My Name is Mojtaba Akhgar, and I was arrested in 1982 for supporting the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and spent ten years in the regime’s prisons. I would like to share what I witnessed during the 1988 massacre. I was punished then and was in a solitary cell. On July 30, they took to me to the general ward of the prison. When I returned there, I saw the situation was not normal. When I asked, my cellmates told me the regime authorities are separating prisoners based on their prison sentences, 10, 12, or 15 years, and deal with them. They called out the names and took our cellmates until night. Very few of us were left in the cell.
On August 6, 1988, they took us out of that cell and to the “death corridor.” While in the cell, I communicated through morse with others in adjacent cells. Through those communications, I found out who was taken for execution. In other words, we were fully informed about the executions while in that cell through our communications with other prisoners via morse. Finally, they took me to the death corridor. I waited for several hours. They called my name, and I was taken to a room and faced the “Death Commission,” with Ebrahim Raisi as its head.
They took me out after a couple of questions, and I was sitting in the death corridor. I saw Naserian, Hamid Abbassi, and other guards taking prisoners to the death commission, then transferred them to the end of the corridor, where they were lined up to go to the gallows.
We were blindfolded in the death corridor, but we managed to see the events by slightly removing them. I saw Nasser Mansouri on a stretcher. He was under heavy pressure to give the information of other prisoners. He had refused, and when the guards were out of the room, he jumped out of the third-floor window. Thus, his spinal cord was severed. He was always on a stretcher, and I saw he was taken to the death commission in that situation.
After brief moments, he came out of the room, and the guards took him to the end of the corridor. They took 10 or 12 others to the death commission, including Ali Haqverdi-Mamaghani, who was sick. Ali was sick, and Nasser had severed spinal cord, but the regime had kept them for a day to execute them.
The guards in Ghezelhesar had hit Ali’s head to the corner of a window. As a result, he got epilepsy and had epileptic seizures. Several of us in the cell controlled and prevented him from hitting himself to the wall or the door when he had the attack.
But the regime authorities refused to provide Medicare for him, and he suffered from his illness. Yet, Ali and Nasser, and others were taken to the gallows on August 6, 1988.
The executions continued, and I witnessed these scenes all day long. At night they took me back to my cell. I was there for a couple of days and continued communicating with other prisoners in the adjacent cells through morse code. They told me about the executions and that how many people were taken out of each cell.
The situation continued until August 16, when they transferred us to ward 13, which was the general ward. We were there for a couple of days. One day Naserian came and called some names, including Javad Taqavi and me. He told us to go out, and we did. We were blindfolded in the prison yard. He told us that the Sharia judge has sentenced you to lashes. I was supposed to receive 160 lashes and Javad 100. They tied us to a metal bed and flogged us. I was severely injured and hardly got up from the bed.
They took us back to the cell. I was not able to rest or sleep for a month. My entire body was infected and caused me many problems. After a month, they took us back to ward 13. Naserian came and told us: “Those of you who are now in the cell are the only ones alive. We want to release you. But if anyone attempts to join the M.E.K after release, they would not endure prison, interrogation, or trial. We would immediately execute them once we caught them attempting to join the organization. I am here to tell you that.”
This is what Naserian told us in ward 13. I do not recall how many inmates were in Gohardasht prison that year, perhaps around 3 to 4 thousand. But in the same ward that Naserian said, we were the only survivors of the massacre. We were about 160 or 170 prisons. They transferred us to Evin after a day.
They also harassed families in different ways.
I’d like to talk about some of the harassment and abuses of families, especially mothers. There was someone called Seyed Morteza Hosseini, he was his mother’s only child, but even he was executed by the regime. His mother would come to the prison to visit her child, but she was told that no visits were allowed at this time. After botching the victim’s mother for a while, they finally gave her a bag and said, we executed your kid. This mother couldn’t bear it because of her deep love for her son. I heard from other relatives that this mother would visit the prison every now and then, put her head on the prison wall, and constantly ask for her son as if she was in an unstable state and didn’t know anyone and just asked for her son.
All I’m saying is that these people committed so many crimes. For 43 years, they have committed crimes and caused bloodshed and oppression. They put pressure on the prisoners as well as on their families.
When I was sitting in the corridor of the death row, I learned that a friend, Ali Haqverdi, was sitting there next to me. Asking whether he had been in court, he said yes. I asked him what he’s been questioned about and how he answered about his charge.He answered: “I defended my beliefs and identified myself as a member of MEK”
One of the death commission’s members was Ebrahim Raisi, the same person now the president of this regime. Therefore, I ask the international institutions and the U.N to arrest him on charges of crimes against humanity. This is what the Iranian people want. You cannot accept a criminal who has shed blood for this regime for 43 years at the United Nations. Turning a blind eye for the sake of a policy of appeasement, with eventual economic interests, is truly painful.
However, I wanted to speak out against their crimes and that they must be held accountable. Today we see that the same call for justice campaign that Mr. Masoud Rajavi launched in 1988 and called on international organizations to investigate the crime that occurred in Iran’s prisons is bearing fruit. In 2016, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi continued this campaign and demanded that those involved in the regime’s crime be tried and held accountable. Today, we see that Hamid Abbasi or Hamid Noury, one of those who took people to the Death Commission in 1988, is being tried in Sweden. This criminal is one of the pawns trapped in Sweden today. Everyone else in this regime is like Hamid Noury. We’re not dealing with one or two individuals. The entire regime of the Islamic Republic is a rule of ignorance and crime.