting anything better from the enemy. I would argue that I had no complaint about the conditions. The enemy can put me in any type of conditions he wished. Yet, I was unable to fit the women's occasionally lighthearted chattering into the whole picture. This, I thought, was part of the whole setup designed, consciously or unconsciously, by the enemy. Despite all attempts to explain away the situation, I could neither reconcile myself to the conditions in my room, nor to my behaviour. I used to think how fortunate it would be to have constantly changing guards, like the male comrades. My relations with the interrogating officers had changed from being rough to that of being ridiculous. They were doing their best to put the stamp of legality on their conduct. To chat freely about their own crimes and abominable acts was commonplace. When they engaged in plausible arguments about some problem or other, I could not help ridiculing them and laughing at them. Occasionally, they would talk to me as if I were a little girl. One of the officers had sustained an injury in a gun‑battle with Comrade Behrouz, and had just been released from hospital. Limping in front of me he casually remarked, "You see what your brother has done to me…?''
During his arrest, Comrade Behrouz, despite being completely surrounded by the enemy did not stand still for one moment. Before the enemy grabbed his arms from behind, he managed to lay out some of the mercenaries. After they grabbed his arms and broke his legs, he was still firing his gun, although unable to empty it into the heart and head of the enemy. This last act had a dual purpose: to terrify the enemy, and to make sure that unused bullets did not fall into enemy hands. Although the enemy had surrounded the whole area hoping for an easy arrest, the Comrade's courage foiled their plans. His audacity and bravery had terrified them so that they would always paint it in glowing colours.
Khatayi's behaviour was peculiar to himself. He would try to beat me to it by making fun of me. In some respects I was rather gullible and would fail to realise what he was up to. As soon as I started thinking about what he had said or done, his face would break into a crafty smile. One day he handed me a photograph and asked if I recognised the owner. It looked like the picture of a girl straight out of the grave with sunken eyes and boney, emaciated features. I was about to hand back the picture when the crafty smile appeared on his face and I knew that he was making fun of me. I looked at the photo once more, recognised myself (a picture taken after my arrest), and pretended that I had not missed it the first time. "Do you know her?" he asked again. I did not answer his question, but said: "I can see her eyes, full of hatred and revenge, fixed on the enemy".
The constable guards were changed daily in the room. I was happy to have these different guards every day. Whenever the women were out, I would talk to the constables. The majority of them were villagers who, having failed to find work in the village, had joined the police force. Some of them had previously worked in factories.
I would ask them about conditions in the villages and the factories. Occasionally, we would talk politics, since some of them were politically aware. They would generally talk about the injustices done to them, and express their dissatisfaction with the regime. One or two were extremely curious to know how was it possible to fight for the freedom of the people without having personal interests at heart. Their curiosity was so great that they would forget the women's orders and talk with me ‑ sometimes even in their presence. These constables would also talk to the male comrades, and the latter would explain various questions to them. They had grown genuinely fond of the comrades. Some of them would laugh gaily at the mention of Comrade Nabdel and fondly recount what he used to say.
would act as messengers for the comrades who were in solitary confinement. Some
of them would even unlock the comrades' handcuffs and put them back on again as
soon as they saw a mercenary approaching. As a result of the rapport
established between them and the male comrades, and also because of my
respectful approach, the constables, who would spend a
Later on, when I was transferred to the basement of the police headquarters, I witnessed yet more such kind gestures. While there I managed to make friends with the constables, and was very close to some of them. I was unable to bring myself to address them as 'officers'. I thought that by doing that, I would be counting them among our enemies, where as I knew full well that they were only the victims of poverty and disorder in a society in which we had been fighting. I would remind myself that, in the final analysis, they were part of us, and the fact that they were set against us, and not fighting with us, was merely a transitory phenomenon. I knew it was our task to analyse this phenomenon and determine the difference between these constables and the real enemies of the people. I have no doubt that some day they will become aware of their duties, and the wall that separates us will crumble. I could detect their fine qualities. I would talk with them in a kind way, and address them as 'brother'. There was not a great deal of time to speak to them, since they were frequently being changed.
Nevertheless, there was some opportunity to talk to them. The talks were sincere and honest. I taught them a piece from the book "The Eloquent Doll" by Comrade Samad Behranghi, and would tell them, "Well, let's see if you have done your homework. What is the answer to "One swallow does not make a summer?" (The Master Sergeant in the basement was fond of saying this phrase to the prisoners). They would answer, "A light, no matter how faint, is still a light". To some of them, I would recite this line: "He who puts up with oppression, supports the oppressor".
I remember a constable who, passing by my cell, would recite this line in his local accent, as a gesture of friendship to me. His voice still echoes in my ears: "He who puts up with oppression, supports the oppressor",
I remember another of their unforgettable gestures of sincerity and goodwill. Once when it was nearly time for the changing of guards, a friendly constable near my cell turned to me and whispered, "If I ain't here tomorrow, I'll tell my mates to behave nice, you know what I mean…. They all like to help you, if they can…." He then walked up the corridor and back. "If I ain't here in the morning, a mate of mine will be. Anyone coming to your cell with his right hand in his trousers pocket, and greets you is my mate and you can trust him".
The types of favour they did us ranged from leaving the doors of our cells open at toilet times, to turning a deaf ear to what the comrades said to one another, and not reporting such incidents, and so on. We would all attach great importance to such sincere kindness. I used to laugh gaily at the arrangements the constable would make.
The constables in the Intelligence Department, however, were consciously helping the enemy. For this reason, as well as having lumpen‑proletarian traits, they were wicked. They had two different approaches towards male or female, although the distinction was one of obscenity rather than anything else. One had to deal with them rudely but firmly and not let them say too much. In the case of the constables (in the corridor), it was a different matter. Some of them were sympathetic towards the cause we were fighting for, and hence showed us kindness for that reason. But the kindness was also due to another less clear‑cut factor. According to the feudal culture that still governed their thoughts and actions, their kind attitude towards us girls was determined by their sense of protection for the weaker sex! There were yet others amongst this last category who, because of their past lives, had earthy characteristics and as such had their eyes on the girls. We refused to have any friendly relations with them.
The prison guards in the basement would strictly forbid the constables to talk to the comrades. They knew full well that if they had relaxed this rule, the constables would soon have learned about the lies given them by their superiors concerning us. This was obviously against the interests of the prison's governing clique. Nevertheless, some of the constables were very kind and would go out of their way to cheer us up. They would buy cigarettes for the prisoners out of their own pockets.
Once, I was asked by a constable if Behrouz had been my brother. I said 'yes', and immediately asked him if he knew anything about his tortures. He replied, with a very unhappy face, "I shall never talk about them in your presence". I insisted, but he would only say that he could not possibly talk about the torture and suffering of a man to his sister, adding, "No, no, I can't". I said, "Look here, just imagine that we were not brother and sister. It is important that I should know" He was not to be persuaded, and said, "Do you know something, the injury inflicted by the sword will heal, but not an injury inflicted by the tongue. If I told you the torture he had suffered, I will have caused permanent injury to your heart. I would blame myself for the rest of my life for having caused you such suffering". I insisted no more. With his kind of pure heart, it was unfair to disturb him with my persistent questioning. There were numerous heartfelt scenes of sincerity and kindness like this.
We knew perfectly well that their present slavery was a direct result of poverty and misery in our class‑ridden society. Being intrinsically kind and affectionate people, they suffered and were tormented by the duties they performed. We could detect this sense of slavery even in those ignorant constables who were apparently happy in their work and showed no outward signs of dissatisfaction. They were the products of a society, the class distinction of which was all too plain to see. And all the tortures, prisons, oppression and gallows were for those who had dared to rise against poverty, suffering, slavery and the uprooting of these class‑distinctions. The imperialist‑orientated capitalists, with the mercenary Shah at their head, were resisting to the onrushing tide of history. They were well aware that the end of a class‑ridden society would herald their own annihilation.
Yes, in our prison guards we could detect the sufferings of slaves. To see this slavery, increased our hatred of the people's enemies a hundred‑fold. It would remind us that we were fighting for the eradication of the pain, the miseries and the degradation of our people, and this made any kind of torture, insult and humiliation bearable. How could one feel indifferent to a guard bending double in a slavish manner to show his respect to the shrew. Even when he was giving me a glass of water, he would first offer it to the woman, as a mark of respect. There were many more such heart‑rending and pathetic scenes. I would tell myself: "He who does not hate the present, will not love the future!"
These days the
comrades were being arrested one after another. The bustling in the office
never stopped and the mercenaries were always busy
Some nights the
serfs would get drunk and start shouting in the corridor, stamp their feet,
sing songs and mention the names of the comrades in their songs in a derisory
fashion. They were in the building
In fact, it was
money, position, self‑love and attachment to frivolous living that gave
them this strength. I wished the comrades outside were aware of this and
realised how terribly difficult their tasks were, and recognised that to face
such an enemy they needed to work ten times harder. I was highly critical of
myself for having occasionally been lazy outside or for having spent my time in
useless activities. Every time they arrested someone, they would jump for joy,
and were showered with money. In the course of one month, the woman received
During my comrades' torture, my whole body was contracted, but I would try hard to keep cool in front of the men in the room. They would say, "You see how your comrades (emphasising the word "comrade" mockingly) are coughing up. There are no more of you left. Nobody can stand against the huge government forces. Look here, Mussadeq, with the government under his control, could not do a thing. How can half a dozen of you topple the Government?" I would reply, "That's what you think. This is only the beginning of the revolution, and you will never again be able to impose the graveyard tranquillity and peace of the past years. All your prisons will be filled and you will have no more room in them. You are all angry about this and yet ignore the fact that this very situation is proof that the time is ripe for the revolution". Sometimes I would recount what Comrade Pouyan had said, "When we start to act we may lose most of our comrades in the Organisation. It is possible that even the Organisation itself will be destroyed. This is not important since other organisations will carry on the struggle. We are proud to have started the armed struggle, thereby breaking the death‑like silence shrouding the whole country". I would add, "Although we die, the path to revolution will remain".
Sometimes, while eating dinner, I would hear the screams of torture. With great difficulty, I would control my emotions and carry on eating. I felt I had to bring home to them that there was no pride or importance in what they were doing, since we had expected all this; and that we had absolute certainty in our ultimate victory, as the night follows the day.
When there was nobody in the room, I would, at the sound of torture, clinch my fists, grit my teeth, feel a lump in my throat, and choke with hatred, I felt in a state of explosion. I did not know what to do and, of course, I could do nothing. Had my feet been untied I would have run to the torture chamber and urged the comrade not to do anything the enemy asked; not to talk. Should I shout, "Comrade! Don't forget to fly, since the bird will eventually die". I knew my shout would reach no one because of the uproar. I would feel a pain all over. What bitter moments! I felt something to the advantage of the enemy was happening, but I was unable to prevent it. This inability was tormenting me. I would ultimately get to such a state of mind that I wished the torture would go on. Such was the amazing world of our struggle. When you come face to face with the enemy you want to hear the defiant screams of a comrade under torture, despite all your love and affection for him; you don't want silence if surrender is the price. Because in struggle, love for a comrade emanates from the love for a higher ideal. If he turns his back on that ideal, how could you possibly still love him?
I must add that the torture did not always end in a comrade's weakness. Indeed, sometimes a comrade would give a false address or would simply faint under torture.
However, the enemy would use the defeat of some people to weaken the morale of others. To effect this he would give concrete examples supported by his usual pet talk: "Look here, sonny, you are very simple. Here everybody is for himself. When outside, they talk an awful lot of hot air but when they are brought here they won't put a comma out of place. You must be mad to suffer for somebody else!" Thus, they would try to break somebody's resistance. The mercenaries, these traitors to the cause of our people, could not contain themselves for happiness when some people showed no resistance at all. Their eyes shone with greed for money. As a result, their greatest wish in life was to arrest someone. The enemy's reasons for wanting a comrade to talk was not merely to kill or arrest some other comrades in a battle; or to find the hideout; or that the people might think "Well the revolutionaries have sustained a defeat. The enemy has succeeded in limiting the activities of other comrades….", and so on. Rather, his aim was to use such successes to demoralise the prisoners and make them talk.
My method of fighting the enemy's venomous talks and innuendoes, and their possible effects, was to disbelieve whatever they said. I would tell myself, "I must distrust the enemy absolutely''. Nevertheless, there were times when I could not simply shut my eyes and assume that everything was a lie. Once when I was on my way to the toilet, I met a boy with a bent figure, grief‑stricken face and a helpless look, walking towards the lavatory with an escort. As soon as the women guards saw them, they ordered the constable to hurry up and told the boy, "Drop your head!" The boy obeyed the order like a slave. I found this scene terribly shocking. I wish I could shake him by the arms and scream at him, "Shame on you! Hold your head up!" This was a fact that I could not ignore. That someone would talk after half an hour's or an hour's torture was also a reality.
To see the self‑satisfaction
of the enemy whenever someone had squealed, was infuriating. I would, at such
times, feel a deeper sense of hatred and would attempt to answer questions as
to why some people squealed, or, whether the enormity of their torture was such
that their resistance was broken, and so on. Then I would think about the
fantastic resistance of some other comrades and ask myself, "Is there
really any torture worse than that suffered by the brave Nik‑Davoodi
tortures could there be than those suffered by Comrade Behrouz Dehghani?
The comrade refused to surrender despite the most savage tortures, and managed
to defeat the enemy. Is it not a fact that, having administered the most
terrible tortures on the Jangal Comrades*, and after the brave
resistance of these true revolutionaries, the enemy then tied their corpses to
the gallows and shot them? Were the prolonged tortures suffered by the Jazani
I feel it my duty to mention the epic resistance of a member of the Jazani Group. Having exhausted all other means of torture and having failed to force the comrade to talk, the enemy brought in the electric brazier and joyfully told the comrade, "Now we shall sit you down on that, and you will talk!" The brave comrade, being utterly exhausted from the effects of other tortures, managed to drag himself to the fire and sat on it, unaided by the enemy, telling them, "In Vietnam a Buddhist would set fire to himself for his beliefs. Do you really expect me, a communist, to be afraid of an electric brazier?"
I had, as yet,
been unaware of the courage and audacity of such fighters as Comrade Masood
later added to those already mentioned. I had no idea at all that, at the time I saw the lack of resistance by a few, and wondered whether their torture had really been unbearable, those true revolutionaries and genuine believers in the freedom of our people were making history with their amazing resistance in the face of the enemy's torture, giving us all a lesson in will power and faith. I cannot refrain from repeating what I have heard about Comrade Masood Ahmadzadeh's resistance under torture.
After arresting him, the enemy inflicted the most terrible tortures on him to make him talk. All the implements of torture were experimented on him without avail. Comrade Masood, in all his contacts with other comrades in prison ‑his contact with me and two other comrades (which I shall talk about in the ensuing pages) would always try to conceal the outward effects that torture had left on him. He was so steadfast in his resistance that he felt that even seeing the effects of torture might distress other comrades!
Comrade Masood shared a cell with another comrade for a few days. This was the time when the enemy had burned a hole in his back the size of a plate. Comrade Masood would do his best to keep this injury from the other comrade, and would change his pus and blood‑soaked vest only when the latter was asleep. One day in the middle of such a change, the other comrade woke up and noticed the deep and extensive wound. He immediately kicked up a row and shouted the news of this savage enemy treatment to other prisoners, with Comrade Masood trying all the time to prevent him from doing so.
The enemy's efforts to force Comrade Masood to talk by torturing him failed miserably. The comrade carried all the secrets of his guerrilla comrades to the grave. His resistance did not fail to amaze even the colonel in charge of his torture and forced the latter to admit: "You know perfectly well that we are your bitter enemies but I must pay tribute to your resistance and admit that I have never come across anyone like you". The torturers were full of admiration for Comrade Masood, and, despite their extreme impudence and shamelessness, treated the comrade with respect.
So, I came to the conclusion that the motive behind a surrender was perfectly comprehensible to everyone. We are only at the beginning of our revolutionary struggle and the movement is still in its beginning. Although we have our past weaknesses under control, it seems to me that we are unable to destroy them completely, or to tackle them seriously. We are too simple, and therefore too forgiving towards our own faults and weaknesses. We do not criticise our comrades and ourselves nearly enough. Instead of facing up to our faults and eradicating them, we tend to brush them under the carpet. Life outside prison does not allow these faults to come to the surface. Therefore, when we fall into enemy hands and face his thousand and one tricks designed to weaken our morale, when we face his torture and solitary confinement, the conditions are ripe for the growth of these weaknesses. So, we fail to stand up to the enemy, which results in a disgraceful surrender. It is for this reason that we must constantly criticise ourselves, ruthlessly tackle our weaknesses and try to destroy them once and for all instead of trying to cover them up. When we manage to destroy the weaknesses in ourselves, then, and only then, can we be certain that the power of faith and determination is above all other powers, and nothing in the world is capable of overcoming it.
*Reference to some members of the mountain guerrilla unit who started the armed movement with the Siahkal Resurgence.
I felt that something, with propaganda value, was needed. Some time after I had seen that weak boy, I saw a comrade in the corridor, with his head held high, looking around with a happy and joyful expression. He was very pleased when his eyes met mine. We laughed and exchanged greetings enthusiastically and with some emotion. We did not know what to say to one another during those few moments that could express our feelings. Remembering the other boy, I said to this unknown but familiar comrade, "Comrade! Always keep cheerful!" Maybe only I knew what I meant!
These days the two shrews kept talking about the visit Alam* was to make to the prison. They said he might visit my cell and, if so, I should stand up and behave courteously! What a load of junk! I thought. I could not even bear to listen to such talk. The thought of seeing such a bloodsucker, with the blood of thousands of' peasants and workers on his conscience, spending their money for his own debauchery, filled me with rage. I knew if I came face to face with him, I would feel like a time bomb and use anything at my disposal to attack the scoundrel. The mention of his name prompted me to think, "Why not gouge out Khatayi's eyes? Can't I kill one of them or at least inflict serious injuries? Can this boost the morale of the comrades?" After I asked myself these questions, I decided there was no reason why I should not do such things.
In The Case Of Khatayi, I decided that I should gouge out his eyes, but I did not know how. I used to think that I could do this with my hands, therefore, I would practice with my own eyes. However, this seemed rather difficult, nearly impossible. Once when Khatayi was sitting not far from me, I kept his eyes under close observation, to see if this were possible, and decided that, the way I had planned it would be impracticable. I never saw Khatayi in my room again. It was Makhfi who would come to my room from time to time. In his case, I thought I would be able to hit him in the face with my glass. Once when he was sitting next to me I asked the constable for a glass of water, and he fetched me one. Makhfi had his face towards the women, talking to them. I was waiting for him to turn his face so that I could blind him with a direct hit. I drank some of the water. In the meantime, he was called out.
Given the opportunity, I felt it my duty to do such things, and when I failed to do them, my conscience would bother me. When Makhfi got up and left the room, I felt deeply unhappy and decided to do it next time. I never got second chance. They would come to my room less frequently, and even then would only stay at the door for a short time.
It was a time of frequent arrests and the mercenaries were busy committing their crimes. The constant arrests and torture of the comrades made me very angry. I became quarrelsome and defiant. The women, who had left me alone for a time, began pestering me again in the usual manner I have already explained: tightening up my hands; leaving the lavatory door ajar; asking the constables to watch me closely in the bog; mocking me, etc.
The first days of
the arrest were long past when the women would tie me up and clobber me and I
could do nothing but swear. Now that the officers had stopped coming in, I had
to punish her for propaganda reasons. I asked myself what would be the
consequences for me if I clouted her? I realised this was a selfish question
and therefore wrong. Instead, I asked myself if it were correct to do it and
what effect it would have on other comrades. One thing I was absolutely sure of
was that I would be tending towards frivolity and aimlessness if I failed
positively to heed the needs of the time. So I made my decision and patiently
waited for an opportunity to carry out my plan. In the meantime, both women
were becoming more and more impudent and abusive to the comrades. Comrade Roghiyeh
I felt I had to provide them with an answer quickly. One day when we were in the washroom and the woman was busy issuing her usual orders: "Don't wash your hands in that basin; wash them here…", and so on, I jumped on her and gave her the hiding of her life. The woman who was very fond of jabbering about her own prowess, felt so helpless and frightened that she was caught in a corner and did not even dare to call for help. The constable, who had lost his sense of proportion, instead of grabbing my hands or feet, was holding the woman. I continued kicking her while at the same time tightening her collar round her knack to choke her. The commotion in the washroom caused the officers to come in. They eventually got hold of me and dragged me to my room. There, they began to hit me violently, but deeply satisfied about what I had done, I felt no pain. Obviously, I had expected their reaction, therefore it was unimportant. They laid me on the bed, handcuffed me to the top railing of the bed as tight as they could and tied up my feet to the other end with a rope.
Farid, this so‑called polite mercenary of the police, together with Niktab, were busy slapping me in the face while I was being tied up. They were also punching me in the arm-pit with the utter helplessness of someone who had no other means of giving vent to his indignation. Since my hands were tied up to the top part of the railing, this could easily be done. After a while they left the room.
The ropes round my
ankles were so tight that my feet had turned blue. I felt terrible pains in my
ankles and also in my wrists, which were pinned by the handcuffs. I could
hardly move my head. My arms, pulled towards the top of the railing to fit the
handcuffs, made me peculiarly and painfully tired. I was left like this with a
constable guard. I felt extremely happy, but the constable looked very
uncomfortable. He touched the ropes hoping to loosen them up a bit. He was
anxious to do something for me. He went out and came back with a glass of water
and helped me to drink it, saying, "Why do you cause trouble for
yourself?" He repeated this with an air of sincerity, like a brother who
felt it his duty to advise his sister. After
The bed was
carried through the winding corridor on the backs or in the hands of the
constables. When someone said, "Careful! Hold it properly it might
fall", another would crack, ''Ah, not to worry, she is like a cat with
nine lives", and, thinking that I was being taken to the torture ‑chamber,
I strengthened myself by screaming at them that, "If that means that I
resist and defy you and don't bow to your demands, then I'll remain a cat with
nine lives". They went down some steps and I heard something like a heavy
motor starting up, which was a strange and new thing to me. The women had
already talked to me about some solitary cells connected to boiling or freezing
water systems. I thought that perhaps the motor I had heard was for such a
system. They opened a door of a pokey, dark room, dumped the bed in it with a
great deal of noise, and locked it behind them. I stayed like that for a while,
expecting boiling or freezing water to run under my bed. I tried to move my
head to see where I was and what was happening but I was unable to see
anything. I could just about manage to see the dome‑shaped ceiling.
Someone would occasionally look through the tiny hole in the door. I was
enjoying a tranquillity and peace that I felt deep inside myself. I felt the
running of hot or cold water would increase my sense of solidarity with our
oppressed people, grappling with even worse sufferings in their daily
existence. I remembered that Ahvazi worker who for the sake of a loaf of
bread, would have to toil near a furnace, in the summer heat of
After some time, I can't say how long, a constable opened the door. His was a familiar face, one of those of whose sincerity I have already mentioned. I had previously told him that I would deal with the two women. When he saw me he said in a sincere but reproachful manner, "I told you not to do it, didn't I". Then he looked outside told another constable to look after me, came back and loosened the ropes round my ankles a bit. I was left alone until evening, except for occasional glances through the hole by the constables. During this time I heard some swearing and slapping, and the motor, which had been turned off, started up again. I was curious and wanted to find out where the noise was coming from and for what reason. (I found out later that it was the noise of a ventilating machine to operate the fan in the basement). The swearing and slapping noise made me think that this might be the place where my comrades were constantly tortured and never left alone; the "terrifying dungeons", as the women were fond of repeating!
The guard opened the door in the evening (he was a constable, called Shokri, from the Intelligence Department). He said 'hello', and asked me how I felt. I looked at him with utter indifference. He affected a surprised expression and asked again, "Oh, dear me! What happened? Why are you brought here?" Do I have to give a report of your own actions?" I threw back at him. "No, really; it has nothing to do with me", he said. (Of course you remember that they never have anything to do with such things and are very reasonable and kind souls, like Farid!) "Only I heard that you clouted the "Lady". But, of course, I would not believe such a lie…." Because of the excruciating pain in my neck, wrists and ankles (it felt an if the ropes were cutting through‑my bones), and because the fact that, while chained like a captive, I was talking gently to a mercenary, made me f eel terribly unhappy. I wanted him to leave the cell. He came nearer, touched the ropes, looked at the handcuffs and said, "Is it painful?" I said nothing and brushed his stupid question aside by shaking my head. He loosened the ropes and handcuffs in such a way as to suggest that he had no order to do so, but had done it only out of kindness! "You will feel more comfortable like this, won't you?" he said. I said, "Comfort is no object, but if you want my opinion, I would say that you should untie me altogether. It is my right to hit an enemy of the people, a mercenary. The enemy of the people must be chained, and not me". I wanted him to understand that he had orders to loosen up the ropes and handcuffs, so I tried another question. "Can you undo the handcuffs and look them to the side of the bed?" Obviously, he could not do this without an order from the top dog. After half an hour another constable called Golshahi came in and put on a similar act. "Why have they tied up your hands to the top?" he said. "It must be painful! Now then, let me undo it and tie your hands to the side of the bed… Aha… like… this…."
I am still at a loss to understand why they felt that it was necessary to play‑act. Did they really do it on their own account?
Later thinking that I had been taken in by their tomfoolery, these two constables tried to keep it up for their own lustful reasons.
These base mercenaries and depraved automations, who could not control their lust even inside a prison, would sometimes prolong the tying up or untying for the sensual pleasure they derived out of such acts. At such times I would move my head with a violent action, look askance at them and tell them with a commanding tone of voice: Get your hands off!" and would stop them entertaining any depraved notions about me. The result was invariably positive.
*One of the most faithful retainers of the Pahlavi dynasty, he was the Minister of the Court of the traitor Shah. He was also one of the most infamous feudals. After the "land reform, he changed into one of the biggest comprador bourgeois at the service of imperialism. (I.C.)
(i) Ali‑Akbar Safai‑Farahani (
(ii) Ahmad Farhoudi: an urban member of the Organisation who joined the
Jangal fighters in
(iii) Shokr‑allah Moshayedi: In charge of the urban set‑up
of the Jangal unit who was arrested and shot in
(iv) Hady Bande‑khoda Langaroodi: He was one of the first Members of the Jangal unit. After an assault on the enemy position in Siahkal, he came down from the mountains to warn a comrade (Hooshang Nayari) about the enemy. He fell into enemy hands in the comrade's house and, after suffering a great deal of torture, was shot.
(v) Abbas Danesh‑Behzadi: One of the first members of the Jangal
unit. After the Siahkal offensive, he fell into enemy hands together with four
other comrades at a supply base of the unit, and was shot in April
(vi) Jalil Enferadi: One of the first members of the Jangal unit, who
came down from the mountains with the Commander of the unit and fell into enemy
hands. He was shot in April
(vii) Rahim Samai: he was one of the comrades at the unit's supply base surrounded by the enemy. After putting up a relentless fight against the enemy for forty‑eight hours, he emerged from the trench with his hands up as a sign of surrender. As the enemy approached him from all sides, he detonated a grenade, from which the enemy sustained a great number of casualties, and the comrade himself was killed. Because of his daring, a number of other comrades broke through the enemy encirclement.
(viii) Mehdi Es‑haghi: One of the first members of the Jangal
unit. Like Comrade Samai, he was martyred with is own grenade (
(ix) Eeraj Nayari: (
(x) Ali Mohades‑Ghandchi: A member of the Jangal unit. Together with some other comrades, he broke through enemy encirclement. Later on, due to unfavourable conditions, he fell into enemy hands and after suffering inhuman tortures, was shot.
(xi) Mohammad‑Hadi Fazeli: An urban member of the Jangal unit, he
was arrested and shot in the winter of
(xii) Esmail Moini‑Araghi: An urban member of the Jangal unit, he
was shot in the winter of
(xiii) Ghafoor Hasanpoor‑Asl: A member of the Central Committee of
the Jangal Unit, he fell into enemy hands in January
(xiv) Naser Saifdalil‑Safai: A member of the supply section of the
Jangal Unit, he was arrested and shot in the winter of
(xv) Eskandar Rahimi: A member of the communications section of the
Jangal unit, he was arrested and shot in the winter of
(ii) Rahmatollah Payrove Naziri: In the Spring of
(iii) Javad Salahi (
(iv) Hamid Ashraf (
Manuchehr Bahai‑Pour (
(vi) Eskandar Sadeghi‑Nazhad: Member of the Central Committee of the O.I.P.F.G. He was surrounded by the enemy forces while in the process of moving house and was martyred in the ensuing battle.
Abbas Meftahi: Member of the Central Committee of the O.I.P.F.G. He was
surrounded by the enemy forces at a rendezvous. After killing a number of
mercenaries, his gun jammed and he fell into enemy hands. After suffering
inhuman tortures, he was shot in April
Mohammad Saffari‑Ashtiani (
Ahmad Zibram (
(Tabriz). He fell into enemy hands while distributing handouts and was shot in
Behrouz Dehghani (
Behrouz, together with Comrade Samad Behrangi, spent
Ali‑Akbar Safai‑Farahani and Mohammad Safari‑Ashtiani belonged to this group. After the discovery of the group, they went to the Al‑Fatah in Palestine.