Isfahan Student Movement (9)

SAVAK came forward with the trick of photo

Mehdi Amani Yamin
Translated by Mohammad Bagher Khoshnevisan


Note: The memoirs of Mohammad Ali Haji Moniri in the last episode went forward until he talked about his uncle Abbas Qoli Haji Moniri: “He became the deputy governor of Khorasan Province and deputy custodian of Astan Qods Razavi and the head of land endowments. You know that the land endowments are the largest endowments of Astan-e Qods Razavi even in Tehran. He was the head of land endowments of Astan-e Qods during the revolution too."


*What happened after the revolution?

*He was annoyed to some extent. He died in 1990. I have memories from him in the building we are speaking with each other today. After the victory of the revolution, he had neither any job nor income. But after 8 to 9 months, he bought a car for me with the money he gained in Tehran. It is correct that his properties were confiscated and he had nothing, he had much ability. When he had escaped and was living here, one day when he was walking toward the square, he saw a man who had auctioned carpets. The man had good carpets and he had an expert in carpets. He took part in the auction, buying them. But, he had no money to pay the money of the carpets. He suggested the man to give him a check for one month later along with its interest, showing him his house. The man accepted. My uncle sold the carpets within 6 or 7 months. You may not believe but after this he bought a BMW for me because I had sheltered him in my house. He said, “Because you welcomed me during this time.” His food was just bread, cheese and cucumber, even when he was a governor during the Shah. His wife wore chador. I was with a person in 1993; when he heard my family name, asked me whether you have any relativeness with a person who was the governor of Khorasan? He was appointed as the special inspector of the Interior Minister and resolved the riot of Mashhad’s bazar. I said yes. He is my uncle. Now who was this man, Mr. Salimi Namin.

He said a major general in Mashhad who had been a governor in 1970 and 1971 wanted to close the bazar of fruits and vegetables in the city. The bazar had been located inside the city and they wanted to transfer it to outside Mashhad, but they couldn’t do that and had warned several times. Some of the exhibitors had installed mobile refrigerators inside the square and the governorship bulldozed them at night. The next day the bazaar merchants beat some of the municipality officers and then the police and SAVAK agents came and arrest the merchants. The governor himself also came and slapped some of them, warning if you don’t evacuate the square, we will arrest you and destroy the rest of things. The Bazar merchants were forced to accept to go to the desert fixed for this job. They just demanded not to destroy their properties in order to be able to transfer them. They agreed on the condition that they do not come to the square anymore. The merchants wrote a letter to the Interior Ministry and complained. After a while, the interior Ministry sent my uncle to Mashhad as special inspector. After being deployed, he investigated for three months and in his final report, he voted for the merchants; then for compensation, he suggested that the Interior Ministry must build the installations of the new square and its cost should be paid through installments. The Interior Ministry agreed and the governor was changed. My uncle was transferred to Mashhad’s governorship and was appointed the head of the office of ministry.

He had a good reputation among the people and defended their right against the police and SAVAK. He always supported the mosque-goers and during the years he was in Khorasan governorship, he funded religious occasions from the budget of the governorship. He and his wife always took part in the ceremonies held on Tasua and Ashura days for commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Hossain (PBUH).


*What happened to Farid Pezeshk?

*Although my uncle was a religious man, he had relations with SAVAK when he was in Khorasan governorship. When we entered the university, he warned me that this man might be a SAVAK agent and should be watchful. He said I know how you are since I was in relation with Ehsan the son of Dr. Shariati before I came to the university. I also had relation with my cousin Dr. Delasaee. After the revolution, he was appointed as the deputy governor of Khorasan temporarily when Mr. Taher Ahmadzadeh was the governor of Khorasan Province. He was in exile years before the revolution. Masoud Ahmadzadeh the son of Taher Ahmadzadeh was the founder of the Organization of Iranian Fedai Guerrillas. They were from Mashhad. Taher Ahmadzadeh was a supporter of Dr. Mosadeq and National Movement. Dr. Delasaee encouraged us to take part in Dr. Shahriati classes. He was a close friend of Dr. Shariati and was arrested at that time and was imprisoned for a while. He was not given his medical degree for several years and was not allowed to work as a physician. He was also in exile in Khoormoj in southern Iran for several years. In short, he was an honorable man and is still a role model for me in simple living.

At any rate, my uncle knew that I was informed of the stories and knew how many people were students from Mashhad and their number. He always stressed to be watchful of Farid Pezeshk because his father was a SAVAK agent.


*So, he knew your uncle?

*Yes, he did; Farid was from Mashahd. I was already in the same school with Fardi in 1975. Farid was represented the pupils. Farzad Shahbian and a lot more also studied in our school. Ali Qa’emi, Farzad Shahabian, Abdolreza Mohajeri Moqaddam and Saed Ziaee were in our school. We knew each other since 1971and said his father was a SAVAK agent. I, Farzad and Faid Pezeshk were roommates in the dorm.


*Did you become roommate with by chance and accidentally?

*Yes, he came and asked to become my roommate; I said ok it is good. Of course Farzad opposed it. I said if we were with him, it would be a good security shield; it showed that we supported this side. Of course, our room had been purged and nothing was found, no communique, no book or any word. Of course we had our own plans in other rooms. Then we came back to our room with Farid Pezeshk. When we were being exposed, we thought that Farid Pezeshk had done this and beat him a little.


*Before you were arrested?  

*No after that. I and Farzad thought he had exposed us. Now, we ask God as well as Farid to forgive us and, if we have mistaken. Farid went to America in 1978 when the universities were closed and never came back. I do not know exactly whether he was SAVAK’s informant or not.


*But he was in the list provided by Mr. Amin?

*Yes, it’s interesting. Now that you said this, I recalled the story of Farid Pezeshk.


*Among Amin’s list were Va’ezi, Nikdel, Beg Beigi, Galeh Zand, Bazyari and Badiee Sabzevari.

*Yes, he had introduced some in the list correctly; for instance Vahid Badiee Sabzevari. We called him “master”. Everybody called him master, because he was a religious and educated man as well as fearless. His sister had been executed. During the event of 16 Azar, we set aside considerations and went to his room. He was from Sabzevar but was roommate with Mashahd’s students as well as Mr. Reza. We were with Farid Pezeshk in order to have a cover. We had different bases for our activities and one of them was his room. Reza said they are from Mashhad and I said I don’t know them, but we had immediately established relation with them. One night we went to Sabzevari’s room. He was writing communiques. There was still nobody who wrote a communique. He was doing this very comfortably. Even when he saw us, he did not show any reaction, continuing his work. I asked him what you were doing. He answered that I am writing communiques. I asked again it is not dangerous?! He said how long you want to write communiques one by one and stick them to the wall and how long we should fear. We said nothing. However, when we were leaving, Farzad asked him how many communiques you had written. He replied some 15 communiques. It was handwritten communiques and with a handwriting which was recognized. Farzad suggested him that we stick the communiques in dorm 10. He agreed. Then I objected him but Farzad said he is a master for himself. We came to the room with this Abdi who was martyred. We stick the communiques in different floors of the dorm building. Abdi said whether you have written them or not. We said no; there is a person who is a master in this and do not fear anything. After the event, Vahid was called as master and 38 years, he is called as master.


*After him in the list, there was also Ardalan Jafari Asl as well as Ali Shahabian.

*Really, Ali Shabian was in the list! It is interesting that Farid Pezeshk is also in the list. Probably when my name was given, they had been mistaken with Farid Pezeshk. They did not know the students well. But a number of students who were expelled form 13-people list are not among Amin’s list including Gholamreza Khoshbakht, Abdolrahim Khajeh Moogehee, Kamran Sarmadi, Hamid Reza Farhang Darreh Shoorehee, Vahaj Mohajeri, Kabiz Goljoubian and Homayoun Shayanfar. Thus, Amin had just given the correct name of a few and had a lot of mistakes.


*How did they arrest you?

*I left the class. Before going to my room, I went to the restaurant to have lunch. I saw the late Abdi and Saeed Ziaee in the restaurant. We were close friends. Abdi asked me what I was doing here. He told me that SAVAK agents had come to the room and arrested Ali and that you might have also been arrested. Abdi and Ziaee told me this. Abdi was martyred in Iran-Iraq war. Saeed was also a good guy. He was among Mashhad’s religious guys who were expelled along with the 200 students in the second term. He was very active and also took part in the war. When I had gone to the war front for a while, I found out that he had right and to some extent extremist leanings. I got in touch with him a while later. I told him that I feared to talk to you in 1992 since you had positions that I couldn’t discuss with you. He rejected this. Saeed took part in the war and was injured and came back and left Iran for Canada some twenty years ago.

At any rate, I did not have lunch in the restaurant and came back to my room to take my luggage and leave. Farid Pezeshk was in the room and asked me whether I wanted to go somewhere. I said no, adding that I want to go to the sport field to play soccer. I told him where Farzad was. He said, “Don’t you know. Farzad Shahabian Moqadam was arrested. I interrupted him and left the room immediately. There were minibuses in the university which took the students to the city. I came and saw there was no minibus there. I said they might come half hour later. But I changed my mind. I started walking toward the football field in order to go to the road. I did this but before i reach to the filed, a car stopped and I was arrested.


*How were you arrested?

*Two plainclothes agents were inside the car, the car stopped and they asked me where I was going. I saw there were three persons whom I did not know. Their age did not match with university students. They were not university employees too. I thought that they might have come to visit one of the guys. I said that I was going to the city. They asked me to come with them. I got in the car. One of them twisted my hand and said whether you are Ali Haji Moniri. I said no. He slapped me and I found out what the story was! They knew everything but might have not seen my face. They had probably followed me. At any rate, I was taken to Isfahan’s Homayoun Shahr. I went there and saw that all of my friends including Farzad and Ali were present.


*How were you tried in the court?

*We went to the court but were not tried. The court was in Isfahan. The judge asked us questions; the same questions asked from us in SAVAK of which we were accused. We denied and rejected and were very young. We were told that we had photos from you.     


* Was it possible that SAVAK had taken photos of the day of the clash with the special conditions which had created in the university?

*We never saw any photo. But in our interrogation file, it had been written, "…I don't tell a lie. If I tell a lie, I will be condemned to extreme punishment and …" They had explained this. It had been written that you had taken part in the demonstrations, insulted the country's officials and damaged the university's properties. We denied all charges.


*So, how did they raise and use your photo?

*They asked us this case in their questions. The judge also did this. Even, when we were interrogated in SAVAK, they told me that we had photo from you. I wrote that if I was in the photo, I would accept all the charges and condemned me to extreme punishment. Of course, it was a big risk. We believed that if they had photos from us, all the interrogations would be spurious; and if not, they were bluffing. We had found out to some extent that they were bluffing. As a result, I, Homayoun Shayanfar and Farzad Shahabian Moqadam had written that if you have photos from us, we would agree to be condemned to extreme punishment. But I know that Vahaj Mohajeri had written that I might have been in one or two of the photos, and had exposed himself. Of course they asked us another question whether you had seen these names in the demonstrations and sabotage. They asked the name of the entire guys and we said that we did not them. I think Vahaj Mohajeri and Abdolreza Choubdar had disclosed a few cases, saying it had been done by religious students, because later Vahaj Mohajeri told me in the prison that he had admitted to being present in one of two of the photos.

Later, I heard that some had admitted that the religious guys had participated in the demonstrations. SAVAK had forced them to confess with the trick of photo.

We were interrogated several times. In the next interrogations, they asked us why you say you had not taken part in the demonstrations and why you do not talked about the rest. Why do you say nothing? Everybody has said that you have participated in the demo? They might be bluffing. But later, I heard that again Vahaj Mohajeri or Abdolreza Choubdar had exposed the names of some of the religious guys.


*Why hadn't he exposed the names of the leftists?

*Because he was a leftist too. Mohajeri and Choubdar were leftists. I think Abdolreza Choubdar had also admitted, accepting the charge of being in the photo in SAVAK.


*Do you remember the names of the judge of the court and SAVAK agents?

*The only thing I remember is that we had an officer of the day in SAVAK named Farrokhi.


*Were you tortured in SAVAK?

* No, we were not, but they beat us. Of course, they also treated us moderately. There was a SAVAK agent who advised us. He said you can become an engineer in this university; you will have a bright future; why do you do such things? Write that you have mistaken and ask for forgiveness! I said I have done nothing for which I demand forgiveness. Then he beat me extremely.


*How was your verdict of being expelled from the university and banned from education issued?

*I think we were released two weeks later.


*Didn't you inform your family of the detention?

*We had no relation with anyone when were arrested, but I think other guys had informed their family.


*Do you know the photographer of the photo taken from those 44 arrested guys from top of the roof?

*The photo had been taken by one of the girl students from inside dorm 9. Dorm 9 had three wings one of which belonged to the girls. She had taken the photo from this wing. A few years ago, Saeed Ziaee told me that he had a photo taken by one of the girls. That girl is now in Canada and the photos shows how many arrested people are among the 44-people group. But she did not tell me the name of the girl. Of course, I did not remember to ask her name.


To be continued…


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