Committee of Human Rights Reporters

Shabnam Madadzadeh, vice secretary of Tehran’s Tahkim Vahdat (student alumni organization), was arrested by security forces on February 19, 2009. After spending more than 70 days in solitary confinement, she was transferred to the general section of ward 209. Although a bail amount has been set for her release, the intelligence and security services have repeatedly [denied her right to] release.

The following letter has been written by Shabnam Madadzadeh:

“We Have Observed Humanity and Love”

In the name of knowledge, freedom,
and justice

January 25, 2010

9:15am – Women’s ward, Evin prison:
The speaker announces the names of all [the prisoners] scheduled to appear in
court for a trial the next day. Currently, all the televisions are turned off
and everybody is silent. The door of the cell is opened all the way so that
everyone can hear the announcement. It is probably the only time one can feel
the silence in this noisy colony. The names are announced, including mine. In
the course of the five months I have been detained in the general ward, this is
the third time they have called out my name for a court date. However, each
time, the trial session was cancelled due to disorganisation and mismanagement.

I have spent one year behind bars waiting for my trial. The chance to
see my brother Farzad is the first thought that enters my mind when I hear my
name called out. Every time I see him, it re-energizes me and gives me strength
to bear all the unwanted situations I [am forced to] endure day and night. I
pray to God the agent who is [assigned to] accompany the prisoners to the court
tomorrow will be nice and let Farzad and I spend time together.

26, 2010

7:00am - Women’s ward, Evin prison: I am getting ready to go to
the court and my cellmates have delivered their well-wishes, “Inshallah you will
return with good news.” I leave.

8:25am - Temporary detention centre, Evin prison: A female agent assigned as my guard calls out my name and prepares the handcuffs. Unlike other prisoners who show reluctance because they do not want to be seen handcuffed in court, I offer my wrists with ease. In an era where they chain your thoughts and those lost in the darkness [of ignorance] are given lamps to search the backrooms of our minds to ensure we have not dared to think, prisons, chains, and handcuffs are [no longer] insults to a person’s dignity; rather they are measures of our values.”

We walk toward the bus and board it. I browse the prisoners’ eyes full of worry and search for Farzad.
A familiar face meets mine with a smile. His look comforts me. I am able to sit
down calmly until we arrive to the court.

In the court’s hallway, the warm embrace and kind looks of my sister and father welcome us. My father is trying to hide his worry and sorrow behind a smile. His big heart is a saviour, and in his shadow, fear and uncertainty turn into courage. In those brief moments, he tries with all his strength to transfer that courage to us. He gives
me a warm hug and whispers in my ear, “Be strong,” I know very well that his
heart is filled with distress and concern about whether the trial will be held
or not. This is the sixth time he has waited in these corridors for my court

We walk toward the judge’s chamber. The court clerk asks us to
wait until the arrival of the case “expert,” After a long while, I see the
interrogator. At that moment, all the scenes of interrogation and the pressures,
insults, and tortures in solitary confinement are replayed before my eyes; just
like scenes from a movie. I am reminded of the image of Farzad’s sunken look and
choked voice when they brought him to me after he was beaten up. I remember the
day of the visit, after the interrogator screamed at my father, we discovered
that my father had lost sight in one of his eyes as a result of the pressures he
endured in the court. In that moment, the only comfort offered to us was the
words my brother said to the interrogator in the Azerbaijani language:

“If you bully and belittle my nation, one day the sun shall rise, the
page shall turn, and you will be forced to leave.”

Bearing all these injustices and repressions only makes me stronger and [prepares me for the moment] I have to sit before the judge.

The trial is held with the presence of the Prosecutor’s representative and interrogators from the Ministry of the Intelligence. The indictment is read out. The charges are “moharebeh” [enmity against God] and “propaganda against the regime” We are not given the chance to defend ourselves against these charges. In response to Farzad’s defense that he was tortured during the interrogations, the judge asks for signs of torture, even though it has been a full year since the [incident took place].
In the course of one year, any wound is healed, except the ones inflicted on the
soul. But who wants to see or hear about [those wounds]? Faced with our
objection, the judge responds that kicks and punches are not considered torture.
He states, “You lie! All you hypocrites are like this!” [hypocrites is a term
used, among other meanings, to refer to members of the Mujahedin Khalq
Organization (MKO)] The judge then hands down a verdict without actually judging
anything, making it clear that in the conscience of the judge, there is only a
distorted image of justice. The interrogators deny on their behalf and on the
behalf of their colleagues that torture or abuse takes place in the detention
centre. The trial session ends and the judge announces that the verdict will be
issued in one weeks time. We know that everything is pre-determined and
calculated; the curtain falls when they decide. The only satisfaction we receive
is knowing that the trial will finally be held after one year of waiting.

January 10, 2010

Exactly 15 days after the court date, we return for the verdict. We climb the stairs in the court for the fourth and perhaps the last time. In a matter of minutes, we will know the verdict that will cast its shadow over my life. We sit in the clerk’s room and wait for the sentence to be read out. To our utter disbelief, the clerk does not allow us to read the judge’s verdict and asks us to just sign! However, [according to the law] the verdict must be read aloud and a copy must be provided to us. The clerks and
guards began to insult me and Farzad due to our insistence. The clerk [finally]
responds that my brother and I both received five years in prison and the
sentence must be served in Rajai Shahr prison [located in Karaj, a suburb of
Tehran]. He adds, “What else do you want to know?” Upon hearing the sentence, I
thought back to the day after I protested the “moharebeh” charge and the
interrogator replied, “Worse case scenario, you will receive five years in

On our way back to prison, I look out the window of the bus. My
hands are tied so I can’t touch the view [ahead], the spring [season], the
sun-rays, the trees, or the people. If only I was able to capture those scenes
[and locked them in] with my eyes. I thought to the trial scenes and the unjust
sentence. The judge condemned humanity the moment he handed down his ruling.

Mr. Mogheseyi, Chief judge of branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, as I
told you on the day of the trial, you say that you are judging on the basis of
Islamic law, but be aware that there is also a higher judge [making reference to
God]. This judge does not bear your robe; its essence is justice and
tactfulness. Our deeds will be judged for eternity in its court.

The injustice [in the Iranian courts will lead to] a tomorrow filled with love,
hope, and equality. Prisons, chains, and torture will be in the past. The light
in the eyes of the person on death row is called hope. Although my brother and I
will be in chains for the next five years, I shall [one day] read the letter of
victory [written] for our time; no matter if the letter is delivered in the form
of words or silence.

I am [now] addressing the interrogators of the Ministry of Intelligence. I will never forget the first day of the uninterrupted and excruciating interrogations. Do you remember that on the first day you told me to, for once in my life, trust the country’s Ministry of Intelligence? Now, I must ask, what trust were you referring to? The one year in limbo [I endured]?
[My] three months in solitary confinement? The beatings my brother and I
received? The five hours of interrogations my elderly mother endured? The
sentence issued to my brother and I? Although I dislike distrust, I have never
and will never trust any of your words.

Mr. Expert! When you talked about your daughter who is my age, I was not thinking of myself, but rather the daughters and sons of my land who face the cruel swamp of fate and the insults of their worn-out father; those who hold no hope for tomorrow in their hands.
Their only share of life is the onslaught of a storm that carelessly whithers
and wastes the beautiful flower; their lives before it has a chance to blossom.
When you held me in the solitary confinement section of ward 209 for three
consecutive months, hoping the solitude would bring me to my knees, I was living
with the memories of those who were the most fascinating people alive; those who
fell for the sake of their enemies’ children and those who turned their
passionate hearts into harps to compose the melody of life for all.

Mr. Interrogator! You know very well that teeth can be used for smiling, but you
choose to use them to devour.

My old schoolmates, I am talking to you!
You are aware of the tragedies, and you will already know [and understand] the
content of this letter of lament before reading it. My only view of the world
comes from the ruptures in the fence of injustice and oppression. My share of
God’s Earth is experienced through the hills of Evin prison and the sky that is
imprisoned by barbed wires. The heavy wave of time passes over me. I am talking
to you. Despite all this, lest we forget that we have observed humanity and love

Oh, my classmates! We do not have guns or batons. We only have
love and a small heart. We have a love for humanity and the spring. I have now
been imprisoned in Evin prison during the last two springs.

Within me
there is a cry of life. I know this cry will not be left unanswered. Your pure
hearts are the answers to my cry. One day, we will rise in such a way that the
entire city will feel our presence.

One day freedom shall chant a song

more eternal than a melody, longer than any sonnet

One day all
these chains, tortures, and prisons

will give birth to a child from its

a child named Freedom

- Shabnam Madadzadeh

Ward, Evin Prison
Spring 2010


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