Mandatory Passing Score

Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


Although I could stay for a longer time in London, I decided to come back to Iran when I finished my studies in England at the beginning of 1353 SH (1974). Patriotism obliged me not to stay abroad for even one extra day. I had to follow two important tasks when I would arrive Iran. First going to military service, then finding a job. After many searches, finally my application was accepted for teaching 36 months in Ghazali Graduate School, a private university, instead of going to military service. After the administrative procedures, I was told I have to be there two days a week round the clock and teach. At the same time, I started to work for an international counting firm called “PwC”. This firm had branches in 90 countries and its main activity was accounting services for companies and private and governmental institutions.

H1 of educational year had been finished and I should give an exam. I noticed in the first day of exams that a strange was among my students and was writing. I went fast, stood near him, and said, “Sir, you have not been my [Ahmad Hatami] student and I had not seen you in the classes. Sarcastically, he said, “First speak with registrar then decide! Having been surprised, I went immediately the registrar office and inform him about the issue. He who was fully aware of the issue said, “he registered but was absent in the classes. I said, “according to the circular, being absent for four sessions means being banned from the exam! When he saw I was serious he hesitated and said, “Now, you allow him to take his exam and then decide about him.

I climbed down somewhat and returned to the exam session.  When the session was over and I collected exam sheets, I noticed first his sheet. He even got a score 1 out of 20. His score was zero. When the registrar heard this, he talked peremptorily with me and said, “You must give him an “A” score. I said, “Why? Why should I do it?” He said, “He was ordered by the court to attend in exams and get passing scores, of course the best score. I couldn’t accept it anyway, so I said, “This is neither according to the university’s criteria nor in accordance with regulations of the court. Having been shocked with my intelligent answer, shook his head and looked at me surprisingly. Suddenly, my attention was drawn to a full-length photo of Shah, which was placed on the desk of the registrar, and next to it, words of the Shah could be seen in a very beautiful handwriting:

“I give you an advice teachers of primary and secondary schools, and masters of universities: Do not be easygoing in scoring anyone so that scientific and cultural level of the country improves.” I said, “This quote is on your table but you act otherwise. He didn’t expect I have such treat, and said flounderingly, “Sir, he has been recommended by the court and he is Crown prince’s Karate couch! I said, “I don’t care these words. His score is zero. I told this and left the room. I knew well that this may cause some trouble for me. On one hand, my activities in Islamic associations of students in England, on the other hand, capture of some of my militant friends, and this time a dispute in the university.

In those days, PwC assigned me to audit balance sheet and accounts of “Pepsi Cola” Company. One morning, my wife called my workplace and told: “A few minutes ago someone nocked the door. I asked the person behind the door what do you want. He said, I am water meter reader. I also opened the door while I was alone and the land lord was not also at home. As he entered he asked some questions; are your upstairs neighbor at home? I guessed he must be a police and came after you, so I pretended that I am the land lord and said, “No, they all went to Mashhad. Having asked some other questions, he told, “I am SAVAK agent, be careful nobody knows something about this conversation otherwise we fix your wagon.

I promised him I will tell nothing to anybody.

I told my wife: “Where are you now?” She said, “I am at a pay phone.” Internally, I admired my wife for her cleverness and guided her to go as soon as possible to the house of one of our family friends and stay there.

It was the third day that I had went underground but I went to my workplace regularly so that they would not suspect. That day, I was auditing cases of Pepsi Cola Co. that the security guard informed me that a man named Mohseni has something to do with me. When I heard this name I was sure they had come to capture me; because there was nobody with this name among my friends or relatives. There was no way to escape, I looked around through the window. Several agents had surrounded the building. Inevitably, I told the guard to send them. After some minutes, two persons entered my room and captured me.

A white Peykan Taxi with two persons in it waited for me in front of the building. They seated me in the rear seat and the car moved. The two agents who sit on both sides of me took my head down so that I could see nowhere; they roamed in the city for about one hour and finally entered the Anti-Sabotage Joint Committee. It was February 2, 1975 and just one day ago, I had enrolled the zero score of the Crown prince’s Karate coach.

It was 11 a.m. that the Paykan entered the building when a big irony door was opened. My head was still at down due to pulling by hand of the agent who had sit at my right side and I could just see my shoes. The car stopped in the yard and the four agents and I got out of the car. The first thing that I saw was huge brick walls that had surrounded there. I entered the building while one of the agents kept on hitting my back and directed me to go straight. In the same ground floor, I went in a room that a person had stood next to some metal wardrobes. I immediately realized there was cloakroom of a famous prison named the Anti-Sabotage Joint Committee. After undressing and wearing a uniform dress, I accepted I was in jail.

I followed an agent who had worn military uniform and sound of his boots resonated in the salon. A rather young officer had stood in front of the metal gate; he opened it while it sounded the voice which is specific for prison cells, pulled me without saying anything, slammed the door and left. The cell was so dark that I could see for a few minutes only darkness; when my eyes got accustomed to the available dim light, I saw I was in a very small stall. A small knob at the bottom of the wall caught my attention. When I touched it well, I realized it was head of a water pipe that was located in the wall; a wall that had been covered with a new stucco and its white color showed that it differed sharply with the opposite wall. A little reflection was needed to find out that they jailed me in a place that formerly had been a toilet; it seemed the available cells weren’t sufficient for the latter captures of SAVAK and they had to use toilets as solitary confinement.

Once a strange anxiety involved all my being. Indeed, SAVAK arrested and imprisoned me! All the words that I had heard in the past few years about SAVAK and the torture of its torturers flashed in my mind like a bolt of lightning. Torture, blood, screaming and yelling, all of them horrified me strange weirdly. Until that day, I had not gone to the police station even once. But now I was in the solitary cells of one of the most horrific security organizations in the world; as I was thinking about the bitterness I would encounter, suddenly my eyes fell on the tiny lines that had been engraved on the cell wall. I sat on my knees and put my face close to the wall to see better. Suddenly, a strange anxiety involved all my being. A few verses from the Holy Quran were written on the freshly plastered wall with special skill and elegance. The peace that I felt after reading those verses is indescribable; all what I know is that it was a refreshing breeze that took away all my fear. Next to the verses, there were a number of diagonal and parallel lines that indicated passing of hard days of solitary confinement; lines that the previous prisoner had spent the best days of his life to draw each of them.

According to the clock I had in my mind, the night had come. I was spending one of the cold nights of February 1975, without any mat and any means to warm me at least a little.

The midnight was over but I couldn't sleep. Even if I might go to sleep, the cold would prevent. There was a strange silence. Suddenly, the sound of a pair of boots hitting the floor of the hall broke the silence; the sound was getting closer and closer.

My heart was beating so fast as I could hear it clearly. The closer the sound, the faster my heart beat; the sound of footsteps and the sound of my heart became mixed in such a way that I was no longer able to distinguish them. I didn’t know whether my heart was beating faster or it was the sound of boots coming towards me faster. At once, the sound of the door latch overpowered both voices. I got up involuntarily and stood in front of the door. When the door opened, a wave of light shone inside the cell, but it didn't take long that a formidable shadow to appear on the threshold of the door, followed by a fat and scary figure entering the cell. I tried to see the newcomer's face better in that darkness. The first thing that caught my attention the most on his face was the bushy mustache that had grown to near his parotid. I gazed at his unshaved face when a thick voice came out of his throat. The sound was not too terrible for me. Because I had already prepared myself that such a harsh voice would arise from such body.

-What is your name?

-As I prepared myself to answer, suddenly my mind searched in the past, where have I seen this face? This is very familiar!!

Yes! He is himself! He was like Stalin; with the same figure, the same mustache! Spontaneously, I remembered the terrible crimes of Stalin. All this happened in less than 5 seconds and it was time to answer his question before he got angry.

-My name is Ahmad Hatami.

-Why did you come here?

- I’m at a loss for words, I didn't come myself, they brought me here!!!

I was waiting to hear the next question when he walked out of the door without saying a word and after closing the door he walked away from the cell with the same rhythm as before. The first night in prison was very difficult. I jumped when I heard the slightest sound and I waited all the time for them to take me for interrogation. But nothing happened and I entered my first Thursday in prison without any incident.

The only thing that happened that day was the opening and closing of the cell door which happened around noon. This time, the guard threw a ziloo (a woven shoe) into the cell, which was tantamount to a carpet for me. In that desert, a shoe companion was really a booty, and this discolored ziloo could reduce the cell's coldness a little. Another 24 hours passed. On Friday morning, there was a lot of noise in the hall. My curiosity was greatly aroused; I wanted to know what happened. It didn't take long that the door of my cell was also opened, and the guard entered his head and neck into the cell and said in a harsh tone:

-Take a shower!

I didn't think that I would stay in prison for long, so I confidently turned to the guard and said:

- I don't need; I will have a shower when I arrive home! Ignoring my words, the guard closed the door and went. Then, the prisoners made a queue for taking a shower, and again silence reigned everywhere.

When Saturday arrived, I prepared myself for the interrogation. I was sure that after three days of my arrest, they will definitely visit me today. Particularly that Saturday was the first day of the week and the interrogators, after the holidays, were ready to pressurize the defendants with more energy.

It appeared they were in no hurry to interrogate me. Because they had been monitoring all my activities for some time and they knew very well that I had neither an important appointment nor any information that would be lost over time. For this reason, they interrogated me many times during my 11-month being in prison of the Joint Committee.


Source: Ghiathian, Saeed (2009) Prison Diaries: A Selection of the Untold Stories of Political Prisoners of the Pahlavi Regime [in Persian: Khaterat-e Zendan: Gozidehi az Nagogtehaye Zendanian-e Siasi-e Regim Pahlavi. Tehran: Sooreh Mehr Publications, pp. 59-66.

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