Ezatollah Sahabi is the 80 year old head of Iran’s Nationalist-Religious political alliance. He has spent years in prison, in both the pre and post revolution eras, and here he reflects on the state of prisons in Iran and laments all the young lives who are unjustly and mercilessly forced into a life of imprisonment.
He recently released Volume I of his autobiography, which I am currently reading. It is an engaging book, and I hope to write about it once I’m done.
Here is the letter, translated by Khordaad88.
In the name of God,
To whom can I speak of my sons’ and daughters’ agony?
Enduring the past nine months and seeing the torment experienced by the sons and daughters of this land has been unbearable for this old man: Seeing the nation’s potentials melt away in the hands of our incapable rulers or seeing the atrocious treatment of righteous and courageous children of this nation in the streets and in prisons. But the pain has gotten worse lately and I don’t know how to handle or protest it.
These days, I keep hearing that my dears Bard-al-Sadat Mofidi, Hengameh Shahidi, Shiva Nazarahari, and many more are under intense interrogation and pressure, and constantly insulted so that they would break down and forget about everything they are fighting for. The situation is so unbearable that some of these ladies have wished their own death.
Government officials visiting the prisons reported that the verbal abuse is so bad that some prisoners complained more about them than the violent beatings.
I also constantly hear that in recents weeks, Ahmad Zeidabadi, Mansour Esanloo, Masoud Baastani, and others, who are dear to me as my own sons, and who are clearly imprisoned because of their beliefs and political ideas, are illegally and unethically kept with prisoners who have committed great felonies (some of these felons of course are victims of this unjust system), and are subjected to directed pressure and pain. Some of these men are in danger of seriously and irreversibly damaging their physical and mental health.
It is so sad for me to see political prisoners experience such unjust, cruel, and unethical treatment that can irreversibly damage their health in a regime I helped create. Cruelties such as keeping the political prisoners with murders on death row or insulting women all so that they would break down and admit to uncommitted shameful crimes on national TV. I have been imprisoned and interrogated before and after the Islamic Republic; this situation is much worse than before.
I don’t understand why our rulers have completely forgotten about ethics and religion and have resorted to any means in order to protect their short-lived worldly powers. We haven’t forgotten the days before the Islamic Revolution when we criticized others by saying: “Ends don’t justify the means.”
I am a religous person who understands ethics as the main pillar and goal of religion, [and further a person] whose [common] prophet [with all of us] was chosen to his task to raise the standards of ethics. As such I am ashamed to live in times where sons, daughters, men and women of this society are arrested and tortured under the worst physical and psychological pressures and women are treated with the worst shameful disrespect. All to force them to commit to false confessions and to find them guilty because of the facts they speak and the truth they seek. and all in the name of God and religion.
Alas, “To Lie” which in our culture is recognized in our national and religous culture as amongst the worst sins, has now turned to a dominant trend of our times. Our authorities lie with the greatest exaggerations. They seek to stamp their hollow ambitions for our national and international interests in the minds of people of this nation by just repeating them over and over everyday and every night. Those people would not be decieved by such trickery and lies and in seminary schools of Quom religou leaders further unmask the liar. But unfortunately, they are still forcing men and women prisoners to lie, or else they would have to bear more intensified pressures or would be sent to exile. Dear almighty, where do I go to counsel my such pains and concerns, who would I go to?
I hope that if there’s anyone left among the authorities in the judiciary or the political establishment who would hear out my cries and would change something in the conditions of either the prisoners I named or any of the other nameless prisoners. At least for the sake of God, and their own after life so that families of victims would be saved from this torment that they have bear each day.
Dear God, as you were witness, the promise of the revolution to our nation was the governance of justice, like the justice that first Imam of Shitee, Imam Ali, created where his governance was strict to the people most close to him, and his mercy reached out to those of his enemies most distant from him.
This was the promise. What justice our government does in the name of Ali to the nation today however is going easy on whatever political, financial corruption and any theft and murderer that some people close to the officials commit in the banks, institutions, market, universities or Kahrizak and Evin prisons. They impose their stricness against blindfolded, handcuffed and innocent men and women who demand the goals and wishes of that very revolution [that created this government in the first place.] Oh dear Almighty, O saviour of hearts and minds, O guide of night and day, either transform our days, or else give me death.
April 10, 2010