On April 17, 2014 Ward 350 of Evin prison was raided and the political prisoners brutally attacked and beaten resulting in many serious injuries.
Below is translation of a letter written by political prisoner Emad Bahavar giving an eyewitness account of the portion of the raid that he witnessed.
I feel as though pain has encompassed my entire body. I had not experienced the blows from a baton before. I was arrested the day after the 2009 election and was not able to be along side the people during the protests.
When eight people weighing over 100 kilos each (220 lbs) hover over you, kicking, slapping and hitting you with a baton, after few minutes you won’t feel anything anymore.
You don’t even realize if any of your bones have been broken or not, or if you have been bloodied or injured or not. Only hours after being battered and assaulted do you get the realization to check your body part by part to see what has happened to you.
Other than the guards, there were a number of plainclothes that were beating the guys: a 120 kilo one, fat, wearing a white shirt with clerical collar over his pants, and relatively long beard. A 130 kilo one, athletically built and a bit taller, with torn earlobes, wearing a white and pink shirt. A 140 kilo one, about 2 meters tall with dark glasses wearing a suit. And the rest, a number of 100 kilos all body builders, wearing tight jeans and sneakers.
I was upstairs and didn’t know what was going on down there. I could only hear voices of everyone else, which were getting louder by the moment. I went towards the entrance of the ward to see what is going on.
I heard the Haj Agha shouting; beat them. 30-40 baton holding guards and a number of plainclothes rushed down the stairs.
It was there that I saw the 120 kilo one for the first time. Angrily he took off his jacket. He was twirling the baton over his head while screaming and swearing.
For a moment, I visualized the scenes from 2009 videos before my eyes. It was these same guys who savagely beat the people on the streets.
I could not just be an observer and watch the guys being beaten. I removed my wristwatch and threw it on the floor. I moved towards Haj Agha and his associates and shouted: “Why are you hitting them?”
“Why are you hitting them” was interpreted as “Why don’t you hit me”. All of a sudden a number of them hovered over me kicking and hitting me.
Haji stood in front of me and asked who are you? I said: “Emad Bahavar, from Mr. Mousavi’s headquarters”. The 120 kilo one punched me in the face. They began to curse and spout verbal insults against Mousavi. Haji said, “Mousavi and his wife have frightfully gone hiding in a hole!!”
The 130 kilo one shouted: “sit down”, I didn’t move. I fell down under a barrage of punches and kicks and batons.
I got up again and immediately stood up facing Haji, staring into his eyes. The 120 kilo one shouted: “Bow your head! Don’t stare into the eyes!” I didn’t move. The 130 kilo one cupped his hands between my legs, lifted me up and threw me down on the floor. Again, a barrage of kicks and punches and batons rained on me.
I got up again, stood face to face with Haji and said, “We have been standing for five years….”.
They continued to send more guards down the stairs. There were around 200 guards. One of the commanders shouted; “The soldiers that don’t want to participate in the beating don’t go downstairs”. A large number of them stayed upstairs.
They took the guys one at a time upstairs to the end of the Ward. They were all handcuffed. The face of some of them was covered in blood, and could barely walk. Some were taken there by carrying them by their arms and legs in a horizontal position. Some had been beaten so much that had no more strength to walk. I recognized three of them; Khalghati, Ebrahimzadeh and Fouladvand. Altogether, there were about 30 people.
They blindfolded everyone. They brought handcuffs and a blindfold for me too. I resisted and argued a bit to no avail.
They made everyone stand in a row in Ward 350’s corridor, handcuffed and blindfolded, facing the wall. Some were moaning. Again, they started to beat us from behind. The sound of the moans became louder.
The guards created a human tunnel from the ward’s exit door to a parked van outside. They forced everyone to go through the tunnel while they beat and kicked everyone going through the tunnel. There was spilled blood along the way to the van and inside the van.
Inside the van people were calling out their names: Mohamad Davari, Gholamreza Khosravi, Mohamad Sedigh Kaboudvand, Mehrdad Ahankhah, Majid Assadi, Soheil Arabi…
Apparently someone intervened on my behalf, they called my name and told me to leave the van. They took the rest.
Haji standing among his men, and in front of me, gave an eloquent speech against the Sedition Movement and Mir Hossein and spoke of the power and authority of the regime.
The 130 kilo one brought me a glass of ice water. The head of security ordered them to take me to the prison’s clinic. They had taken Esmaeil Barzegari there earlier. His ribs had been broken. Later, they brought Omid Behrouzi in blood soaked clothing; his wrist cut by broken glass. Kamyar Sabeti had encountered a heart problem.
I have heard that they have found few cell phones and iPods. It’s been about five years now that they have disconnected the phone services in the ward. All of this “show of force operation” was just because some people wanted to hear their family’s voices or enjoy a quite moment with the sound of music. There is nothing illicit in 350, other than love and music.
My body aches. I don’t mean the aches and pain from the bruises on my wrist caused by a metal handcuff, nor the pain in my left ear from being slapped hard, neither the pain in my neck from being punched in my head and neck, nor the pain in my tongue that was between my teeth during a barrage of punches and kicks, and neither the pain in my back from being hit with a plastic baton and nor the pain in my bruised lower back and my knees from being kicked.
None of these pains are that significant and will heal soon. The source of the pain is something else. The years in prison had caused us to forget the pain from the wounds of 2009. We had forgotten the pain and suffering that the mourning mothers and fathers had endured.
We had forgotten the pain from losing Neda and Sohrab and Ali and Taraneh and the other martyrs. We had forgotten the pain from the bullets and batons and bats and daggers and brass knuckles that had been used on the people by the plainclothes.
The April 17 attack on Ward 350 reminded us of all those scenes and brought back all of their pain to our souls.
When Rouhani came, we said that if the suffering of the people is reduced and the conditions become better, then, we would also close our eyes to everything we suffered. Some of the mourning mothers also said they were ready to forgive.
The bloody events of April 17 showed that the hatred in their black hearts transcends the love and forgiveness of the Greens.
I wish I had murmured these words into Haj Agha’s ear: “We wanted to forgive, remember, but you didn’t want it yourselves….”
Ward 350, Evin prison
P.S. Emad Bahavar, was Chairman of the Youth Branch of the Freedom Movement of Iran and an activist in Mir Hossein Mousavi’s 2009 presidential campaign. He was arrested on March 13, 2010 and later tried and sentenced by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court to 10 years imprisonment.