Shabnam Madadzadeh, a former political prisoner who secretly left Iran few months ago revealed atrocities of the Iranian regime inside prisons. She was 21 when arrested for her activities in a university in Tehran.
Madadzadeh spoke at a conference held in Paris on Saturday, 26 November 2016.
Below is the text of her speech at the conference:
My name is Shabnam Madadzadeh. I left Iran a few months ago.
I was a 21-year-old student and in my third year of studying computer science at Tehran’s Teacher’s Training University. My studies were cut short when the Iranian regime’s intelligence agents arrested me and my brother Farzad and took us to the notorious Evin Prison.
I spent three months in solitary confinement, undergoing some of the most brutal forms of psychological and physical torture in Evin’s Ward 209. The worst of it all was when they tortured my brother Farzad in front of me.
Later, I was sentenced to five years in prison by the regime and exiled to the dreadful Gohardasht Prison in Karaj.
I spent time in Evin, Gohardasht, and the horrid Qarchack Varamin prisons. On several occasions that lasted a total of eight months, I was not permitted any visits or phone calls.
But, we found solace in the proud resistance of the residents of Camp Ashraf. We were inspired by their perseverance and resoluteness even as we faced some of the most difficult times of our lives, like experiencing the execution of my dear friend and Kurdish activist Shirin Alam Houli.
The entire story began with two words.
These words were initially written in my high school and university books: We “can” and we “must.”
Every year, the words “we can and we must” were written more eligibly and more beautifully in my books.
These words ignited inspiration in me. They turned into courage, bravery and an unyielding declaration in the campus as I stared in the eyes of the regime’s security agents.
They turned into courage when I defended with all my might the last bastions of freedom, shoulder-to-shoulder with my colleagues. These words gave me the ability to speak about freedom and the right to live.
They enabled and empowered me during the horrifying attacks by agents against our university protests and gatherings.
These were the words that inhabited my entire being. They nurtured confidence and were the key to my perseverance in solitary confinement.
“We can and we must” – these were the source of my strength when I faced the loud shouts and violence of the regime’s interrogators.
They gave me the conviction and faith as I sat down on the interrogation chair while five to six guards circled around me, talking about executions and torture.
Each day of my five-year prison term, these were the words that showed me the promise of light and the coming of liberty.
When the walls seemed to grow taller and when barbed wire surrounded me, these two words, “can” and “must”, were like wings that allowed me to fly higher.
Yes, Mrs. Rajavi, I found the strength to grow wings and fly thanks to your empowering words: “we can and we must.”
And, now, I am here still relying on your presence and leadership, which is the symbol of the words “we can and we must.” Like a dewdrop coming from the ocean of your piercing eyes, which glow with conviction and certainty, I have now joined the vigorous sea of the Mujahedin so I can grow even more.
Mrs. Rajavi: I have come to you from the depressed and repressed streets of Iran, filled with cranes that execute citizens.
I join you carrying a huge weight of suffering of the Iranian people, especially the women and girls of our homeland;
With flowers and wreaths and greetings and hope offered by the suppressed people of Iran.
I come to you from the ranks of activist and unrelenting university students, who have sent you messages.
I carry numerous messages to you from the innocent women and girls languishing in Evin, Gohardasht and Qarchak prisons.
The same innocent Iranian girls, who as you have put it, are like beautiful flowers that fade without having the chance to blossom first.
I have seen the Reyhanehs, hundreds and hundreds of Reyhanehs. I have come here to tell you about their stories of suffering and the injustices that they have faced.
They told me they had no safe refuge; they told me of the times when they were tortured, when they were held in illegal detention centers, and when they were raped by torturers.
For years, these women and girls have spent their lives under some of the worst circumstances, carrying with them their death sentences. They are experiencing a gradual death in the regime’s torture chambers.
I spoke to a woman who had returned from a world of death; girls that were arrested on phony or insignificant charges, only to be pulled into a world of corruption, death and drugs created by the mullahs.
I talked to a 27-year-old woman who was arrested at 17 on the fabricated and mullah-inspired charge of having “illegitimate relations.” 10 years later, she was addicted to drugs and had murdered someone.
Dear Mrs. Rajavi,
I have brought all this pain in front of you to see because you are the only answer to these pains.
Mrs. Rajavi, I have carried all those years, all that hurt, all the tears and the anguish on my shoulders and as a consequence I always feel the gravity of my responsibility.
I will continue my efforts and struggle until my last breath, promising to try to take you to the land of the Lion and the Sun, Iran.
The voice of my dear sister and my hero Maryam Akbari Monfared; an innocent mother of three who has spent more than 7 years in the regime’s prisons.
When they arrested her, her daughter Sara was only four. But, even in the darkest and most difficult days, Maryam refused to surrender.
Since the day of her arrest until now, she has consistently stood up to the regime’s guards and interrogators, seeking justice for the killings of her sister and brothers.
When she grew restless and her heart was aching to hug her small daughter Sara or to talk or console her teenage daughters, she used to tell me: now I know what pain my late sister Roqieh felt in 1988 when they separated her from her toddler daughter, but she still stood firm and defended her cause.
She used to always tell me that if there is one thing she believes, it is the innocence, honesty and purity of all the martyrs of the massacre of 1988, and that the PMOI are the only light shining in a world full of injustice. She used to say that this is the only reason why I am still persevering and resisting.
I have to tell my friend Maryam from this podium that as I said during our last conversation, I promise to always be on your side and to echo your voice as you seek justice. I promise to tell her story for the world. Remembering all the sweet and bitter moments in prison, I vow to be with the justice seeking movement led by Mrs. Rajavi, which is now growing and expanding, so that we can bring the brutal mullahs to justice for massacring thousands of innocent people.
To all the European countries and international institutions, I say that you must listen to the voice of the Iranian people, the voice of grieving mothers of martyrs, the voice of the families of the victims of the 1988 massacre, the voice of political prisoners in Iran.
The Iranian people have had enough suffering and suppression at the hands of the mullahs. They do not care about any of their factions. They see one regime, with one color, which is red with the blood of thousands of innocents.
The Iranian people condemn any form of relation or deals with the regime and they say that by continuing such contacts and remaining quiet about the regime’s violations, there will be new gallows set up in Iran’s streets. Your deals come at a price: the blood and lives of human beings.
The Iranian people are convinced that the Iranian regime, which has vowed to destroy humans and humanity, will be toppled by the PMOI and the NCRI.
Dear Massoud Rajavi,
When I entered cell #15 in Evin’s Ward 209 and after the steel door was shut the first day, I recalled you repeating the famous words of Imam Ali, who said ‘even if the mountains tremble, never budge an inch’. I wrote this in large letters on my cell wall.
Dear Massoud, when I was in solitary confinement, I tried to remember your teachings so I could stay proud.
We flourish in your presence
We flourish with your books
And in defense of your smile
Now, by relying on Mrs. Rajavi’s teachings, in the fight against the regime, I hoist the flag once held by Mahdieh and Akbar and I vow to work hard to free the Iranian people and our homeland. I will remain a PMOI activist until my last breath.