The memories of Ayatollah Gholamali Naeemabadi about several months of year 1353(1974)

That was my cell!

Mohammad Mehdi Abdollahzadeh
Translated by Fazel Shirzad


Note; Ayatollah Gholamali Naeemabadi was born in 1323 in Nemimabad, Damghan. He was arrested several times during the Pahlavi's government on charges of opposition to the Imperial regime, and as a result he spent eight months in the Joint Committee jail and spent 30 months in Qasr jail, flavor and imprisonment; he experienced Imprisonment and whipping. Ayatollah Naeemabadi is now Congregational Imam of province Bandar Abbas and the representative of the supreme leader in the province of Hormozgan. The following text is the result of an interview with him.

Mohammad Mahdi Abdullah Zadeh conducted this interview and gave it to oral history site of Iran.


Why were you arrested by SAVAK[1] for the first time?

Due to responsibility for religious obligation, after 1350(1971), Wherever I wanted to make speech from pulpit in Tehran, or whenever I read  the thesis of Imam Khomeini (RA) for people, I tried to promote the authority of the Imam Khomeini, which it was a major political offense at that time.

 I made speech in the different places of Tehran, but the pulpit of bridge cement mosque, Ayatollah Ghayouri's[2] neighborhood were the most important ones. Ayatollah Ghayouri was the ayatollah of that neighborhood and came to listen my speech. Every night, the mosque was full of people to listen my speech. The guys of Damghan also attended in there. My work was a type that made officials angry. SAVAK was also highly developed and available in all ways of people's life. When some meat (not slaughtered lawfully and it was carrion) was imported in Iran, they really wanted to sell corrupt and forbidden meat to people of Iran. At a formal meeting, I asked the people to fight against improper   action of the regime. So, as Gandhi said, in a negative fight, to people not to wear English dresses and not to use English fabrics, if you shouldn't use this dirty meat, you will be eventually won. Ordibehesht 1353, after finishing the lectures of months Muharram and Safar in Tehran, I went to Qom. After several days when I was leaving school at noon, Mr. [martyr] Sheikh Abbas Shirazi told me to come with him to bring my home. He had an old Peugeot known as a clerk Peugeot. When I got to the house, some persons knocked door soon. They said: "Sir, come!" We realized that they are agents of SAVAK. I went to the house to dress. One or two of them entered the courtyard to take care of me. I told my mom and wife in a few sentences that they were forces of SAVAK and chased me. "Do not worry and trust in the Lord!" My son Mohammad Reza was child. My mom had not seen these events. Though she was a heroine, she could not hide her worries. My wife was worried too. SAVAK was terrorizing the people by his behavior and torture; its name was fearful. When I went to street, two of three people, with plain clothe, surrounded me.

Our home was in the Rezai Alley, first pomp and Khak Faraj St. two rooms were located on the corner of the yard and one room was located at the entrance. The forces of SAVAK inspected in all the rooms and visited them carefully.

They had parked their car on the street; so we had to walk about 100 meters. At the end of the alley, when I turned my head back I saw that my wife took the hand of my four-year-old son, Mohammadreza, and following me. When I got on the car, two of them sat down both sides of me and move toward Tehran.

In the way, sometimes they spoke to scare me. For example, they said: "The tablecloth is prepared; we should use it.  We will receive everything we spend."


Where were you brought in?

There was daylight that we arrived in Tehran. In Tehran, I was immediately taken to the Joint Committee[3] and handed me over. I wore a cloak until I arrived in Tehran, but when we reached committee, I was forced to put out my cloak and got jail clothes dressed. They shaved my hair and beard; I looked like a prisoner. Then, my head was covered by a bag not to see and they took me away a little from this side and the other, and eventually I was put in a cell impolitely. It was like a dark grave, without any hole.

Before I was prisoned, there were two other people in that cell. One was a Marxist and another one was a serious and acute businessman. These two persons, in that tight and dark space, were my friends. It was a close climate. Even, the cellmates did not trust each other, so we tried to act conservatively.

After the revolution, I went there to see the position of that cell. That cell was located at the end side of right of the third prison, before common toilet.


Tell about your cell!

The size of this cell[4] was 145 by 320 centimeters. It has a two-wall iron door, in the size of approximately 60 cm by 170 cm, which a sheet of iron soldered on the hole of lock so that prisoners could not see the corridor. The corridor was about 30 meters long and one and a half meters wide. And on both sides of that cell were prisoners.

In the upper part of the cell, a hole was fitted as small as the diameter of a teacup which had a hinged lid on the outside and had a back door to be locked outside and the prisoners could not open the lid. When we had necessary work to do, we shouted or punched the door so that perhaps guards showed a mercy to us and open the lid and listen our words. Under this so-called window, there were other hole whose diameter was a bit larger than the needle and smaller than tube of pen. This hole was covered by a lid from outside. I think this hole was for the guards be able to watch inside the cell at any moment without prisoners seeing them. The cells belonged to women were in the same situation.

The floor of our cell was covered with nearly 20 by 20 yellow mosaics. The diameter of wall which was at the entrance of the cell was about 50 centimeters. On the opposite side of the entrance door to our cell, exactly on ceiling, there was a small window that was tied to the front of the iron railings. in those situations, window meant windowless! The room was lightened by a faint lamp was near the ceiling.

In this limited space, each prisoner's equipment consisted of a plastic glass and a bowl for eating, which, if needed, should be used more than twice a day as a sink in order to washed in the bathroom. In this prison, toothbrushes, towels, baths, soap, spoons, radios, TV, newspapers and etc. were a legend! Now, the place of this prison is known as an Example (Ebrat) Museum. The photos of the thousands people who were imprisoned there, in which they were tortured in extreme conditions, are installed on the walls. In this respect, it was named Joint Committee, which the SAVAK, King's[5] police and gendarmerie were working jointly! In fact, it was also called joint anti-sabotage committee to be kept from disagree over the division of trophies. It means, they wanted to fight against us, as saboteurs!


Tell about being investigated?

The second day I was taken to be investigated. Before leaving the cell, my head was covered by my shirt not to be able to see. Then I was being either pulled, pushed or punched. There were no ethical issues. Insulting, humiliating, disrespecting, abusing etc. were parts of their personality.

The investigative room had a disgusting smell. There was one investigator; there was a chair in the room and a cable on the investigative desk. an atmosphere of intimidation and fear, which at any moment would be able to resort to violence, was ruled the environment. Insulting, threatening and humiliating were for all. It means, it wasn't important to know what was his/her crime is and what s/he is accused of.

after a long silence, the investigator flattened his tie, and said:" " why did you say this nonsense words? Why did you encourage people to fight against regime? "It was not an acuteness to accept his words; I did not say a thing for any reason. These questions were repeated many times, and eventually it ended with their only reason i.e. cable and whipping! Those who experienced such tortures know what I'm telling well.

We were always waiting to take us for investigation. The investigation was being repeated every few days with repetitive questions, mainly with mental torture. For example, once my head was shaven and kept my forehead's hair as much as one palm. The forces of SAVAK tried to Kick, insult prisoners with their own words and style.  During this time, there were different investigators; I think they were Afshin and Hosseini Nami[6].

It was usual to hear the sounds of prisoners because they were being tortured all times. At midnight, when we were in deep sleep, we got up by the prisoners’ groan and wail and torturers' shouting. Purposely, the prisoners were being tortured at midnights in order to torture others mentally. The tortured prisoners came back limply from under tortures.

The prison of committee consisted of some rooms which were made around a circle in three floors. The investigative rooms or, better to say, torture rooms were located in the middle floor in order to torture one physically and others mentally. The diameter of yard was about 20 meters and rooms were located around it; the sound of prisoners could be heard well on all floors. The place of tortures was located lower floor where we were able to hear the sound of tortures. These sounds increased the climate of horror and intimidation.  

Those who was accused of making speech or an individual crimes were tortured in more different way than those who were related to secret and armed groups.



Some of speech were recorded; therefore, I was also tortured and insulted but not as much as those who were tortured deadly. The prisoners were in really insulting situation; their personality was within destructive tortures. Scurrility was abundant. The investigators and those who attended in there were obsessive, nervous, impolite and villain. They were in lack of humanity. They enjoyed of insulting, disdain and torture.


How long had you been imprisoned in Joint Committee?

Two months. The cell was dark. We could study there. Even, there wasn't any book at all. I was always thinking or praying to spend my time. The first arrestment was absolutely a death. No one had any news of us. all of news were forbidden completely, unless somebody had a familiar to inform his/her family that s/he was alive. We hadn’t any relation with my family for two months.

At the end of a floor, there were some toilets where we use them as bath[7] as well. It means, we wash our head by pitcher of warm water. The water was cold too. Two prisoners didn’t allow to go toilets at same time. they were afraid of transferring information. We didn’t see any other prisoners except the cellmates. We heard the sound of torture and whip. In addition men, I didn’t see sky, ground, sun and fresh air[8] there.  

There were different jailors. They didn’t talk to us and didn’t dare to answer us. We asked questions but they didn’t answer. Some of them tried kick and punch. Sometimes they cursed us. Generally, they had such behaviors. But some of them were flexible one. There was a soldiers who wasn’t a bad guy. Whenever he came there, he shouted: "tonight is my turn to stay; yo can shout as much as you like but in your heart!" humans show their different personality in different places.


Did they fear of those conditions?

Self-praise is not good. I never lost my mentality. I have never shown them humiliation, and never said "ouch" to them. I was famous for laughing in prison. Now, I'm living in such situation; whenever I find myself responsible for a work and I should choose a way, I will do whatever I want to do.  I can't remember to hold a fear of something. I tried to humiliate them by inattention and Islamic honor because If I show weakness it would mean I accepted the their humiliation.

I was completely unrelated to everyone. According one of noblemen, prison is the grave of alive persons. There was no any relation from outside to inside and vice versa.


Tell about your cellmate?

We, there persons, were living in one cell for two months. one of cellmate named Mr.Habibi, he was from Bohshehr. He was Marxist, and I hadn’t any news of him after revolution. After the victory of revolution, a person named Karimi expressed regret on TV to have a relation with Habibi. Karimi tried to annoy him and wrote a nonsense poem against him. Although he was a Marxist, I didn’t argue with him because it wasn’t time of argument under torture and whip. the poor man was waiting to be smacked.  He was on good behavior in those situations and stood the prison and its difficulties. I don’t have any bad memoir about him. He said:" I learned from Imam Ali (peace be upon him) that works are in two kinds: if it can be cured, otherwise wait! "His previous religious roots were still in his mind.  He avoided of unclean matters (Najis[9]) as much as possible.  He knew that he was a Shiah and apostatized, so he was Najis. In prison, religious friends were in two groups; one of them did not observe being Najis of Marxists, and believed that Najis is something else, and another group believed that Marxists were Najis.

My other cellmate was a businessman. Because of his interest in wife and children, he said: "I want to appeal to Hazrat Fatimah Zahra (Peace be upon her)." From morning to end of the night, he walked from one side of the cell to the other side of the cell and said: "Fatimah, Fatima, Fatima!" We accept the appeal, but it should be done in a painful way that awaken of a weak soul otherwise this is not a strength point, it's a disadvantage. I said to them, "Sir, we must endure anyway," he said: "is it possible that the investigator to be regret and release us from prison?" It's a bitter memory, I'm telling it now, I felt bad when I found him in a weak morality. I do not know whether he is alive or not. Honestly, the prison was a place of trial and experimentation, what was inside the people could be revealed.

I gained a so mental abrasion from him that no one could do it. That is why every time I remember the prison, he and his behavior bother me. Another day, he appealed to Imam Mahdi (peace be upon him). I do not want to say his name. He cried heavily. He was a person who showed himself outside as a revolutionist. For example, He always got late Ayatollah Taleghani on his car, but he ended the relation with him soon.

After two months, I concluded that investigation and imprisonment were not useful for them; I was said: "Do not interfere in politics and go! Tapes were documents against me; my speech were recorded on the pulpits. When I came out of jail, I only had enough money to take a car to go my father's house in Tehran." I took a car and went to my house quickly. My family became very happy. My mother was in Qom. I went Qom fast and I visited my mother and family. My mother narrated that yesterday she was very upset because I was as a hope and haven for her life. She said: "I went to the shrine of Masoumeh (peace be upon her) and appealed her; as if I was told heartily that your son would be released.

In those days, there was not good climate under the influence of the king's regime. Some of revolutionary activities were condemned and king's forces said: "mullah! It's fine! Why do you interfere in government? Go and tell your homilies!" Of course, some people did not think so and respect revolutionary people.


[1] The secret police, domestic security and intelligence service of Pahlavi regime

[2]Ayatollah Ghayouri was one of the clerics who played a significant role in accompanying Khomeini's movement, endurance of imprisonment and years of exile. He was a known student of Ayatollah Boroujerdi and Ayatollah Khomeini (RA). Sarabandi Mohammad Reza, Miranda Mehr, Memoirs of Ayatollah Seyed Ali Ghayouri, Center for Islamic Revolution Documents, 2007, pp. 25-57)

[3] The king's regime created a new joint anti-sabotage committee with constabulary, gendarmerie, SAVAK and the second army in mid-1350 to maintain and coordinate the struggle against the opposition groups and repression of them quickly. (Kazemi Mohsen, Memoirs of Ahmad Ahmad, Sura Mehr Publications, Vol. 4, 2004, p. 283).  

[4] Around the building of the committee where were in cylindrical shape, was surrounded by investigative rooms. There were four separate prison with 86 cells, in the size of one and a half by two and a half meters, and two general prison with 18 cells of 30 square meters. In these prisons, five people could be kept three. Carpet or rug were used in there. They were covered by a layer of dirt or blood. The lack of air condition, lack of adequate light, smoke and black walls created an intolerable atmosphere. (Hassanpour Qasem, Torturers Say, Ebrat Museum Publication, Vol. 4, 1999, p. 56).

[5] Mohammadreza Shah Pahlavi

[6] Mohammad Ali Sha'bani, known as Dr. Hosseini, the investigator and torturer, was born in Golpayegan in 1302. After establishing of Anti-Sabotage Committee in 1351, he was transferred there. After the victory of the revolution, when his house was besieged, he committed suicide with a bomber weapons. (Hassanpour Qasim, Torturers Say, Ebrat Museum Publication, Vol. 4, 1999, p. 87)  .

[7] It was only possible to go to the bathroom with the permission of investigator and once a week just for five minutes, and there were some prisoners not allowed to take shower in jail for more than four months. (Hassanpour Qasem, Torturers Say, Eberth Museum Publication, Vol. 4, 1378, p. 58)

[8]The Inside of cells was full of putrid and unpleasant smell due to the tightness of space and dirty carpets and blood of hands and feet. Sometimes, going to the bathroom was allowed so belatedly that tortured and patient prisoners, even with his cellmates, forced to use a plastic pitcher, which could sometimes be left in the cell, to get rid of urine. (Shahed Yaran Monthly, No. 39, Interview with Jalal Rafi).

[9] In Islamic law, Najis are things or persons regarded as ritually unclean.

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