I feel suffocation; open a small vent
Some events are even more painful when recounted and this is my bitter reality along with that of other political prisoners in Ward 350. What I witnessed awakened all the events of the past 5 years for me; people quashed in the streets, violent arrests, solitary confinements, assault of the universities, and the controversial episodes at Kahrizak detention center.
On Thursday a group stormed in on us to undermine our honor, character and dignity. In their own words, “for four years we were soft on these guys and now we must subdue them.” They came to intimidate us and make us understand that if we remain standing, we will be humiliated, put down and abused.
It was a little after 9am on Thursday when we heard the aggressive tone of a few men who had entered the hall. He said, “Hurry up and get out!” I said, “allow me to get dressed and I will come out.” He got angrier and with a belligerent tone said, “You don’t need to. Get out immediately!” In the back and forth that pursued the memories of my arrest in 2009 – when they didn’t allow me to put my clothes on – came back. We were searched in an un-conventional and immoral manner then sent to the outside area of the ward. They closed the door and at first we thought everyone from the ward was in the yard but it was not so.
We heard the loud moans of our friends and when we looked into the ward from the windows, the grim reality shocked us. The guards while using insults and vulgar language were ripping prisoners’ clothing, viciously dragging them on the ground and beating them. When we witnessed this scene from outside we all went to the door and chanted slogans in protest. The door broke and many entered the ward. There we saw how the guards had formed a tunnel of batons and with no care viciously beat inmates as they dragged them through.
Mr. Rajai was shouting, “don’t hit!” And we couldn’t do anything besides also saying, “don’t hit!” Tens of plainclothes officials and prison security guards attacked us, ruthlessly punching and kicking us in the face and neck. It was an unbelievable scene; batons wielded on the faces of Mr. Alireza Rajai, Akbar Amini and Behzad Arabgol among others. They didn’t take a moment to reflect and consider that these are defenseless prisoners, and most importantly they are human beings with families and homes. The guards didn’t ask themselves why they would behave in such a manner.
The plain clothed officials were large, seemed as if they were there solely to assault the prisoners. The officials seemed to feel victorious when they forced the prisoners into the yard while kicking and punching them, and beating them with rods and batons. The blows became more forceful in the tunnel of batons, the cursing became more vulgar and the threats more menacing. They said to Alireza Rajai, “We will deal with you later.”
We were in shock. With our bloodied faces we were ripped of our dignity and it looked like a scene from Ashura. We thought about how defenseless a prisoner is. The perpetrators had forgotten their conscience, had no compassion or humanity as they showed their ferocious faces. The nefarious attackers wanted to intimidate us, destroy our pride, dignity and self-respect by trampling us with their clubs and batons – but they failed.
My faith, belief and pride prevented me from shedding tears and crying at the sight of the death of humanity that I was witnessing. Remembering that we are political prisoners we refrained from lifting an eyebrow during the vicious event. As one of the political prisoners said, we had to firmly stand up tall and Green. Because of this resistance Akbar Amini had a bloodied face; Omid Behrouzi had a ruptured vein; Emad Bahavar was severely beaten up and wounded; Mohammad Sadigh Kabouvand had a bruised body; Esmail Barzegar had broken ribs; an honorable man such as Mohammad Amin Hadavi was savagely disrespected; and it was the heart of Kamyar Sabet that could not withstand this level of violence and cruelty.
Tens of plain-clothed officials and security personnel converged in the yard of Ward 350 while shouting and hurling insults. They yelled, “For four years we let them get away with stuff, what do they think is going on.” They planned revenge and they felt stronger than defenseless innocent political prisoners. They surrounded us wielding their batons around their heads while yelling, “get over here!” One of the plain clothed officials yelled, “come here, you don’t have the — to come up front.” These were the same people who chanted slogans about their batons in 2009.
There wasn’t enough air to breath and I felt like I was suffocating. Despite all the violence, everyone I was with said, “If they come for us and attack us, just get beaten up but do not hit anybody back.” We were silent and we all sat down in protest in the middle of the yard. But the attackers got into attack position and wanted to see more bloodshed. We were tired. We had been battered under the blows of the batons. Many were hungry and thirsty. What can I say! They wouldn’t even allow medication for the sick and injured let alone water and food. They refused to give us bandages for our wounds and my god they even denied the crucial sublingual medications that some prisoners desperately needed!
What a sad scene it was to see Omid Behroozi standing tall against the baton blows with his bloody hand while being hurled with insults. He shouted, “Nobody in this country should be above the law. Nobody has a right to blatantly ignore the law and assault inmates. We will demand that all of you are brought to justice!” The authorities were laughing at him and making fun of him while the prisoners were teary eyed and defeated. The prisoners knew that justice is a foreign concept and the law had never been followed and never would be followed. Omid was in bad physical shape, we picked him up and took him to the middle of the yard; that is where the events of the 09 Ashoura protests were revived in us.
We were beaten, our blood was shed and we still demand justice, we still say enough breaking the law and tyrannical behavior! We still shout out asking for compassion in the name of saving humanity. For prisoners are truly defenseless.
I feel like I am suffocating. Open a small window.
Seyed Hossein Ronaghi Maleki
Evin prison Ward 350