Washington, 18 Sep – A former Iranian political prisoner has described his experience during the seven years he spent in Iran’s jails. Karim Moradi, an Iranian human rights activist and member of the Society of Iranian Political Prisoners, gave his account of the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran in an article on Friday in TheHill.com:
I am often asked by my American friends what I think about the Iran deal. As someone who spent seven years of his life imprisoned in Iran, it is difficult for me to give a simple answer. I have spent the past few weeks reflecting not on the nuclear deal with Iran, but on the summer of 1988, when Iran systematically massacred 30,000 political prisoners in a matter of weeks.
I was born in 1958 in the beautiful city of Shiraz in southwestern Iran. I was a student activist against the Shah’s dictatorship but after the 1979 uprising, I felt that my values stood in sharp contrast to the clerics, who had usurped the popular revolution. I felt closer to the People’s Mojahedin of Iran, (PMOI/MEK) an opposition organization that espoused a democratic interpretation of Islam and stood for a secular and democratic republic.
I was arrested by the clerical regime for selling opposition newspapers in January 1982. I was 23 years old when after a sham trial I was initially sentenced to 10 years in prison. I was then tortured and later sentenced to death by a judge named Ramazani.
While in prison, I was whipped with cables on my feet and back, and was routinely beaten. My cellmates, all political prisoners, were hung from the ceiling, sometimes for hours, or had parts of their bodies gradually burnt. I also heard about women, including two sisters of a family friend, who were raped before they were executed.
Although our days were filled with isolation and torture, we would often find time at night to whisper poems and revolutionary songs together, both to stimulate our spirits and for momentary escape. Through these small acts of defiance, we were able to strengthen our resistance and maintain high spirits in what was living hell.
I was released through a rare stroke of luck, two months before what would be the largest massacre of political prisoners in the history of Iran. My father was able to use a judicial contact in Supreme Judicial Council to overturn my death sentence and secure my release on medical grounds.
The order for the massacre came from Ayatollah Khomeini directly in the form of a fatwa (religious decree), calling for the execution of all who remained steadfast in their support for the MEK. Prisoners were asked a simple question: do you still support the MEK? Those who answered yes were executed, even if their original sentence had ended. Many of my closest friends were executed.
The vast majority of the victims were MEK members and supporters. They were hung in groups, sometimes 10 to 15 at a time, and later buried in mass graves. The scale of the massacre remains unknown, as no formal investigation has taken place, but opposition groups estimate as many as 30,000 were killed that summer.
I will not recount what occurred in 1988 in detail. There has been considerable eyewitness testimony and evidence compiled on this massacre. I simply ask that the lives of tens of thousands of Iran’s brightest and best children should not be relegated to a footnote in history.
Although I managed to leave Iran, I have been unable to escape the deep wounds which were inflicted upon me in the prisons of a brutal theocratic regime. I have never been able to live a normal life, and am haunted by the memories of my friends who were taken away from me. These days I have focused my energy on defending human rights of other political prisoners in Iran.
When I am asked about the nuclear agreement, I can only think of the ruthlessness with which the regime executed thousands of young Iranians simply because they harbored different beliefs. This is exactly what ISIS is doing now in the Middle East.
I am not advocating for a war, or foreign military intervention. However the Iranian regime has long since declared war against its own people. This regime should not be trusted.
I believe it is my duty to speak out about what happened to me and my fallen comrades who fought for democracy against a religious tyranny. The Iranian regime continues to be among the worst rights abusers in the world. It is a threat to the Iranian people and it remains a threat to the world as the epicenter of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism.