The Difference between Joint Committee Prison in 1978 and Early 1970s

Compiled by: Islamic Revolution Website
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad


We had not yet left Tehran [to Qom in September 1978]. I think we had just reached Qiyam Square or Shush Square, the street was very busy and we were driving slowly. Some cars honked repeatedly. There were days when martial law was established and they did not allow several people to gather together. Our account was completely separate, with four people in one car and all wearing turbans!

     We were still in the crowd of that square and that crowd when I saw someone knocking hard on the trunk. I looked behind my head in the mirror; Thinking that a car is going from one side or the other and its driver is hitting the trunk of the car, I didn't pay attention and continued on my way. That person hit the car again repeatedly. With this incident, the friends in the car, who noticed the matter, said to me: "Sir, stop!" You have been ordered to stop. The officers are martial law" I just realized the issue. I slowly stopped the car on the side of the street and before I wanted to get out, I saw that the car was surrounded by officers. One of the officers put his pistol on my temple and yelled at me: "Why didn't you hold it? Shall I shoot an arrow in your head?" "I didn't notice you at all," I said, "I thought people were normal." In short, they took us to the police station and stopped the car, and turned the trunk and the inside of the car upside down. As we had no furniture, everything belonged to Mr. Hojjati. They found the leaflets on the sides of Mr. Hojjati's furniture. We all wondered: What is this?! The officers saw the announcement and said: "Yea, whose are the leaflets?" Now, the content of the leaflets is criticism of the Shah from beginning to end. Meanwhile, Mr. Hojjati said: "The leaflets are mine." He had not yet finished speaking when they rushed towards him so that the turban fell off his head. They arrested him and took him to the police station and told us: "Lock the car door and come to the police station." We entered the police station. We sat in a corner to see what the assignment was. Some time passed, and there was no news; We found out that our trip has been canceled and we are staying here. A friend called to have someone come and deliver the car to its owner. I don't know whether Mr. Kafashzadeh came to take the car himself or someone else, but whoever came, he also took Abdul Majid Maadikhah's son with him. Hassan was small and cried a lot. They took the child and sent us to the detention center. We were in the detention center until 9:00 p.m., and except for a short question and answer, no one had anything to do with us and we did not know our duty. After that, they put us in a car and took us to the prison of the Joint Committee. At that time, the streets were very quiet. The military regime had silenced the streets as if there was no one in the city.

       Soon we reached the prison of the joint committee. As soon as we entered the committee, we saw Manochehri. Do Manouchehri was in the Pahlavi regime prisons. One was in Evin prison, who was the famous torturer, and one was Manochehri of the joint committee. He liked to be called the doctor. He had a confused look on his face. He was wearing neat and ironed clothes and his hair was long, like the average people of that time. I didn't recognize him at first, but I saw that Maadikhah was nice to him. I said to him: "How familiar is his face?" He said: "Don't you know him? He is Dr. Manouchehri!" The conditions were different. Neither he, nor the joint committee, nor even the regime, had any more significance for me. Whatever it was, it had collapsed. The situation of the regime was very bad and finally desperate, and this desperation was also transferred to prison. After this encounter, in the first room, we went to, the clothes and everything we had with us were taken over and they gave us a set of prison clothes and we became prisoners of the Joint Committee!

      We were sent to ward 6 in a cell. As I mentioned, the state of the regime was so messed up in the second half of 1978 that I remember someone shouting from inside the joint committee cell: "Open the cell door!" Tell your boss to take a course and see if it's over! Do you think it is still the last years?! I remember that in the prison of the joint committee, they put a TV so that the prisoners could watch TV; A place where until a few months ago, paper and pens were forbidden, and if they took such things from a prisoner, it would cost him dearly. During the few weeks I was incarcerated there, we saw many different people in Ward 6. Mr. Muftah, Mr. Seyyed Javad Hashtroudi who used to preach in the Imam Hossein Square Mosque in Tehran, Moghadam Maragheh who became the first governor of Tabriz after the revolution, engineer Gholamreza Arbabi who had English classes and the national television advertised his English classes and said: Learn full English in five hours!" Later it turned out that he was a member of the Tudeh party. Among the other people I saw in the prison of the committee, Mr. Sheikh Abbas Ali Sarfarazi, the prayer leader of the Jafari Mosque in Geisha, and three of Behbahan's scholars; One of them was Mr. Mousavi, whose first name I do not know, one was Imam Juma Behbahan, and the name of the third person was probably Mr. Maadi; Agha Sheikh Yahya Nouri was also arrested after the 7th of September cases and he was detained separately from us.

      Another issue that happened in the Joint Committee Prison, which showed that changes had occurred outside the prison, and the consequences of which affected the joint committee and perhaps other prisons, was the issue of meeting prisoners. Until now, in the joint committee, there was no topic called the meeting of the prisoner with his family. The meeting that happened to me and I mentioned it was a consultation of some relatives and acquaintances with high-ranking Turkish-speaking officials, otherwise, there would have been no meeting in the prison of the Joint Committee, but by this time the procedure had changed and I met my wife, who was in Tehran. Our first child was one or two months old when my wife swaddled him and he came to visit me, and we met together.

      We used to know some of the political events and developments outside the prison from TV news. When the TV started the news and read news from the king with the phrase that His Majesty the Emperor said such and such, we would laugh and the guards, who were still biased towards the regime, would leave the place in anger.

      The news outside the prison was easily received, it was not like in the past when the prison did not know about the prison and the cell did not know about the cell. I remember that we heard the news of Imam Khomeini's migration from Najaf to Paris in the prison of the Joint Committee. The news was so special that we felt excited and amazed. His enthusiasm is understandable, but his surprise was because we felt that something was happening and that the Imam's struggle and movement had entered a new stage. The news was strange and somewhat unusual for us. We didn't have enough information about how things happened, so we couldn't analyze properly; That much we knew and felt that a transformation was taking place. The fact is that I cannot express all the feelings and understanding that I had that day, it is also difficult to describe. But I remember telling my friends that this is not normal. I was thinking about this issue and I believe that the migration of Imam Khomeini from Najaf to Paris was an unusual thing and must be a divine thing.

      I don't remember much about the prison of the Joint Committee, except for periodic visits inside the prison and things like that. I was interrogated a few times. The last time I protested to the interrogator and said: "What was the reason for our arrest?" Why did they bring us here? Why are they planning to release us now?" He had no answer to give! And finally, on the 19th or 20th of October 1978, after forty-one days, they released us without any preparations. Perhaps the officials of the Joint Committee Prison knew that with the events that are happening, it is not important to keep such a place secret anymore. They didn't close our eyes or move us to another place. That day, I found out where the prison of the Joint Committee is located in the city of Tehran, of course, I knew about that area before and in April 1974 when I was arrested. Because I remember hearing the call to prayer in the morning from inside my cell and once when I asked the prison guard: "Where is this call to prayer?" He said: "The sound of the call to prayer is from Majd Mosque, which is located right behind." I found out where I was in prison, but this time I recognized the streets around it and found out exactly where I was.


Source: Qobadi, M, Times Memorial: Memoirs of Seyyed Hojjat-ul-Islam Hadi Khamenei, Tehran, Surah Mehr, 2019, pp. 539-544.


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