Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Promoting tolerance and justice through knowledge and understanding
Human rights violations in Iran: Causes and Modalities


Reza Afshari
August 1, 2001
Book chapter

Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.

-Article 19 of the ICCPR

In fact, in its general comment 22 (48) of 20 July 1993, the Human Rights Committee observed that the freedom to "have or to adopt" a religion or belief necessarily entailed the freedom to choose a religion or belief, including the right to replace one's current religion or belief with another or to adopt atheistic views, as well as the right to retain one's religion or belief. Article 18, paragraph 2, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights bars coercion that would impair the right to have or adopt a religion or belief, including the use of threat of physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers to adhere to religious beliefs and congregations, to recant their religion or belief or to convert.

-UN Thematic Special Rapporteur Abdelfattah Amor, 1996.

The architects of the Islamic Republic were the first religious-political activists to take over a Western-style authoritarian state and transform it into a theocracy. Once in control of the state's coercive apparatus, they introduced an all-encompassing project to re-Islamicize the society. Inflicting a particular curse of the religious state, the Islamic Republic parted ways here with other authoritarian states. Persuasion, education, propaganda, intimidation, arrest, torture, and execution were the means to achieve the goals of re-Islamization. This chapter uses the information contained in prison memoirs to illustrate how the new rulers carried out Islamization in prisons with the intent of rehabilitating the incarcerated dissidents, violating their right to freedom of conscience, or physically eliminating them. The relative calm before the storm and the prison massacre of 1988 will be discussed in chapter 8, which is an extension of this discussion on the right to freedom of conscience.

The first UN Special Representative, Andres Aguilar, upheld the notion of international human rights law. So did Galindo Pohl. Notwithstanding their clear theoretical stand on the normative universality of human rights, in practice the international monitors had trouble responding to practices that the rulers claimed could not be considered violations, since they emanated from Islamic laws, norms, and practices. The details indicate that in the important area of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, the international community, while upholding the universality of rights, made implicit concessions to the new rulers who claimed that the religious and cultural norms of their country determined the state's policies and practices. In the 1980s, Aguilar's successor, Galindo Pohl, hardly mentioned in his reports the plight of secular Muslims or nonreligious Iranians whose right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion was violated by the state-imposed Islamization process. This was perhaps due to misplaced deference to Islamic sensitivities of the men in power. More alarmingly, it may also be indicative of the impact that the regime's aggressive cultural relativist claims, and the support they received from sympathetic observers, have had on the discourse and practice of human rights.

It appeared that the international monitors had tacitly accepted, at least in the 1980s, the rulers' image of their revolution and state, one that involved millions of devout Muslims who supported the Islamic state. If a minority of nonconformists were forced to respect the religious values of the majority and to accept restrictions on their private and public lives, there was very little that the international human rights organizations could do in terms of exposure or condemnation. Out of consideration for people's "Islamic sensitivities," some even shied away from mentioning assaults on the lifestyles and conscience of secular Iranians, especially women. It appeared culturally "natural" that women in the Islamic Republic should observe the Islamic dress codes; that men and women should not mix together in public spaces or at parties, even in private houses; and that every citizen used Islamic expressions in public discourses. A former professor recalled: "I and thousands of others had to decide each day how we would begin our lectures at the university. The new Islamic masters ordained that all lectures begin with an Arabic prayer for the Lord. Because I refused to do this, I began every class session with a great deal of anxiety."

There was no grand cultural consensus on these practices, and there was nothing "natural" about these restrictions that violated the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.

Political Prisons as the Microcosm of the Ideal Islamic Society

Prisons mirrored the Islamization project that was discussed in chapter 2. The fact that I want to emphasize in this chapter is that during the 1980s the political prisons in the Islamic Republic of Iran were microcosms of the larger society. While widespread, the violations of the right to freedom of thought and conscience took place in the streets, at work, and even in private homes; these violations were mostly diffused in the larger society. By contrast, the prisoners provided captive subjects for reconversion in the Islamization program.

It is in regard to the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion that prison memoirs enable the reader to understand the relevance of culture and irrelevance of cultural relativism to human rights. They provide the details that are often absent in theoretical debates about the relationship between culture and human rights. The memoirs reveal the fact that, aside from the brutal suppression of the Baha'is, the regime's chronic, significant violations targeted the rights of secular citizens and nonreligious Iranians. Imposed Islamization was the primary cause of the violations of the right to freedom of conscience. Again, Islamization of prisons reflected the parallel attempt to impose Islamization on the larger society.

In the early months of the revolution, before the establishment of authoritarian clerical control, political prisoners were largely free from vigorous and ruthless Islamization. Paya's memoirs offered invaluable insights into this early period. The prison population consisted of mostly middle-aged and elderly officials, civilian and military. The young revolutionaries were still free for a few more months, the Marxists earnestly pursuing the mirage of a socialist Iran and the Mojahedin chasing the "classless Islamic society."

Paya's inmates, men of higher education and upper-class background, showed a particular form of religiosity and intellectual disposition. Among those who escaped immediate execution, few were tortured. All were verbally abused, but no one's right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion was egregiously violated. No one sought to force them to accept a new definition of Islam. Faced with a critical predicament, they sought refuge in their old faith, a privatized and personalized Islam with a much calmer and meditative disposition than the politicized Islam that moved the Ayatollah's throngs to frenzy. The prisoners dusted off the once glittering modernism that the late Shah had heaped upon them from the faith of their childhood and the memories of their fathers' devotion. In the concrete corner of a desolate cell, in the cold winter of 1979, the old faith offered a cushion of psychological comfort, if not a miracle of freedom.

Paya's vivid sketches humanize some of the Shah's generals whom the revolutionary media routinely demonized. For a short time, he shared an isolated cell with a senior general who had educational and technological responsibilities in the Shah's armed forces. Not exactly a man of the sword, the general passed his days in prison by reading, mostly the Qur'an, and uttering the Shiite du`a (prayer), impressing the discerning Paya as "a symbol of love and an expression of faith."

On some Thursday nights (Friday being the Sabbath), prisoners gathered in a large room that served as a kind of "neighborhood takiya" for religious prayers and chanting. They would replace the regular electric bulbs with blue ones, creating a contemplative atmosphere. The space resembled, in Paya's words, "an intersection between legerdemain and an evening party in Fellini's films." In that particularly dreary and anxious period of captivity, they sought solace in the traditional religious practices they grew up with. They endured their unbearable lives by resorting to prayers and invocations of divine names in the traditional Islamic monajat (whispering hymns, praising God). They melodiously recited the well-known verses of the du`a (prayer). They also collectively engaged in dhekr, the rhythmically verbal ritual of invoking God's name. Paya noted derisively that they did so with an unstated hope that "the curtains of evil and wickedness would be punctured and relief (farraji) be materialized." To be rescued from their imperilment, they kept pleading to the same Shiite Imams whose names Ayatollah Khomeini invoked to sanction their demise. Such was the paradox of the revolution, mixing politics with Islam. Concerning the right to freedom of thought and conscience, it is significant to note that the zealot prison guards played no role in these nightly sessions. They did not put an end to them, nor did they try to steer these particular expressions of faith toward their own fundamentalist religious practices. Politicized Islam, à la Khomeini, had no place among prisoners-yet.

Paya would have been shocked to see the drastic deterioration of prison conditions in the next phase of arrests and executions, which began in late 1980, after he had been released. Outside the prison walls, the mullahs had already begun realizing a new definition of Islam for a society that has been, in its own way, devoutly Muslim for centuries.

The Tawaban (repentant prisoners)

Once the clerics monopolized power, the force used to impose Islamization in prisons was decisive and brutal, free of those intermediary social processes that tended to mitigate the impact of such force in a large city like Tehran. The treatment of political prisoners showed the true nature of the rulers' political culture. Perhaps at a time of national crisis, prisons often display more clearly the rough temperament of an illiberal political culture, destroying life, inflicting torture, and remaining impervious to the pain and suffering of its victims. An ominous process in the prison aimed to remold the prisoners' thought and conscience, using a crude combination of physical torture, psychological pressure, Islamic "teachings," and public confession. It was in the prisons that the politicized clerics' true intentions, as well as their vision for the larger society, were clearly revealed.

Thereby, the Islamic Republic added a new term to Iran's prison lexicon: tawaban (singular tawab, with a clear religious undertone), and herein lies an egregious violation of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. In fact, they wished to turn the entire secular population of the country into the tawaban. From a few prisoners in 1981, the tawaban numbers grew in 1983. Neither the human rights organizations nor the Special Representative could examine, in any meaningful way, the process by which the tawaban were made. Galindo Pohl had almost nothing to say about the phenomenon. Amnesty's comments were short and general; moreover, it discussed the process in the context of torture. In fact, torture was one of the means used in the process. The result was a severe violation of the right of political prisoners to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, as well as the freedom to hold opinions without interference.

Tawaban were prisoners who had recanted. In extracting formal recantations, the clerics intended to show that they were the masters of history, with the constant support of the entire Islamic nation. God was on their side, and history, with its teleological direction and ultimate destiny, had vindicated them. For the political clerics, it was not enough that they write their own version of divinely inspired history and celebrate their monopolistic claims. The captives were forced to engage in a verbal self-mutilation of their own past. By their confession and recantation, the prisoners were required to deliver a version of history that rendered them, prior to their repentance and return to Islam, as the essence of all evils, ancient and modern.

What the prisoners said in their recantations is a significant chapter in modern Iranian history. Ervand Abrahamian has fully discussed the incredible texts of repentance, comparing them with the ones extracted under the Pahlavi Shahs. The process that created the tawaban is most relevant to the human rights discourse. It also makes clear the irrelevance of cultural relativism to human right discourse. The phenomenon grew out of the process by which politicized Islam was placed at the ideological command of the contemporary state. It resulted from imposition of clerical control over those Iranians who had broken away, emotionally and intellectually, from the traditional culture of their country.

The phenomenon of repentant prisoners, though primarily political in impetus elsewhere, appeared religiously induced in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In the minds of the Shiite clerics, repentance and recantation were associated with heretical views. They were required to undo apostasy and bring the misguided back to the religious fold. The entire tawab phenomenon is better understood in light of the rulers' attempt to empty the process of its political significance and imbue it with religious symbolism. Repentance was, in a sense, a second conversion to Islam, as understood by the Islamists. In the eyes of clerical rulers, these young men and women were imprisoned not because they had made a political mistake and supported the wrong political groups but because they had succumbed to carnal desires and committed sins.

Assadollah Lajvardi in Evin and Hajji Rahmani in Qezel Hesar were the chief agents of the Islamization process. As the Revolutionary Prosecutor in Tehran, Lajvardi had become a permanent fixture at Evin prison. After the assassination of Evin's warden, he assumed his office as well. Prisoners believed that he never left the prison; they also saw his wife attending many of the show confessions he staged at Evin. A shopkeeper before the revolution, Lajvardi had spent a few years in Evin as prisoner of the previous regime. Professor Abbas Milani, a former inmate in the Shah's prison, recalled: "He was awful to look at, his face ravaged by a pitiless disease, probably small pox. Perhaps his soul, too, was devastated by the tortures he suffered in prison and the humiliation he must have felt in a world that seemed to become more and more hostile to his beliefs." Now in charge of the same prison, he seemed to have been determined to make it an Islamic prison. Ghaffari wrote that he was "the epitome of a spiteful, inadequate nonentity, given power over life and death." Energetic and omnipresent, boastful and shifty-eyed, coarse in speech and manner, Lajvardi had a voracious appetite for theatrics in the prison. He brought shame, self-hatred, and suffering on all those who were subjected to his abusive shows of forced confessions and recantations. He was a true persona of the new regime in the prison system, the personification of a curse of this particular religious state.

Hajji Rahmani (the Hajji), another merchant-tuned-revolutionary whom all prisoners loathed, was the warden of Qezel Hesar prison. The Hajji was illiterate and rough-edged, a blacksmith before the revolution, who owned his own shop in a middle-class neighborhood in Tehran. Raha portrayed him as both ridiculous and ruthless. He was a bulky man, marching back and forth in front of his captives and dragging his feet in heavy boots. He wore a military jacket and trousers that made him look like "a caricature of the corporals at the service of Latin American military dictators." Ghaffari completed the unflattering profile: "Our rotund governor was enthusiastic about his job, and would do the rounds of the prison blocks, flanked on either side by his guards, intermittently stopping to cuff an unfortunate prisoner or send another flying by buffeting him with his stomach" The Hajji had also served time in Qezel Hesar prison during the Shah's rule.

The Hajji housed the defiant prisoners who refused to renounce their secular conscience in ward 8, marked for punishment. After passing through the torturous process controlled by the interrogators and prosecutors and receiving their sentences, the defiant prisoners would have to retell their "stories" to the Hajji. Moreover, he demanded that prisoners write letters to him, confessing past sins and professing their reconversion to the righteous path of Islam.

The Hajji forced the prisoners to acknowledge their own "intrinsic weakness of soul in the face of temptation." Raha observed that "Lajvardi and other prison authorities always impressed on political prisoners that they were sinful human beings who had confronted the God-supporting nation [umat-e hezbollah]." Roger Cooper noted that the authorities considered the inmates to be mentally defective for turning their backs on Islam; they were forced to undergo "intensive religious instruction." The religious state authorities were unable to admit that young people were attracted to secular political ideologies for rational political reasons. How could that attraction be possible at a time when political Islam was alive, marching to the divinely inspired tones of Imam Khomeini? A diabolical force must have possessed anyone who was not a Khomeini supporter.

The tawaban could not quietly await their redemption, patiently marking the days until they were set free. Their redemption would come, or so they hoped, only if they took on all the Islamic habits, public appearance, and rough attributes of their tormentors. Showing exaggerated gratitude to the men in power, some of the tawaban ingratiated themselves with prison officials. Prisoners had to submit to the required confession, denunciation, and repentance and pass the Islamic benchmarks set for them. Then, the tawaban would have to prove their sincerity by participating in violating the right to liberty and security of other prisoners who refused to repent.

The overtly active tawaban attended interrogations of other prisoners and assisted by finding contradictions in the prisoners' answers. Raha wrote about one tawab who prepared other prisoners for their execution by writing their names on their legs with a marking pen for positive identification after execution. The activities of two young women, one eighteen and the other nineteen, fascinated and repulsed Parsipur. Paralyzed by fear, they were capable of doing anything to save their lives. One of them had already participated in an execution, firing the last shot into the head of a prisoner who appeared to have been only fourteen. Lajvardi seemed to have believed that participating in the execution of one's own comrade was a sure sign of sincerity of repentance and conversion.

Revolutionary guards took the willing tawaban along on their daily patrols in order to identify leftist or Mojahid activists among people in the streets. Hardly an Islamic cultural novelty, they were the equivalents of the "markers" the Argentinean Junta used to hunt down the "subversives" during the Dirty War of 1976-83. The tawaban meddled in every aspect of the personal lives of their cellmates, reporting on their conversations, attitudes toward religious classes, and performance of religious obligations. With their faces totally covered up to conceal their identity, they made "discovery" visits to prison cells for the purpose of identifying anyone who had refused to divulge previous association with the revolutionary groups. The practice was often repeated, and the female prisoners humorously referred to the masked visitors in search of unidentified activists as "suitors." The male prisoners referred to the hooded men in discovery missions as the Ku Kluxes.

As previously discussed, repentance was an extrajudicial measure that was imposed on even those political prisoners who had served their sentences. A prisoner who wished to be set free would be brought to a large gathering of prisoners, where he/she was expected not only to denounce all previous political associations but also to beg for forgiveness. This was just the beginning of the farcical session. The tawaban who were present and knew the helpless prisoner would stand up and denounce him/her for insincerity. They might accuse the prisoner of still "remaining" on his/her political positions and supporting his/her organization, or of not being sufficiently sincere or enthusiastic when participating in the ward's religious ceremonies.

For unrepentant leftists, one of the most agonizing experiences was seeing leading comrades at the confession and repentance tables, denouncing their former thought and embracing Islam. The real demoralization sank in when Lajvardi displayed the leaders of various organizations to the captive audience in Evin's main hall, the hosseiniyyeh. Raha described an uproarious gathering in April 1982, when Lajvardi presented one of his stars, Hossein Ahmadi Ruhani, a leader of the organization Paykar Dar Rah-e Azadi Tabaqeh Kargar (Struggle for the Liberation of the Working Class).He had belonged to the Islmaic Mojahedin before 1975, when he declared himself a Marxist. The prison episode that Raha described revealed the agonizing dilemma the repenters faced. With a political background that appeared as convoluted as the contour of Iranian radical ideologies of the 1970s, Ruhani voiced his regrets for becoming a Marxist and opposing the clerical regime and repeated the version of history that the Islamists had concocted for him: The Mojahedin abused Islam by mixing it with Marxism and deceived everyone by pretending that they were revolutionary Muslims.

Having heard Ruhani's repentance, the prisoners were jolted by a desperate and daring female prisoner, Manizheh Hoda'i, who introduced herself as a member of Ruhani's organization. She was the wife of another Paykar leader. Perhaps sensing that his show was becoming more dramatic, Lajvardi allowed her to speak. She did so by directly addressing Ruhani and telling him that he had "never understood what he wanted, either at the time when he was an Islamist activist or when he said he had become a Marxist. And even now he did not understand why he once again chose Islam and the Islamic Republic." The painful irony of her denunciation was revealed when she cryptically acknowledged that, a few days before that infamous session, she had also given a taped interview. She criticized the Paykar organization and declared her new conviction that the Islamic Republic was an "anti-imperialist" regime. The show became even more bizarre when she proceeded, in front of the stunned prisoners, to criticize her own previously taped interview, which had not yet been broadcast. The conflict between what Lajvardi demanded of her to save her life and the agony of preserving her conscience was crushing her. She was executed before the spring of 1982 ended. She was the second member of the family to be executed; her brother, Bizhan Hoda'i, was executed in Evin prison. As for Ruhani, he regularly appeared on the hosseiniyyeh's stage, and the prisoners referred to it as the Ruhani show. He was executed in the summer of 1984.

As will be shown later, this was at a time when the regime's diplomats heatedly denied that any human rights violations were taking place in Iran. They also denounced the UN's decision to appoint a Special Representative as an expression of Western hostility to the Islamic revolution.

The presence of the tawaban in 1982 and 1983 put pressure on all inmates to conform, leading many to pretend that they had become the characters that the authorities wanted. Pretending seemed to be much easier for many of those prisoners who had been monetarily converted to the revolutionary ideologies that loudly announced themselves in 1978-79 and then reverted to their former nonideological existence. They were neither dogmatic Marxists nor devout Muslims, the two categories that suffered most in the reconversion drive. Some were educated, nationalist liberals who were caught in the tentacles of the revolution. Ideologically and religiously noncommittal, these prisoners cared very little about Islam and the battles between its different versions. As one former prisoner said: "They didn't believe in the notion of sin; therefore the corollary notion of repentance (towbeh) had no meaning. Since neither had any emotional, ideological hold over their imaginations, they could easily pretend, if it meant reducing restrictions and mitigating the regime's atrocities inside prison." Ideological indifference was a blessing.

For the committed intellectual Muslims and some of the Mojahedin sympathizers who took the religious notion of sin and towbeh seriously, the trauma of forced repentance was doubly painful. Unfortunately, we do not have credible memoirs written by such individuals. The accounts given in the exiled Mojahedin publications are too general in nature and often littered with uninformative diatribes. For devout prisoners who were against the Islamic regime, the notion that in opposing Ayatollah Khomeini they had somehow committed sin was repulsive. For what sins should they repent? Moreover, they were asked to "convert" to something that they considered archaic in rituals, reactionary in politics, and in no way in accord with their progressive understanding of Islam. This made it more difficult for them to submit to pressures to repent.

The committed Marxist prisoners remained contemptuous. Raha, Ghaffari, and Azad divided the prison population into two categories, separating the heroes who resisted from the villains who capitulated. In this convoluted world, torture-and not an independent act of bravery or a prolonged service to the revolutionary causes-was the arbiter of who would rise as a hero and who would fall as a turncoat. Raha and Azad had little patience for the tawaban, considering them scum who betrayed their comrades and even their own spouses. Raha observed that the prison "was a paradox, where the most sublime resistance and epochal endurance existed alongside the most despicable wickedness." Years later, when Raha was reflecting on the forced confessions and repentance, she could not allow herself the magnanimity of forgiving the "fallen" comrades belonging to different organizations. She considered repentance a disgrace (kheffat), a breech of faith with the cherished values and principles of Iran's secular, revolutionary tradition, which had strongly influenced the life experiences of her generation. Since the turn of the century, a few generations of young Iranians had participated in making that tradition, leaving behind a trail of death and a legacy of shattered dreams and blemished lives. Watching the confession and repentance of her fellow radicals, she felt she was partaking in the ignominy that was debasing the ideology's past heroes. It appeared as if the repentant Marxists had become an open wound implanted on the bodies and souls of their resisting comrades. Raha wrote: "I did not sit behind a microphone for an interview, but those who did were a part of my past and my life's attachments." They fell, and as they did, a part of her collapsed, too.

Azad was also unforgiving of the revolutionaries who forfeited their chance to become martyrs and thus real heroes. If for Raha the symbol of betrayal was Ruhani, for Azad the infamy belonged to Vahid Sari`ol-Qalam from another leftist organization. It was interesting that the wives of Ruhani and Sari`ol-Qalam were among the most forceful tawaban. Azad was particularly bitter about the educated leftists who offered their expertise to prison authorities. For example, Sari`ol-Qalam, who had studied computer science in the United States, was chosen by prison authorities to computerize information in Evin prison. He helped to create "charts" for all leftist organizations, graphically depicting their hierarchy of leadership and the position of each individual in it. When in the fall of 1984 it was the turn of the Rah-e Kargar, Azad's group, she was taken to the "chart room" and questioned by Sari`ol-Qalam and other ex-leftists. Azad found a way to express her contempt, and Sari`ol-Qalam responded by a dejected silence.

Not even his computer skills could save Vahid Sari`ol-Qalam's life. He was executed, it was said, in front of the families of Revolutionary Guards who were killed in an armed confrontation in the Caspian Sea littoral, initiated by the remaining members of the organization to which Vahid previously belonged. Again, the Islamic judges imposed the death penalty on a man for planning and executing a crime in which he played no role. According to Azad, the news of his execution reached Qezel Hesar prison in the fall of 1985. Azad described the fear and indignation that the news created among the prisoners. Especially fearful were the tawaban, whose tenuous hope for security of life dimmed in light of the well-known fact that Vahid had cooperated diligently with prison authorities. The authorities executed a living proof of the success of the Islamization process.

Imposition of the Black Chador

In prisons, as in society, the linchpin of the Islamization drive was women's appearance in proper Islamic hijab. From time to time, prison authorities waged what can be called the war of the black chador. The Hajji in Qezel Hesar demanded, as did officials in other prisons, that women wear the blackchador, covering all except the eyes. The authorities desired to make the prison a microcosm of the perfectly integrated Islamic community that was somehow eluding them in the larger society. They refused to accept the more casual chador, usually a mixture of white, gray and black, worn by many traditional women. It was not a sufficiently strong testimony to one's religious commitment. The emblem of politicized Islam was the blackchador, which was, moreover, a political symbol of clerical dominance as enforced by the hezbollahis. The all-black chador prison was the surest sign of the success of the Islamization process of "reeducation." The clerics demanded it in cities but failed to enforce a universal compliance outside the prisons, where their success offered the authorities at least a partial consolation.

Yet some women, including Parsipur, resisted and endured, as long as they could, the harsh punishment for noncompliance. Intelligent and articulate, Parsipur managed to preserve her graceful posture for most of her time in prison. However, her discreet gestures of independence and defiance eventually infuriated the guards, who probably saw that her noncompliance was setting a bad example for the younger prisoners. The black chador was one of the most difficult things for Parsipur to accept. She displayed a remarkable spirit of resistance that would have made previous generations of emancipated women proud. She dragged her feet and complained in whatever way she could, always expressing her dislike for the fact that the Ayatollah had succeeded again in covering the Iranian women in hijab. As discussed in chapter 16, this was the same kind of struggle that thousands of women waged outside, in whatever way possible, against the violation of their basic human right to freedom of conscience, a violation that was barely mentioned in the UN reports.

The prison authorities' preoccupation with proper female garb was a corollary to their obsession with sex. Roger Cooper, who spoke Persian and was retained for five years in Evin, developed a good understanding of prison guards. "Politics, religion and sex," Cooper observed, "seem to be the only subjects that interest young fundamentalist Muslims." He further observed that their education was very limited; even on religious matters, they were "quite ill-informed." He could have said the same thing about sexual matters. Other prisoners also noticed the preoccupation with sexuality. Parsipur wrote that in her trial session during which the mullah-judge started a general discussion with her, he asked "a psychological question concerning the sexual relations of father with daughter." Her cellmates were not surprised when she later mentioned the judge's question with an overt sexual overtone. One told of a case in which court officials grilled a "retired prostitute" about her various sexual escapades. "The behavior of the trial officials was so insulting that the poor woman had never felt so humiliated in her entire life of active prostitution." Parsipur was beginning to learn about traditional men's fascination with sexual topics.

During her second arrest in 1990, when Parsipur was held in prison among petty criminals and drug abusers, she noticed a young woman who constantly attracted the attention of the revolutionary guards. "She was a young woman, very beautiful, with a tall stature, to some extent plump. For this reason, the Revolutionary Guards constantly paid attention to her. For all kind of reasons they would call her into the yard."

Ghaffari observed that some interrogators were often interested in "discovering" hidden histories of illicit sexual activities in a prisoner's past. During his own interrogation, Ghaffari noticed that the interrogator wanted to link his political past with illicit sexual activities, adding to his crimes. Ghaffari added that it was not important whether the prisoner was a professor like him or a common worker. The interrogators interjected questions about the prisoners' sexual habits. The mullah-interrogators were especially delighted to discover a weakness related to carnal desires.

In Qezel Hesar prison, the warden took a keen interest in women's appearance. Perhaps he derived a perverted enjoyment in personally harassing, and sometimes teasing, modern middle-class women. He enjoyed exercising authority over them, something that he could not do as a blacksmith before the revolution. He would enter a ward or cell without warning, and all women had to be properly covered. As the prisoners scrambled for their scarves or chadors, he would yell and sometimes strike any woman within reach. Thinking about those occasions when the Hajji hit the female prisoners, Parsipur wrote: "And we were all slowly diminishing in our humanity. All the theories about inherent human dignity and worth were receding on the face of this practice that sought to induce a slavish obedience." The prisoners' appearance at all times triggered a barrage of verbal attacks: "You filth, why don't you have proper stockings; stupid, why does your hair show." Parsipur observed that the purpose of this abusive language was to bring "the soul of the individual down to an abyss." The secular women in the streets of Tehran had the distinct displeasure of hearing the same verbal abuses.

It seemed that the Hajji suffered from an inner contradiction that manifested itself among some traditional Muslim men who face the sociocultural expressions of modernity, especially as displayed by women, with profound moral ambiguity or perhaps a split personality. It might indeed have been the case that modern secular women-outwardly self-assured, poised, and attractive-evoked in traditional men like the Hajji a sense of dismay mixed with an ineradicable allure. The inner desire remained hidden, and the sense of revulsion was openly expressed. Ghaffari considered the Hajji a brutal, dirty old man. He satisfied his libidinous fantasies by forcing female prisoners to invent sexual escapades during the revolutionary period, when they were, the Hajji assumed, residing with male comrades in the "safe houses." The women had to describe their sexual activities in front of the video camera. The Hajji was living proof that in a regressive culture sexual repression leads to perversion, which the religious rhetoric conveniently masked.

Parsipur described one session when the Hajji demanded the presence of all inmates. Walking into the hall, the Hajji faced the women who were squatting on the floor with the black chadors pulled tightly around their figures. He silently stared at "that anonymous blackness," and then barked at them indignantly: "Black Crows [Kalagh Sia-ha]!" This contemptuous utterance startled the novelist, who wrote: "The human-beings-turned-crows looked at the Hajji in silence." Parsipur observed that the women had painfully learned that they must don the black chador if they ever hoped to be released from prison. Now it appeared certain that the same ugly appearance that was imposed on them "has become another pretext used for their further humiliation." The modern middle-class women found themselves caught in the perverted clutches of the traditional Muslim men. They were as contemptuous as they were helpless.

A Deluge of Religious Incantations and Rituals

As the routines of torture and execution devoured the young victims, the prisons' loudspeakers became shriller, endlessly blasting the sound of prayers, sermons, Qur'anic recitations and the du`a komeil (long, melodious verses recited on Thursday nights). In larger society, many of the modern middle-class Iranians endured the agony of being bombarded by the lamenting sounds of Shiism, and no one dared in the 1980s to speak about the unpleasant experience. A decade later, when some Western reporters could go to Tehran, they often heard complaints about the overabundance of broadcasts of "ritualized sorrow" by Iran's two-station television.

To secular prisoners, the radio churned out nothing but primitive propaganda, offending their conscience. Reflecting on an agonizing moment inside the ward in the fall of 1981, Hasan Darvish wrote: "That wooden box attached to a corner of the ceiling was a source of our sufferings. It would call to prayer, admonish, melodiously recite lamentations (nowheh), and tell moral anecdotes." Parvaresh recalled that every morning the loudspeakers would broadcast Qur'anic recitations. "They would not leave us alone for even a moment. It appeared that death or madness would be the best outcome for us."

Particularly infuriating to Raha in 1984 was the endless singing over the loudspeakers of the nowheh, whose semiliterate verses mourn for all kinds of martyrs. The list of Shiite martyrs is a long one, from those who fell in the battlefield of Karbala in the seventh century to those slaughtered in the frontlines of the recent Iran-Iraq War. For Raha, as for all secular Iranians, the nowheh was the sound of death, invoking a sense of estrangement toward everything in this world. For some prisoners, especially those from a modern middle-class background, the experience of being in a confined space and exposed to such overwhelming doses of Islamization was traumatic. Azad wrote: "From my childhood I associated the sound of the adhan (the call to prayer) and the Qur'an with dead bodies and burial ground, and it created fear in me." Parvaresh found the climate of political religiosity quite suffocating in Qezel Hesar prison in the fall of 1983. This ferocious exhibition of politicized Islam was a far cry from the subdued expression of religiosity that Paya witnessed among prisoners in the first months of the revolution.

Prison authorities now forbade any independent expression of religious devotion, understood as an oppositional political activity. The most ironic aspect of the violation of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion manifested itself in those confrontations where both the guards and the inmates were devout Muslims. Each upheld a particular image of "true Islam." One reason that compelled young men and women to join the Mojahedin organization was their traditional fidelity to Islam; otherwise, the socialist organizations had a more glamorous past and a more articulate leadership. One day a group of Muslim prisoners held a group prayer in the walkways of Qezel Hesar prison. At the end they recited a "unity prayer." The angry warden put an end to the practice. The clerics and their henchmen constantly badgered the Mojahedin captives for their misbegotten version of Islam. They maintained that no true Muslim could refuse, in sound mind, to submit to the power of the clerical rulers.

Alizadeh described an altercation between a middle-aged female prisoner and a guard. Badmouthing the guard, the woman demanded that he return to her the Qur'an that she had brought to prison. Using foul language, the guard retorted that the prisoner was forbidden to have a copy of the Qur'an with the Persian translation. "You would abuse it and mislead the other prisoners," the guard told her. What the guard meant was that the prisoner would be able to quote the Qur'an in Persian and impart a misleading meaning to the original Arabic verses. In a highly politicized climate and in the view of that guard, a nonconforming Muslim could not be trusted with a version of the Qur'an in the language she understood! Alizadeh later heard that the same woman, whom the young inmates affectionately called "Mother," was tortured and executed. Parsipur recalled numerous incidents, almost all comic-tragic, that took place during the prayer sessions. In one episode, a young female guard's admonishment concerning the proper procedure for the afternoon prayers offended some older prisoners. They angrily retorted: "Dear daughter, we have been praying all our lives; now you want to teach us how to pray?"

Tragically, the politicization of Islam and its mixing with the state's repressive apparatus meant that some Muslims could no longer be considered Muslim. By committing political offenses, they forfeited their right to be Muslim. Their families did, too. In some cases, the prosecutors informed the families of an execution only after expiration of the Islamic forty-day period of mourning. They would not allow the family members to engage in Islamic rituals, including wailing on the graves of executed prisoners. The police dispersed mothers who gathered at the gravesites of their executed sons and daughters.

From Evin, the Islamization fervor spread to other prisons. Parsipur described an episode in Qezel Hesar prison during a tearful night of commemoration of Imam Hossein's martyrdom (Hossein, grandson of Prophet Muhammad, the third Shiite Imam, killed in Karbala in 680). It is worth translating and quoting at some length. The guards were preparing the prisoners for the evening lamentation, and Parsipur noticed that the leftist inmates were also joining the ranks of the mourners of Imam Hossein. "The atmosphere had suddenly changed. Only during my childhood once or twice I attended ceremonies like that. Since I could not comprehend the reason for crying and weeping, I did not attempt to participate in them. In prison too I had no intention of participating in the commemoration." However, the leftist inmates' intention to attend the gathering worried her. Not wanting to stand out, she blended in with the crowd. The Mojahedin sat, cross-legged and chador-cladded, on the floor at the center of the hall.

Parsipur heard the sounds of mourning coming from the adjacent ward. Those who were to conduct the commemoration entered the hall, and the drama began. The organizers included Farzaneh, the ex-dancer-singer-turn-revolutionary-guard, and two repentant prisoners, an ex-Mojahid and an ex-Paykari. These three women had covered themselves from head to toe in black chadors. At the entrance of the section, the trio faced the crowd. Farzaneh noticed the presence of the novelist in the captive audience. Ignoring her, she instead fixed her gaze on a leftist prisoner who was sitting, a scarf covering her head, in front of the door. The ex-dancer began to display her flair for theatrics. Raising her right arm and thrusting it toward the young woman in front of her, she shouted: "What happened to Hossein?" Not understanding the meaning of the question, the leftist woman hesitated for a second before realizing that Farzaneh expected her to participate in the mourning of the Shiite Third Imam. She replied: "Was killed!"

With visibly contrived anger, Farzaneh shouted back, correcting her: "Shahid Shod!" (Was martyred!) Understanding her own indiscretion, the young leftist repeated, "Shahid Shod!" The captive audience was about to witness a surrealistic transfiguration of the traditional Shiite commemorative practice. Lamentation for Imam Hossein for the sake of seeking salvation in the next life became a rally of political sloganeering, mourning the "martyrs" of the Islamic revolution. The sacred history of Shiism converged into the propaganda of the Islamic revolution. The secular prisoners who were mostly indifferent to the former and intensely hostile to the latter were playacting. Farzaneh shouted, "Kalantari?" Prisoners immediately noticed that Kalantari was a man among the Islamic Republic's leaders killed in the devastating bombing of the clerical party headquarters, widely attributed to the Mojahedin. Realizing what was taking place, the young leftist woman answered, "Shahid Shod!"

Eventually all inmates realized that they must repeat that catch phrase, and disjointed voices were heard from around the room, until all prisoners began to answer Farzaneh in unison: "Shahid Shod!" Farzaneh's voice surged up toward hysteria as she shouted one by one the names of almost all "martyrs" of the bombing explosion at party headquarters. After each name, the crowd shouted back, "Shahid Shod," while raising their voices to a higher pitch for the next name. The anguished sound of wailing augmented these rhythmic questions and collective responses. Having sufficiently whipped up the crowd, Farzanah was ready for the famous martyrs of the 1979-80 revolution, like Bahonar, Raja'i, and Ayatollah Beheshti, the influential cleric close to Khomeini. Reaching the climax of her own frenzy and beating her chest in hypnotic thuddling rhythm, Farzaneh screamed: "What happened to my Beheshti?! What happened?! What happened?!" The crowd shouted back: "Shahid Shod!" In the meantime, the grandson of the Prophet was somehow forgotten, and the evening, at least in these melodramatic moments, became more a commemoration for Ayatollah Beheshti, one of the celebrated martyrs of the revolution.

Lights were turned off, and candlesticks were lit around the hall. A mixture of modern revolutionary politics and the traditional Shiite practices, this farcical commemoration proceeded in earnest, roaring into the depth of night. The other two women joined Farzaneh, each taking her turn in leading this wary and strange chorus of the mostly radical activists, many of whom were supposedly agnostic, if not atheist.

Adding humor to her description, Parsipur wrote that a leftist young woman, a Zoroastrian in religion, was sitting next to Parsipur's mother. Like everyone else, she was beating her chest. Parsipur's mother perhaps realized how hard it must have been for a person in another religion to take part in such a masquerade of Shiite lamentation. She recalled the old legend that Imam Hossein's wife was Zoroastrian in origin, the daughter of the last Persian king before the Arab invasion of Iran. She turned to the Zoroastrian woman and consoled her: "My daughter, never mind; after all Imam Hossein was your son-in-law." The young woman, continuing to beat her chest, answered back: "Very well, Imam Hossein was our son-in-law, but what about Beheshti? What relation does he have with us?" The tearful spectacle ended shortly before five in the morning.

It became apparent to Parsipur that the young prisoners were mourning not so much for Imam Hossein-and certainly not for the hated Ayatollah Beheshti-but for themselves. They needed it for the predicament they faced in the dreary outcome of the revolution they helped to foster. There was nothing in their past Marxist or nationalist ideological education that could have prepared them for this outcome. However, they were familiar with the consoling practice of lamentation in the Shiite culture of Iran; they understood it almost instinctively and made the best of it. Having lost close relatives and comrades during the clerical crackdown, the prisoners were themselves in mourning. However, under the watchful eyes of the tawaban, they "dared not cry" in their cells. They could not show tearfulness while undergoing reconversion. Taking advantage of the "opportunity," they were weeping with all their inner pains and anxieties.

The formal religious ceremonies were irritants to the secular conscience; nevertheless, they were also occasions that broke the monotonous prison life for many bored prisoners. In contrast, the imposition of formal daily prayers was an assault on their conscience; they had no entertaining or consoling qualities.

Parsipur, considering herself Muslim, agonized over her predicament: "I was born in a Muslim family, my father always performed his daily prayers, and my mother has prayed for years. I never harbored any opposition to religion. Of course, I did not perform the obligatory duties, but I never lost my respect for the religion. In prison, I found myself in the middle of a torrent of religious affairs. However, these affairs have no resemblance to what I understood of Islam."

Defending her right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, Parsipur refused to perform the daily prayers and was ready, or so she thought, to pay the price. In one encounter with an interrogator, Parsipur demanded to know the reason for her continuous incarceration for four years, without being formally charged with any crime. After listening politely, the man replied by asking her why she did not perform her daily prayers (namaz), thus not so discreetly pointing out the reason for her prolonged detention. Raha wrote that at the height of the Hajji's draconian Islamic rule in Qezel Hesar prison, performance of daily prayers was mandatory. When Azad was transferred to Shiraz, she learned that the punishment for not performing the obligatory daily prayers was much harsher in a provincial prison. Her cellmate told her that as early as 1982 the nonconforming prisoners were lashed five times every twenty-four hours in place of the required five sessions of daily prayers. Azad was so horrified by the stifling conditions in the Adel Abad prison in Shiraz that she wished to be returned to Tehran's Evin.

In 1984, when Raha faced the possibility of a death sentence, her interrogators made it clear to her the conditions that might save her life. "After a period of hesitation and internal struggle, one day I began performing the namaz." She added that in Qezel Hesar prison, it was a rule. In her new condition in Evin prison, it was "a choice between life and death." To escape death she ostensibly threw her conscience overboard. "Death was constantly in my nightmare, but in reality I ran away from it [by becoming compliant]. This was at the time when I felt a profound sense of estrangement with my life. In escaping death, I felt dejected, especially every time I bent over in prayer." That year she fasted during the month of Ramadan. "That was the only year that I fasted or pretended that I was fasting and suffered a tremendous psychological torment. Even today, after the passage of many years, the agonies of those days are often repeated in my dreams and nightmares." Ghaffari wrote that after the prison massacre of 1988 prisoners were brutally forced to pray; each day at prayer, instead of the prescribed verses, the leftist prisoners mumbled profanities, directed against Khomeini, the Islamic Republic, and Islam.

Underlining the relevance of culture to human rights discourse, the culture of one group of citizens had become the source of anguish of conscience for another group, only because the authoritarian state has become the cultural meddler. This reality leaves cultural relativists with no credible argument. Prison authorities understood and demanded only one particular conscience, whose one-dimensional existence manifested itself solely in prayers, fasting, rituals of commemoration, and outward loyalty to the Ayatollah, expressed in laudatory language. In such a mono-conscience world, why would anyone need the right to freedom of conscience? The leftist prisoners especially felt the enormity of the pressure. "And now it was the moment that they all had to resemble their guards," Parsipur observed. She noted that the Islamization drive systematically altered the prisoners' characters. She noticed that "their natural and happy expression was changing, partly because of executions and torture and partly because of the pressure inside the prison." She added that in that fearful climate of the early 1980s, many prisoners began to seek shelter behind the official "concept of Islam." She felt that the burden imposed by "this concept of Islam was becoming heavier from one moment to the next."

Prisoners and Their Islamic Educators

The writers of prison memoirs frequently expressed their contempt toward the pretentious jailers. For example, Parsipur observed, "Individuals who have attached themselves to an old religion and attempted to impose it perforce on other people think that they and that religion are synonymous. The instrument of force they wield fell into their hands suddenly and of course temporarily. However, the reality is that they are incapable of truly changing anyone's thought. In all the prison years one point was clear, and that was the fact that the [intellectual] stature of prison guards was overall less than that of the prisoners. In fact, this caused the death of many of the prisoners, since all of them were unable to deny their own superior stature-even at that moment [of their severest predicament]."

For every pain they inflicted on prisoners' bodies, the authorities came up with a shari`ah law or a Shiite tradition. They capped their designs by resorting to the notion of Islamic guidance and reeducation (ershad). The formal instrument of ershad was the prison closed-circuit television program that often ran daily from early morning to early afternoon. In one prison the programs that prisoners had to watch covered such topics as philosophy designed to show the fallacy of historical materialism compared with Islamic ideology and to explain human nature from the Islamic point of view. The future foreign minister, Ali Akbar Velayati, who was a physician by training, offered distorted lessons about recent history. Hadad Adel, another future high official, explained Islam's view on man and his destiny. One prisoner reported that on the days when philosophy was the subject under discussion the atmosphere in the room where prisoners viewed the program was particularly tense. The tawaban pretentiously wrote down whatever the "professor" was saying. "The other prisoners were forced to sit under visible tension and listen to a discourse that they considered absolutely worthless in terms of science and culture." The prisons in the provincial cities were probably worse than that in Tehran. One prisoner expressed his extreme contempt for the Islamic ershad he witnessed in Adel Abad prison in Shiraz.

The other instrument of the ershad was a series of formal classes on different Islamic topics held in Evin's new building-the Amuzeshgah (training institute). In their propaganda, the authorities described the Amuzeshgah as an example of an Islamic prison where clerics shepherd prisoners from irreligion to the true Islamic path. The regime's diplomats presented the same picture to the international human rights community. They also claimed that prisoners were being trained in useful crafts, for example, in workshops full of sewing machines. Every attempt at education in the Amuzeshgah provoked scorn in secular prisoners like Azadi, who hardly saw the mullahs worthy of respect or emulation.

The leftist prisoners despised both the messages and the messengers. Azadi described a Revolutionary Guard who was in charge of bringing books to prisoners. Although the man imagined his responsibility to be "important and sensitive," Azadi wrote that his "backward views," appearance, and behavior amused prisoners, especially when he mimicked the gesticulations and verbal expressions that prisoners associated with the mullahs. Ayatollah Morteza Motahhari, the assassinated ideologue close to Khomeini, authored most of the books that he brought to prisoners. Azadi wondered what prison authorities would have done without Motahhari. "Despite the high-sounding claims about philosophy, sociology, and ethics, the regime was deprived of modern texts to defend its ideology. For the regime, Motahhari's books had the distinction of depicting Islamic trifles that belonged to the Stone Age in a language that appeared contemporary and modern." In addition to Motahhari's book, there were texts by Ayatollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Abdolhossein Dastghaib, as well as the Qur'an and the collection of the Second Imam Ali's Sayings (Nahj al Balagheh). He added that the prisoners read these books for entertainment. Otherwise, the Islamic education in the prison clearly existed only on sufferance.

Other programs and activities also provoked contemptuous laughter. For example, in the Amuzeshgah, the tawaban formed a chorus, daily practicing the Islamic revolutionary songs that the national radio constantly played. Azadi wrote that a repentant prisoner led the chorus. This seems to be the chorus that serenaded the UN Special Representative upon his first visit to Evin's gate in 1990.

Azadi witnessed the earliest attempts to hold formal classes on Islamic topics and believed that Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who was still Khomeini's designated successor, appointed the clerics who succeeded each other as Islamic teachers in Evin. To Azadi, who saw the mullah instructors as uneducated and ignorant creatures from bygone eras, the entire reeducational effort seemed crude. The mullahs who came to the prison from Qom were outsiders, not directly associated with the men in charge of security and prosecution in prison. Their captive students, especially those with university education, made things difficult for them. From the very beginning, the better educated prisoners presented the cleric teachers with a problem they could not logically address. It was obvious that the appointed instructors from Qom wished to create a respectable learning environment, one befitting their own self-image as molded in the religious seminaries. However, in the eyes of the students, the Islamic instruction lacked logic and intellectual soundness. Moreover, the clerics' higher moral and intellectual claims sounded hollow amid the miserable conditions of captivity, regardless of what the better educated prisoners thought of the rustic professors with turbans. When speaking of superior Islamic values against other worldly ideologies like Marxism, the instructors wished to create and maintain a proper environment of Islamic learning. Prisoners were quick to point out the obvious incongruity between that high moral ground and the harsh reality of captivity. The clerics from Qom probably realized that prison authorities could compel prisoners to gather in the auditorium and sit through ideological and political tirades. However, they could not make them participate willingly in a meaningful reeducational effort in a classroom environment.

Azadi provided many examples of prisoners' efforts to subvert the clerics' indoctrination. At the end of each session when a few minutes were given to questions and answers, prisoners often shifted the focus from the abstract, ideological discussions about Islam to the intolerable prison conditions, including torture. In one class on Islamic ethics, a prisoner who was in the last year of medical school before the revolution injected a question. "While prisoners are enduring daily hunger, allowed only two minutes to go to the lavatory, and suffering from intestinal diseases, how can one speak of ethics?" In another session, a young man who belonged to the Mojahedin became very emotional. He lifted his arms in front of the cleric, showing both of his wrists, around which blackened circles of dead tissue had congealed. "Is this not a crime that they hung me for hours by my wrists that created these slavery rings around them. This is torture; if it is not, give us evidence that the Qur'an and other religious books say that this act is Islamic." Becoming visibly upset, the cleric could only offer an excuse: "If there was no act of terrorism, no one would have dared to do these terrible things to another person."

Another revealing encounter involved Dr. Muhammad Ali Maleki, a former president of Tehran University during the early months of the revolution. A moderate Muslim, he was imprisoned for supporting the Mojahedin. Azadi met him in the Amuzeshgah. Ghaffari wrote that Maleki was cautious in prison, wanting to give no excuse for his execution. Prison authorities asked Maleki to attend ideological classes taught by young clerics. Yet Ghaffari commented that the teachers should in fact have been his students, since his knowledge of Islamic subjects and Iranian politics was far superior to theirs. Azadi saw Maleki in a class taught by a young cleric named Beheshti, who boasted of the ideological superiority of Islam, particularly that of Shiism. In the course of his discussion, the mullah contemptuously rejected Darwin's theory of evolution. Maleki, who was patiently listening to the cleric's ramblings, could no longer maintain his silence and politely admonished the young mullah for rejecting achievements that were the result of years of scientific research and experimentation. The session ended with other prisoners objecting to the mullah, who never showed up again.

The memoirs showed that without the use of force, the clerics had very little chance of changing the views of their young captives or affecting their secular conscience. The better educated prisoners could perhaps understand ignorance, but they could not accept its glorification, even less so its right to rule the country. The use of force and the threat of death better explained the phenomenon of confession and repentance. The point worth mentioning here is that the officials presented this kind of activities "in university-like conditions" to the outside world as examples of the program that was changing the character of prisoners and reeducating them in proper Islamic values. They "had the right to read, they were treated with kindness and respect . . . .The results of that treatment were evident in the voluntary public confession made by many detainees." In reality, they violated the right to freedom of thought.

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. UN Doc. E/CN.4/1985/20, p. 9.

. Milani, p. 230.

. Paya, p. 201.

. Ibid., pp. 135-136.

. Raha, 1:34, 56.

. Amnesty International, Iran: Violations of Human Rights, p. 21.

. The Islamic Prosecutor's Office of Tehran published a two-volume transcript of formal confessions and recantations by a group of Mojahedin, shown on national television. The Islamic Prosecutor's Office of Tehran, Karnameh-ye Siah, Mavazeh va Amalkard-e Monafeqin Pas az Piruzi-ye Enqelab (Black records, position, and practice of the Monafeqin [Mojahedin] after the victory of the revolution) (Tehran, 1983), 1:43.

. Abrahamian, 1999.

. Milani, p. 170.

. Ghaffari, unpublished English manuscript, Chap.15, p.152.

. In 1989, the powerful clerics promoted Lajvardi as the chief of the entire prison system in Iran. In February 1998, newly elected President Khatami removed him from the post. On August 23, 1998, gunmen assassinated Lajvardi at his shop in Tehran's bazaar. The Mojahedin in exile claimed responsibility for the act.

. Raha, 1:98, 106.

. Ghaffari, unpublished English manuscript, chapt. 9, p. 20.

. Raha, 1:103.

. Raha, 2: 23.

. Cooper, p. 77.

. See, e.g., Parsipur, p. 204; Raha, 1:56.

. Ghaffari, p. 185.

. Raha,1:57.

. Parsipur, 185.

. Raha, 1:56.

. Marguerite Feitlowitz, A Lexicon of Terror: Argentina and the Legacies of Torture (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 78.

. Raha, 1:77.

. Raha, 1:79. Alizadeh also wrote about this process of identification by the tawaban. Alizadeh, pp. 50-51.

. Azadi, p. 66.

. Raha, 2:86.

. Raha, 1:70. Hamid Azadi also witnessed this encounter and offered a slightly different version of what Hoda'i said to Ruhani. Azadi, pp. 246-247. Ghaffari's account of the encounter comes very close to what Raha related. Ghaffari, pp. 186-187.

. Raha, 1:121.

. Personal correspondence with a former professor of Tehran University who spent more than two years in prison in the early 1980s.

. Raha, 1:57, 58, 78.

. Azad, p. 22.

. Ibid., pp. 99-100.

. Ibid., p. 140.

. Cooper, p. 82.

. Parsipur, p. 86.

. Ibid., p. 409.

. Ghaffari, pp. 20-21.

. Parsipur, p.139, 233.

. Ibid., pp. 160-161.

. Ibid., p. 203.

. Ghaffari, p. 114.

. Parsipur, p. 215.

. Geraldine Brooks aptly used that expression for women in black chadors. Geraldine Brooks, Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women (New York: Anchor Book, 1995), p. 25.

. Parsipur, p. 215.

. Ibid., p. 105.

. Goodwin, p. 106.

. Darvish, p. 219.

. Parvaresh, p. 49.

. Raha, 2:77.

. Azad, p. 10.

. Parvaresh, pp. 49-50.

. Raha, 1:101.

. Alizadeh, pp. 36-37.

. Parsipur, 154.

. Amnesty International, Iran: Violations of human Rights, 1987-1990, p. 15.

. Parsipur, 124.

. Muhammad Javad Bahonar, whose tenure as Prime Minister was cut short by his assassination; Muhammad Ali Raja`i, president who replaced Bani Sadr; both were killed on August 30, 1981.

. Muhammad Beheshti, the secretary general of the Islamic Republic Party, who was killed on June 28, 1981, by the devastating bomb attack on the central headquarters of the party.

. Parsipur, pp. 128, 130.

. Ibid., p. 128.

. Ibid., p. 105.

. Ibid., p. 358.

. Azad, p. 182.

. Raha, 2:25.

. Ibid., 2:76.

. Ghaffari, p. 259.

. Parsipur, pp. 151, 137.

. Ibid., p. 300.

. Democratic Society of Iranians in France. Dar Rahruha-ye Khun (In the labyrinth of blood) (France, 1985), pp. 20, 24.

. Azadi, p. 96, 129.

. Ibid., p. 243.

. Ibid., pp. 130-131.

. Ibid., pp. 143-147.

. Ghaffari, pp. 86-87.

. Azadi, pp. 145-146.

. UN Doc. E/CN.4/1984/28, pp. 4-5.