My name is Assadollah Nabavi, and I spent 13 years in prison for supporting the Mojahedin-e Khalq [MEK]. I spent four years of my imprisonment in a jail in Semnan’s province and spent the rest of it in Evin prison. I am one of the witnesses of the 1988 massacre. All my friends in the prison were executed from July to August 1988. Only three of us survived.
I would like to make two points based on what I witnessed and researched about the role Ebrahim Raisi and the Death Commissions played in massacring prisoners. In early July 1988, when Raisi and the Death Commission began the massacre in Tehran’s prisons, the massacre started in other provinces. On July 30, 1988, they started gradually taking my friends for execution. At first, we did not know they were about to be executed, but we later found out what scenario the regime was playing.
What I witnessed during the 1988 massacre still hurts and is painful for me. But I would like to share two memories from that period to picture the regime’s brutality and its Revolutionary Guards.
When the massacre began, I was transferred to solitary confinement. I woke up at midnight by hearing some voices outside the cell. There was a small hole in the door that showed outside the cell. I saw the guards carrying a tortured woman using the same cart they used to bring food with them for us. I could see the trace of blood on the ground from that hole, and I heard the woman quietly moaning. The guards were trying to whisper so no one could understand what was going on. They threw her to a cell adjacent to mine, attacked her, and took her scarf and chador.
When the guards left, I tried to communicate with her through morse code. After many tries, it was near the dawn I could communicate with her. Her name was Aqdas Hemmati. She was severely tortured. Her legs were disfigured, one of her hands was completely paralyzed, and she was barely alive. She told me they were interrogating her because of her connection to another woman in prison. They were, in fact, asking for information about the other woman.
After we communicated that night, she was again taken for interrogation. She was severely beaten and flogged. On the third night, when she came back, she told me the interrogator had removed her blindfold and told her it was OK you could see me. She told me this was a sign that they wanted to execute me. This really happened. They took her at 2:30 am, and she never came back. This was just one example of what happened in a small prison-like Semnan. I was in solitary confinement until the end of 1988.
Now I would like to talk about Raisi’s role in the massacre. One day a guard opened the door and told me to get ready, and “Haj Agha” was coming. I did not understand who he meant by Haj Agha. I was walking when the door opened, and a delegation walked in. The cell was very small, 2 by 1.5 meters in dimension. I saw one of them, which was a cleric, and the other one was Kalat Mollaie, Head of Semnan Prisons Organization.
The mullah asked me, why are you still alive? I told him: I should ask you why I am alive. Kalat Mollaie told the mullah: this is the one I talked to you about.
After few more questions, they closed the door and left. When I later saw Raisi’s picture, I realized that the mullah was him. After the executions in Evin and Gohardasht prison, Khomeini gave a special mission to Raisi and Nayeri to follow up the situation in three prisons, which Khomeini thought the massacre was not completely done. One of these prisons was Semnan prison, another one Dorood prison, and I do not recall the name of the third prison now. Khomeini had told them to execute whoever was kept there.
In other words, Raisi, who had massacred all prisoners in Evin and Gohardasht prisons, was seeking to complete the massacre in other prisons across the country.
Now, Raisi, who played a key role in that massacre, has become the Iranian regime’s president. In other words, Khamenei pulled him out of the ballot box, fearing the regime’s existential crisis.
I would like to emphasize that the international community should not accept such a person who was involved in murdering thousands of political prisoners. This is a disgrace for humanity that a professional murderer, someone who has committed a crime against humanity, perpetrated the massacre of political prisoners and is proud of it being accepted as the representative of a country and addressing the U.N. General Assembly.
As a witness of the 1988 massacre, I ask all human rights organizations and international institutions not to allow this person to speak as the Iranian people’s representative.