Troublesome letters

Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan


In Shahrivar 1350 (September 1971), the SAVAK arrested more than 90% of the members of the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) in a night raid. The rest were arrested in the months of Mehr and Aban of the same year (October and November). Therefore, in 1350 (1971), the MKO was dealt a heavy blow by SAVAK. When this news was reflected in the society, it naturally brought many reactions. At that time, the MKO members were seriously respected by the majority of fighters (especially religious fighters). Within the Islamic Society of Engineers, many people had the same interest in the organization and there were discussions about the need to help them.

Perhaps, the first person who raised this issue seriously at the meeting of the Islamic Society of Engineers was Mohammad Ali Raja’ee. In addition to teaching in Kamal High School and Karamooz Industrial School, he was also a member of the Board of Directors of Refah School. Refah School was managed by Mrs. Pouran Bazargan (Hanifnejad's wife) and Dr. Bahonar and many of the personalities I mentioned in Karamooz Industrial School were also active there. The connection between the financial benefactors, who were mainly religious and bazari figures, and the pious and religious specialist forces formed in these schools, caused some people to collect financial aid for the MKO. Moreover, a proposal was made that the MKO should be supported through the pressure of public opinion abroad. Naturally, this work had to be done by friends from abroad. Engineer Ezzatollah Sahabi prepared a letter for friends abroad, and since I was abroad for several years and had contact with friends abroad, they gave me the letter to send to them. I gave the letter through my brother (Abdullah Tavasoli) to a passenger who was going to Germany, so that he could mail it to the address of Sadegh Qotbzadeh. At the same time, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani wrote a similar letter to be sent to Mr. Khomeini in Najaf through Sadegh Qotbzadeh. Later, we found out that these letters were leaked from Mr. Qotbzadeh's mailbox. The SAVAK didn't know who sent the letters, but they came after me at the very first step.

On 19th of Mehr 1350 (October 11, 1971), a number of SAVAK agents stormed our house and arrested and took me to Evin Prison. I was detained in the western part of the complex of the prison, which today is called "One Hundred and Twenty-Five". This part was newly built at that time and had very moist cells. I was considering the possibility that I had been arrested for the letter, but I still wasn't sure. In the first few sessions, Dr. Manouchehri was my interrogator. Of course, this was his nickname and later I found out that his real name is Azqandi. He interrogated me for two or three times about the letter and how it was sent, and I said that I had no information and pretended that I was not informed at all.

After they made sure that they could not get a confession from me, they detained Mr. Asadullah Khaledi as I found out later. He had just returned from Germany and they thought that he might know while he was not informed at all. Since he was not mentally prepared for this arrest, he faced a lot of difficulties and some problems happened that he was put under severe pressure and went through a difficult period.

After realizing that they could not get anything from him, they arrested Mr. Engineer Sahabi. He had thought that he was arrested because of my confession, so in the very first interrogation, he told everything and explained that we wrote a letter to help the MKO and gave the letter to so-and-so and it was sent. He told me these explanations later when we were in the same cell with him.

One morning when it was very cold, Hosseini, who was actually the head of the prison and the torturer there, violently pulled me out of the cell and took me to the interrogation room and said: "Didn't you send the letter?"

I said: “No! which letter?”

He said: “Didn't you send it?”

I said: “No!”

Then they dragged me to the basement located in the opposite part and laid me on the bed and tied my hands and feet and Hosseini started whipping me. The whip was very thick and very heavy. Maybe after the fourth or fifth whip, I fainted and fell into a coma. It was said that this was a scientific method that they used and in the same state of coma, they repeated the same question: Did you not send the letter? Didn't you send the letter? so that what is in the mind comes out unconsciously.

I also answered in that state: Yes, I sent, and thus, after confessing, I was taken to the interrogation room while I was unconscious.

After regaining consciousness, they again asked me to complete the confession.

I said: Yes, I sent it through my brother Mr. Abdullah. But I didn't know what the letter was about? They gave me a letter and I sent it, but I didn't think it was what you wanted.

When I confessed, my file was completed and the interrogation was finished, and the file went through its normal administrative procedure until I was sentenced to 3 years in the first court and one year in prison due to the special circumstances that had arisen in the second court. Anyway, I spent a year in prison.

After getting a confession from me, they took me to cells 125 and did not torture me anymore; they tortured to get a confession. After getting a confession, torture was no longer an issue. For a while, I was in two and three-person cells with some of the same MKO members.

After a while, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani was also arrested and brought to the same hall where we were at first. There, the guards behaved in such a way that no one dared to raise his voice. They were very strict. It was terrifying for someone who was not familiar there. But when Mr. Hashemi was brought, he was shouting his name. I was in the cell when I heard someone shouting: "I am Hashemi Rafsanjani, I am Hashemi Rafsanjani." The guard regularly warned him, but Mr. Hashemi repeated this sentence over and over again.

I really found out that Mr. Hashemi had been arrested. Later, when I was with Mr. Hashemi, he explained that Mr. Manouchehri or Azqandi put their letter in front of him many times whether this was your handwriting? He replied: No! They even forced him to write, but he wrote in such a way that it was not in harmony with the handwriting. In any case, they could not get a confession from Mr. Hashemi, so Mr. Hashemi was released after 6 months without trial.

This courage of Mr. Hashemi and informing me and Mr. Sahabi, who were in the same cell at that time, was very useful, because it made us know that Mr. Hashemi was also arrested. As I explained, these letters that had been posted to Mr. Qotbzadeh were sent without the sender's address. Later, we found out that his mailbox was controlled by SAVAK and from there it fell into SAVAK's hands, so because SAVAK did not know who sent the letters and the sender's address was not on it, they were very blindly following this case.


Source: Sixty Years of Resistance and Service, Memoirs of Mohammad Tavasoli, Tehran, Nashr-e Kavir, 1398 (2019), pp. 141-144.

Number of Visits: 286


Full Name:

Loss of Memory in Pahlavi Prisons

In total, [I was in prison] about 6 years in two arrests. For the first time after several years, a soldier arranged my escape. I do not know why! Maybe he was one of the influential elements of Islamic groups. They took me to the hospital for the treatment of my hand, which was broken due to the callousness of an officer.

Hajj Pilgrimage

I went on a Hajj pilgrimage in the early 1340s (1960s). At that time, few people from the army, gendarmerie and police went on a pilgrimage to the holy Mashhad and holy shrines in Iraq. It happened very rarely. After all, there were faithful people in the Iranian army who were committed to obeying the Islamic halal and haram rules in any situation, and they used to pray.

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