My name is Akbar Shafeqat. I was a political prisoner from 1981 to 1995 in Evin, Ghezelhesar, and Gohardasht prisons. I was charged with supporting the Mojahedin-e Khalq [MEK]. The prison years were very hard. But the hardest part was the 1988 massacre when we faced Ebrahim Raisi, one of the main members of the “Death Commissions.” I remember the guards stormed our cells and took everyone out in groups, rapidly blindfolded us, and took us to the death commission. The death commission was prepared to sentence everyone to execution.
It was around noon. I was sitting in front of the courtroom, where the death commission was stationed. They said it was lunchtime. I saw from under my blindfold that some clerics, along with some plainclothes agents, walked out of the office. Usually, when the mullahs came to the prison, we knew something serious was happening, but I did not know what was about to happen then. They returned us to our cell.
When I entered the courtroom in the afternoon, I realized I was facing those who formed the death commission. When the defendant sits in the European and American courts, the first question the judge asks is: Are you innocent or guilty? Then the judgment begins. But the death commission immediately started inquisition and deception.
The first question they asked was: do you approve of the MEK or not? Then they asked: do you approve of the Islamic Republic? Are you ready to betray your cellmates? Are you ready to stab them in the back? Would you speak badly behind them?
If one took a step towards them, these criminals would have asked whether the person would agree to do the regime’s terrorist activities. The whole world knows the regime’s terrorist activities, and it has shown it to the world. So, we could understand what they meant.
I went to the court twice. The issue was very serious. We couldn’t say a wordless our more in front of them. They wanted to know what was happening inside people’s hearts, and they sentenced them to death for their beliefs.
I am unable to describe the regime’s brutality. I could only share some examples. I’ve heard Raisi is willing to address the United Nations as the Iranian people’s representative. He does not represent Iranians. The Iranian people rejected him as the representative of a brutal regime by boycotting the recent sham elections.
During the interrogation of a young mother who was being flogged, and her cries had filled the area, her three-month-old baby was hungry and crying, demanding her mom. A guard approached the baby and used his dirty feet to silence the baby. The baby thought this was his mother’s breast and started intaking it. This is what the regime does.
Another example: After 14 years of imprisonment, almost a year after I was released, a mother invited me to her house under a pretext. After the general introduction, she asked me: have you seen my son?
This mother had lost her son 15 years ago. She had searched all police stations, prisons, hospitals, and the forensic office to find her son, but she had failed. Her son was forcefully disappeared, and his mother was looking for him.
I asked this mother if she had a photo of her son to show me. She showed me his picture on a shelf. When I saw the picture, I saw a 15 or 16 years old boy, who was apparently a student. As I was looking at the picture, another young man of around 30 years of age entered the room. He was the victim’s younger brother. Before he entered the room, his mother told me not to speak about his brother.
The boy’s hair had turned white, apparently, due to the psychological pressure this family had endured, and he was nervous. I did not talk anymore and only looked at the boy’s face, who resembled his brother in the picture. I said goodbye to them and took my car home. It was Friday, and the streets were secluded. As I was driving, I was thinking about this mother and his disappeared son. I suddenly remembered that in November or December 1981 I saw this boy. He was in a 6x8 cell with me and 80 others. He was very quiet and used to sit and look at others. He was innocent. He was 17 years old with an attractive face, and whoever looked at him took an instant liking of him. He was a very good boy. He was sentenced to death. One day a guard came and told him to get prepared for execution. We all figured out he was going to be executed. He understood too. Before he went, we held a little reunion and started singing and share pleasantries to create a happy atmosphere.
Then a guard came and asked him to immediately go out. When he was about to leave, we all started crying. But he was smiling and told us: “do not cry for me.” He was consoling everyone and joyfully farewelled all of us, and left. I watched him leave to his death with a guard through a hole in the door.
When I remembered these events, I pulled the car over near a public telephone. I was baffled as to what to do. I wasn’t able to return to that house and tell that mother I had seen your son. I wasn’t either able to keep hep waiting for more years. I had her number, and I called her. I told her I knew your son and tearfully told her what I recounted before. This mother had finally found out about the fate of her son after 15 years.
Raisi represents such a regime. He doesn’t represent Iranians and cannot speak on their behalf at the U.N. We strongly protest his presence and speech at the U.N.