Iranian protesters gather around a fire during a demonstration against an increase in gasoline prices in the capital Tehran, on November 16, 2019. (AFP)

May 24, 2021

In an audio file sent to IranWire, a young man imprisoned over the November 2019 protests has described how he was interrogated and tortured at the Gisha Security Police detention center in Tehran.

The 22-year-old was arrested at home a few months after the protests and is currently being held as a political prisoner in Greater Tehran Penitentiary. At his own request, his name is withheld from this report.

“They said I should write and sign what they told me,” he said. “I did not confess, and so they beat me again. They beat me so hard that my lower spine was broken and I still can’t sit down properly, after all this time.”

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This young man says the only reason he was jailed was because of the false confession he was forced to give under torture. He was taken into custody by Gisha Security Police detention center and brought out from his cell for interrogation every two to five days.

“The first time I went,” he said, “the interrogator did not accept my version of events and I was sent, blindfolded, to someone else; I didn’t know where. Again, this person would not take my confession and sent me back to Gisha, and back to solitary confinement.

“While I was in Gisha I was tortured. They hit me with fists, kicks and sticks. They handcuffed and tied me up and played football with me. Excuse me for saying this, but they really played football with me. I was beaten in any way I could think of. Because I didn’t confess, it got worse. Why this much solitary confinement and beating, just over one small protest?

“They said I should write and sign what they told me. I said, well, I’ve not done that. They beat me again. I’ve been in solitary confinement since the first day I was arrested. I couldn’t even call my family for the first 24 days, and in the end I confessed just to be able to call them. They didn’t know where I was or whether I was alive or dead.

“Later, I told the judge that I’d confessed for this reason alone and my confession was not true. But I was sentenced based on this.”

The 22-year-old went on to describe the situation on the 5th Brigade of Greater Tehran Penitentiary, the sprawling prison complex also otherwise known as Fashafuyeh. “We had only a blanket. No dishes, no personal items, no life. We tried to make it tolerable for ourselves; we procured a refrigerator and a television set.

“But as soon as we improved the situation there, they transferred us to the 2nd Brigade. They brought the financial prisoners to the 5th Brigade and handed over the space that we had prepared to them. Now we’re in the 2nd Brigade and it’s very dirty, full of bedbugs and beetles. We seem to have been forgotten.”

Here, he says, it’s impossible for prisoners even to make a complaint or send a letter both due to the lack of administrative organization and the possibility of reprisal from prison guards. “I really don’t know what to say. We were very annoyed and our families are upset; this is not what we deserved.”

It was only when he was briefly released on bail, he says, that he realised his spine had been broken at Gisha. “I went to the doctor and they found my lower back was swollen; it protruded by about an inch and a half. The joint fluid between the two vertebrae is gone and two bones are now fused together, at the age of 22.

“The doctor said ‘Don’t walk uphill, don’t walk, don’t exercise.’ He said even then, my back may never heal. The person who did this to me was two meters tall and weighed about 140 kilograms. He beat me with a shoe that had a buckle on. I can’t sleep now because of the pain. They punched and kicked, my whole face exploded and then it got better, but the pain in my back remained with me.”

All this happened, he said, during the first five days of detention. “We were stripped naked in solitary confinement in the cold. There was no treatment. I was just beaten and tortured.”

In November 2019 a wave of popular uprisings took place across Iran, sparked by a threefold hike in gasoline prices and turning to calls for all-out regime change after security forces brutally suppressed the early demonstrations.

Security agents directly opened fire on protesters, with the death toll estimated at between 300 and 1,500. Hundreds of people have since been arrested, tortured, jailed and even sentenced to death for having attended the protests and face some of the worst treatment in jail of all political prisoners of the regime.

Iran Wire

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Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.