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The Day the Shah Left

January 25, 2013 Leave a comment
  • DFThirty-four years ago, none of us at Iran’s newspapers could have known about the evil forces lurking behind the Islamic Revolution’s promises of change.

By HOUSHANG ASADI

  • January 24, 2013, 3:46 p.m. ET

Only a few newspaper headlines become iconic, a story in their own right. The headline “Shah Raft“—”The Shah Has Left” in Farsi—is one of those. It was printed on the front page of Iran’s two main daily newspapers, Kayhan and Ettelaat, on Jan. 16, 1979, after Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi left Tehran for good.

“Shah Raft” captured the victory of the Revolution. It encapsulated history in the making. It ran in bold Persian letters, in size 84 font, across the top of the page. Over a million copies were printed.

In Iranian journalism circles, the headline has sparked years of debate: Who wrote it? Who picked it? How did it come about?

This month marks 34 years since “Shah Raft” hit the press. I was a deputy editor at Kayhan at that time. Here is what I remember from the newsroom in Tehran that night.

All day on Jan. 16, Kayhan’s offices had been packed, buzzing. We’d brought a television set to the newsroom to watch the departure of the shah. The reporter assigned to the story was glued to the television in anticipation. His sleeves were rolled up. He was ready to write.

Another reporter was at the Tehran airport reporting live from a payphone. There were no cell phones in those days. I was responsible for talking to the reporter and relaying his minute-by-minute dispatches to the copy desk.

The newsroom staff resembled a team of wandering spirits, proceeding from the television set, to the phone, to the editorial desk.

Associated PressAn anti-shah demonstration on Jan. 19, 1979, in Tehran.

In our morning editorial meeting that day, we had discussed how we would handle the headline if the shah really did leave Iran. Would we use the shah’s name with the singular or plural form of the verb “to leave”? In Persian, a plural verb is often used with a singular noun to suggest utmost respect for the subject.

Until then, we had always been obliged to use the plural form of the verb when writing about the shah. But things were changing fast. Kayhan’s editor-in-chief, Rahman Hatefi, said at the meeting: “Once the shah leaves there is no coming back. He is as good as dead.”

That settled it. Worried about the possible repercussions of our coverage, we agreed with Ettelaat to use the same font and to go to press at the same time. Safety in numbers.

Still, our page designer was anxious. A political prisoner under the shah, he had dreamed of this day. He prepared the layout of “Shah Raft” in advance and kept it in his desk drawer. He paced around the newsroom, chain-smoking, sometimes walking over to my desk to put his hands on my shoulders. His eyes sparkled.

None of us knew then what we know now: that publishing the headline “Shah Raft” would spell the end of our careers. None of us knew that most of us would end up in jail, tortured and interrogated. We could have never known that out of 110 newsroom staff present that day, only one person would still be working at Kayhan today.

Around noon, I heard the reporter screaming on the phone. “Houshang, Houshang, the shah left!”

I couldn’t believe it. “Did you see with your own eyes?” I asked.

“I saw with my own eyes. The shah left. He left!”

I hung up the phone and screamed, “The shah left!”

The newsroom erupted with joy. When Kayhan and Ettelaat hit the newsstands with identical front pages, splashed with “Shah Raft” above the fold, a nationwide celebration followed. People held up the papers and danced in the streets.

The two managing editors who oversaw the news that day eventually coordinated for another historic headline: “Imam Amad” (“The Imam Has Come”) for the return of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founding father of the Revolution, from Paris.

But the Islamic Revolution, which vowed to root out brutal dictatorship and usher in an era of justice and freedom, did not honor its promises. A systematic attack on Kayhan began almost immediately after the shah’s departure, with demonstrations outside our office and threats made against us. Within three months, nearly all of Kayhan’s news staff, among the best in the country, were fired.

Rahman, the editor-in-chief, died while being tortured in prison. Another editor, Gholamhussein Salehyar, was banned from journalism and died alone at home, in isolation.

And the rest? Most of us who reported, wrote and documented “Shah Raft” and “Imam Amad” became unemployed, exiled and nomadic. When a notorious interrogator was appointed top editor at Kayhan a few years after the Revolution, we journalists became ice-cream sellers and shopkeepers. Many of us left the country.

I wish we had known when we printed “Shah Raft” that an evil force was lurking behind our newsroom door, ready to crush the promise of change. Thirty-four years ago, neither I nor Rahman nor Gholam, nor anyone in the newsroom that evening, could have foreseen what is happening in Iran today. We expected freedom and got a religious dictatorship instead.

I can still see Rahman’s hands drafting the iconic headline. I can still hear Gholam’s voice shouting orders to the newsroom. I live for the day when the editors of Iranian newspapers coordinate on another big, bold headline: “The Dictatorship Is Gone. Freedom Has Come. At Last.”

Mr. Asadi is an Iranian journalist living in France. He is the winner of the 2011 Human Rights Book Award for “Letters to My Torturer: Love, Revolution, and Imprisonment in Iran.” He spent time imprisoned in Iran both before and after the 1979 revolution.

LINKE 

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Categories: Review

Years of Torture in Iran Comes to Light

November 22, 2012 Leave a comment

IHT Special

Years of Torture in Iran Comes to Light

By KRISTEN McTIGHE
Published: November 21, 2012

PARIS — Houshang Asadi was a Communist journalist thrown into the cold confines of Moshtarek prison in Iranwhen he found an unlikely friend in the tall, slender Muslim cleric who greeted him with a smile.

Imprisoned together in 1974, under the rule of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, they found common ground in their passion for literature. They shared jokes, spoke of where they came from, their families and falling in love. Mr. Asadi, who did not smoke, would give cigarettes to his cellmate who, uncharacteristic of a cleric, did. On days when Mr. Asadi felt broken, he said, the cleric would invite him to take a walk in their cell to brighten his spirits.

So, when his release came six months later and the cleric stood cold and trembling, Mr. Asadi gave him his jacket. “At first he refused it, but I told him I was going to be released,” Mr. Asadi recalled. “Then we hugged each other and he had tears coming down his face. He whispered in my ear, ‘Houshang, when Islam comes to power, not a single tear will be shed from an innocent person.”’

What Mr. Asadi found unimaginable was that the cleric would become president of the Islamic Republic that later imprisoned him again, sentenced him to death and brutally tortured him for six years in the same prison. Today that same cleric is the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Mr. Asadi’s account of torture and imprisonment has offered a rare glimpse into what activists say was a decade of grave human rights violations in Iran. And at a time when international attention has shifted to the nuclear issue and sanctions, they say a campaign to bring justice and accountability through a symbolic tribunal has helped unite a once fractured opposition.

“I never expected he would get power, never,” said Mr. Asadi in an interview in Paris, where he lives in exile.

Mr. Asadi, a 63-year-old writer, journalist and former member of the Tudeh party, was routinely arrested and tortured under the shah. He had supported the revolution, so when he was arrested again in 1982 and accused of being a spy for the Russians and the British, he was convinced that it was a mistake.

In a plea for help, his wife wrote to Mr. Khamenei, who had risen to power as president after the Islamic revolution, but two weeks later the letter was returned with a note in the margin saying only that he had been aware of the journalist’s political beliefs. Mr. Asadi’s death sentence was reduced to 15 years in prison. During his time in prison, he again developed a relationship with the only person he had contact with — as he had done with Mr. Khamenei. This time it was with his torturer, a man he knew only as “Brother Hamid.”

“He is your torturer and he thinks he is your god, he thinks he is religious, he is pure, and you are evil, you are the enemy,” Mr. Asadi said. “So he can do anything to you.”

Mr. Asadi said he was called a “useless wimp” and hung by a chain attached to his arms twisted behind his back while the soles of his feet were whipped until he was unable to walk.

Brother Hamid forced him to bark like a dog to speak or when the pain was too much and he was ready to make confessions. His ears were hit and his teeth were broken. Mr. Asadi said he had even been forced to eat his own excrement and the excrement of fellow prisoners.

Beyond physical pain, he endured psychological torture. He was shown coffins and told his comrades had been killed. He would hear screams and was made to believe his wife was being tortured in the cell next to him.

Allowed sporadic visits of only 15 minutes, his wife said his torment was evident. “I didn’t recognize him,” Nooshabeh Amiri, Mr. Asadi’s wife, said of her first visit, six months after his arrest. “He was fat, he was dirty, he had a long beard. But especially in his eyes, they were not the same. You could see that nothing passed through; it was just fear and being helpless.”

Ms. Amiri, who was initially arrested with Mr. Asadi and released the same day, said her husband’s imprisonment had also changed her. “The person who was inside of me before was a happy person. I loved life. But suddenly, I became older. It is not just the prisoners who are being disturbed. Families suffer, too.”

The torture continued daily for six years, until he was abruptly pulled out of his cell in 1988 when the supreme leader at the time, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, ordered the mass killing of thousands of political prisoners. Prisoners were asked three questions concerning their religious faith and loyalty to the regime. “If you answered no to any question, they killed you,” Mr. Asadi said. “I lied to save my life.”

In 2009, he published his memoir, “Letters to My Torturer,” detailing the relationship that grew between him and Brother Hamid. He hopes to find an American film company to bring his story to a wider audience.

“It’s hard for me to talk about even today,” said Mr. Asadi, who had a heart attack while writing the book, provoked by the stress of recalling his imprisonment. “But this is something that the world needs to know about.

linke

Categories: Review

asharq alawsat 22 August

رفيق خامنئي في السجن لـ «الشرق الأوسط»: السلطة غيرت آية الله من تقي إلى قمعي
هوشانغ أسدي يتذكر في كتابه «رسائل إلى معذبي» سنوات تعذيبه في السجن بعد الثورة الإسلامية
الاحـد 12 رمضـان 1431 هـ 22 اغسطس 2010 العدد 11590
جريدة الشرق الاوسط
الصفحة: أخبــــــار
لندن: راغدة بهنام
«في ظل حكومة إسلامية، لن يذرف بريء دمعة واحدة»، يتذكر هوشانغ أسدي كلمات قالها له السيد علي خامنئي، باكيا، عندما عانقه قبل أن يفترقا في نهاية فترة احتجازهما في الزنزانة نفسها في سجن مشترك، أيام الشاه رضا بهلوي. بعد أقل من عشر سنوات، في عام 1984، وجد أسدي نفسه في سجن مشترك مجددا، هذه المرة في ظل الحكومة الإسلامية، يخضع لتعذيب ممنهج استمر نحو عامين. كان يذرف دموعا، ويتذكر وعد خامنئي له.

يروي أسدي، وهو صحافي إيراني شيوعي، في كتاب مذكراته «رسائل إلى معذبي»، فصولا مروعة من التعذيب والإذلال تعرض لها خلال فترة 6 سنوات قضاها في السجن، سنتان منها تقريبا في سجن انفرادي. ويتذكر صداقته بخامنئي التي استمرت سنوات، ويصف كيف تغير هذا الرجل ليتحول عبر السنوات من رجل دين عرفه تقيا طيبا، ليصبح رأس السلطة التي لا تعرف لإسكات معارضيها إلا التعذيب والقتل. يقول أسدي لـ«الشرق الأوسط» إن «السلطة» هي التي غيرت خامنئي. ويؤكد أن الاتصال انقطع بينهما منذ ذلك الحين، رغم الصداقة الكبيرة التي جمعتهما في مرحلة معينة قبل وحتى بعد الثورة. يضيف: «نحن اليوم ننتمي إلى عالمين مختلفين. لا أرغب حتى في أن يعود الاتصال بيننا».

على الرغم من مرور 25 عاما على انتهاء تجربته في السجن في ظل الجمهورية الإسلامية، ومغادرته إيران إلى منفاه في باريس في عام 2003، فإن الألم لا يزال حاضرا معه حتى في الذكرى. فقد تعرض لذبحة قلبية وهو يكتب مذكراته. وعلى الرغم من أن طبيبه طلب إليه التوقف عن الكتابة، فقد أصر على أن يكمل. يقول: «كتابة هذا الكتاب كانت صراعا مؤلما. كل فجر عندما أبدأ بالكتابة، كنت أعود إلى الجحيم».

ولكن أسدي يؤكد أن كتابه ليس عن خامنئي والأخ حميد، بل عن التعذيب الذي لا يزال يمارس في بلدان كثيرة اليوم. يقول: «الكتاب هو بحث في موضوع يؤرق ضمير البشرية». ومن تجربته، يضيف: «كنت شابا يتوق للحرية، يشعر بوطنية عميقة، مغرما بالأدب. ظننت أن العالم يمكن أن يتغير. دعمت الثورة الإيرانية وأنا أؤمن بشدة بأن الديكتاتورية ستنتهي إلى الأبد، وبراعم الحرية ستتفتح». ويضيف: «ولكن فجأة وجدت نفسي في الجحيم… الأخ حميد ظن أنه يمثل الله على الأرض، ورآني على أني جاسوس وخائن وتجسيد للفساد والشر. كل ما افترضه عني كان علي أن اعترف به.. وفعلت تحت الجلد والحرمان من النوم والتعليق بحبل طوال أيام وليال والإيهام بأن زوجتي تخضع أيضا للتعذيب».

يسرد في كتابه كيف ألقي القبض عليه في عام 1983، أي بعد نحو 4 سنوات من الثورة الإسلامية. رمي به في السجن الانفرادي لمدة 682 يوما. قضى أيامه هذه معزولا عن العالم، لا يشعر إلا بمعذبه، «الأخ حميد»، والصرصور في زنزانته. كان مطلوبا منه أن يعترف. ولكن بماذا؟ لم يكن يدري. اعترف بكل ما يعرف من دون جدوى.

يتحدث كيف حوله جلاده من «شاب يؤمن بالمثاليات إلى أدنى شكل من أشكال الحياة على الأرض». وكيف أجبره معذبه على النباح كالكلب طلبا للكلام. شهران كاملان لم يذق فيها إلا طعم العذاب. كان يجلده «الأخ حميد»، على قفا قدميه حتى تتورما، وتسيل منهما الدماء.. عندما يتعب من الجلد، كان يعلقه من ذراعيه في السقف، حتى ألحق ضررا دائما بكتفيه. كان أحيانا يعلقه من قدميه حتى يتدلى رأسه إلى الأسفل ويلامس أنفه الأرض. أضجره أسدي مرة بطلبه الدخول إلى الحمام، فهدده «الأخ حميد» بأنه إذا ذهب للحمام سيطعمه غائطه. ظن أسدي أن الكلام مجرد تهويل.. إلى أن أتى له مساء بطاسة مليئة…

قضى 9 أشهر في السجن، من دون أن يسمح له بإجراء مكالمة هاتفية أو يستقبل زوارا. وعندما سمح له أخيرا باستقبال الزوار، يروي رد فعل زوجته عندما رأته بعد تلك الأشهر الطويلة التي غيرت ملامحه، وكيف بدأت تصرخ «ماذا فعلتم بزوجي؟ أين هو؟ هذا ليس زوجي؟» كان قد خسر الكثير من الوزن، وأرخى لحيته، وتخلى عن نظارته بعد أن كسرها ليحاول الانتحار بها.

حاول أسدي الانتحار مرات عدة داخل السجن، هربا من الألم. المرة الأولى ابتلع سائلا داخل قنينة ظن أنها سائل منظف، تبين له بعدها أن القنينة التي تركت في غرفة الاستجواب، تحوي كحولا. وفي المرة الثانية، كسر نظارتيه وقطع معصمه بطرف الزجاج، ولكنه سرعان ما استيقظ ليجد نفسه ملقى على سرير وقد علق له مصل. وجده الحارس قبل أن ينزف حتى الموت.

تحت التعذيب، اعترف بأنه جاسوس بريطاني. وجاسوس روسي. وعميل مزدوج للسافاك اخترق الحزب الشيوعي.. اعترف بأن حزب تودا (الإيراني اليساري) الذي ينتمي إليه، حضر لعملية انقلاب (وهمية) ضد النظام الإسلامي، واختلق قصصا وتواريخ وأماكن… ولكن اعترافاته المختلقة، لم تكن كافية لمعذبه. ظل «الأخ حميد» ينشله من زنزانته في الليل، ويسير به إلى غرفة التعذيب ليلة بعد أخرى.. حتى قرروا إعفاءه من الإعدام، والحكم عليه بـ15 عاما في السجن، بعد أن كذب في جلسة محاكماته وقال إنه يكره ماضيه وإنه بات مكرسا لخدمة الخميني. ولاحقا صدر عفو بحق المعتقلين السياسيين وأطلق سراحه بعد 6 سنوات قضاها في السجن.

لاحقا، عندما غادر إلى باريس، يروي أن شخصا أرسل إليه رسالة إلكترونية ملحقة بصورة السفير الإيراني في كازاخستان، مع سؤال: هل تعرف هذا الرجل؟ بالطبع يعرفه. فالسفير ليس إلا «الأخ حميد»! تلك التجربة التي عاشها في سجن الجمهورية الإسلامية، أعادت إلى ذهن أسدي وعد خامنئي له، وعلاقته به. كان لا يزال يعتبره صديقه حتى قبل فترة قصيرة. يتذكر في كتابه المرة الأولى التي رأى فيها خامنئي عندما رُمي به في زنزانة مشتركة بعد أن ألقي القبض عليه في خريف عام 1974. يقول: «رأيت رجلا، نحيلا للغاية، يلبس نظارات، وقد أرخى لحية سوداء طويلة. كان يجلس على تلة من بطانيات سوداء. لقد أدركت أنه رجل دين لأنه كان يرتدي عباءة صنعها من لباس السجن. وقف وابتسم ابتسامة لطيفة، مد يده وعرف عن نفسه: سيد علي خامنئي. أهلا».

يروي كيف قضى أشهر سجنه في ظل حكم الشاه برفقة خامنئي، تشاركا خلالها قصصا حميمة وتحدثا في الفلسفة والشعر والأدب.. أخبره خامنئي الذي أصبح اليوم المرشد الأعلى للثورة الإسلامية، كيف وقع في حب زوجته، وكيف تقدم لها وهما يجلسان تحت شجرة بالقرب من نبع، وأمامهما خرقة كبيرة ممدود عليها خبز وعدة أنواع من السلطات.. روى له قصصا عن ولديه مصطفى وأحمد، حتى شعر أسدي في فترة قصيرة أنه تعلق كثيرا بهذا الرجل، كما لم يتعلق بشخص بهذه السرعة من قبل. «بسرعة كبيرة، عاطفة غريبة تطورت بين هذا اليساري الشاب الساذج، وذاك الرجل التقي الذكي، في تلك الزنزانة الضيقة، وكان لها عواقب سياسية»، يروي أسدي في كتابه. حينها كان أسدي يبلغ الـ26 من العمر، بينما عمر خامنئي 37 عاما.

يصف أسدي خامنئي على أنه رجل تقي للغاية، كان يبكي وهو يصلي من شدة ورعه. يقول: «كان يتوضأ في الحمام، بطريقة جدية ومهيبة. ولكن معظم وقته، وخصوصا في وقت المغيب، كان يقضيه واقفا أمام النافذة. كان يسمع القرآن بهدوء، يصلي، ومن ثم يبكي، ينتحب بصوت عال. كان يفقد نفسه كليا في الله. كان هناك شيء في هذه الروحانية يحاكي القلب».

يتحدث أيضا عن جانب مرح في شخصية خامنئي. يقول إنه كان يحب النكات، وكان دائما يرحب بأي نكتة تطلق شريطة ألا تكون فظة. ويقول: «كان يحب النكات غير المهينة، كانت تجعله ينفجر من الضحك. ولكنه لم يكن يحب النكات الفظة ولو قليلا، والإيحاءات الجنسية هي التي كانت تفصل بين النكات البريئة والأخرى الفظة».

ورغم أن أسدي يقول عن نفسه إنه ملحد، فإن خامنئي لم يكن يشعر بالنفور منه بسبب ذلك. بل يروي ما قاله له مرة خلال إحدى جلساتهم: «أنت مسلم. يمكنني أن أرى الله في قلبك. حتى عندما تتحدث عن الإلحاد، فإن نفسك يشتم منه رائحة الله». ويصف جانبا طيبا في شخصية آية الله، ويقول: «كلما كان يشعر بأنني غارق في البؤس، كان يناديني ويقول لي: (هوشانغ، قف، لنذهب ونتمش) وخلال هذه المشيات اليومية، كنا نمشي ذهابا وإيابا في الزنزانة الصغيرة حتى الإجهاد.. وكنا نقضي هذه الساعات الطويلة الباردة نتحدث مع بعضنا. كنت أتحدث عن طفولتي، عائلتي وعملي كصحافي. كان يتحدث معظم الأوقات عن عائلته».

يروي مدى تعلق خامنئي حينها بالتدخين. يقول إن كل سجين كان يخصص له سيجارة واحدة يوميا، ولأنه ليس من المدخنين كان يتخلى عن سيجارته ويمررها لخامنئي. ويضيف: «كان يقسم السيجارتين إلى ستة أقسام، ثم يأخذ لذة كبيرة في إشعال كل قسم منفرد».

لكنه يتحدث أيضا عن رجل تختلف رؤيته للدنيا تماما عن كل ما يعرف. يقول إن ما كان ينظر إليها على أنه نكتة وشيء مضحك حينها، أدرك في ما بعد، أنه كان جديا ويعكس ثقافتين ونظرتين للعالم مختلفتين كليا. من تلك الاختلافات، يروي كيف كان خامنئي يستحم في الحمامات المشتركة في السجن وهو يرتدي سرواله التحتي. عندما سأله عن السبب، قال له إنها «خطيئة أن يرى رجل الأعضاء التناسلية لرجل آخر». قال إنهما توصلا لحل فيما بعد؛ أن يتعهد أسدي بألا ينظر إليه عندما يحين وقت الاستحمام، وهو دقيقتان كانتا تخصصان أسبوعيا للمساجين.

ثلاثة أشهر، تقاسم خلالها أسدي مع خامنئي الزنزانة نفسها، والتحفا بالبطانية نفسها، وتشاركا قصصهما الحميمة. يقول أسدي إنها كانت ثلاثة أشهر، ولكن بعمقها أقرب إلى ثلاث سنوات. افترقا بعدها ولكنهما بقيا على تواصل لسنوات تلت. يروي أسدي يوم افترقا، كيف كان خامنئي يبكي متأثرا. ويقول: «جاء أحد الحراس وأمرني بأن أحمل بطانيتي وأمشي. وهذا يعني أنهم ينقلونني. كنا دوما ما نتحدث عن أين سنلتقي بعد إطلاق سراحنا. عانقنا بعضنا وبكينا. شعرت بأن رفيقي في الزنزانة كان يرتجف. افترضت أنه برد الشتاء الذي يجعله يرتجف، فخلعت كنزتي وأصررت على أن يأخذها.. أخذها وارتداها. عانقنا بعضنا. شعرت بالدموع الحارة تسقط على خديه وفي صوته، وقال لي، ما يزال يدوي في أذني: في ظل حكومة إسلامية، لن تذرف دمعة واحدة من بريء».

بقي أسدي على تواصل مع خامنئي بعد خروجه من السجن. كان دائما يحتفي به احتفاء خاصا، ويقبله ثلاث قبلات على خديه كلما رآه. يروي أسدي كيف اقترح، إرضاء لخامنئي، أن يساعد على تأسيس أول جريدة في الجمهورية الإسلامية، بعد أن رفض تولي منصب رئاسة التحرير فيها، كي لا يخدع نفسه. فهو شيوعي، ولن يصبح يوما إسلاميا، على الرغم من أنه أيد الثورة تأييدا كاملا. ولكنه قبل الثورة، كان يشغل منصب نائب رئيس التحرير في صحيفة «كيان»، أكبر الصحف الإيرانية حينها.

وبسبب علاقته الوثيقة والخاصة بخامنئي، ظن أسدي أنه سيكون محصنا ضد حملة الاعتقالات التي شنتها الجمهورية الإسلامية حينها ضد رفاقها في الثورة، الشيوعيين. ولذلك فعندما ألقي القبض عليه في عام 1983، ظن أن من يعتقلوه هم السافاك (رجال مخابرات الشاه)، وليس الحرس الثوري الإيراني، وأن انقلابا ما بتدبير أميركي حصل ضد حكم الملالي. لكنه سرعان ما تأكد أن رجال الثورة هم الذين اعتقلوه.. وبدأ مع ذلك فصل جديد من حياته غيّر كل شيء.

اليوم، بعد أن أصبح في المنفى في باريس، لا يزال يرفض التصديق أن هذا الرجل الذي لا يتذكره إلا تقيا، يبكي وهو يصلي، يمكنه أن يتحول إلى شخص مختلف لهذه الدرجة. يقول: «على الرغم من مرور سنوات كثيرة، وأنا مسجون في المنفى.. لم تغادر هذه العاطفة قلبي. عقلي يقبل ما يقال عن دوره في السياسة، ولكن قلبي يرفض الاتهامات».

ويقارن في مكان آخر من الكتاب بين خامنئي ومهدي كروبي، أحد قادة الثورة الخضراء في إيران اليوم، الذي تشارك معه أيضا زنزانة جماعية في عام 1975 على أيام الشاه. ويقول في كروبي الذي لم يكن حينها قد أصبح إماما بعد، إنه لم يكن يتمتع بحساسية خامنئي خلال الاستحمام، وإنه «كان يشعر بالراحة بيننا». ويقول فيه: «كان لديه الشخصية نفسها التي يتمتع بها اليوم. أحيانا يبدو لي أنه لم يتغير قط. حامي المزاج وصريح، ولكن مباشر جدا ولطيف للغاية». يروي كيف كان كروبي يصر على أن يشرب كل سجين في الزنزانة رشفة من علبة حليب صغيرة وصف له الطبيب تناولها يوميا بسبب معاناته من القرحة في معدته. يقول إنه كان يصر على أن يأخذ الجميع رشفة، «بما فيهم اليساريون».

ومن بين ما يرويه عن كروبي أيضا، قصة تجنب المساجين اختياره ليكون في فريقهم في لعبة كانوا يتسلون بها، لأنه كان دائما يدفعهم للخسارة. كانت اللعبة المؤلفة من فريقين، تقضي بأن يبحث اللاعبون عن بحصة مخبأة في يد أحد اللاعبين. يقول أسدي: «لقد فسرنا له مرات عديدة: ليس من المفترض بك أن تفتح اليد التي تخبأ بها البحصة إلا عندما يلمسها قائد الفريق الخصم ويقول لك أعطني البحصة. كان كروبي يهز رأسه على أنه فهم. ولكنه عندما تكون البحصة في يده، إذا سأله عضو في الفريق الخصم: سيد كروبي، هل لديك البحصة؟ يرد: نعم البحصة معي. ويفتح يده على الفور ليريهم إياها. إذا لم تكن معه. يقول: لا لم يعطوني إياها».

يحمل أسدي معه هذه الذكريات إلى منفاه، ورغم كل ما حصل في إيران ولا يزال يحصل، فهو لا يزال متفائلا بمستقبل البلاد. يقول: «الحركة الخضراء ولدت من قلب الاضطهاد ولكنها مبينة على حوار الحرية.. ومؤيدوها هم ملايين الشباب في إيران. 70 في المائة من الشعب الإيراني ما دون الـ35 من العمر، بينما حكام النظام هم رجال دين عمرهم فوق الـ70.. ولهذا السبب اعتمدوا سياسة القتال حتى النفس الأخير». ويضيف: «أؤمن بأن نظاما ديمقراطيا مؤسساتيا سيولد في إيران».

عندما أسأله إذا كان يرغب بتوجيه رسالة ما لخامنئي، يقول: «أرغب في تذكيره بالعناق المؤثر في نهاية فترة تعايشنا قبل ثورة عام 1979، ووعد الفراق الذي قطعه على نفسه: في ظل حكومة إسلامية، لن يذرف بريء دمعة واحدة».

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TEH TAIMS : Former cellmate of Ayatollah Khamenei tells of his six-year torture ordeal

An Iranian dissident tells Martin Fletcher of his friendship with the
Ayatollah who is now crushing all opposition

Martin Fletcher

August 10 2010

Houshang Asadi jokes that he is the only man in the world to have seen Ayatollah Khamenei’s private parts. Having spent three months sharing a tiny prison cell with the man who is now Iran’s Supreme Leader, he is also one of the very few who has witnessed every stage of his transformation from kind, poetry-loving cleric to savage dictator. “How sad that a tortured prisoner now has hundreds of torturers working for him,” Mr Asadi told The Times in an interview. If they met now, he said, he would remind Ayatollah Khamenei of their emotional embrace when their brief cohabitation ended a few years before Iran’s 1979 Revolution, and of his cellmate’s parting promise: “Under an Islamic government, not a single tear will be shed by the innocent.” Mr Asadi, 60, an Iranian journalist exiled in Paris, found himself sharing a cell with Iran’s future leader when he was imprisoned by the Shah for his communist affiliations in 1974. In a new book, Letters to my Torturer, Mr Asadi writes with great affection of his thin, bearded cellmate. He recalls his “pleasant smile” and “sweet laugh”, his intense spirituality and their daily “strolls” around the cell, when the pious cleric and young atheist would talk of family and discuss a shared passion for literature for hours on end. Mr Asadi, a non-smoker, gave the future Ayatollah his daily ration of one cigarette, and he would divide it into three and smoke each part with relish. Ali Khamenei nicknamed the guards “Dog Fart Number One” and “Dog Fart Number Two”. He loved jokes, but not lewd ones – and he refused to take his pants off in the shower, saying it was a sin for a man to see another’s genitalia. “Never again was I to become so attached to someone in such a short time or to become as close to someone else,” he wrote. The two remained friends even as Ali Khamenei rose to prominence after the revolution. Mr Asadi would take him books, particularly novels by western writers like Steinbeck and Sartre that he did not know. Ali Khamenei tried to persuade him to help to set up an Islamic newspaper. Then, in 1983, the Islamic regime – with Ali Khamenei now its president – turned on the communists who had helped them to depose the Shah and threw hundreds into prison. Mr Asadi was incarcerated in Moshtarak prison, Tehran, for six years, two in solitary confinement. The soles of his feet were lashed until they were raw. He was hung upside down from the ceiling, or by his arms, which were handcuffed behind his back. He was made to eat his own excrement, and that of other prisoners. He was beaten until he lost most of his teeth. He was blindfolded whenever he left his cell, lived
in constant fear of death, and denied any contact with the outside world. He “confessed” to spying for Britain, Russia and Savak, the Shah’s secret police, but it made no difference. Three times he attempted suicide. Compared to the torturers of Ayatollah Khamenei’s Islamic regime, those of the Shah were “angelic”, said Mr Asadi, whose body and mind are still scarred. He spent hours in tears and suffered a heart attack when he had to relive his ordeal for the book. In the end, it may have been Ayatollah Khamenei who saved him. One of the many charges against Mr Asadi was that he had infiltrated the President’s office for the communists. In desperation, his wife wrote to the Ayatollah, who acknowledged that he had known of Mr Asadi’s political beliefs. For whatever reason, Mr Asadi was spared death; of more than 5,000 political prisoners locked up in the mid-1980s, he was one of barely 800 who survived. Mr Asadi and his wife fled to Paris in 2003 and helped to create Rooz Online, a website dedicated to exposing what is happening inside Iran. He admits that before last year’s stolen presidential election, and the savage repression that followed, he retained a lingering affection for Ayatollah Khamenei. Now he supports those who chant: “Death to the dictator”. Asked what changed his former friend, he replies: “Power – and the Talebanisation of the regime.” He says the Supreme Leader genuinely believes he is God’s representative on Earth, where Islam is battling the West for world domination. To achieve that end, he believes any means are justified. Mr Asadi believes that the torture Ayatollah Khamenei’s regime inflicts on political prisoners is worse even than that which he suffered. Rape is now commonplace, and while his own tormentors kept their work secret, today’s are content for news of their barbarity to spread so that the population lives in terror. “It really saddens me that someone who was essentially a freedom fighter has essentially become a torturer,” he says.

An Iranian dissident tells Martin Fletcher of his friendship with the Ayatollah who is now crushing all opposition

Martin Fletcher
August 10 2010
Houshang Asadi jokes that he is the only man in the world to have seen Ayatollah Khamenei’s private parts. Having spent three months sharing a tiny prison cell with the man who is now Iran’s Supreme Leader, he is also one of the very few who has witnessed every stage of his transformation from kind, poetry-loving cleric to savage dictator. “How sad that a tortured prisoner now has hundreds of torturers working for him,” Mr Asadi told The Times in an interview. If they met now, he said, he would remind Ayatollah Khamenei of their emotional embrace when their brief cohabitation ended a few years before Iran’s 1979 Revolution, and of his cellmate’s parting promise: “Under an Islamic government, not a single tear will be shed by the innocent.” Mr Asadi, 60, an Iranian journalist exiled in Paris, found himself sharing a cell with Iran’s future leader when he was imprisoned by the Shah for his communist affiliations in 1974. In a new book, Letters to my Torturer, Mr Asadi writes with great affection of his thin, bearded cellmate. He recalls his “pleasant smile” and “sweet laugh”, his intense spirituality and their daily “strolls” around the cell, when the pious cleric and young atheist would talk of family and discuss a shared passion for literature for hours on end. Mr Asadi, a non-smoker, gave the future Ayatollah his daily ration of one cigarette, and he would divide it into three and smoke each part with relish. Ali Khamenei nicknamed the guards “Dog Fart Number One” and “Dog Fart Number Two”. He loved jokes, but not lewd ones – and he refused to take his pants off in the shower, saying it was a sin for a man to see another’s genitalia. “Never again was I to become so attached to someone in such a short time or to become as close to someone else,” he wrote. The two remained friends even as Ali Khamenei rose to prominence after the revolution. Mr Asadi would take him books, particularly novels by western writers like Steinbeck and Sartre that he did not know. Ali Khamenei tried to persuade him to help to set up an Islamic newspaper. Then, in 1983, the Islamic regime – with Ali Khamenei now its president – turned on the communists who had helped them to depose the Shah and threw hundreds into prison. Mr Asadi was incarcerated in Moshtarak prison, Tehran, for six years, two in solitary confinement. The soles of his feet were lashed until they were raw. He was hung upside down from the ceiling, or by his arms, which were handcuffed behind his back. He was made to eat his own excrement, and that of other prisoners. He was beaten until he lost most of his teeth. He was blindfolded whenever he left his cell, livedin constant fear of death, and denied any contact with the outside world. He “confessed” to spying for Britain, Russia and Savak, the Shah’s secret police, but it made no difference. Three times he attempted suicide. Compared to the torturers of Ayatollah Khamenei’s Islamic regime, those of the Shah were “angelic”, said Mr Asadi, whose body and mind are still scarred. He spent hours in tears and suffered a heart attack when he had to relive his ordeal for the book. In the end, it may have been Ayatollah Khamenei who saved him. One of the many charges against Mr Asadi was that he had infiltrated the President’s office for the communists. In desperation, his wife wrote to the Ayatollah, who acknowledged that he had known of Mr Asadi’s political beliefs. For whatever reason, Mr Asadi was spared death; of more than 5,000 political prisoners locked up in the mid-1980s, he was one of barely 800 who survived. Mr Asadi and his wife fled to Paris in 2003 and helped to create Rooz Online, a website dedicated to exposing what is happening inside Iran. He admits that before last year’s stolen presidential election, and the savage repression that followed, he retained a lingering affection for Ayatollah Khamenei. Now he supports those who chant: “Death to the dictator”. Asked what changed his former friend, he replies: “Power – and the Talebanisation of the regime.” He says the Supreme Leader genuinely believes he is God’s representative on Earth, where Islam is battling the West for world domination. To achieve that end, he believes any means are justified. Mr Asadi believes that the torture Ayatollah Khamenei’s regime inflicts on political prisoners is worse even than that which he suffered. Rape is now commonplace, and while his own tormentors kept their work secret, today’s are content for news of their barbarity to spread so that the population lives in terror. “It really saddens me that someone who was essentially a freedom fighter has essentially become a torturer,” he says.

Categories: Uncategorized

Radio Free Europe:Recalls Torture, Sharing Cell With Supreme Leader

 
 
 

http://www.rferl.org/content/In_New_Book_Asadi_Recalls_His_Torture_And_Sharing_A_Cell_With_Irans_Supreme_Leader/2117371.html   

'The image I have given of Khamenei and the image we have from him now demonstrate what power does to people, how it turns a tortured prisoner into someone who is in charge of hundreds of torturers,' says Houshang Asadi. “The image I have given of Khamenei and the image we have from him now demonstrate what power does to people, how it turns a tortured prisoner into someone who is in charge of hundreds of torturers,” says Houshang Asadi.
August 03, 2010
Former Iranian political activist and prominent journalist Houshang Asadi was jailed under the rule of the shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. He was jailed for six years and tortured again after Iran became an Islamic republic. The 59-year-old Asadi, who lives in exile in Paris, recounts his experiences in a new book, “Letters To My Torturer: Love, Revolution And Imprisonment In Iran.”
In an interview with RFE/RL correspondent Golnaz Esfandiari, Asadi says prisons in the Islamic republic and torture methods used against political prisoners are far worse than they were under the shah’s rule. Asadi also speaks about one of his former cellmates, Ali Khamenei, who is now Iran’s supreme leader, as well as his torturer, “Brother Hamid,” whom he says later became a diplomat.
RFE/RL: You experienced the jails of the shah’s regime in the 1970s and some 10 years later those of the Islamic republic. How different were they? When you compare the prison conditions and torture you were subjected to, which one was worse?
Houshang Asadi:
 I wasn’t tortured in prison during the shah’s regime. I was just slapped once in the face, but I witnessed how many of my friends were tortured. In the prisons of the Islamic republic, I was subjected to different types of torture. The main difference I see is the difference between an ideological intelligence apparatus and a nonideological one.
Under the shah, intelligence officers would do their work; they were after information and they would unfortunately use torture. In the prisons of the Islamic republic, we faced either ideologically oriented interrogators or those who pretended they were. Their first duty was to break the prisoner. Only after that would they go after information and other issues. By crushing the prisoners, they wanted to prove their ideological superiority. For them, obtaining information was secondary.
It’s because of that that torture in the Islamic republic has reached astonishing dimensions. It can’t be compared to the time of the shah. The Islamic republic’s interrogators have made the infamous interrogators of the shah look tame by comparison.
 

    

 

   

  

RFE/RL: You shared a cell in 1974 with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who went on to become Iran’s supreme leader. You both opposed the shah. You describe him in your book as a friendly, human person who enjoyed literature and also “inoffensive” jokes. Some have criticized you for your description of a man who is now seen by many as a dictator. Can you tell us more about your relation with Khamenei?
Asadi: What I wrote in my book about my time with Khamenei in a cell goes back 40 years. Since then, the world has gone through major changes. Khamenei, a former prisoner who spent time in a cell with someone like me, who had opposing views, has become the supreme leader. I shouldn’t be criticized for writing about his personality at that time. What I wrote is true.
When I met him in prison, he was a nice person, someone who always had a smile. He was a real believer who would read the Koran and pray and weep and sob loudly. He was of a happy nature and understood literature. In general, he was a positive person. Since he came to power, the world has changed. As a matter of fact, I think the image I have given of Khamenei and the image we have from him now demonstrate what power does to people, how it turns a tortured prisoner into someone who is in charge of hundreds of torturers and who tortures others through them.
RFE/RL: What would you tell Khamenei if you could talk to him right now?
Asadi:
 On a cold winter day in 1975, I was about to be transferred from the cell we’d been sharing. [Khamenei], who was very thin, was shaking. I was wearing a sweater, which I took off and gave to him. He first resisted and didn’t want to take it. When he finally accepted it and put it on, we hugged each other. He cried and told me, “Houshang, when Islam will come to power, not a single tear will be shed.”
I would like to ask him, “Mr. Khamenei, do you remember what you said that day? Now that you’ve become the most powerful ruler in the history of Iran, is no tear being shed? Or, on the contrary, are we witnessing tragedies that are unprecedented in the history of Iran?”  

 

    

 

   

  

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: “Someone who always had a smile.”   

RFE/RL: You recount in your book the physical and psychological torture you were subjected to by your interrogator, “Brother Hamid,” who forced you to falsely confess to operating as a spy for the British and Russian intelligence services. Can you tell us about the techniques he used? What was the worst torture you were subjected to?
Asadi: I can briefly say — I’ve written about the details in my book — that he used every kind of torture he could. Not to get information from me. I was a journalist; I didn’t have any information. He was actually trying to extract from me information I didn’t have. In fact, he had written a scenario, and I had to confess to his scenario. And finally under torture he managed to make me confess.
The worst was the psychological torture because the effects of physical torture disappear as time goes by, but the psychological torture I was subjected to still bothers me. Psychological torture remains in one’s spirit and mind. I remember when he would whip me and call me a dirty spy or when he would pretend that he had my wife and that he would torture her. That was very painful for me — more than [physical pain]. And, of course, when I could hear them torturing my friends and I could hear their shouts and cries — [I was] affected by that more than the physical torture he subjected me to.
RFE/RL: Rights groups and former detainees say some of the same torture and interrogation techniques were used against those who were arrested in the postelection crackdown last year. Many of the detainees seem to have remained defiant, despite the conditions they are facing. How do you explain that?
Asadi:
 Currently, the systematic torture I witnessed in the 1980s is being repeated in different forms. Crushing the prisoners remains the goal, but because the prisoners belong to a social movement they manage to crush [only] some of them. But we see that most of those who were arrested have resisted and their voices are being heard outside the prison. And we see that our women, journalists, and our youth are bravely standing against the interrogators. They remain faithful to their views, despite the torture and difficult conditions they’re facing.
This is very good news. When the resistance breaks the cells of the prison, it means that a bright future is very close.   

 

    

 

   

  

Green Movement supporters raise flags with the slogan “We Are Countless” during postelection protests in 2009.   

RFE/RL: I want to go back to your torturer, “Brother Hamid,” whom you identify as Naser Sarmadi Parsa. You say you later found out, upon seeing his picture, that he had become Iran’s ambassador to Tajikistan. Do you know whether he still has a government job and would you send him your book if you knew his address?
Asadi: After I talked about him on Voice of America television and showed pictures of him, he was removed from his post. I don’t know what he’s doing now. I want very much for the book to get to him. The book is in English but its Farsi version will soon hit the market. I actually think that in the system of [the Islamic republic] he will somehow receive it. I hope he will read the book and recall those days and at least decide that he will not torture anyone from now on.
RFE/RL: You sound optimistic about the future of Iran and the Green opposition movement, despite the crackdown that put an end to street protests. You have said you believe a bright future is near. Please tell us the reasons for your optimism.
Asadi:
 It might appear on the surface that the establishment has managed to stop the movement or extinguish it, but I don’t think it’s the case. This movement is deep-rooted in Iranian society, in Iran’s middle class, among Iran’s women and youth. Sooner or later, we will see that this will rise as fire under the ashes and will affect the destiny of Iran.
You cannot kill a social movement; it can be limited, stopped, or delayed, but you can’t wipe out a movement because it has a social base. Based on the official figures released by the Iranian government after last year’s [presidential vote], 13 million people voted for [defeated opposition presidential candidate] Mir Hossein Musavi. What happened to the 13 million people? They weren’t all arrested or killed; they’re still in the society. Also, the government said 13 million. I’m sure the real figure is much higher. They will learn new ways of resistance and fighting and they will have an impact.
Last week, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards said publicly that some members of the Guard support the Green Movement. Therefore, when a movement has become so widespread that it even has supporters within the IRGC , how can it be eliminated? It can be stopped, but it definitely hasn’t been wiped out.   

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Iranian:Mr. Houshang Asadi, Congratulations!

http://www.iranian.com/main/blog/sheila-k/mr-houshang-asadi-congratulations

W hen your grade teacher told your mother, “Your son will be a great writer,” he must have had a strong premonition. You are a GREAT writer and a GREAT hero. Your survival, your endurance, your compassion in the face ofthe evil torturer, your kindness to your inmates, your amazing memory, your truth, your love for your wife, …and your passion to tell the story of yourself and thousands of other innocent victims of IRI in and of itself is superbly heroic.

When I first began to read your book, Letters to My Torturer, I almost put the book away unfinished. At times I felt my chest tightening; I was angry, emotional, and horrified. As I came to my senses, I noticed two things: I was being selfish and that your writing is so good that I had found myself in your shoes (or slippers).  I’d find myself standing in your interrogation room while you were hanging by your wrists and I could feel your shoulders and hands being pulled. When your feet were being lashed, I could almost feel the burning sensation and hear your cries. You have an amazing talent to take the reader into your hell of a torture chamber but guide them with grace, compassion, and hope.

I wished Evin and Moshtarak Prisons were turn into museums to remind us of the horror of the past so we can better appreciate the beauty of life, humanity, and freedom.

Houshang Jan, we’ve never met but I hope to shake your hand some day.

God bless you and all the Iranian families who’ve been, and are being, tormented by IRI.

Sheila

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huffington post : Sharing a Prison Cell with the (Future) Ayatollah

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/houshang-asadi/sharing-a-prison-cell-wit_b_662077.html#

When earlier this summer Ayatollah Ali Khameni proclaimed that the opposition leaders of the Green movement “would be responsible for bloodshed and chaos” if protests against the government persisted, memories from more than three decades earlier flooded my mind. Khamenei and I had been cell mates together in 1974 at the Komiteh Moshtarak, a security prison used under the Shah, whom we had both opposed. This is a story I tell, along with others, in my memoir Letters to My Torturer.

Our friendship began when the prison guard opened the door to a cell and threw me in. I made myself stand up, removed the jacket from my head and put on my glasses. I saw a man, extremely thin, bespectacled, with a long black beard. He was seated on a pile of black blankets. I realized he was a cleric because he was wearing a cloak, which he had made out of his prison uniform. He stood up, smiled a pleasant smile, stretched out his hand, and introduced himself: “Sayyed Ali Khamenei. Welcome!”

For the first time in my life, I found myself in close contact with a cleric. The clerics were a thousand light years from an activist like me. I held out my hand and burst out: “I am a leftist. My name is …”

My cell companion laughed and invited me to sit beside him on the pile of blankets. We divided the blankets between us. Usually, prisoners had no more than two blankets. I have no idea why so many blankets had ended up in our cell, but to Khamenei, each one of the blankets represented an unexpected treasure, though we ended up losing them almost immediately. Khamenei, always cheerful and up for a joke, had given each of the guards a nickname. Dog Fart Number One. Dog Fart Number Two.

He used to perform his ablution in the bathroom, in a very serious, solemn manner. But most of his time, and particularly around sunset, was spent standing by the window. He would recite the Qur’an quietly, he would pray, and then he would weep, sobbing loudly. He would lose himself completely in God. There was something about this type of spirituality that appealed to the heart. Whenever I felt overwhelmed by misery, he would call to me and say: “Houshang, stand up, let’s go for a stroll.”

My love for and familiarity with literature, and poetry in particular, paved the way for lengthy conversations, and I quickly realized that he had a unique mastery of contemporary literature, especially poetry. Sometimes I’d sing the revolutionary songs that I had learned in Ahvaz prison and he would listen to them with pleasure. Occasionally I gave him lessons in journalism. He listened with interest and asked precise questions. One of the things I taught him was: “Do not pay attention to the headlines. Look at the main content, search for those words that are repeated, though in various ways. Read between the lines.”

He listened carefully, learning how to interpret newspaper content. He was very attached to smoking. Each prisoner was allocated one cigarette per day. I was a non-smoker so I gave him my share. He would carefully divide the two cigarettes into six sections and light up each section with great pleasure.

Sometimes we exchanged jokes. He liked inoffensive jokes; they made him burst out laughing. One time, Dog Fart Number Two overheard us laughing. He rushed into the cell and slapped us both. But Khamenei didn’t like even slightly dirty jokes, sexuality being the frontier that divided innocent jokes from dirty ones.

A month passed in this manner inside the tiny cell intended for solitary confinement, where the two of us were kept. Khamenei was called up for interrogation once or twice. I too was called up once more.

Three months, more or less, passed; three months that had more depth than three years. Never again was I to become so attached to someone in such a short time or to become as close to someone else. One day, the door opened and the guard called out my name: “Pick up your blanket and get ready. This meant that I was being allocated to a different cell.

We embraced each other and wept. I felt that my cellmate was shaking. I assumed that it was the winter cold that was making him shiver so I took off my sweater and insisted he should take it. He refused. I don’t know what made me say: “I think I am going to be released.” He took the sweater then. I felt the warm tears that were running down his face and his voice, still ringing in my ears, said: “Under an Islamic government, not a single tear would be shed by the innocent.”

So when I heard that Mr. Khamenei had visited the former detention center where we had been prisoners together, I wanted to ask him, “Do you remember those days?” I would tell him that when the Islamic republic came to power, agents of his regime came and arrested me again, and took me to that same prison. And when I read the reports from last summer, last winter, this spring, and today, about members of the democratic Green Movement being detained and tortured, I want to ask him how all of those many people and their loved ones can be infidels and not innocents, as he and I once were.

Categories: Review