Recently a female political prisoner Ms. Shirin Alam Hooli was sentenced to death in Iran for allegedly being a member of a Kurdish opposition organization PJAK.
Below is the translation of her letter from prison which was written on January 18th 2010 which describes the torture and interrogations she underwent before her death sentence was handed down. Please keep in mind that I am not a profession translator, however I have done my best to translate the letter word for word.
I was arrested in April of 2007 in Tehran by a number of uniformed and a number of non-uniformed security forces. I was transferred directly to Sepah Detention Centre, and was there for a total of 25 days. From the minute that I entered the detention centre they started beating me without asking me any questions or waiting for any answers.
I spent 22 days on hunger strike and during that entire time I was subjected to both physical and psychological torture.
My interrogators were all men and I was tied to a bed. They would beat me with electrical batons, cables, and would punch and kick me until I was unconscious. At that time I still had difficulty speaking and understanding Farsi. When I wasn’t able to answer their questions they would continue to beat me until I lost consciousness.
When the prayer time came they would go to pray and “would give me time to think about things and answer questions.” Once they came back the beatings would continue, then losing consciousness and then cold water...
When they saw that I would not break my hunger strike they would try to force feed me with tubes, however I would resists and rip the tubes from my nose, which would lead to great pain and bleeding and now even two years later I still suffer from that pain.
One day during interrogations they kicked my stomach so hard that I had severe internal bleeding. Another time an interrogator came to interrogate me, he was the only interrogator that I actually saw, the rest of the time I was blind folded.
He started asking me irrelevant questions and when I wouldn’t answer he slapped me and pulled out a gun and put it to my head. he told me “answer my questions. I know that you are a member of PJAK, you’re a terrorist. Listen to me girl, it doesn’t matter if you talk or not. Either way we are happy that we’re captured a PJAK member.
Once when a doctor had come to look at my wounds I was in a state of sleep and awakeness. The doctor requested that I be transferred to the hospital. The interrogator asked “why does she have to go to the hospital, can’t she be treated here?” The doctor said “it’s not for treatment; in the hospital I can do something to her that she will start talking.”
The next day I was taken to the hospital with blind folds and handcuffs. The doctor gave me a needle; I totally lost control and apparently started talking and answering all of their questions exactly the way they wanted. They videotaped this. Once I came to, I asked them where I was and realized that I was still on the hospital bed. After that I was transferred to my cell again.
Apparently even that wasn’t enough for the interrogators; they wanted me to suffer more. They would force me to stand up on my feet after they had beaten my feet until my feet were completely swollen. Then they would give me ice. I could hear screams of other prisoners day and night, and that really bothered me and upset me. Later I learned that the screams had been taped in order to psychologically torture me. Sometimes I would sit in the interrogation room for hours while drops of cold water would fall on my head for hours.
On another occasion I was blindfolded and being interrogated. The interrogator burnt my hand with his cigarette. On another occasion the interrogator stood on my feet with his shoes for so long that my nails turned black and fell off eventually. Sometimes they would just force me to stand up the entire day in the interrogation room without asking me any questions while interrogators would do cross word puzzles. Basically they did everything they could to make sure I suffered.
After I was released from the hospital they decided to transfer me to Section 209 of the Evin Prison, however because of my injuries and because of the fact that I couldn’t even walk Section 209 refused to accept me. They held me in front of Section 209 for an entire day and then they were finally forced to take me to the prison clinic.
I had lost all sense of time and didn’t know whether it was day or night. I don’t know how long I stayed in the prison clinic. Once I was a little bit better I was transferred to Section 209 and interrogations started once again.
In 209 they had their special interrogation techniques and they always played the good cop/bad cop. First a “bad” interrogator would come and subject me to torture and tell me that he wasn’t bound by any law and he could do whatever he wanted with me. Then a “good” interrogator would come and ask the “bad” interrogator to stop torturing me and would offer me a cigarette. Then the entire cycle would repeat itself.
When I was in Section 209 and I wasn’t feeling well because of the torture or internal bleeding they would just inject me with pain killers and I would spend entire days sleeping. They would not take me to the prison clinic for treatment...
Shirin Alam Hooli, Evin Prison, January 18th 2010
Translation by: Sayeh Hassan