This letter by retired University of Tehran professor Mohammad Maleki describes his imprisonment and torture by the Iranian regime. It is addressed to the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran.
Dr. Ahmed Shaheed
Kind regards and best wishes for success in the valuable and humanitarian work you do.
I, Dr. Mohammad Maleki, retired professor and the first dean of the University of Tehran after the revolution, wanted to tell what is going on regarding gross human rights violations in my country, Iran, for your information based on my personal experiences. May it be a step towards saving my nation from all this oppression, corruption, and brutality.
My brother, Mr. Shaheed:
I am also one of the tens of thousands of people whose human rights were violated again and again by authoritarian and oppressive rulers during the 32 years of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s governance. I have been witness to many crimes in Iran’s prisons, a few of which I’ll describe.
I tried my best to lead the university through a council of professors, students and employees who were selected democratically — based on one of the revolution’s goals — after my appointment as the dean of the University of Tehran and the revolution’s victory in 1979. This agitated the regime that had seized all the power, and finally, they closed the universities in the so-called “cultural revolution” by attacking the universities and killing some students while wounding and arresting others. They arrested many academics who opposed this and executed them after much torture. The University of Tehran’s managing council and higher council, which were responsible for managing the university, objected to this decision, but the regime arrested some of them, including myself, on charges of objecting to the supreme leader (Ayatollah Khomeini)’s order instead of responding to us, and detained us in prison. I have been tried in an illegal court without the presence of an attorney and have been sentenced to death at first, and ten years’ detention in the end. I have faced brutal tortures, including lashing of my feet and other parts of my body with cables, being hung from the ceiling, hitting my head against the wall, punching my body, which blinded my left eye and broke my right wrist, and all kinds of torture. I still feel the effects of some of this torture on my body. I was released from jail after five years, but I had to appear before the prosecutor for questioning every other day for months, which was a kind of torture itself.
In 2000, dozens of religious national activists and I were arrested again on charges of attempting to overthrow the state, and we were sent to one of the most dreaded prisons of the Revolutionary Guard (Eshrat Abad) and kept in solitary confinement in a 1-2-meter cell. Lawyers and psychologists believe keeping prisoners in such confinement is a form of “white torture.” After suffering for about seven months in prison (white torture), I was released for trial and was given a suspended sentence of seven years’ imprisonment in an illegal closed court.
On August 22, 2009, while I was suffering from prostate cancer and arrhythmia as well as high blood pressure and was receiving chemotherapy, some intelligence service officials attacked my home in the early hours of the day, and after searching my home and taking many of my Books and Manuals, they sent me to Evin prison (section 209 of the intelligence service), where I was kept for three months. During interrogations, they insulted me in diverse ways, and for my critical writings alone, they charged me with insulting the leaders of the Islamic Republic — Khomeini and Khamenei — and with Moharebeh (“waging war against God”). After 91 days in prison, due to the severity of my health problems, which necessitated that I go to the hospital several times, finally they gave me leave to receive chemotherapy and install a pacemaker. Recently I was recalled for trial in a closed court, which is against even the Islamic Republic’s laws, and currently I am undergoing difficult times as a result of the court sentence. I am a 78 year old man and sick, but I am ready for any sentence, as my goal is to fight the tyranny of Iran’s rulers. I trust in God and the people, and I am not afraid of anything. My dream is to meet with you and tell the truth about what has happened over the last three decades in Iran.
Dear Dr. Shaheed,
I will testify how during the 1980s, every night tens and even hundreds of young prisoners and students, both men and women, were executed. They were singing while going to their death. I am ready to tell you the truth about what happened in the prisons and pay the price.
I wish you success, and be sure that God is with you.
Dr. Mohammad Maleki
Political prisoner (suspended)
Retired University of Tehran professor