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HomeIran News NowThe 1988 Massacre of Political Prisoners in Iran: Eyewitness Accounts, Farideh Goudarzi

The 1988 Massacre of Political Prisoners in Iran: Eyewitness Accounts, Farideh Goudarzi

 

The 1988 Massacre of Political Prisoners in Iran: Eyewitness Accounts, Farideh Goudarzi

I am Farideh Goudarzi, a supporter of the Mojahedin-e-Khalq, MEK, who was arrested on this charge in 1983. I am one of the witnesses, survivors, and families of the martyrs of the 1988 massacre. Like all other political prisoners, I was taken to the torture chamber from the first hour of my arrest when I was arrested.

I was placed on a bed, and about 5-6 interrogation guards were above my head, and one of the guards was whipping my hands with a cable, and the other guard was slapping me. Ibrahim Raisi was standing in the corner of the room and was watching this process.

On the same day after my arrest, my brother Parviz Goodarzi was also arrested. He was shot in his arm and leg and was arrested by the Revolutionary Guards. Despite his injuries resulting from the shooting, he was taken to the torture chambers the next day and was whipped badly. According to most of the prisoners, whipping was one of the most horrible methods of torture in the regime’s prisons.

At the beginning of my arrest, I was in solitary confinement for about seven months. About two weeks after my arrest, my child was born in a very difficult situation. For about six and a half months, I raised my son in solitary confinement, which was very difficult.

Sometimes it can be said that in 48 hours, I only fed this baby with some water and a few sugar cubes. The solitary confinement section of the prison, I think, had about thirty cells. These cells were usually allocated to prisoners who were tortured for the day. All of these prisoners were sentenced to torture, long-term imprisonments, and execution by Ebrahim Raisi’s orders when he was the prosecutor of the Hamedan, 1981 to about 1984.

From night to morning, I usually heard the cries and the moaning of the prisoners being brought from the torture chamber. These prisoners were often beaten in the same cells in the same solitary confinement cell by interrogation guards.
I was in Hamedan prison from 1982 to November 1988 and was released after the massacre.

I witnessed a lot of Ebrahim Ra’isi’s crimes in Hamedan prison. Several of the MEK’s supporters in this photo were arrested in 1980-1981, charged with supporting the MEK. Their sentences lasted about 7-8 minutes. All of them were sentence and were hanged, with no exception. Several of them were hanged by the crane that was located in the yard of Hamadan prison.

One of the methods that the regime used to torture prisoners was the torture of their children. It was the middle of the night, about seven guards entered my solitary confinement section and began to inspect the cells. My 38-day old son and I were asleep when the guards entered my cell noisily and wildly. One of the guards grabbed my son from his sleep, lifted him about 50-60cm above the ground and threw him on the ground violently. Then began to inspect his clothes and began to peel them off. I began to yell and protest, but no one listened and continued their search. My 38-day old son was very terrified and was screaming. At the door of my cell, Ebrahim Raisi, accompanied by Mohammad Salimi, a religious authority, was witnessing and observing the whole event.

As I said, I was in prison at the time of the 1988 massacre. Prior to this, I was sentenced to death twice in 1983 in a court headed by Ebrahim Raisi, but due to the intervention of a delegation from Ayatollah Montazeri in Hamadan prison, my death sentences were both overturned, and I was sentenced to 20 years in prison. I was serving my sentence like other prisoners. My brother Parviz Goodarzi was also serving his prison term. In 1986, Khomeini was forced to accept the ceasefire and end the Iran-Iraq war. Two years prior to the acceptance of the ceasefire, my brother and four other MEK supporters named Martyrs Houshang Ahmadi, Mahmoud Mahmoudi, Ahmad Nazari,… were transferred to Shahrbani Prison. The head of the prison once told my brother that he would never see freedom again. It seemed there is a plan for the prisoners that nobody knew about it.

It was around July 29 that all prison visits were cut off. The radio and the TV were removed from the prison. No one was allowed to take an outdoor break. The ward was closed off. We were only eight women prisoners in the women’s ward at that time, but there were many more male prisoners. A committee was dispatched to Hamadan Prison from Evin prison. The interrogations started on August 1 in Hamadan Prison, which lasted for almost two weeks. But the executions began in Hamadan Prison on August 4, when the first martyrs, including my own brother Parviz Goodarzi and Masoumeh Mirzaei, Zahra Sharifi, and Arjang Ramaghi were hanged on Thursday, August 4, 1988. The executions in Hamadan prison took about one week, August 4 to August 11th or 12th. Those executed during this period in Hamadan Prison were all supporters of MEK. They, in fact, were all massacred. All the prisoners had all been tried before; they were all arrested during 1981 – 1982 and had sentence terms. Some had already finished their sentences but had not been released. I can tell you about Masoumeh Mirzaei, who had finished her prison term a year ago but was still held in prison. It was definitely a massacre.

Several MEK members, including Massoud Asgari, who was from Aligudarz, and Nasser Rabiee, who was from Boroujerd, had almost one month until their release, which never happened. Javad Torabi, who was released about 6-7 months before the massacre, was arrested again, brought back to prison, and was tried and sentenced again. I have to emphasize that all the prisoners whose trials took place between 1981 – 1984 were sentenced in courts in which Ebrahim Raisi was the prosecutor. All these prisoners were sentenced by Raisi, even those who were still serving their sentences, and were executed in August 1988.

As far as I know, about 50 supporters of the MEK were executed at this time, and I must say that I was the only one who survived the death sentence. I was in Hamadan prison, and my sentence was reduced by the intervention of a delegation sent by Ayatollah Montazeri. It can be said that I survived the execution.

After the massacre, from August to November (for a duration of more than three months), no family visits were allowed for prisoners. My own mother, I was told, used to travel from Kermanshah to Hamadan to visit. The prison guards took the money, food, clothing,… that the families had brought for the prisoners, but no visits were allowed.

After about three and a half months, they started calling the families and asked them to come to court almost from mid-November. In the court, each family was given a sack of clothing and prisoner belonging and told that their children had been executed. This was what my own mother had to face regarding the execution of my brother. Later, we received information that during those few nights, the prisoners were taken to Bagh-e Behesht in Hamedan, the site of the Hamedan cemetery, at around midnight, firing at the prisoners.

They had asked the cemetery employees to help out and had instructed them to say absolutely nothing about the killings to anyone. The prisoners were brought to the firing squad around midnight. The cemetery workers were forced to prepare burial spots for them, and the dead bodies were thrown into the ditch with no religious preparation or rituals. We found out about this information almost eight months after the massacre took place. Some families found out about the execution of their dear ones through the cemetery workers.

I should add that I was taken to the solitary confinement of the IRGC on August 7. This means that all the previous prisoners were transferred from that prison to the ward of the Revolutionary Guards in Hamedan. I remember that at around 8 and 9 o’clock at night, the prisoners were taken out from their cells, were blindfolded and were forced to sit in the prison corridor. Every prisoner was watched and guarded by a guard. There was a deafening silence in the corridor, and no one was allowed to talk or say anything. You could only hear the breathing sound of the other prisoners sitting next to you. This went on for about a week every night. I felt there are a lesser number of prisoners in the corridor. There were fewer movements. At the end of the week, I think there were only 7 or 8 prisoners left. The opening and closing of the cell doors were very few. I thought there were only 2-3 prisoners in the ward.
From the number of new prisoners in the ward, you could know that these were brought from other prisons.

A number of others were arrested; I remember their voices. There were several men serving their mandatory military services. They were yelling and saying, “What have we done”? They were very upset and angry. What I found out later was that these were people whom I think were on the battlefield or the people who had supported MEK. The regime had one thing in mind, more arrests and more executions. As I mentioned earlier, the solitary confinement cell was full of prisoners. In addition to the prisoners who were transferred from Hamedan prison to the IRGC prison, I have to say something about the families of those who were executed. These families were also executed emotionally alongside their dear ones silently. Many parents died in the first days after hearing the news of their children’s execution. Some passed away a few months later, including the parents of Martyrs Mahmoud Mahmoudi, Javad Torabi and Arjang Ramaghi. These parents, I remember, had strokes within the first months or years of hearing about their children. There were several parents who suffered from mental disorders after a while, including the mother of Hadi Hadian from Nahavand city.

Now I have another photo with me. This photo is of my brother Parviz Goodarzi, who was arrested in 1982. He spent almost six years in prison and was executed in the massacre of 1988. This is a photo of a number of martyrs, all of whom were serving their sentences. They were all executed in 1988. This is a photo of Zahra Sharifi, who was arrested in 1980 and imprisoned for seven years. One year had passed since her sentence, and she was still held in prison. She, too, was executed in 1988.

What I have to say is that as one of the survivors of those years and as one of the families of the martyrs of the massacre, I will never forgive and forget this crime against humanity. We call on the United Nations and the international community to recognize the massacre of 1988 as a crime against humanity and bring the perpetrators of this unimaginable crime to justice.