Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Promoting tolerance and justice through knowledge and understanding
Prison Memoirs


Parvaneh 'Alizadeh
July 1, 1997
Book chapter

Watch carefully; it is real!

Parvaneh Alizadeh

Dedicated to my executed fellow-prisoner; Sheyda,
to how she perceived Death,
to how she perceived Life,
to how she looked at Enemies,
to how she looked at Friends.

This document is a report of my observations while confined in the prisons of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and obviously, it is limited to the period of my imprisonment and to the cells that I have been confined in. I also know that I did not perfectly explain the facts relating to this short imprisonment. What you read is a small part of the reality of the events that occurred in the Islamic Republic's jails, and my main motive in writing this paper is to depict those events. I have made an effort to write nothing except what I have seen myself--explain only what I saw and how it occurred. This paper has many deficiencies, but surely nothing has been exaggerated or added to it.

P. A.

Evin Prison

It was nine o'clock in evening of an August day in 1981 when the door bell rang. When I picked up the receiver of the bell-phone, I heard an unfamiliar voice, perfectly pronouncing my name and my family name. I did not open the door by push-button inside my apartment, but I went out of the apartment, into the court-yard and opened the door. I confronted two young men who inquired after me. I said that I was the person they were looking for. They said that they had a few questions for me to answer. I told them, "Okay, ask the questions." They said, "Give us permission, if possible, to come in, because your neighbors may notice our presence here." I did not prevent them, and they came in. My two guests and my young son were anxiously concerned about me when I came in, with two attending revolutionary guards. They introduced themselves as revolutionary guards attached to Narcotics Task Force #6, and they pulled an official letter out of their pocket and showed it to us. It read:

Brother ——, Revolutionary Guard, attached to Narcotics Task Force,

Arrest Mrs. —.., who resides at —..Ave. no—., and hand her over to the legal Authorities.

Signature: Lajevardi.

I asked why. They said, "Excuse us, we are only agents, but we know that it's not a serious matter. We must ask you a few questions, and it probably will not take more than few hours." Then they wanted me to get ready to go. I told them that I would take along my son. They said no, but I told them that if they were only asking a few questions, his presence would not bother me. They rejected my request. Finally because of my insistence, one of them decided to call an authority by telephone, and get permission to take along my son, too. Talking by telephone, he mentioned that they were having difficulty arresting a person, because she insisted on taking along her son. It seemed that the authorities asked my name. He mentioned mine. After a few more words with the authorities, they refused my request and said that after two or three days I would be back home.

I put on my mantle, covered my hair with my shawl, and stood up. The one in charge said, "Sister, get ready to go."

I said, "I'm ready."

"But where is your veil?"

"I don't have a veil, furthermore, what is wrong with my dress? I go to work with the same dress."

He answered that all the sisters they arrested wore veil. "You can also borrow one from your neighbor or some one else." My guest wore a veil. She gave me hers, and I put it on. Then I kissed my son, and we left my house.

On the other side of a branching alley, a red Fiat had been parked. They led me toward the car. One of them, as a matter of security, wanted me to sit in the front seat, next to the driver, so that he could control my movements from the back seat. The other man told him that this precaution was not needed. Consequently, they sat me in the back seat and they both sat in the front seats. Since I entered the car, they behaved differently. They asked me that what my occupation was. I said, "I am a teacher."

"Do you teach the students about Marx and Lenin, too?"

"I teach the students, whatever is written in their book, not a word extra. There is no time for extra either."

He said, "After all you Communists relate any word beginning with (M) to Marx and any word beginning with (L) to Lenin." I didn't respond. During this conversation, the other man who was driving watched me continuously.

We drove a certain distance in silence, and then one of them told me to cover my eyes with my shawl and lay down on the car-floor. He threatened me, saying that they had a special hat designed for this purpose, but since I was a good girl, they didn't see the necessity of using it. I had to tie firmly the shawl over my eyes. And I did it.

Several times along the way, we encountered the night-guards controlling traffic and cars in the streets and alleys. I noticed every time that the driver showed an I.D. card, me in the back seat, and then continued on his way. After some time, the car stopped somewhere. One of guards got out of the car and vented. And after about ten minutes, came back and said, "Let's go." We started again and after 15 minutes we stopped. We had entered Evin Prison.

This time they lead me out of the car and put the already-mentioned hat on my head. It was something made of leather, having the shape of a sack, and the feel of a horse's nose-bag, which extended down to the lower-chest. I felt out of breath and became dizzy. The guard said, "Move on."

I said, "I can't. I feel dizzy, and I'm out of breath."

"You may pull up the front side of the hat a little bit above your chest, in order to see the front of your feet." I did , and they held the edge of my veil and moved me forward.

In the court-yard I heard people joking, screaming, and playing. It occurred to me that they were playing volleyball. After going a short distance, they seated me on a lawn and said: wait for us. I sat there. From a short distance away, I heard the voice of a revolutionary guard, complaining about the delay of the execution order of his prisoner, and was nervously asking when this order would arrive. "Why they don't act revolutionary? I've been waiting a few days for this order."

Meanwhile, I heard an new voice. He was one of the revolutionary guards, asking me, "Why did they bring you here."

"To answer some questions."

He said, "Yes, they all come to answer some questions at first, but when they are whipped, then we learn about storing weapons and organizing houses for team-work. And then, answering a few questions becomes an execution." I didn't say anything and waited for the two guards that supposedly had to come back.

It was twenty minutes past ten o'clock when one of them came back and told me to get up. He again held the edge of my veil, and helped me to my feet. "Where are we going?" I didn't know. My head was sweating, and my heartbeat was not normal, and I felt dizzy. They carried me up a few steps and seated me on the ground in a corridor. I asked the guard if he could take off the hat and, instead, tie my shawl over my eyes, to blindfold me. He agreed.

There was silence in the corridor. Every now and then, I could hear somebody coming and going, and that was all. At a time which seemed safe, I pulled my veil over my head and moved the blinder. I couldn't see anything except a long corridor with some doors that were closed. I couldn't see anyone in the corridor. I didn't know where am was. After about 25 minutes a revolutionary guard came and said, "Get up." He pulled the edge of my veil, opened a door, threw me inside, and without saying a word, closed the door. For some time, I stood there, not knowing where I was. I couldn't hear any voices. After a few minutes, I looked through the lower part of the blinder. I didn't see anyone or anything. Then I realized that I was in a cell. I took off the blinder. It was a cell, the size of an army-blanket, not larger and not smaller. It had a very high ceiling with a round fluorescence lamp. That was all, not a wash-basin, not a lavatory, not a pot. Nothing else.