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Metro: the book of the week


Letters To My Torturer: Writing through the pain barrier

No one knows how many people arrested during the 2009 Iranian uprisings have been imprisoned and tortured.

What is pretty certain, however, is that torture is culturally endemic within Tehran’s most notorious prisons.

One year on from those uprisings comes this courageous memoir from an Iranian journalist who was arrested in 1983.

Houshang Asadi was a fervent supporter of the 1979 Islamic revolution (and former close friend of the present supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, whom Asadi recalls in the 1970s as ‘a kind and smiling man’) but his record of political activism under the Shah was feverishly seized upon by the authorities, who condemned him to 682 days in solitary confinement.

In this book, Asadi, now in exile in Paris, addresses a series of letters to Brother Hamid, the man who for two years subjected Asadi to bouts of inconceivable mental and physical degradation in an attempt to force him to ‘confess’.

To what, Asadi was never quite sure, lending his imprisonment a queasy, reality-bending dimension.

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