The Story of Hengameh Haj Hassan and Ashraf
Hengameh Haj Hassan is one of the thousands Iranian women that fights for the freedom of their country and people and has resisted more than 40 years against the dictatorship ruling in Iran. At the young age she joined the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran. She has spent many years in mullahs prison and resisted against Excruciating torture. She went through a risky life with all over struggle. But she insists that she never bow down in front of dictatorship and I’m determined to free at any price my people and my country.
She wrote her memories in a book called “Eye to Eye with the Monster” which expresses the heroism of female MEK members but also the boundless brutality of the guards and torturers in mullahs prisons.
Today she joined me at the “Exhibtion 120 years of struggle of Iranian people for freedom.”
Hengameh lives with other members of the Iranian opposition movement the MEK in a small lovely town close to Manza in east of Tirana. This beautiful city is build from scratch, all at MEK’s costs. They named the city Ashraf3. Ashraf is the name of a woman that is a symbol of Iranian women’s struggle against mullahs dictatorship. Ashraf is killed by the regime’s oppressive forces in 1983. The 80s was an era that Khomeini, the founder of Islamic Republic of Iran issued a fatwa for massacre of the MEK members. Following this fatwa, were daily hundreds of man and women, supporters of the MEK, send to the execution squad or were tortured to death.
Hengameh, together with other MEK members was able to come to Albania from Iraq in 2015(?) following an international campaign by Maryam Rajavi the leader of the movement and a humanitarian joint action by the previous and current Albanian Government. While another Holocaust scenario had probability of occurrence against these refugees in the “death Camp” called Camp Liberty in Iraq, Hengameh and other could be transferred to Albania. Time and time, they were attacked by the Iraqi Army or rockets at the behest of the Iranian regime in Iraq and 147 of their friends were killed and thousands others injured.
Hengameh says: Albanian people are very kind and I respect their values. We have a common history in fight against dictatorship. She says that Albania is my last home before freeing my country.
In answer to this question that how she joined the MEK, she said:
I finished my studies in Iran. I’m graduated from Tehran University School of Nursing and then I worked as a nurse in Sina Hospital in Tehran.
After the mullahs dictatorship ruled my country I found the solution to get free from oppression of the mullahs in joining the MEK. We were number of nurse that were acting in and outside the hospital in support of the MEK.
The MEK was widely popular among people specially youth and women throughout the country. But Khomeini couldn’t tolerate so much support for the MEK and sand his agents and mercenaries to MEK meetings to injure its supporters. In these circumstances, we had the responsibility to take care of the injured. We had to We had to get the injured out of the hospital as quick as possible because the mullahs were even after them in hospital to arrest them and take them to prison.
Some of Doctors and nurses were fired from the hospital or were taken to prison because they took care of the MEK members or supporters. So, there was no possibility for me to continue my job as a nurse since I was known as a MEK supporter. Supporting the MEK or providing help to them alone, was enough to be arrested and eventually executed. Just like these days that the MEK supporters in Iran nationwide protests of November 2019, the regime is brutally killing and torturing them under brutal conditions.
Finally I was arrested on November 1981 in the street. At that day, regime’s agents were arresting many youth and was also arrested for the very same reason.
Hengameh explains her arrestation as follow:
They tightly closed my eyes and throw me in the car floor with fists and kicks and curses and they set off as I later found out to the Notorious Evin Prison. At that moments I was thinking of my mother and I wish I could tell her that I was taken away.
This exhibition is just a small image of many sacrifices and suffering of the MEK and the Iranian people for freedom. This exhibition has different parts that each and every of them are thousands of pages history of Iran. She guided me to a part of Ashraf3 exhibition. In this part, a scene of small part of Evin prison and different forms of torture was rebuild and takes the attention of every visitor. Statues of prisoners, torture tools and cells are very artfully replicated as if they were real. Hengameh tells us about what she witnessed as a political prisoner of tortures in prison. She says:
She showd me the replica of torture bed. “The interrogator strucked me on the chest on the torture bed. He chained my hands and legs very tough to the top and lower edge of the bed. No matter how much I struggled, I couldn't move my legs. Another torturer sat on my back and threw a blanket over my head. All Of A Sudden something firmly hit my palm. In a moment, a strong stream of terrible pain like electricity swept through my nerves and shook my whole body. Other hits landed consecutive. I couldn’t count how many they were. I was just screaming in pain.
Hengameh is one of the brave women that experienced in Khomeini’s prison for many months a very hard and long torture called “the cage”. While showing models of these “cages” in the exhibition she says:
After lashing my head and body, they took me to the prison halls and cells and brought me to a room on the left and handed me over to the woman who was there. That woman forced me to sit between two beds in a about half a meter length that was placed vertically. They still closed my eyes…
For about a few months I was there in this position. I was not allowed to open my blindfold or scarf. I couldn’t cough either! I couldn’t talk. Like coffin I had to be in a sitting position. I felt I was dying. It continued, days and months…
Sleeping, even napping was prohibited during the day and before the midnight. You would have been suddenly battered and tortured for doing so,
When we sat, we had bent our heads, so it wouldn’t pass the height of “Cage” which was not more than half a meter. If it passed that height, prison guards started beating us with cable punching us and kicking us to force you to bend your head. This period lasted 7 months.
Hengameh, who was released after two years after these events in 1983, says she remembers the last look of the women who said goodbye to me before execution. With tears running down from her eyes, she says, as far as I know, among the women executed there were also 50 pregnant women. They were executed with their unborn children. I am their voice today.
Hengameh says the reason of her release was the disputes between Khomeini and Montazeri, Khomeini’s heir, over what happened in prison, and the pressure stemming from the disagreements that forced the regime to release a number of prisoners.
Two years after my release, in late 1986, I was able to leave the country with the intention of joining the Mojahedin abroad to continue my struggle to liberate my country from the clutches of my mullahs.
Hengameh says, “Today those heroes and heroines are multiplied and alive in those brave young men and women of my country who are chanting death to dictator in the streets of Tehran. ”
I asked her what do you wish for the future of Iran?
Hegameh says: Freedom is the most basic right of every human being. I want the women of my country to be free in choosing whatever they want to wear, to choose any subject of study they want, and to be in any position they qualify for. I want the Iranian children not to be forced to sleep in the streets and in the cold weather because of the poverty caused by mullahs' plunder. I want families not to be forced to sell their kidneys and eyes to feed their children. I want the religious and ethnic minorities be free and have the right to freedom of expression. I stand for the rule of people based on the free vote to create a democratic government. All of my wishes are included in Ms. Maryam Rajavi's ten-point plan. And I wish, one day to invite all my dear Albanian friends who accepted us in their country, to the Free Iran of tomorrow, and to return their kindness Iran.
Hengameh and the other Ashraf 3 residents have surprisingly attracted worldwide attention. Political, human rights and parliamentary figures from around the world, including the US and Europe, have repeatedly traveled to Ashraf 3, Albania, to meet with the MEK. Dignitaries such as former Mayor of New York Roddy Giuliani, former Vice-Presidential Candidate Senator Lieberman and other American personalities and European MPs who have repeatedly met with Iranian opposition members in Albania and have expressed their support of the MEK members and their cause for a free Iran.
What has attracted so much international attention to the MEK is the persistence and resilience of its members against a religious dictatorship. The mullahs' regime in Iran has carried out terrorist schemes and plots aimed at the massacre of all MEK members for hundreds of times. But despite the fact that thousands of them have been brutally murdered and injured, they have surprisingly become more and more popular within Iran and internationally. They are seen as the only democratic alternative to the Iranian regime. Ms. Maryam Rajavi, the Iranian opposition leader, ten-point plan for the future of Iran has all the principles of a universal democratic rule. This plan has received widespread international and domestic support
The popularity of the Mujahideen has reiterated the Iranian regime. The military and security organs of the Iranian regime are responsible for carrying out terrorist acts and conducting satanic campaigns against the MEK. In May 2018, Prime Minister Edi Rama expelled the regime's ambassador to Tirana, Mohammed Nia, and the embassy's first official involved in a terrorist plot against the MEK’s Norouz program in Albania. Last month at a press conference, the head of the Albanian police, ... Valliou, revealed the identity of the members of a terrorist cell of Iran’s regime who were in connection with the Quds Force. They had a terrorist plot against the MEK in Albania.
While referring to the mullahs’ regime demonizing campaign against the MEK Hengameh says: The Mullahs, failed to force the MEK to surrender despite the 120,000 execution and atrocious torture against Iranian freedom-loving people and their failed attempt to massacre us all in Iraq . Now that the regime has failed to physically destroy us, it has organized a costly demonization campaign against us using its intelligence agents as "former members of the Mojahedin", employing some journalists and its lobbyists.
Hengameh stresses that the perpetrators of this campaign in Albania are paid agents of the Iranian regime’s embassy in Tirana, who identify themselves as "former members of the Mojahedin" and appear on some television stations in Albania claiming there is no liberty in the MEK and family meetings are prohibited. Regardless of their language, the Iranian regime wants to negatively affect the friendship and affection of the Albanian people with us and put pressure on us. Even this year, a regime-linked reporter in the German Der Spiegel magazine, wrote an article about the regime agents in Tirana, titled "Former Members" and claimed: The Mujahideen at their residence in Ashraf; in Albania, "Many practice to rip the throats with knife three times a week, break hands, gouging eyes with finger and tear mouths. " On March 21, 2019, the German court ordered der Spiegel to either remove these defamations from its website within 24 hours if not accept a penalty of 250,000 euros or six months in prison for each violation.
Hengameh says Albanian people and our friends come to Ashraf every day and are laughing at these accusations, but for the Iranian mullahs who are being overthrown shooting directly at their opponents during demonstrations inside Iran and conduct terrorist and evil operations against the opposition in Albania are the only means by which the regime tries, yet in vain, to maintain its rule and continue its survival.
Hengameh's courage and persistence in her struggle against the dictatorship of her country is highly commendable. The Mujahideen in Ashraf are self-sacrificing men and women who have created a unique community of based on love and emotion. They have dedicated their lives to saving the Iranian people. Many of them are graduates from American, European and Iranian universities and have had a prosperous life; all MEK members have fought voluntarily in the MEK ranks for years. The lies and propaganda campaigns heard by the Iranian regime against the Mojahedin have no reality.