Monday, August 22, 2016

Here’s what it’s like to be a political prisoner in Iran

Here’s what it’s like to be a political prisoner in Iran


Farzad Madadzadeh was held as a political prisoner for five years (Picture: Siavosh Hosseini)




Farzad Madadzadeh had just dropped off a fare in Karaj and was returning to Tehran when his phone rang.
It was the police, the officer on the line asked him to come to a station in the Iranian capital for what the taxi driver assumed were mundane reasons.
‘I thought that it related to my taxi driving,’ Farzad told metro.co.uk from a location In Paris.
‘Perhaps someone had taken my license plate down and reported me.’
He was arrested while working as a taxi driver in Tehran in 2009 (Picture: Siavosh Hosseini)


He was wrong.

What followed was an arrest, months of interrogation, what he described as brutal beatings and solitary confinement, followed by a trial that lasted a matter of minutes and then five years in prison.

But the taxi driver was one of the lucky ones.

Arrested in 2009 and then released from prison in 2014, he was one of tens of thousands of prisoners incarcerated at that time.

But while he faced a five year prison term, others wouldn’t escape with their lives.

Amnesty International estimates that between 2013 and 2015 around 2,000 people have been executed in Iran.

Iranian officials prepare the noose for the execution...
And a recent escalation – including the hanging of 20 Sunni inmates at Gohardasht Prison earlier this month – has left many fearing we could see a return of something akin to one of the bloodiest periods in Iran’s recent history.
In 1988 the regime executed as many as 30,000 political prisoners. Something which The British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom recently said should be considered a crime against humanity.
In 2009, Farzad became a political prisoner himself. His active support of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI), an opposition group within Iran, had captured the attention of the authorities.
‘When I went inside the station I saw that the atmosphere was not normal,’ he said.
‘There were several plain clothes policemen there. I didn’t realise at the time but they were agents of the ministry of intelligence.’



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