NCRI – Former Iranian political prisoner Mostafa Naderi has described his experiences in the mullahs’ notorious prisons in an interview with Al Arabiya Television.
Mr. Naderi, who spent a total of 10 years in Iran’s torture chambers and gulags during the 1980s, was kept in solitary confinement for a combined length of five years.
He was arrested while only 17 years of age for supporting the main Iranian opposition group People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, PMOI (Mujahedin-e Khalq, MEK).
During his time in prison, he faced the most severe physical and psychological tortures.
Al Arabiya Television aired Mr. Naderi’s interview on August 7, 2015. The following is the English translation of the report:
Al-Arabiya TV, August 7, 2015: Before the interview Mr. Mostafa Naderi was quiet and to himself. He just said that he wanted to speak about what it means to be a prisoner whose life is nothing but the prison.
Mostafa Naderi: My name is Mostafa Naderi and I was arrested in northern Tehran. I was in my last year of high school when I was arrested. I sold People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) newspaper and we also had a street stand from where we distributed and sold foodstuff to the needy at reduced prices.
On the day of my arrest, I got off the bus in northern Tehran. On that day, they arrested all the young people who were in the bus, in the street, and in the district. They took me to Joint Committee in Baharestan Square. There were around 700-800 of us there that had been arrested at the same time.
They took us for interrogation. They flogged me and asked what I was doing in the square. I told them that I was going to my friend’s home. But they continued to beat me and told me that I should disclose my link with the PMOI (MEK) and the Fedayeen [an Iranian Marxist group] and the leftist groups. I found out that they have no information on me and they have just arrested me.
Our charge was that we looked suspicious. There were many young people there. There was this young man with glasses which they said he was an intellectual. Or they arrested those who had books. They arrested me as well because they thought I looked suspicious. They wanted my address. I gave them a bogus address. They went and investigated it. Then they came back and flogged me. They found out that I sell newspaper and distribute foodstuff in favor of PMOI(MEK).
They transferred me to Evin Prison. As I entered Evin, there was a tree there – there were trees there – that they had hanged people from them which they showed me. They took me there blindfolded; then told me to raise my blindfold a little. As I raised my blindfold, I saw several people that had been hanged. They told me that this is Evin Prison. You get in vertical [alive], but leave parallel [dead]. They wanted to scare me.
I was taken to Evin’s prosecutor office which was very crowded. All detainees had blindfolds on and were squatting in the corridor waiting to be interrogated. I couldn’t see, but I could hear the sound of lashing, the cries and I understood that they were torturing many people. I sat there for two days blindfolded.
Finally, they took me for interrogation and began beating me. There was a low-height bed that they tied each of my hands to one side, raised my feet as I was lying in prone position, and began lashing me. After around 60-70 lashes, my feet went numb. I had blisters that later became infectious. They got me out of the bed and told me to walk so that the swelling would ebb and they could resume the flogging.
I asked them why they had arrested me. They said that they don’t need you to say anything, that they know everything they need to know, and I am just there to get a beating. They threw me out of the room. Later, around dusk, they brought me in again and told me to disclose my work with the PMOI(MEK). I told them that I don’t work with the PMOI(MEK).
This time, they tied my hands from the back and hanged me from the ceiling. I felt a lot of pain and pressure on my shoulders. As I was hanging from the ceiling blindfolded, I could see from under my blindfold that they brought in a woman in chador. They started torturing her and wanted to know her name, but she wouldn’t tell them.
Because of the pain in my shoulders I passed out. When I came around again I saw that all her clothes were shredded because of the lashing and her flesh was being torn by each lash. The interrogator beat me with the cable to turn me around so that I would not be able to see.
Part II – Memory
Mostafa Naderi: As we were walking a corridor they beat us on the head with a cable. They constantly harassed us in the prison ward. They would raid the ward and beat people up or take some with them. They told us that we should not think that our interrogation is over.
They wanted me to make a forced confession in front of TV cameras and condemn the PMOI (MEK) and say that I had made a mistake [in my political activities]. I refused. Then, they transferred me along with 65 others to a place they called “cow den”. It was in a basement. There were two holes there where there was a water tap and toilet. They kept me there for two and a half months. They just gave me two spoons of rice a day at noon.
I lost 30 kilograms there and I weighed 35 kilograms when I got out. Many would pass out because of hunger. We would knock on the door and tell them that we have someone that has passed out. They would tell us to put him behind the door. We would put the guy behind the door to be taken to the infirmary, to the doctor, but they would beat him up and tell us that he had been taken to the doctor.
Then, they again called us after two and a half months. They asked me if I am prepared to make a confession. I told them that I am not going to confess as I have done nothing.
They put all 65 of us in the back of a meat truck that had an aperture at the top for air intake. We were crowded there standing back to back and face to face. We were standing and had our heads bent backward to gasp for air and be able to breathe.
There was this short guy by the name of Davoud (I don’t remember his family name). When we reached Gohardasht (Rajai Shahr) Prison and the guards told us to put our blindfolds on, Davoud fell down. He had suffocated because he could not breathe along the way. The prisoners brought him out.
We went to Hall 11 of Gohardasht. I was there for three years. There, they took away all my belongings even my watch, glasses; anything that I had except for my pajamas and underwear. They told us that when we go to take a shower we can have our stuff but afterwards we have to return them. There was nothing there to help keep us busy.
When the interview was over Mostafa said that he wants to add something so we turned on the camera again.
Mostafa Naderi: One thing that deeply affected me was my sham execution. Hardly controlling himself not to cry he said that after that sham execution there was nothing in the ordinary life that could attract him.
1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran