iran bulletin

The journal is a political quarterly in defense of secularism, democracy and socialism.





… and Here virgins don’t die


Parvaneh and Mojdeh

We heard the guard making a noise. He was bringing food. He opened the hatch and turned on the lights [1]. Through the opening a large head with dishevelled hair poked inside. He first stared at everyone of us. He then opened the door a little and sent in two bowls of food and a package. Lunch was a meatless stew with rice. The package was for me. Soraya had sent me some clothes, two shirts, one pair of trousers and a toothbrush. I immediately changed and breathed a sigh of relief [2].

I had scratched so much, my skin was split in many places. During meals or sleeping, the itching did not leave me for a minute. The cell was infested with lice. The girls were inflicted with female ailments and fungal skin diseases. Lack of light, absence of sunshine and living in a cell without any air current had left a severe and debilitating effect on our body and soul. Joint pains were universal.

Simin [3] used the fleeting opportunity of light and said:

“This is Nasrin. [4] do you see her eyes, it is like grass. Reminds you of the jungles in the north. But she is a southerner.”

Nasrin gave me a beautiful wink and said nothing. Simin laughed and said:

“Parvaneh [5] is also a southerner. See her dark skin and hair like a raven’s wings.” Parvaneh came over to me and we kissed.

We heard the noise of Sadeghi the guard from other corridors. Guard Sadeghi was a buffoon. When he brought food he would lewdly scan the cell first with his eyes before opening the door. The guards in the basement consisted of: Pasdars Sadeghi, Abbasi, Fallahi, Abuzar, and two others who would appear from time to time. All the Pasdars were illiterate and from villages around Isfahan. The strong and firmly held motive for all of them was to get to heaven by killing revolutionary forces and the opponents of the regime. Women guards never ventured into the basement. If there was an important task, guard Sedigeh, who was in charge of the cell block, would come down.

Guard Sadeghi had brought the food. As usual he was eating himself. He left the food and but soon came back. He opened the hatch and with food spurting out of his mouth said:

“See, I nearly forgot. Parvaneh and Mojdeh come for interrogation. God willing they will be back for lunch. Don’t eat their share, do you hear”.

Parvaneh and Mojdeh [6] were preparing to leave when guard Sadeghi shouted: “hurry up! Do you thing I am your servant (kolfat = servant girl)? I have been waiting for an hour.”

Simin went by the door and said: “Pasdar Sadeghi, how many times have I told you, you are not a servant –as you are a man. If you were to serve or something you are a man-servant (nowkar). Of course not our nowkar, but that of your master”.

Guard Sadeghi said nothing and took Mojdeh and Parvaneh with him.


The next day, before breakfast, Mojdeh and Parvaneh were returned to the cell, weak and with wounded feet. Mojdeh’s ears were full of blood. She bound a handkerchief over her eyes and slept. We joined our hands in a circle to receive the wounded body of Parvaneh. She let herself down unto this circle and said:

“Girls, we were smeared in spittle again (sexually assaulted).” [7] and then roared with anger “I spit on this regime!”

She was intensely upset. She shook from anger. With fists clenched she spoke rapidly. It was as if she was not just addressing us – joined by the same chains and pains - but the whole of humanity. I took her clenched fists in my hands and kissed them. My whole existence could be condensed in that kiss. She pulled her clenched fists from my hands and wiped away her tears. She then gave them back to me and said:

They took us to the room of Haji Agha Rahmani, the prison governor. The interrogator was there. When the guard closed the door the interrogator shouted:

“Face the wall you imbeciles!”

We were standing by each other. The interrogator came over and took hold of my arm and took me to the other side of the room. He then began pacing between us two, swearing, cursing. He then stood next to Mojdeh and asked:

“Now, what decision have you reached?”

“About what?”

“You Mojdeh have an insolent tongue. You are also without emotion. Have you no pity on your parents who day and night outside the prison are breathing dust and being pounded by the sun. And here you are having a good time with Parvaneh and the other murderers”.

“You are the murderer. They are revolutionary.”

“You call yourself revolutionary but oppose the revolution”.

I, who had been silent until then said:

“there is no revolution left now. The revolution buried itself and its children.

“You shut up!”

“It is you who should shut up. You have also no right to insult”

“We don’t have gratuitous bread to give the counter-revolution. Be quick and settle your account to the system of Allah. God will accept repentance.”

Mojdeh answered:

“Our position is clear. It is the regime that has to make up its mind about us”.

This angered the interrogator and while he was beating Mojdeh with all his might kept on repeating: “

“Will you repent or no? Will you repent or no?”

“I have done nothing to repent. It is you who should repent, you and Khomeini and the rest of you”.

The interrogator was pounding Mojdeh with his fist on the face and head. I shouted:

“You have no right to hit her!”

He came towards me. He beat me so much that I could no longer speak. Then he sent us to the torture room. We were both tortured, and then we were both raped.

Parvaneh spoke and wept. In the last minutes her tears had become agitated and more intense.

Smeared in spit (sexual assault)

From my enquiries from other prisoners as well, rape took place in three ways.

1. They would take a woman who was resisting into a dark cell for interrogation. She would be kept blindfolded facing the wall. Two interrogators would fire questions at her. If the women continued to resist, the two would stand in opposite sides and pass the prisoner with Karate-like movements from one to the other. The prisoner will try to shield her body with her hands, so that the more sensitive parts of her body would be safe from their savage clutches.

They would then bind her hands behind. She would then bend her legs forward like a bird whose wings are tied from behind and is using its beak, that is precisely the posture the revolutionary woman takes on. One interrogator would then take her bound hands from behind and throw her to the other. The one opposite buries his bloody claws into her body, and clenching his teeth with utmost savagery and lust throws the prisoner back to the other. And in order to speed up her capitulation, beats her with his fists. This goes on until the prisoner falls to the floor. It is then that the higher rank has priority over this trophy of war [8].

2. A prisoner is lying in her cold dark cell. The sound of an iron gate above is heard in the basement. Prisoners, everyone in their own way, prepare for a new incident. They all recognise footsteps and know that this person who is approaching with measured steps is not a guard. The interrogator descends quietly, using a torch, two bowls of blood visible through the black mask of his face. He opens the door. The prisoner who was lying sits up. He enters the cell. Closes the door. Shines the torch in the prisoner’s face. Her eyes smart, the light is directly in her eyes. Which ever way she turns the torch follows her. She holds her hand in front of the light and protests.

The interrogator says: “are you ready to speak to other prisoners in the prison exercise hall tomorrow?”

The prisoner: “never”.

Interrogator: Are you ready to co-operate with the prison?”

Prisoner: “no”.

Interrogator: “are you still anti-Imam and against the system of Allah?”

Prisoner: “yes”.

Interrogator: “you deserve to die”.

Prisoner: “death on the road to freedom is life”.

The interrogator kicks the prisoner’s legs hard with his boots. His boots are bigger than usual. The prisoner changes her position and protesting says: “you have no right to beat me. You have no right to enter my cell in the middle of the night. I will complain at this”.

The interrogator laughs: “complain to whom?”

Prisoner: “yes that is true”.

The interrogator brings out a carpet knife in front of the torch-light and says: “you are fighting the system of Allah, yeah? You want to make a stew with the meat of an ant?”

The interrogator kneels in front of the prisoner: “Your only escape from justice is to repent. Repent. Only as a Muslim can you leave the prison and these cellars. First you must write down the name of everyone you know. Second you must accuse your husband of treason. Third you must be prepared to co-operate with the prison office, pray and speak to prisoners about Islam.”

The prisoner says: “I will never”.

The interrogator pulls the carpet knife on her clothes. Cuts open her clothes and starts to beat her. The prisoner shouts such slogans as death to Khomeini. This angers the interrogator more. Seals her mouth and says: “I will do something that would make you regret you are a woman.”

The prisoner is raped. The interrogator cuts her breasts with the blade saying: “so that Islamic justice will always make your body shiver. That is if I don’t kill you first”.

3. The resisting prisoner is brought into a dark room and immediately tie up moth, eyes and limbs. Then they release their complexes by beating, using filthy swear words and raping her. They threaten her with death and keep in her cell for a long time.


Mojdeh goes

Next morning guard Sadeghi opened the hatch. He poked his head inside and shouted:

“Mojdeh you have interrogation”.

But Mojdeh’s ears hurt so. She could not hear. The girls had to draw her attention. Mojdeh answered she does not feel well and could not go. The guard left and after a while guard Sedigheh, in charge of the block, came. The guard opened the door a little and said: “Mojdeh, get up and come to the door. You don’t have to go out.” Mojdeh got up with difficulty. She was swaying from the intense pain in her feet. She got herself to the door.

“What is it guard?”

Guard Sedigheh opened the door wide and grabbing her, pulled her out and slammed the door shut. She was dragged away screaming: “girls, they are taking me. Shame on Khomeini. Shame on the regime!”

There was noise of a struggle in the corridor. Mojdeh was going to her death, and was screaming protest at the withdrawal of her right to life. The sound of her struggle resounded in my ears for a long time.

We sat down in the cell and held hands. In the fearful thickness of that dreadful darkness we united our hearts and let our tongues express our pact: We will pledge. We will pledge together to remain true to the last moment to our ideals, to the people in chain in our country, to the noble dignity of humans, militant humans. We will pledge not to surrender to the regime’s torture and rape and by making a present of our lives wipe of the smirk of victory from the bloody face of the executioner. And if the chance came to be free of this black hole, to continue our struggle against tyranny wherever it was, and to recount whatever aspect of this tragedy we have witnessed – this small corner which our eyes have seen – in its entirety.


Mojdeh was a militant in Teheran. Two years had passed since her arrest. She had been arrested with her fiancée while trying to escape. From the first day she had faced  the most brutal and savage tortures. Mojdeh had refused to accept her death sentence and had torn it up in front of the head of the cell block and other Pasdars and thrown it at their faces. One of her characteristics was her bravery and her dignity.

She said that for a year before her arrest she no longer accepted the views of her organisation and had tried to separate from it. Because she did not believe in terror and bombings. But her organisation refused to pay attention to her disposition and views and by stringing together a series of revolutionary sentences and arguments induced her to remain within the organisation. Mojdeh’s attempted escape was not just from the regime, but from those closer home. In reality Mojdeh was sent to the firing squad not for her beliefs in her organisation but for opposition to the regime.

I was sitting and remembering the words of Mojdeh and wallowing in my thoughts when I felt the kind hands of Reyhaneh [9] stroking on my hair. She sat beside me and said:

“What is it girl, are you losing yourself?”

“No I was thinking”

“Look here Shahrzad. We face a tragedy. Until the moment we lose our life in this unequal struggle we inevitably see a corner of the tragedy and lose a part of ourselves in the process. The pain is that no one knows what is happening in these cellars and hundreds like it. Once people know they too will be grieved. The true face of this regime, and the blood covering its face and hands, is invisible at the level of society.

Here is where the veil is removed from this great injustice and this endless cruelty. It is here that the regime is forced to pull back its veil of pretence to being revolutionary and reveal its essence in all its nakedness for us to see. Outside everything is mutated in the propaganda cover and looks different. Mankind has woven a rope named religion by its own hand for its own neck. It is with this same rope that the children of our country are being strangled and no one hears of it.”

“But I have another feeling. This feeling that we, with our thoughtlessness, poured water on the grinding stone of this bloody mill” I said.

“This is true, but perhaps the reason is the youth of our movement. Don’t forget we never moved or been active in an open society, nor ever could foresee the dimensions of this conflict with a regime so cruel and savage.”

“Tell me something about Tabriz prison.”

“Certainly…I only ask you to try and remember my words…if you get out alive pass on what you have seen and heard, word by word, to the people.


The other side of the sinister curtain

“…I believe that despite all the fears that rule here, the atmosphere here is nothing like it was in Tabriz…

I was arrested with my husband outside Teheran university. I had a leaflet in my bag that had been distributed that day and there was a novel in my husband’s bag. We were both in the second year medical school when we were arrested. I have not seen him since and neither of us know what has become of the other.

I was taken to Tabriz, where I was born. Most of this time I spent in the dark, narrow solitary cells of Tabriz prison. I was in the common prison block for a short time and this coincided with the episode of the interrogator Hamid. He was a young interrogator. Look, I have to talk about some things, do you mind?”

“Not at all.”

“As far as I know all women who were given a death sentence were raped by interrogator Hamid and his team. But female modesty prevented this tragedy being divulged. Interrogator Hamid and his gang hid behind the veil of female shame and went on with their deeds.

I don’t know how the story leaked out to the families who staged a protest sit-in outside against this torture. The prisoners too increased their resolve to protest. Women prisoners went on hunger strike. The strike continued until one day a man came and said “I have been assigned to investigate this affair. Anyone who has been sexually assaulted come forwards and write a complaint”. No one spoke. He repeated. No one spoke. His whole approach and tone insulted the prisoners. They were all upset and angry. He said:

So all this fuss is groundless. The hand of the counter-revolution must be at work, which has to be cut off. So I will state in my report that no case has been observed.

The fact was that until the moment the agent arrived we had not discussed how we should react to this affair. There was as yet no consensus. And since we were prisoners from diverse backgrounds and with differing views, we were caught off guard before we could co-ordinate.

But no sooner had the word escaped the agent and he had closed his notebook, than Fariba [10] broke the silence with a firm voice: “why do you take our silence as a sign of refutation? I declare that rape is one of the specific tortures of the Islamic regime against militant and revolutionary women”. She then turned to the prisoners and said

“Honourable prisoners your silence is a stamp of approval for this crime of which we are all victims. Until when are we going to allow feminine shame to license this form of torture, which is meted out to us to degrade and destroy us, to continue? Although we recognise sexual assault as another form of torture, and the enemy has been able to use this torture to force us to betray and collaborate, or by inducing a sense of humiliation in us to get its goals and desires. Yet we should not be ashamed of expressing what has happened to us. We should approach the issue with open eyes.

In reality this torture does not degrade us but the regime that holds us captive. The moment a revolutionary women steps in that road she is conscious of all forms of torture, and sees rape as another variant. Therefore, Mr representative, in this prison block which holds 50 women, there is not one, yes not one, who has escaped the sexual assault of interrogator Hamid and his colleagues. We went on hunger strike in protest at this rape and torture and will persist until this is seen to. And as you are aware our families outside are also in the know and are following events.”

The delegate was looking at Fariba with open mouth and eyes bulging from above his glasses. His collarless shirt was buttoned to beneath his chin. He had short hair and a long beard. All the time Fariba was courageously speaking his lips moved. He was saying a prayer and throwing his prayer beads. When Fariba finishes her speech he opened his notebook again and in a sarcastic voice said: “is there any incident that according to her …”

Here he raised his eyebrows and pointed to Fariba with his eyes and asked:

“what would the name of the hajieh be?” [11]

“I am not a hajieh and my name is Fariba” she replied

“Ah, yes, according to Fariba…”

He noted her name in his notebook. He lowered his head pulled his glasses down on his nose, and looking at the girls from above them continued “according to her has been spared? I repeat. Is there any one that has remained untouched?”

No one replied. He closed his notebook. He walked away saying “God willing it will be investigated. You better eat your food.


After the delegate left, there was a heated discussion among the inmates. Two groups faced in opposing camps. The first group were saying we should not have owned up, since rape is no different from other tortures and our action may make things worse. Especially the position of Fariba.

The other group were saying: if we didn’t want to speak of it then why go on hunger strike. This torture has to be stopped.

The first group would argue: do you think that complaining to their own representative will stop this activity?

The second group would reply: it is possible since news has leaked outside the prison and caused a furore. Particularly if the families follow it up and leak the news to the outside world, and we continue on our hunger strike. In any case we should not sit idly in prison awaiting our sentence to expire.

I agreed with the second group. Fariba would say “whatever fate befalls me the fact that this crime is out of the bag pleases me more. I think that we should continue with the hunger strike; in this way we can show our protest more forcefully.

In the end everyone agreed to continue the strike. Visiting remained cut. Every day a prisoner would become sick. Six days passed. It was early evening when a guard came in and said: get ready to go out! The interrogator Hamid is being tried.


When Reyhaneh got to this point, she became very agitated. She could not continue. I held her hands. Her whole body was shaking. “Leave it for another time” I suggested.

“No” she said, “I have to tell it. There may never be another time. The memory of that scene always upsets me.

Reyhaneh then went on, all the time wiping away the tears: “we had no time to think. A number of Pasdars came into the block, saying hurry, hurry. For one moment it went through our head that our action had born fruit. But when they took us all towards the blue gate, we suddenly jolted. Were they taking us to a mass execution?

Let me tell you something of the blue gate. That was a large gate in a wall separating part of the prison courtyard from our exercise yard. Those destined for execution were normally taken behind that gate. We would hear the fusillade and then counted the single shots of coup de grace. Mornings before the dawn muezzin and in the evenings, after the evening muezzin. More often in the mornings. When we went through the blue gate we saw that there was a ceremony in full flight and an atmosphere that made our hair stand on end.

The first thing that drew our attention was the ambulance and bloody trolley-hearse. As we entered the yard the masked execution squad was ready and waiting in the light and shade of a huge searchlight which had been fixed on top of the prison wall. On the right corner stood three priests praying under their breath, saying Allah akbar and throwing prayer beads. On the left stood three silent, immobile men in civilian clothes, doubtless interrogators. It was a shocking scene setting, especially since opposite this group of criminals stood one of their own.

The interrogator Hamid was kneeling, hands tied behind his back, weeping. His condition was pitiful. The torchlight was pointing directly at his head and everyone else was in his reflected light. The bloody trolley-hearse, which smelt of fresh blood, was there. Next to it was a bucket filled with saw dust and a white cloth was close by. He who had so often organised such a ceremony was shaking violently and weeping. His head was totally bent on his chest. His tears and nasal dripping ran together and dripped on his knees.

We stood there facing interrogator Hamid. We spoke among each other and I spoke up “we do not want to witness this scene. We want to return to our cell block.”

The mullah who was continuously praying stopped and said angrily: “you have to stay and watch to the end of this execution ceremony.”

We were surrounded by armed Pasdars. A large torchlight was illuminating only one small spot in the pitch darkness of the prison yard. One of the priests, while throwing his prayer beads and whispering under his breath, took a step towards interrogator Hamid and said: By the command of Allah, untie his hands so that he can say his last prayer [ashhad].

They undid his hands. His head fell on his knees from fear. His hands remained passively by his side. The priest repeated:

“Say your last prayer, interrogator Hamid!”

Interrogator Hamid raised his hands with difficulty, but could not keep them up. They fell first on his knees and then with a violent shudder by his side.

They asked him to hold his head up for the execution order to be carried out. But it was as if he had frozen. A Pasdar wrenched his head up from between his legs. His nose drip and tears drew out as his head tilted backwards. The masked execution squad, took their position behind him. The head of interrogator Hamid would not stand on his neck and swayed from one side to the other. A Pasdar again straightened his head backwards. The voice of the priest echoed in space:

“In the name of Allah carry out the sentence.”

Then came the sound of the pull on the triggers, bullets had been fired yet, the interrogator Hamid fell to the ground.

A Pasdar turned him over and turning to the mullah said: “He is dead!”

The mullah nodded and said: yes but deliver the coup de grace and get the reward of the pious act. They fired a round of shots on the corpse of interrogator Hamid. Then they pulled his corpse and filled the holes with sawdust to stop the bleeding. They took hold of his feet and threw him on the trolley-hearse and tossed it into the ambulance.


Reyhaneh who had become increasingly disturbed as she recounted this execution scene went on:

“My emotional state was in a terrible turmoil. A battle was raging inside. On the one hand I held a deep hatred against the regime in my heart, such that I sometimes felt I could kill everyone in the regime with my own hands, and in the most terrible way. On the other I opposed torture and executions. We did not want to witness that ceremony and returned to the cell block in a terrible psychological state, we could not eat for another day because of the nausea induced by witnessing that scene. For a long time many of the prisoners would descend into mental anguish on being reminded of it. There were of course others who could have killed interrogator Hamid with their own hands.

The next day the same envoy came: “Well, you saw Islamic justice in action? Then why are you still on strike?”

“We are not on strike” Nastaran [12] replied “this was the first time we saw a scene of murder. We cannot eat. They should have told us where they were taking us. We had no wish to be part of a ritual of human murder”.

“We are not responsible for all that” the envoy said “only know that if anyone wilfully does something he will get the penalty for his misdeeds in this way. This interrogator was a stain on the scared robe of the Islamic system, which has, thank God, been cleaned up”.

Fariba who was livid with anger replied: “it was not wilful. Because the news had leaked out, you acquitted yourself through his death. This is nothing peculiar to this prison, or to the interrogator Hamid. This is a widespread form of torture in your system. To my mind the execution of Interrogator Hamid was the indictment of the entire Islamic regime”.

The envoy furiously, gathered his things, and turning to Fariba, shouted: “Cut out your tongue.”

“This tongue is in my mouth for protest and I am not afraid of your threats” she replied.

The envoy left in a huff. One of the prisoners asked Nastaran if she considered interrogator Hamid a human being. “In a way interrogator Hamid, too became a victim of this regime” Nastaran replied.


The noise of the guards interrupted our conversation. After lunch I went back to Reyhaneh and asked her to tell me more of her memories. Reyhaneh said: my most shocking memory is that of Fariba.

A week after the events of the interrogator Hamid, Fariba was told to prepare to meet her husband. Because of her humanity and strong morale, Fariba had a lot of influence among prisoners. She always confided in me and discussed developments in her thinking. She had come to believe that religion plays a negative influence on the life of humans and is fundamentally in contradiction with democracy. She would say that religious regimes are the most dangerous state systems, and the prophets promise people a place from where no one has returned.

Fariba and her husband had been arrested in a street battle. At the moment of arrest she had her six month-old child in her arms, and in order that he does not fall into the hands of the Pasdars, she had thrown him to a group of onlookers. She said “among the people witnessing our clash, I saw two worried eyes staring. I handed my son over to those two anxious eyes”. Her breasts dripped milk for a long time after her arrest. Fariba never uttered a word of homesickness.

When Fariba was led off to meet her husband, a deep sadness enveloped all of us. Not one of us was optimistic at this visit. Recent events had destroyed her chances of visits. Visits were a kind of privilege, and people like her were always barred from visits. We were restless. We did not sleep after lights out. Some believed there would be no more Fariba. I too came to the conclusion that they had killed her. I was immersed in my disturbed thoughts. They called for me at breakfast time. I did not know where I was going. My heart ached at the thought that I was leaving, without knowing Fariba’s fate. I wanted to shout and sob aloud.

The guard puled me this way and that way and finally pushed me into a solitary cell. There was Fariba, squatting in a corner, and starring at some point with a tired vacant look. I called her, but she did not hear. I sat opposite her. She slowly lifted her head and gave me a blank, sad look. The hair on her forehead was white, her face wrinkled, their eyelids swollen. I could not believe that anyone could crumble such, overnight! I circled like a butterfly the candle of her existence which was melting away drip by drip, and questioned her. Fariba calmly used her hands, facial expression, and her floods of tears to help her describe what she was seeing in that indefinite point she had focused on:

“I descended the cold, damp stairs to the cellars. My head ached from the smell of damp and putrefaction. I entered the torture room.

“Pull up your blindfold, but don’t look behind you” the Pasdar who had brought me called out.

What I saw terrified me. For a moment everything stopped circulating, including my blood. There in front of me was Massoud, my husband, bent and sickly with eyes that flickered from deep black crypts. I screamed Massoud my darling, and leaped to wards him. They held me back from behind:

“Where to..?”

Massoud lifted his heavy swollen eyelids, now without lashes, with difficulty. His eyed locked to mine and my whole being was resonated in my voice which cried again: Massoud!

A Pasdar warned:

“Be silent! You can only look. You can only witness how accounts are settled here – or your place is next to him.”

I again leaped towards him. The Pasdars held me back. Massoud, hands tied behind his back, noose round his neck, standing on a stool, was his whole being a look. A tired look, but full of love, full of consciousness, trying to smile. In a weak and exhausted voice he said:

“It was so good to see you Fariba!”

The Pasdar who stood beside me said:

“The interrogator will speak to you. Just listen and be careful not to look behind.”

The voice of the interrogator rose from behind me and my whole being was enveloped in a deep hatred and anger. He said:

“If you would be prepared to push the stool away and hang this aposthate I will set you free this very second. I promise on my honour!”

A fire blazed in my being which had the smell of my life aflame. I took my eyes off Masoud, pulled myself out of the clutches of the Pasdar and turned round. I looked straight into the interrogator’s eyes and screamed:

“Do you have any honour? Fascist! Executioner!” and charged at him.

The Pasdars grabbed me. The interrogator pulled out his colt and shot at Massoud. Another Pasdar kicked the stool from under him. Between my distress and my unbelieving eyes Massoud was hanged. Blood was dripping from his forehead. I spun in my slogans and they took down the body, spat on it and kicked it. And I was thrown into this cell, still shouting slogans.


Openly weeping, Reyhaneh continued: “How could I brace together the shattered pieces that was Fariba? I, who had been wrapped in the typhoon of her pains? We were two days together in that solitary. At dusk of day three they called both of us. When the door opened Fariba went out without blindfold and hejab [Islamic covering]. I took my chador and blindfold and followed her.

They took us both to the blue gate. Fariba walked very fast. She quickly went through the blue gate. They took her to the wall. Facing her the execution squad were ready to fire. They placed me opposite her beside the firing squad. At first I stood errect in her honour. Then I felt ashamed of standing next to the killers and ran and stood next to Fariba. The Pasdars took me back to my original place

“Take your turn” they said.

Fariba would not be blindfolded. Our eyes stood locked into one another. I shook, but took strength from her determined eyes. Fariba hooked her hands behind her, standing erect, shouting slogans. The shouts of death to butcher Khomeini and the burst of gunfire intermingled. I closed my eyes so as not to see her fall. The threatening command of an armed guard brought me back:

“You have to kick this filthy corpse”

I bent down and kissed the lifeless hands of Fariba and took her into my arms. They tore her corpse away.

“Fariba was that slogan that echoed in space. You can do what you like with her corpse.” I shouted.

Not long after I signed my own death warrant and was exiled to Dastgerd Prison

Translated by Mehdi Kia



The above is a slightly abridged translation of three chapters from a book “Here virgins do not die” by Shahrzad published by Khavaran, Paris. The book describes her experience in Isfahan’s Seid Ali Khan interrogation centre and Dastgerd prison during 1981-1988. The chapters translated here describe her experience in the basement of Dastgerd soon after her transfer there. In the forward to the second edition (1998) Shahrzad apologises for using pseudonym which she did to protect her family and that of Amir, her partner. She has and also removed parts of her story which allow identification.



1.   This was a communal cell in the huge cellars of Dastgerd. It was kept in total darkness except for one hour during mealtimes. They were allowed out for once a day 30 minutes to the washroom and toilet.

2.   Soraya was her sister. During her stay at Seid Ali Khan interrogation centre Shahrzad had not had any change of clothes.

3.   Simin, Organisation of Peoples Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI).

4.   Nasrin: PMOI supporter

5.   Parvaneh. Organisation of Peikar Dar Rahe Tabaghe-e Kargar

6.   Mojdeh: PMOI

7.   Smeared in spit [toff mali] was prison slang for rape.

8.   In the view of the Islamic Republic women political prisoners, being considered heathen, are trophies of war. They therefore become the property of the victor to do as they wish [translator]. In the Qur’an they are taken to slavery.

9.   Reyhaneh: Peikar supporter

10. Fariba: PMOI supporter

11. A person who had undergone a pilgrimage to Mecca.

12. Nastaran: Peikar supporter


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