My Black Night with Hassan Nahidi

Translated by: Zahra Hosseinian


2023-11-10


It was night when we drove from the prison to the SAVAK office.   with my head between my legs and my coat was thrown over my head, I had sat in the car. I was so anxious that I could hear my heart throbbing. I was very worried because I could guess what was waiting for me. In the meantime, there was an important and worrying issue, and that was that I had not said anything about Hassan Khamenei, Taha Abdakhodaei, and Hassan Jamehdari during the interrogations. Now, three months after my silence, Hassan and the rest of the arrested people were exposed on that day. At first, those three had thought that they had leaked through me and had brought my name; while they had leaked through someone else. It cost me dear, and made everything hard.

Even though I knew they took me to kill me, I tried to keep up appearances. Indeed, I played dumb and asked those who came to transport me: "Do they want to release me, don’t?" They replied: "We don’t know." I asked: "Do I have a visitor, don’t have?" They answered: "We don’t know." Whatever I asked, they only said: "We don't know."

Reaching the office, we entered. I saw Nahidi was walking in the yard with great discomfort, as we just entered the office. In the winter of 1973, the weather was very cold, and my one piece of clothing normally could not keep me warm. But, because I was very anxious, I did not think about anything, not even the cold, except that I will be interrogated. "Hello Mr. Nahidi, do you want to release me?" I got out of the car and asked. When I said this, he rushed to me and swore me. "Because of you, I received a letter of reprimand from Tehran," then he said, "should I release you?! Wait and see what I do! I’ll kill you tonight!" in response to his words, I said: "Well, you want to kill me, there you are, kill me." He replied: "No, I won’t kill you in such a way that they’ll make you a holy person. Now you see how I kill you." Kicking me, he dragged me into the office. Entering the torture room, I saw that all five interrogators were there.

I thought they would strip me as usual, but before that Nahidi wrapped his hand around my waist, lifted me up and took me under his arms; so that my upper body was above his ring of hand and my lower body was under it. He shook me; my guts were breaking apart and I was vomiting. I had a special feeling that I can't describe it; but it was still the first thing. Maybe he wanted to prepare me for other tortures. Before being arrested by Savak, I had heard the name of Colonel Sheikhan, but before it, I had never heard of Nahidi, and did not know him and his cruelty. Nahidi was a senior interrogator from Mashhad SAVAK. He was very awesome, tall, trained and robust. I used to describe him to my friends in this way: All birds, when they are on the ground and not flying, naturally walk; but sparrows jump on the ground, because they are strong and agile. In my opinion, Nahidi leaped, not walked. He was that well-trained, strong, and robust.

Nahidi let me go, and his colleagues took off my clothes without asking a question. Interrogators’ words were the same: "We just have to kill you." Then they started to torture me. One of torture was that they put handcuffs on my one hand and tied the other ring of the handcuffs to the bars of the window in the room, which was very high, and hung me cruciform. they sometimes, of course, hung me with one hand. This state of hanging and its pressure was so painful that a person is unable to express and describe the amount of its pain. Let me give you an example: Can a woman say how painful childbirth is? She can't. Neither can she say, nor can we understand. My status was almost similar to this example.

The interrogators were not satisfied with the amount of pain I suffered. To make my pain worse, they took my leg and lift me up, then let go of my leg all at once. In this position, my weight pressured hardly on my wrists with a shock, which was much more painful. For six months, my hands curled up and I couldn't face up my palms at all. Even when I wanted to write something, I held the pen with both palms and wrote with difficulty. When the torture was finally over that night and they took me down, I saw my hands were bruised so badly that as if they were not human hands. It was like I put on a pair of black gloves, because my hands suffered from ecchymosis.

The task of the torturers did not end here, and in the next step of the torture, they removed the handcuffs from my hands and tied them to my legs. Then they hung me upside down. Of course, it didn't take much, because there was a lot of pressure on the brain and it might lead to cerebral haemorrhage and death. They tortured only to the extent of putting some pressure and scaring. I just screamed against all these tortures.

Now it was the turn of my legs to be tortured. After they removed the handcuffs from my hands and brought me down, they whipped my feet with a cable. The tortures of that night continued with the loss of one of my teeth. Being interrogated and tortured by Nahidi, one of my front teeth fell out and injured my gums. Then they hung me again. Each of them asked something. Nahidi asked one question, Dabiri, Babaei, Barzegari and Masoudi each asked another question separately. I did not know which question to answer and what to do. In addition, during the torture, Mr. Masoudi thrusted a piece of paper into my mouth and said: "Look, Tavakli, we arrested all your comrades in Mashhad and Tehran. you're the only one who don't confess. The names of your friends were written on this paper that I thrust in your mouth." The pain was so intense that I kept shouting. Suddenly, some of the five interrogators who were in the torture room came forward and put out their cigarettes on different parts of my body, even on my most sensitive parts. My pain and screams increased more and more. These tortures lasted for hours. It was around 11:00 or 12:00 at night when I said: "I have a thousand friends. If you want, I’ll write out their names, but it won't help you." They asked: "Do you think which of them are useful for us?" I replied: "take me down to talk." They did it and I said: "I only know Hassan Khamenei and Taha Abdakhodaei." They said: "No, there are other people." I said: "and Hassan Jamehdari." They said: "Well, write out this." Despite those tortures, I didn't say anything at first, but the reason I said these names was because I was sure these three people have been arrested. Revealing these names by me, the interrogators calmed down a little and asked me to put on my clothes and they themselves went to another room.  I think it took me half an hour to get dressed. After they left, while I was busy getting dressed, I saw on the ground the same paper that Masoudi claimed contained the names of my friends who confessed was written on. I picked it up and opened it. It was blank. I found out that he wanted to bluff me. Of course, I could reveal the name of three people. I did not do more. It wasn't like I said everyone's name, because if I wanted to do so, there were a hundred people whose names I could say, but it wasn't our duty to say their name and I didn't either.

I say again that God gave me the bless that every time I was interrogated, I received a supernatural help. The first time, I saw Hamid Zhian, and I was sure that I should follow him one hundred percent. The second time, when Mohammad Afchei had been arrested, Ali Gozarseez was arrested first and Savak did not know that I also knew Ali. The third time, when Hassan Khamenei was arrested, I was helped the most. If I hadn't seen him, God forbid, I might have revealed the names of a hundred people, which would have been a disaster; because the torture and pressure was too much, and every person can bear it to some extent. There were, of course, some who were really strong in tolerating tortures and didn't say anything. To speak frankly, "I wasn't strong. As much as I was tortured, I had endurance."  

That night, they took me to another room for interrogation, sat me down at a table, and said: "Write!" They had put the papers on the table. I couldn't write, because my hands were bruised and swollen, and I didn't have the strength to write. Even though they witnessed that I was not able to write, but they kicked me saying: "Damn you, don't pretend you can't write!" Write out!" But I couldn't even pick up the pen. It was as if I could not feel my hands. I told myself that my hands will never get better. No matter how difficult it was, I tried to write. They tore up my writings several times, but I had to write again, until they finally accepted them. My most effective action was a behavior I showed towards Nahidi. Despite Nahidi was very angry and upset, I asked him: "Mr. Nahidi, do you want to release me?" as soon as I entered. By asking this question and pretending to ignorance, he didn’t think that I could know that Hassan Khamenei or others have been arrested. This was very important for both me and them. If they knew that I knew, they would have tortured me ten times more; but pointing to the very three names made them convinced that I have confessed and they were happy that they made Tavakoli to confess.

I didn't try to make the interrogators to be stubborn. I mostly wanted to go through the cases very simply, and I always tried to divert their thoughts; because I was afraid of myself. I thought that if they torture me too much, and God forbid, I open my mouth, it would be very terrible. So, I didn't try to take a stand against them. I showed flexibility so that they might be convinced. "Is it normal that you did this to me?" I always said, "I wanted to get marry, go and ask." I said assertively: "On the one hand, you say to get marry; on the other hand, you get me trouble like this?" Nahidi used to get very angry with these words. Therefore, I said theme when he was out. Dabiri was also very unscrupulous and scoundrel, but Masoudi, Barzegari and Babaei were less cruel than those two.​

 

 

Source: Zarif Karimi, Navid, Oral Memoirs of Mohammad Reza Sherkat Totunchi, Tehran, Rahyar Publication, 2020, pp. 115-121.



 
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