A Letter from Death Row: Shirin Alam Hooli

Recently a female political prisoner Shirin Alam Hooli was sentenced to death in Iran for allegedly being a member of a Kurdish opposition organization PJAK. Below is the translation of her letter from prison which was written on January 18, 2010. The letter describes the torture and interrogations she endured before her death sentence was issued

Shirin Alam Hooli’s Letter:

I was arrested in April 2007 in Tehran by a number of uniformed and non-uniformed security forces. I was transferred directly to the Sepah Detention Centre and held there for 25 days. The minute I entered the detention centre they began beating me without asking me any questions or waiting for any answers.

I spent 22 days on a hunger strike. During that time, I endured both physical and psychological torture.

My interrogators were all men and I was tied to a bed. They would beat me with electrical batons, cables, and would punch and kick me until I was unconscious. At that time I still had difficulty speaking and understanding Farsi. When I was not able to answer their questions they continued to beat me until I lost consciousness.

When it was prayer time they would go pray. During that time, I was supposed to think so I can answer questions. Once they returned, they continued with their beatings until I lost consciousness. Then they would drench me with cold water.

When they saw that I would not break my hunger strike, they tried to force feed me with tubes. I resisted them by ripping the tubes out of my nose. This led to great pain and bleeding. Now, two years later, I still suffer from that pain.

One day during interrogations they kicked my stomach so hard that I had severe internal bleeding. Another time an interrogator (the only one I actually saw. I was always blindfolded in the presence of the other interrogators) began to ask me irrelevant questions. When I refused to answer him, he slapped me and pulled out a gun and put it to my head. He said, “Answer the questions. I know that you are a member of PJAK, you’re a terrorist. Listen to me girl, it doesn’t matter if you talk or not. Either way we are happy that we’ve captured a PJAK member.”

Once when a doctor had come to look at my wounds I was in a mixed state of sleep and consciousness. The doctor requested that I be transferred to the hospital. The interrogator asked, “Why does she have to go to the hospital? Can’t she be treated here?” The doctor replied, “It’s not for treatment. In the hospital, I can do something to her that she will start talking.”

The next day I was taken to the hospital with blind folds and handcuffs. The doctor gave me a needle. I lost complete control and apparently started talking and answering all of their questions exactly the way they wanted. They videotaped the scenario. Once I regained control of my mind, I asked them where I was and realized that I was still lying in the hospital bed. I was then transferred back to my cell.

Apparently even that wasn’t enough for the interrogators; they wanted me to suffer more. They would force me to stand up on my feet after they had beaten my feet so bad that they were completely swollen. Then they would give me ice. I could hear screams of other prisoners day and night, and that really bothered me and upset me. Later I learned that the screams had been taped in order to psychologically torture me. Sometimes I would sit in the interrogation room for hours while drops of cold water would fall on my head for hours.

On another occasion I was blindfolded and interrogated. The interrogator burned my hand with his cigarette. On another occasion the interrogator stood on my feet with his shoes for so long that my nails turned black and eventually fell off. Sometimes they would just force me to stand up the entire day in the interrogation room without asking me any questions while the interrogators solved crossword puzzles. They did everything they could to make sure I suffered.

After I was released from the hospital they decided to transfer me to Section 209 of Evin Prison, however due to my injuries, I was unable to walk to section 209, so they refused to accept me. They held me in front of Section 209 for an entire day and then they were finally forced to take me to the prison clinic.

I had lost all sense of time and did not know whether it was day or night. I do not know how long I stayed in the prison’s clinic. Once I was feeling a little better, I was transferred to Section 209 and the interrogations began once again.

In section 209 they had their own special interrogation techniques, and they always played “good cop/bad cop.”

First a “bad” interrogator would come and subject me to torture and tell me that he was not bound to any law, therefore he could do whatever he wanted with me. Then a “good” interrogator would come and ask the “bad” interrogator to stop torturing me and would offer me a cigarette. Then the entire cycle would repeat itself.

In Section 209, when I was not feeling well because of the torture or internal bleeding, they would just inject me with pain killers and I would spend entire days sleeping. They would not take me to the prison clinic for treatment.


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