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'In Short, They Did To Me Whatever They Could'

Tehran's Evin Prison
The following is a letter written by Kurdish prisoner Shirin Alam Hooli, who is facing the death penalty over her alleged membership in Pejak, an armed Kurdish opposition group. The letter was posted on a blog that has been established by her supporters:

I was arrested by plainclothes agents during the spring of 2008 and was immediately taken to the headquarters of the Revolutionary Guards. I was beaten almost immediately. I was kept there for a total of 25 days -- 22 days of which I was on hunger strike and underwent different sorts of mental and physical torture.

My interrogators were men. I was tied on a bed in front of them. They assaulted every part of my body with punches and kicks, stun guns and wires...If I couldn’t answer their questions, I was beaten until I lost consciousness. They would leave me alone during prayer times (what they called my “thinking time”). But it would be the same old story once they returned -- kicks and punches, passing out and ice-cold water afterwards…

When they realized I was serious about my hunger strike, they tried to break my will by putting a feeding tube through my nose and into my stomach. I pulled out the tubes, which caused bleeding and a lot of pain.

One day, during my interrogation, I was kicked in the belly. Another time, one of my interrogators -- the only one I ever got to see, since I was always blindfolded – started to ask me irrelevant questions. When he didn’t get the answers he was looking for, he slapped me, took out his revolver, and placed it against my head.

“Answer my question! I know you are a member of Pejak, a terrorist group," he said. "Look, girl. Whether you speak or not, it doesn’t make any difference. We are happy just to have a Pejak member in our custody.”

Occasionally, a doctor would come to have a look at my wounds. During one visit, I was in a state of semi-consciousness as a result of the beatings. The doctor told the interrogators to transfer me to a hospital.

“Why should she be treated at the hospital?” the interrogator asked. “Can’t she be treated here?”

“I’m not saying this for the sake of treatment,” the doctor said. “I’ll do something in the hospital that will make this girl speak up.”

I was taken to the hospital the following day, handcuffed and blindfolded. I was given an injection by the doctor that made me lose control of my will. I answered each of their questions the way they wanted me to. This scenario was filmed. When I regained consciousness, I asked them where I was, before realizing that I was on the same hospital bed. Later, I was taken back to my cell.

One entire night, I could hear moans and cries, which disturbed me. Later, I found out these sounds had been recorded and played on tape to torture me. They also dripped drops of cold water on my forehead for hours as yet another form of torture.

One day, as I was being questioned – again wearing a blindfold -- the interrogator extinguished his cigarette on my hand. In another instance, he stomped on my feet to such an extent that my toes turned black and the nails fell off. I was made to stand all day long during the questioning, while they would be seated solving crossword puzzles.

In short, they did to me whatever they could.

After my return from the hospital, they decided to transfer me to Section 209 of Evin Prison. But Section 209 refused to accept me due to the extent of my injuries. I was kept waiting all day long at the entrance to Section 209 until I was taken to the infirmary.

I could no longer tell the difference between day and night. I do not remember how long I stayed at the infirmary. I was there until my wounds healed a bit, before being transferred to Section 209 for another chapter of interrogation.

The interrogators there had their own method -- what they referred to as "good cop, bad cop." The first interrogator would speak harshly, torture me, and make it clear he didn’t care about the law and would treat me however he liked. Then the kind interrogator would come in and ask the first one to spare me. He would offer me a cigarette and repeat the same questions. And the cycle would go on.

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.


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