Hossein Ronaghi in a letter from Evin prison to his interrogators describes the harrowing circumstances of his arrest in 2009 and the abuse he and his family suffered.
Below is the letter which was published in Kaleme:
I have no hard feelings or desire for revenge; one must have forgiveness.
In the world
If a voice remains
If a chant remains
If a word remains
If humanity is expressed
It is in these words:
My love, you are liberated from the cage!
Freedom, you holy bloom!
Regards brothers, interrogators Haj Naser and Mr.Tavakoli,
I know it is not the norm for us, as political prisoner and interrogator to call each other brothers. Maybe deep inside of you, considering what we have endured, you expect that we cannot have any sense of endearment towards you. But in this writing I do not intend to bring up my grievances or remind friends and family of the dark days I endured under interrogations and incarceration. But I want to recount your actions towards my family and me during the first 24 hours of my detainment in 2009, so that our countrymen can understand the ill treatment and abuse that my family endured. Maybe you will see that my words are fair and factual, and discern that you have taken the wrong path. Maybe you can reflect on your dishonorable actions and decide to change your ways.
Honorable Mr. Tavakoli,
In the afternoon of December 13, 2009, when you introduced yourself as an official from the Electrical Department and barged into my family home, did you not consider that my mother and father who are Muslim and follow Sharia customs live in the home? You surely remember how after you stormed into our home my mother covered herself with the curtains in order to preserve her hijab. Does the Sharia law that you supposedly believe in allow for the relentless beating of a defendant in front of his family, the way you assaulted me in front of my father, my mother and my sister? You paid no attention to my father’s physical state, my sister’s wales or my mother’s begging for mercy when you showed no pity and thrashed me to their horror. I don’t wish to write in a way that makes you think I have any malice towards you. But the reality is that when my mother who was on her knees at your feet, weeping as she begged you to just allow me to put my clothes on, and you showed no reaction whatsoever, not even to her womanhood or to her motherhood, at that moment it became clear to me that I could not expect any lawfulness or humanity from you. When you put the handcuffs on me with your unleashed violence in the presence of my sister, you did not hold me captive, you displayed your own vicious spirit and captive soul.
Honorable Haj Naser,
When I was being transferred to the Tabriz Ministry of Intelligence detention center, I was thrown between the seats in the car, handcuffed with a blanket on me, and you beat and kicked me relentlessly. When I objected to your behavior you beat me harder using profanity and vulgarity against my mother, my sister, and my family, escalating to the point that you even threatened to arrest them! I recall you were siting on my left side and you were punching me so hard on that side that I cried out in pain! But you laughed and said, “Don’t act for me, mother…” and you continued to beat me even harder.
When we arrived at the Tabriz Ministry of Intelligence detention center and I did not have warm clothes on and was in agonizing pain on my side, without any regard to my condition you threw me in a 7×15 meter windowless cell. After a little while you took me to the interrogating room where the two of you were in front me along with a number of other interrogators. This time it was Mr. Tavakoli’s turn to beat me so ferociously that my tooth broke; my whole mouth was full of blood from my ripped tongue and lips. My head was bleeding from the blows with your ring. With my physical state in a terrible condition as a result of your illegal, non-religious, and inhumane encounter, you continued to use vulgarities and insult my family.
Honorable Haj Naser,
In the detention center I heard dreadful cries of a person who sounded like he was in excruciating pain and I thought they are using the SAVAK tactics of playing recorded sounds of people under torture in order to cause fear and panic. But I was wrong. I did not know that in order to reach your goals you would resort to any method. I was shocked when I saw my brother standing in front of me and I realized the severity of the situation. The sounds of my brother’s screams while being tortured and his cries of anguish rang through my head for months. They had beaten my brother up with batons, whips and electric shock to such severity that he could not even scream anymore. In order to put pressure on me, they tortured my brother so severely that his spine was injured and his teeth broke. The soles of his feet were so badly injured from the blows of the whips that he could not stand on his feet for weeks. I still see the visions of his bruised face in front of my eyes. You were so ruthless in torturing my brother that when he was delivered to Ward 2A, the officials wrote in their report, “The accused is so severely battered, he is not able to stand or walk, is bleeding from his ear, and shows visible signs of bruising on his face and body.”
I speak the voice of truth but you speak the voice of violence and I am sorry to say your method is inhumane. As I have said before, whatever I did was for the benefit and freedom of my country; I will not be intimidated by threats and beatings. I have said that I am worried about my country and my countrymen, and that I will give my life for my land. You were rude and degrading towards me. I don’t know which one of you unjustly delivered a blow with electric shock to the back of my head and followed-up with hurling insults and profanities while threatening me to agree to a televised confession. You told me you have taken my family and friends from me, taken away my voice and thoughts. But you were wrong! I told you from the beginning that I would disclose anything about my activities and myself because I believe in the virtue of my endeavors and I have done nothing wrong. But do not ask me to go along with what you say and make false televised confessions, for if I had to make a choice, I would choose death. Finally you realized that I am steadfast and resolute in my beliefs. Mr. Tavakoli do you remember when you were transferring me from Tabriz to Tehran, we got into a heavy dispute and I told you that your actions against my brother were illegal and that you were not allowed to threaten my family? You attacked me and said, “I am the law and I decide who has the right or does not have the right.”
What I have described is a small portion of the events that took place in the first 24 hours of my detention with brief details describing the injustice, oppression and abuse suffered by my family, which is the experience of many political prisoners and their families. These events point to how senior judicial officials violate the basic civil rights of the people, which are part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But despite all of this, I will not get worn out from telling the truth and I will not lose hope for improving the situation. You also know that those who pursue their goals by ignoring and breaking the law will never reach their objective.
Dear brothers, I believe that people can change and redeem themselves. This is why I say before you are shamed in front of your family and children because of your actions, repent for the abuse and injustice you inflicted on me, on political prisoners, and our families. Ask forgiveness from God, from the people and especially from those you tortured, for God Almighty has left the Gates of Repentance open for all his sinful subjects. May no parents witness the suffering of their offspring and may no brother or sister have to experience the pain of a sibling. May no spouse or child have to spend his or her life alone. Don’t apologize to me; ask forgiveness from my father and my mother who have suffered so much, for out of their benevolence they will overlook your faults and your sins.
My pain cannot be put in words
My pain is hidden
Seyed Hossein Ronaghi Maleki