-Ashraf Deghani

When I regained consciousness, I was being carried on a policeman’s shoulders in front of the Police Detention Center. As I began struggling to free myself, others grabbed my arms and legs. My head was free and I succeeded in biting the policeman’s ear. There was some commotion, somebody grasped my head. I passed out again.

Next time, coming round I found my hands tied to a bed. They had put a large open shirt on me that did not cover my body. Two policemen were flanking the bed, with a police officer* and two women were also in the room. Five people were guarding a harmless, tortured prisoner lying half-dead, unable to move and with hands bound! This is typical and indicative of the enemy’s panic and weakness in the face of armed struggle. I had done nothing to cause so much alarm and fear. They only knew that I belonged to an organisation determined to destroy the despotic regime and its mercenaries; an organisation that had successfully executed their chief thug; an organisation not held back by any fear; an organisation of devotees. How easy it was to see that what had induced so much fear in these mercenaries, what had destroyed their confidence in their regime and in themselves, is armed struggle.

They had created a powerful picture of me in their minds. I was told later that in the first few days the mercenaries of the Police Intelligence Department had been waiting in line to come in and take a look at the monster who had survived Evin without breaking. They had also speculated that I was a karate or judo expert, an untruth they had come to believe. Later, 1 heard one of the women jailers gossiping to a friend of hers, mocking an officer who, passing my bed, would keep a hand on his gun and walk a large semi‑circle not to get close!

Regaining consciousness, I first saw the two policemen sitting on either side of my bed. There was a dark hazy ring before my eyes. The policemen looked like ridiculous characters of a ‘horror’ movie. Then I saw a woman, “who is she? Is she one of the women who had many years before danced naked in front of Navab Safavi (10)?” (that is true; Safavi had apparently been very sensitive in this respect, suffering a violent nervous reaction; and the enemy had used this weakness). I swore at her, drenched with hate. The torturers had come into the room, and one of them was telling her “Don’t mind her, don’t be upset… she’s a little impolite but otherwise she is a good girl (!) … the poor girl has been misled, brain­washed you should look on her as your own child ….”

She began uttering ‘words of wisdom’. Their inept childish logic was unbearable. I decided to ridicule her, interrupting her: “I didn’t follow that”. She would explain again, I would nod in agreement from time to time. Everybody was elated: “Only a woman can tame a woman”. Then I would ask a question, forcing her to repeat most of what she had she had said. At last, she gave up.

Officers were walking in and out of the room almost constantly. I noticed that they were clumsily trying to draw my attention to their wristwatches, which they were displaying before me quite conspicuously. The two policemen in the room were trying to do the same, giving the game away and not far­ing much better than their superiors. They had presumably thought I was waiting for a certain hour before revealing the address, and it follows that they had put their watches for­ward. How feeble‑minded, how immeasurably frivolous. The whole idea was idiotic and the actors left a lot to be desir­ed. Besides, I was determined never to divulge the informa­tion they wanted and it was not a question of hours or days.

I knew that my comrades were immediately aware of my arrest. At the time, Comrade Behrouz was not too far away and could not have failed to notice the hue and cry. Furthermore, I was due to meet some comrades shortly after the time when I was seized. They had no doubt vacated our hideout, which was, after all, a temporary base of operation. The point was not to betray even the location of the empty house, in order not to add to the fallacy of the enemy’s omnipotence, not even in the minds of the people in the immediate neighbourhood. At this stage in the struggle, one of our main duties was to shatter the regime’s myth of invincibility. The enemy must be weakened, and it must be seen to be weakened. To go against this would be an unforgivable act of treason. To me, it was unimaginable ever to turn my back on the People’s glorious cause, let alone breaking in this, my first test of dedication.

My sister‑in‑law was brought in to plead with me. She was totally in the dark regarding our activities. The enemy had raided her house and had not even allowed her children to go to school to sit for their examinations. She was broken, on her knees: “What do they want of us Ashraf? Please tell them. Tell them what they want”. “Listen”, I said, “to what is involved”, and I recited: “With the head, held up high, One must live, and with the head, held up high, one must die. To the foe, one must never submit, and one’s life, and one’s all, one must give, for the cause, for freedom, for the freedom of people”(11)

Khatayi decided it is better to take her out.

They had forced a friend to come to me with a transparent, ludicrous pack of lies; “Pouyan had attempted to kill Behrouz. He will try again. In a letter to me, Pouyan says that a disagreement has developed between them, and that he is determined to rid himself of Behrouz”! What intellectual destitution! The lie does not only reflect their impotence of mind, but also the mercenaries’ murderous, unprincipled mentality: if you disagree, murder!

The ruffians also brought two of my brothers to my bedside. They did not have much to say. My little brother’s hands were swollen and his face was bruised and scarred. The other one had also been beaten up. Perhaps the Shah’s rogues were trying to tell me that they have arrested all the members of my family, or, maybe they did not even know why they brought my brothers there!

When a friend or a relative was brought in, I would ridicule the enemy’s ‘leaders’ and ‘generals’. Pointing at the villains I would say “Look at them. These parasites can only exist if they can suck the blood of the likes of us. They can only exist if, and as long as, we allow them to. We must not let them continue their criminal life….” One of the jailers, a shrew of a woman, who was vainly trying to appear in control of the situation, would on such occasions attack me furiously, grabbing my hair, which was long, jerking my head vigorously and slapping me until my nose bled. For a while she did this every day.

That night they talked about an injection and a syrup that would make one talk involuntarily. I mocked them: “Yet another childish ploy? If one is truly determined not to talk, nothing can break one’s resolve. Still, if you have such a medicine, why did you not use it to begin with? Would you not have obtained the information sooner that way?”! The answer was typically stupid: “But it is expensive, we can’t use it for everybody”! I was, however, concerned about the possible effects of a drug, because, as a child, I used to talk in my sleep. The thought of talking under sedation was unbearable. No, I should not do that. I was trying to forget the address and the names of the few comrades known to me. I would divert my thoughts to other things. I was seriously concerned. They brought some milk, but I could hardly drink it because of the wound caused by the fork when I had rammed it in my throat.

A herd of officers had gathered around my bed, insisting that I should drink the milk. I was suspicious and, besides, their aim was to keep me alive and, at some stage, make me talk. I had to frustrate their efforts.

To me, revealing any secrets to the enemy was such an atrocious and repugnant crime, and even the thought of committing such a crime was so far from my mind, that I could not imagine for one moment talking as the enemy willed. I decided to commit suicide and rob the hoodlums of any hope of extracting the slightest information from me. Furthermore, I considered my action would be of propaganda value.

Next morning they again brought me milk, which I refused. First, they calmly insisted I should drink it. Gradually, their tempers rose, the shrew did her slapping stunt again, to no avail. Finally they relented and left the room, saying, “We are not going to let you die. You can be sure of that. We’ll get food into you even if we have to force it up your….”

Later a physician came in with a container of glucose to feed me intravenously. I swore at him. He responded coolly: “Why do you attack me? I’m not a torturer, I’m a doctor. I go to many government departments, this is one of them.” I blasted out at him again: “Shame on you. Accomplice of murderers, venal filth serving the murderous regime and its evil aims. Witnessing crime and remaining inactive is a complicity, let alone actively serving the criminals….”

When he came close, I kicked him and his assistant. The woman and the policemen came in and tried to hold me. Later others also joined in. At last the physician managed to give me a few injections and glucose feeding got under way.

I refused to take food for thirteen days and they had to feed me intravenously every day after a struggle. I had heard that the entrance of air into the vein could be fatal and hence I tried to force the physician into a mistake, struggling particularly hard when he was entering the needle into my vein. I later realised that it does not work, I kept up the struggle not to submit to their will, and not to make their task easy.

Physically, I felt extremely weak, drowsing most of the time, not knowing how many days had passed. The room would often fill up with uniformed thugs. Generals would come in their absurd uniforms, trying to talk me into submission, presumably hoping to overwhelm me with the ‘might’ of those scraps of metal gained not because of bravery, leadership quality, etc., but for flattery, for lack of any qualities, for servitude. Their underlings would stand to attention, like slaves who had accepted inferiority, at a cheap price. They all looked so ridiculous, I did not even have to make any special effort to mock them and describe their true nature and value. It would all happen automatically, without any effort. They would talk for a while, then, with their ‘dignity’ and ‘values’ harshly but objectively questioned before their subordinates, they would invariably cut short their ‘speeches of wisdom and authority’ and leave the room concluding: “This girl is crazy”. They also had a so‑called psychiatrist who had officially declared me insane!

from Torture and Resistance in Iran-1973


(11)[Quoting] Nguyen Van Troy: A Vietcong revolutionary worker shot in 1968 for having plotted to execute the U.S. Ambassador in Vietnam.


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