Lotfollah Meisami in an Interview:

Tortures started in 1963 in Ghasr Prison

Mahdi Fatehi Translated by: Asghar Abutorabi


Q: Please tell us about your first arrest and imprisonment. How did it happen that you were taken to Ghasr Prison?

I was first arrested because of my activities related to Freedom Movement and its leaders’ court procedures in 1963. After the arrest of one of my friends who was bringing me a collection of political leaflets from Isfahan, I was arrested. I was in prison from winter 1963 to summer 1964 in Ghasr Prison and a short period in temporary detention of police. I was arrested again in summer 1971 in which many members and leaders of Mujahidin Khalq Organization were arrested too. I was caught in 23 August. Perchance I had a special party the night before in which I was supposed to get married. That night when I was informed that Monsour Bazargan had been arrested, I felt the likelihood of my arrest and just for this reason the party was cancelled. I was arrested the next morning in my wedding dress. They sent me to Ghezel Ghaleh Prison and after a short time to Evin Prison. I was sentenced to two years of imprisonment. I was freed in 1973 and then again arrested in 1974.

Q: Prior to the imprisonment of Nehzat-e Azadi (Freedom Movement) leaders in Ghasr Prison, was any one of political prisoners sent there?

Ghasr Prison was apparently built in Reza Shah Period. As far as I know some political prisoners were sent to Ghasr Prison in 1960s. Some members of Tudeh Party of Iran were imprisoned in Ghasr. In 1962, prior to Land Reform referendum in which the leaders of second National Front and Freedom Movement were arrested, figures like Ayatollah Taleghani, Engineer Bazargan and Dr. Sahabi were taken to Ghasr Prison. Navab Safavi was jailed in Ghasr Prison for a while too.  But after May 1963 many of those arrested in demonstrations were sent to Ghasr.

 Q: Please explain the situation of political prisoners in jail and the atmosphere dominating there in your first arrest in 1963?

Before May 1963, national and religious forces who were fighting legally were not tortured in case of arrest. None of the national and religious forces were tortured in 1960 to 1962. That was the usual trend. But after May 1963 torture was widely used.

Q: How did the scientific and theoretical conflicts between political prisoners aroused?

Ghasr Prison was considered as the central and the mother prison and political prisoners from different prisons were sent there. Each prison had its own special issues and prisoners sent to Ghasr Prison brought these issues with themselves. This created some groupings and stirred some tensions.

Conflicts between religious and irreligious prisoners evoked some problems for both sides and sometimes ideological conflicts were shaped among groups, which was really hard to resolve.

Q: What were your daily activities in prison?

We performed both our noon and night prayers in group regularly which had positive reflections outside of the prison. Each day one of us was the prayer leader and another one was assigned to read Quran and other prayers and their Persian translations. We had divided other works like cleaning and sweeping among ourselves too and did them periodically. Everybody should wash the dishes in his turn. We were taken to public bath of the prison once a week in which we washed our clothes too.

Prison was a safe place for us with breakfast, lunch and dinner. We could exercise in the mornings and evenings. There were Ping-Pong table, cold and hot shower, a good amount of books and also an archive of Keyhan and Ettellaat newspapers.

We ordered our activities in such a way that we had no free time even to write a letter for our families. Everybody read books hurriedly. The younger generation sent to jail was less informed so they read many books there. Everybody just thought about fighting and not anything else. All prisoners were consistently full of motives and excitements.

Q: How did the families of the prisoners get along? Did they have any activities? How were they in contact with you?

It was a very bad situation for the families who wanted to meet their prisoners. They should stand in a long line from morning to noon or afternoon to meet their prisoners. We heard different news from outside during these meetings. We were asked to tell all news to a specified person so that he could make a bulletin. There was always a police standing when we visited our families to prevent exchange of political news, but we were expert in exchanging news and information.

Q: How did other prisoners treated political prisoners after interrogation? Did you ever protest? What were the reactions to your protests?

Prisoners were tortured mostly just after arrest and during interrogation. This happened after 1971 in Komiteh Moshtarak prison. But when we entered the public ward, everything was normal and stresses decreased. Before my entrance into Ghasr Prison, a successful hunger strike was fulfilled and police had accepted the prisoners’ conditions. Prison regulation was in favor of the prisoners but mostly it was not observed by police.

Persian Source: http://oral-history.ir/show.php?page=notions&id=204


<p dir="\&quot;ltr\&quot;" style="\&quot;text-align:" right;\"="">Mehrnameh, No 27, December 2012, pp: 111-112

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