Iran: Farzad Kamangar, (part 2) his testimony.
This is the second of three postings about Kamangar’s case. In the first posting you will find Amnesty’s appeal and a link to our online action. In this posting you will find Farzad’s account of his treatment in his own words, while in the next posting I describe the solidarity in his case. Please act today.
The text below, which has been edited, was widely circulated on the internet in April 2008. Amnesty International does not know who made the translation, for which it does not take responsibility. This text was included in Amnesty’s July 2008 Report Iran: Repression Against the Kurdish Minority, which is available in English, Kurdish and Farsi here, with a summary here.
Apologies for the length of this posting – I did not want to cut his testimony further.
Appendix 4: Partial testimony of Farzad Kamangar
I am Farzad Kamangar, also known as Siamand; a teacher who used to work in the Iranian governmental education system in the town of Kamyaran, with 12 years experience of teaching.
One year before my arrest, I was busy teaching at the Karodanesh institute. I also was a member of the board of directors of the teachers of Kamyaran association in the Kurdistan branch and up to the point of disbandment of the association and just before the activities of the association was banned by the government; I was the head of PR. Also I was a member of the guild writers of a cultural/educational monthly called Royan, which later came to be under the siege of the governmental education system and was later blocked.
For some time I was also a member of the environmental society in Kamyaran and from 2005 onwards I begun with my human rights activities and eventually came to be one of the writers for the human rights association. I travelled to Tehran in August 2006 in order to follow up on the health of my sick brother, who is also a political activist, and there I was arrested.
On the same day I was transferred to an undisclosed location. It was a basement without and ventilation, claustrophobic and dark, the cells didn’t have any floor just plain dirt, nothing was there neither a mattress nor a cover or anything else. It was very dark there; I was taken to another room. While they were writing down my details they asked me of my origins as soon as I said “Kurd” they flogged me all over my body with a hose looking whip. Because of [my] religion I had to endure profanities, insults and beating. I was even severely battered because of the Kurdish ringtone that I had on my mobile. They would tie my hands and put me on a chair and put heavy pressure on various sensitive parts of my body…they would remove my clothes with force and threatening me with rape with a baton or sticks.
My left foot was brutally injured at this location and because of the simultaneous hits to my head as I was electrified I passed out and ever since I gained my conscious I have lost the sense of balance in my body and now shake without any control. They would chain my feet and with electric shocks who was created by small appliances that they had tied to my back, they would shock different sensitive areas of my body, they pain was immensely agonizing.
I was later transferred to the villainous 209 lockup of Evin prison. I was blindfolded as soon as I entered and in the entrance corridor (floor level- left-hand side further up than the room for execution of orders) I was put in a small room where I was battered severely with punches and kicks there as well. The following day, they transferred me to Sanandaj prison until they would arrest my brother. From the moment I entered the lockup I was facing profanities, insults and battering. I was not even allowed the usage of toilet facilities, until I was forced to wet myself. After enduring a lot of the physical and psychological pressure I was once again transferred to the 209 lockup. In the rooms on the first floor (the green interrogation rooms) I was interrogated and battered and tormented.
After all the torture I had to endure, they were forced to take me to a doctor on the Sunday 27 August 2006. His office was connected to the interrogation rooms, where the doctor recorded the bruises from the torture, flogging and battering. They were clearly visible on my back, neck, head, rear, thighs and feet. I spent the two months of August and September in solitary confinement cell number 43. Because of the magnitude of the tortures and torments I had to endure I went on a hunger strike for 33 days, they started to harass and threat my family, in order to free myself from the torture and to demonstrate against the ill treatment and the pressures against my family, I threw myself down the stairs of the first floor in order to commit suicide.
I spent close to a month in solitary isolation, at the end of the first floor, in section 113 [of the prison]. It had a horrible stench. During this period I was not allowed to have visits nor telephone calls with any member of my family. During the 3 months of solitary confinement I was not allowed to go out in the free air. After enduring these months they moved me to a bigger cell, cell number 10, a cell intended for several persons, and I spent close to two months there. Still I was not allowed to have any contact with a lawyer or my family.
In the beginning of January of 2007 I was transferred from the 209 facility in Tehran to the Ministry of Intelligence’s detention centre in Kermanshah, situated in Naft Square without any charges or due process. The centre’s cells were small and dark and all kinds of crimes were committed there.
[At the Kermanshah facility] they removed all my clothes and after having battered me, they gave me dirty and stinking clothes and with kicks and punches in the hallway of the lockup took me to the room of the security officer in charge and from there to a another corridor which they entered in a small door.
There was a really small cell hidden far away from everybody else and so far that even my screams couldn’t reach anybody else. This cell was 1.6m by 0.5m. Two small light bulbs were hanging from the roof. There was no ventilation. The cell used to be a toilet before and was really stinking and cold. There was one really dirty duvet in the cell. Every time I would wake up unexpectedly I would hit my head on the wall. The cell was dreadfully cold. In order to breathe sometimes I was forced to lay my face down on the ground and breathe through the small gap between the door and the floor.
During my sleep or rest the guards would periodically knock hard on the door in order to disturb my rest or they would turn off the lights. Two days after my arrival at the prison I was taken to the interrogation room and without posing one single question they started to kick and punch me. They swore and insulted me however they could. Afterwards I was taken back to my cell; they turned on the radio an put it on the highest volume in order to disturb my rest. I was allowed to go to the toilet two times every 24 hours and permitted to wash myself a few minutes [only] once a month.
The following are examples of the torture that I suffered at the Kermanshah facility: Playing football” – this was a term used by interrogators when they stripped me of my clothes and four or five persons formed a circle around me. Each one would then pummel, kick and then pass me around, like a football, between each person. If I fell to the ground they would laugh at me and hit me savagely while I was on the floor. They forced me to stand on one leg for hours and hold my hands up high. If I got tired and slouched or dropped my leg or arm they would beat me. During repeated interrogations, I was punched and slapped.
In the basement of the centre, whose stairs from the main corridor to free air was covered by trash and breadcrumbs to hide it from others, there was another torture room to which they would take me at night fall and there they would tie my hands and feet to a bed and using a whip which they called “Zolfaghar”. Then they would flog the soles of my feet, then my thighs and finally my back. The pain was unbearable and I could not even walk for days.
They had a ‘cold’ room, so called because it was cold and in the winter they would take me there in the morning, saying it was for ‘interrogation’. In fact, they [merely] incarcerated me there from morning to the following dawn and there was no interrogation.
In the Kermanshah facility they applied electric shocks to the body, especially to various sensitive parts of the body.
I was not allowed to use a toothbrush or toothpaste and was given tiny amounts of leftover food which stank and was completely unfit for human consumption.
At the Kermanshah lockup they prohibited me from having any visits and went so far so as to arrest a woman that I was interested in. Problems were created for my brothers and they too were arrested. Because of the filth present in the cell, on the blanket and my dirty, unwashed and stinking, unhygienic clothes, I got skin problems [fungus infection] and I wasn’t even allowed to visit a doctor. I undertook a hunger strike lasting 12 days when the torture became more severe.
For the last 15 days, they changed my cell to a cell that was even more foul smelling and even filthier. It had no heating facilities. Every day I had to endure more insults and pummelling to the extent that one day I even passed out. This was because of the injury inflicted to my testicles. One night in the torture room (basement) they stripped me and threatened me that they were going to rape me right there and in order to be released from torture I banged my head hard on the wall. They forced me to confess to emotional matters and relationships [that I simply had to say under duress]. The sound of sighs and screams could be heard from nearby cells where detainees would sometimes commit suicide.
On 18 March 2007 I was transferred back to Evin prison’s section 209, in Tehran. Even though I was put in the multi-person cell, number 121, they continued to prohibit me from having any visitors. They still tortured me both physically and psychologically and arrested my family members, whom I was prohibited from contacting, as the profanities and insults and beating persisted.
In May 2007, after months of limbo, my case came before the Branch 30 of the Revolutionary court. The interrogators threatened me that they would seek with all their power to have me executed or imprisoned for a considerable time. In case I was proved innocent, they made it clear I would face their vengeance outside of prison.
They had a strange, singular hatred towards me as a Kurd, journalist and a human rights activist. No matter what was going on they never stopped torturing me.
The revolutionary court in Tehran announced that the case was not going to be heard in Tehran and the case was sent to the court in Sanandaj. When they felt exposed to the support I received from people or from human rights associations against my arrest and detention, the torture worsened as they got more frustrated and then they would increase the pressure on me.
In August 2007 I was transferred to the Ministry of Intelligence’s detention facility in Sanandaj. It became my “worst nightmare” and I will never be able to forget it. It will haunt me for the rest of my life.
Even though in law I faced no new accusation, they too launched into both physical and psychological terror as soon I entered the facility.
The Sanandaj facility had a main corridor, off which ran five side corridors. I was initially placed into the last cell, in the last corridor. Then they proceeded to change my cell – all the time – until the day that the head of the centre, along with some others started to beat me without any reason.
They dragged me out of my cell and then pounded the back of my head until I fell to the ground, unconscious. I learned later that they then dragged me down 18 steps to a basement and the interrogation rooms there.
Later I opened my eyes and immediately felt a colossal pain rip through my face and head and through my sides. Regaining consciousness provoked another round of beating and I was punched and kicked all over my body. After approximately one hour of battering, they dragged me back up the stairs and into the second hallway. There they threw me into a small cell where I was once again beaten by two security thugs until I again lost consciousness.
When I came to I heard the evening call to prayer. My face was bloody while my clothes were drenched in filth and my blood. My face was swollen; my whole body was black and blue and I didn’t have the power to move. A few hours later they picked me up, stripped me then threw me and the clothes in a shower in an attempt to clean both.
They put me back into my wet clothes but because my health had seriously deteriorated they had me checked over. The following day they took me to a doctor’s office outside the prison. Because of the injuries to my teeth and jaw I was not able to eat for several days. During the nights they opened the windows in the cell so the cold would get to me. They refused to give me a blanket so I was forced to wrap the filthy carpet around me to keep warm.
[In Sanandaj] I was not allowed access to the routine periods of ‘free air’ time, visits or telephone calls and again and again I was beaten in the basement interrogation rooms. I undertook a five day hunger strike in protest but it did not stop them from frequently smashing my head against the basement walls. Still, no accusation had been made against me, whether in Kermanshah or in Sanandaj.
The famous ‘chicken kebab’ torture was the expression that head of the Sanandaj detention centre used and he would carry it out most nights when he was there. He would tie the hands and feet [of the prisoner], throw [them] on the floor and flog [them.].
One could hear the cries and the screeches of the other prisoners, mainly female, and just these sounds themselves damaged one’s soul. They left the windows open during the nights [so that the wails could be heard]. They would soak my clothes [while I was] in the basement, following a series of beatings, then return me to my cell, wet, beaten and having to battle the cold. I was forced to wrap myself in the dirty blanket that was in the cell.
I spent close to two months in solidarity confinement in Sanandaj. Yet, in court, my case was once again dismissed and I was once again transferred back to Tehran. After almost eight months of solitary isolation, physical and psychological torment, I had been deeply affected.
[Finally], I was transferred back to Evin Prison in Tehran and placed in section seven. It is a place where drugs are considered a recreational pastime. On 18 November 2007 I was transferred to Reja’i Shahr Prison, in Karaj [west of Tehran]. It is a high security facility accommodating violent criminals, those who have committed murder, kidnapping and armed robbery [etc]…
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