Below is the translation of most recent letter of Behrouz Javid Tehrani, describing what he went through for 50 days in the new Section 1 of the Gohardasht Prison. Original letter in Farsi can be found at http://pejvakzendanyan.blogfa.com/post-397.aspx
Memoir of Behrouz Javid Tehrani- 50 Days of Torture and Solitary Confinement in Rajaishahr Prison
In the Name of Prosperity of Iran,
50 Days in the Inhumane Dungeons of Rajaishahr (Gohardasht) Prison.
May 3rd 2008 of this year, which was the anniversary of my mothers’ passing away, the prison officials had promised my father that I would be allowed to participate in my mothers’ memorial services this year (for the very first time), either by putting up home ownership papers as bail or by being accompanied by police officers.
The Court had not allowed me to attend at my mothers’ death bed, when she was very ill and her last wish was to be able to see me one last time. They also refused to allow me to participate in my mothers’ memorial services when she passed away.
On April 27th 2008 of this year I was in the medical clinic of Rajaishahr Prison when by total coincidence I came across a very mean looking individual who introduced himself as Navid Khodyavi, the new Warden in charge of "protection and intelligence services" of Rajaishahr Prison. I took this opportunity to ask him why during all these years that I had been imprisoned in Rajaishahr Prison I had not even once been allowed to leave, even to attend at my mother's memorial service. However instead of answering my questions, he started telling me about his harsh management techniques, he even mentioned that he had just acquired this post and that he intended to keep it at any cost.
I don't know which part of my speech got this angry Warden so upset. When I left the medical clinic and got to my own ward, a guard Mr. Ismaili stood in front of the door and told me that I could not enter, I was going to be taken to solitary confinement. I asked Mr. Ismaili the reason for being taken to solitary, however he told me that it was “confidential.” Thinking back I find it very interesting that the reason behind solitary confinement and essentially my torture was "confidential", I asked how long I would be in solitary, once again he stated that it was "confidential."
I did not ask any more questions. I just asked to enter my cell to take along a few essential necessities and to let my friends i.e. other political prisoners know that I was being taken to solitary confinement. However my request was refused by Mr. Ismaili as well as Mahmoud Magniyan, the warden for our ward who had just arrived. I would have gone to solitary without my personal belongings and bare necessities; however there was no way I was going without informing other prisoners of what was going on. Because of this I refused to leave before letting other political prisoners know what was going on. Ismaili, Mahmoud Mogniyan as well as three (3) other large soldiers did everything they could do to take me to solitary confinement by force. They even started punching and kicking me. because informing the other political prisoners was extremely important for me I held on to the bars on the door's and refused to let go, at the same time repeating my request to at least see one of my friends before being taken away.
It was very necessary for me to inform my friends of what was happening and in particular to inform them about the new prison warden Navid Khodyavi, however it looked like the guards did not want me to (or maybe they had been ordered) not to allow me to inform anyone. All five guards were not able to take me to solitary confinement by force. My requests were small, just and fair. Once they realized they could not drag me away each one grabbed a baton and all five (5) started beating me with their batons. It must be mentioned that in these circumstances the guards must inform the special security officers rather than attacking the prisoners . The reason the security officials were not called was because they would have allowed me to take my personal belongings (tooth brush, tooth paste, towel and soap) and to inform two of my friends Afshin and Saran.
Although my requests were just and logical these murderess that had started beating me severely with these batons were not going to stop until I was in solitary confinement. They beat me to a point where I lost consciousness. I just remember until the very last moment I was shouting slogans such as "long live freedom, down with religious dictatorship…" When I gained consciousness I was on the floor of a solitary cell and my entire body had been bruised. A voice from behind the door kept saying "Javid are you alive? Javid are you ok?" I tried to move or at least to say something, but I couldn't even speak, and lost consciousness again.
At this point I would like to say a few things about the police batons used at Rajaiishahr Prison. The guards who are in charge of disciplinary issues use a number of different batons. There are white batons that are about a meter long. There are also similar batons that are a half a meter long. These are the types of batons which were used before the revolution as well, and although being beaten by them is extremely painful it can be tolerated. For example being beaten by these batons does not lead to broken bones.
However there are two other kinds of batons used in the prison. One is made of plastic, it’s about half a meter long and is green coloured. These batons lead to broken bones during beatings, and also leave a green mark on the prisoners’ clothes after each blow. Because of this, if a prisoner is wearing bright coloured clothing, because of the green marks, the number of blows as well as where the prisoner was hit can clearly be seen. The other kind of baton is made of wood and one side is thicker than the other.
Lucky for me I was beaten with the first type of baton and did not have any broken bones. I don't know how much time had passed, when I realized someone was trying to move me by dragging the blanket I was lying on. I did not want to be transferred anywhere lying on a blanket, so I managed to pick myself up with great difficulty and followed the soldier who was one of the five (5) that had beaten me. I was taken to Section 1 of the prison, where first they shaved off all of my hair. Then they took away whatever I had and gave me one plastic cup and two dirty black blankets. While I was still in shock of what had just taken place, they took me to a room where about 15-20 other people were imprisoned. All of these people had some sort of serious health problem, some had hepatitis, and some were drug addicts, addicted either to pills or injectible drugs.
The very first thing that caught my attention was the lack of medication and medical attention in this ward. The doctor at the prison clinic had prescribed 4 pills for me, however when I asked the guard for my medication he came back after five minutes telling me I was not allowed any medication. I asked the guard “is a person's health and medication something that can be used to torture that person?" However that sad, pathetic guard did not have an answer to this question.
Something even more interesting than the lack of education was the fact that reading was not allowed in this ward. I asked the guards for a book, newspaper or a magazine and when I was really desperate for something to read for a Quran, however I was informed that reading was not allowed in this ward. After being in that room for 7 days they transferred me to a solitary cell. I wanted to know why I was being taken to solitary and insisted upon an answer, however nobody answered my question. My persistence upset the guard, who blind folded me; hand cuffed my hands from behind and also cuffed my feet and started beating me with the plastic baton, in a place where there were no cameras.
Generally it is tradition among prisoners that whoever does not yell or scream during a beating is the strongest. However I screamed as much as I could "Stop hitting me you murderers, long live freedom, down with dictatorship..." Why should I hide the pain of torture behind silence?
In this ward there was one common room, a shower, a bathroom and 40 solitary cells which were equipped with cameras. This ward is completely separated from the rest of the prison. Even when the entire prison loses electricity, this ward does not, and the cameras and microphones keep on working.
Because of the beatings although I had not been hit on the head I lost consciousness again, when I gained consciousness I was in the medical clinic of the prison. Later on I learned that I had a broken bone in my hand. In the clinic they only gave me a needle (which I still don’t know what it was for) and they took me back to my solitary cell, later on no matter how much I tried I could not convince the prison officials to allow me to seek medical attention for my broken hand.
I was in my cell with my hands and feet cuffed for three days. This was the doing of that brutal guard who had beaten me. While in the cells we were allowed to use the washrooms three (3) times a day only. Besides the plastic cup and two blankets they also gave me a black plastic bag to store bread in, as well as a empty water bottle to fill with water and keep in the cell.
At 11 pm at night they would take us to the washroom for the last time and then the guards would leave, and under no circumstance would the doors open until the next day, unless someone was attempting to commit suicide. If a prisoner needed to use the washroom during the night they would be forced to use their water bottle. The guards would not come until 8:00 am the next day to take the prisoners to the washroom again. I should also mention that while in solitary I witnessed more than 23 suicide attempts from people cutting their veins to trying to hang themselves or even swallowing razors.
Until about 6-7 months ago the prison guards would work 24 shift and would be off for 24 hours. We attributed the harshness and brutality of the guards to the fact that they were over worked and did not get enough rest. When the work schedules were changed to 24 hour shifts with 48 hours off we the prisoners were happy, we thought this way the guards would get more rest and be in a better mood, and treat the prisoners better. Unfortunately the exact opposite happened. The guards became extremely lazy due to the shift change and their behavior towards prisoners became even worse.
I spent 50 days in solitary confinement, even though I had not been sentenced to solitary confinement by the Disciplinary Committee, and lost my phone and visitation privileges. My family came to the prison on numerous occasions however they were not allowed to see me.
At this point I’d like to say a few words about a friendly cheerful old man who was in the common room with me during the first 7 days. We called him Reza Penguin, because he walked like a penguin. All of us prisoners really liked him. One Friday afternoon when a lot of prisoners were sad and feeling down, we decided to fill up the black plastic bags with water and use them as drums to make music. Reza Penguin was the first person to volunteer to get in the middle and start dancing. Five minutes had not gone by that two guards came in with their green plastic baton looking in particular for Reza Penguin.
One of the guards angrily asked him whether he was Reza Panguin or Reza Jamile (a famous female dancer) and started beating him to the point where his hand broke in 3 different places. Right now I don’t remember whether it was his left or right hand. I should also mention that the old man was not able to convince prison officials to pay for a crutch for his hand. Not only that, they threatened and told him if anyone asked he better say he fell off the stairs and broke his hand.
All other people who were involved in playing music or dancing were also beaten until they were all on the ground and could not move. Then one of the guards threw water on them, and then by using electrical batons started giving them electric shock. Other guards were standing around and laughing. I don’t understand what kind of pleasure they could have gotten out of this situation. The guards who cuffed my hands and feet and beat me, how could they get pleasure out of that? Maybe they need to see a psychiatrist.
As I was leaving the solitary confinement I saw something very interesting. Behind the entrance door a place where we had not seen before, (because we were taken there with blindfolds on) they had posted the rules for the common area. According to the rules we were allowed to take a shower 2 times a week where as they would barely allow us to take a shower once a week, sometimes even that would not be allowed. There was also allowance for fresh air two times a week which in reality we had not been allowed, not even once. Of course these rules were posted only for the benefit of prison visitors and the Warden’s visitors. It was at this moment that I realized that the prison disciplinary committee consists of 4 things.
3. Cuffs for the feet
Behrouz Javid Tehrani
The last remaining prisoner from July 9th 1999 pro-democracy student demonstrations
Rajaishahr (Gohardasht) Prison, ward 2 section 5
July 10th 2008