By Ahmad Rahbar
More than 60 women have been executed under the tenure of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, according to statistics published by NGOs monitoring human rights in Iran. Islamic fundamentalism, strongly promoted by the Iranian regime, is in essence completely against women. Women are the subject of most of the harassment and unbearable tortures in the Iranian regime. One such example that gained international attention was the case of Canadian-Iranian photographer Zahra Kazemi in 2003 after she was murdered under torture in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. The mullahs’ regime has in the past 37 years continuously shed blood and waged wave after wave of executions, and the main target of these crimes have always been the women of Iran. This is an issue unfortunately less talked about in the media. I personally had witnessed these tortures in Iran’s prisons.
In 1981 first in Lahijan in northern Iran I was arrested and sent to jail for supporting the Iranian opposition People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran and protesting the crackdown and lack of freedom imposed by the mullahs. After some time I was transferred to another prison where I was blindfolded with my hands tied behind my back. I heard a metal door opening and being thrown into a room. I lost balance and fell to the ground. This room was only 1.5 square meters with no windows and the ground was of dirt. I fell asleep as I was tired of not sleeping for the previous two days. I don’t know what it was that I woke up to, the horrific sounds of screams. It was the cries of a woman near my cell and it was so loud and horrible. She was both screaming, crying and begging for help.
At first I thought it was all part of a method aimed at psychologically torturing me. This was the cries of a woman being tortured and raped by the Revolutionary Guards in a prison cell next to me. I forgot all of my own pains, and felt completely useless because I couldn’t do anything to help her. Again, she started screaming and begging for help. The only thing that came to my mind was to start screaming and repeating the defenseless woman’s cries to maybe distract the torturers’ attention and lessen her pains.
It was all useless. Then I started banging my head on the metal door and screaming… a bit later I realized that my head was bleeding and my clothes had all become bloody. However, I could only think about saving that woman from torture, and each time I kept on banging my head harder on the cell door.
I felt dizzy and fell to the ground, and I could only see the metal door opening and a huge man coming and kicking me in the head, and then I went unconscious. I don’t know for how long I had passed out but I did see that I was in another place when I gained consciousness. On that day I kept on trying to find out who that woman was, but nobody knew her name. However, it was obvious for me that the regime’s prison guards only tortured to such an extent those women who support the PMOI.
Back then no one came to understand the fate of thousands of women tortured in small dark cells across Iran, and I probably witnessed just one case. No one ever came to realize their names or where they were even buried?
While over 120,000 Iranians have been executed by the ruling regime, the names of only 22,000 have been identified to this day. Today, they are no longer among us, as they are amongst the thousands of defenseless victims who lost their lives to fundamentalism. However, their voices and innocence are now heard across the globe thanks to the efforts of human rights organizations and an unprecedented organized resistance of Iranian men and women throughout the world that have devoted their lives to the struggle against the Iranian regime and exposing its atrocities. This resistance has encouraged the youth and women inside Iran to continue their resistance. Of course, this is the price of freedom a nation in chains has to pay.
Ahmad Rahbar is an Iranian former political prisoner now living in exile in Iraq