The Memoirs of Mohammad Reza Hafeznia (15)

Hamid Ghazvini


Memoirs of Hafeznia (15)

He was a in a position that if someone had a job from outside with inside the prison, he or she acted through him. Political and ordinary prisoners believed in him. Mr. Zarif Jalali had been practically put in the position of leading rebellious prisoners and managed the affairs very well.  He directed the relations very well so that no special incident or problem happened. I in my part tried to have a close cooperation with him.
On the other hand, when the people of Mashhad heard that the prisoners had revolted, they started moving toward the prison. But before the people wanted to be deployed around the prison, the military forces had cordoned off the area with full military equipment and several tanks. The group was apart from the guard forces of the prison.
One time when I decided to walk around the prison compound, I saw one or two enlisted officers as well as captain Manafi in the same metal cage where people frequented, and asked him, "What are you doing here?" He said, "We have been appointed as the guard of the prison." I said, "Wonderful, you have become our guard?" I asked, "Have they brought the same tanks of my own squad?"  He said, "Yes, Mr. Taheri, the commander of the company is also here."
Mr. Manfai told me quietly, "Mr. Hafeznia, this regime would fall soon. Don't worry!  You'll be released in a little while." I said, "What the hell are you talking about. I am waiting for the execution."
He was the tank officer and had been brought there to be the guard of the prison and advised me not to be worried.
Living in ruins
The days passed one after another and we had a messy situation. There was neither food nor enough water, nor a device for heating and nor anything else. The cold winter of Mashhad was really unbearable. The prison was covered with snow and ice. The situation took almost one month.
The officers, who had sidestepped responsibility, neither gave us any food, nor provided any facility. It seemed that they preferred that we died of hunger. But the charitable people of Mashhad brought food for us.
They gave us sandwich breads and we distributed them among the prisoners. There was also a water hose which had stretched from outside to the metal cage. We washed the dustbins with it, brought water and put in the wards to be used.
The prison had really turned into ruins. We had a dirty and black face. We had neither a bath nor anything else. Sometimes, we had to heat water inside the dustbins with the woods of the destroyed workshop and took a bath in that cold and snowy weather.
We couldn't use the existing rice inside the storeroom, but brought the flours and made dough. We shaped the doors of the dustbins like a fryer and baked breads.
Planning for escape
 In short, we weathered the one month period with hardship until the prisoners decided to find a way for escaping. We thought of different plans and concluded that an underground hallway was dug. We worked very hard. Various ideas were presented and some tools were also made. The location was designated and digging started.
The prisoners worked round the clock. The area was alluvial, so it was not very hard to dig the ground.
Everybody worked until we were informed that the end of the hallway had been opened. Everybody was worried lest the soldiers who were patrolling around the prison with tanks, vehicles and on foot fall inside it. The prisoners were happy that the plan had been carried out successfully and could escape. The moment of escaping was imminent, but suddenly it was said, "The hallway has been discovered from the other side."  The reason was that the soldiers had thrown tear gases into the hallway. Everybody was looking for the spy who had exposed the plan.
We caught one or two persons, beating them because they had relation with the police. They were ordinary people but anyhow, the plan had failed. Everybody was disappointed.  But it was announced that another plan should be devised for escape. They said let's make a ladder and burrow the interior wall of the prison which led to the wards and take the ladder toward the exterior wall and tighten a rope to its lower part. The plan was that the people went up from this side and slide themselves downward and then escape. 
There were several problems in this plan. One was that the guards would find out that the wall was being burrowed. They were in turrets and discovered. Another problem was that the spies might disclose the plan. But we had no other way and had to do something. Thus, a point was designated and the work started. I was not very hopeful because we had a problem with both burrowing the wall and passing the area between the interior and exterior walls which was considered as banned area. The soldiers regularly showered there with bullets and we heard the sound of their fire. On the other hand, there was also the exterior belt of the prison where the military forces and tanks were patrolling. All of these problems made escaping difficult. After a short while, we heard that the Shah had escaped from the country. The news created a flurry in the prison, causing the prisoners to become happy and to boost energy. The end of the regime's life could be well realized.
In such a situation, the prisoners were thinking of finding a way for escaping more than before. 
Escape from prison
One night, I was in the cell of Mr. Jalali at around 9:30 to 10 PM and was talking to him privately about future issues. I said I wish I could train ways of countering with a tank to those who either were released or escaped from the prison because the regime used tanks to suppress the people. I was fully familiar with the vulnerable parts of a tank. I knew how a tank could be disabled or how to hide around it or where its blind spots were?
Therefore, I told Mr. Jalali I wish I could train such things so that when they went out, at least, they could train them to the people and knew that the tank was just a monster but had no efficiency inside the city.     
The people fear the appearance of the tank more while it is the most vulnerable military device and can be disabled very easily. 
While I was talking about such things, the idea of escaping came to my mind and raised it with Mr. Jalali, asking his opinion in this regard. He was drowned in thought for a few moments and then said, "It's good." I said, "You come with us!" He said, "No, I am still in charge of the prisoners and I have the responsibility of running the prison's affairs and it's not correct to escape." I said, "OK, let me go." I think it was around 10 PM that we listened to the news of Radio Moscow. Then I said goodbye and left there by relying on God. I went to see what the situation was. If it was possible, I would go, if not I would come back. I went in front of the hole built in the interior wall of the prison. It was cold and foggy and the guards did not have enough eyesight and the situation looked suitable for escaping. The soldiers opened fire blindly every four or five minutes. They also fired at the space between the interior and exterior layer of the prison's walls so that nobody could escape.

Translated by: Mohammad Baqer Khoshnevisan



 
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