[A Kurd woman is talking about being raped in Islamic Republic’s prison.]
The interviewer says: You’d better introduce yourself first.
Azar gives a false name at first: My name is Nina Aghdam.
The interviewer asks: Is that your real name?
Azar answers: No. It is not my real name. When my face is shown here, and I am speaking, and people can see my face, so they know who I am.
Interviewer asserts: I think it is important for documentation. Because this issue has historical importance, the real name somehow helps.
Azar gives her real name: I have no problems with that. My name is Azar Al-Kanaan. I am a Kurd. I am from Kurdistan.
The interviewer asks: When did you get arrested?
Azar: In 1982.
Interviewer: How old were you?
Azar: Let me see. How old was I then? Almost 18, 18.5. And I had a child.
Interviewer: You were married?
Azar states: Yes, I had married. I had been married for several years, and I had a child when I was arrested. She was 8 or 9 months old when I was arrested.
Azar talks about her prison experience: They took me directly to the torture room and started beating me. And my daughter was crying. She was in interrogator’s hands. When we were at the prison, the city’s prison [was different from] Tehran’s prison, from Ward 209 of Evin Prison. Because during the time that I was in Evin, I was in Ward 209 – I was in Ward’s 209’s cells. And for the time I was in [unintelligible], I was in the corridor and didn’t go to the ward. The main problem that I experienced myself and was my personal experience which I had to go through at that time –well, later when I went to the prison ward, I had some other problems – was that I had to bleed. I was constantly bleeding, and they didn’t give me any sanitary napkins. My daughter got chicken pox, and her chest and back were full of chicken pox. It was in a way that days and nights, my baby… we didn’t shower, and my baby didn’t have any clothes for changing. It was a terrible condition, and even now when recalling that… my baby suffered an agonizing pain.
The interviewer asks: The most bitter experience you can remember?
Azar starts talking about being raped: It was the rape that took place in the city’s prison, at the time when I was in a city’s prison.
Interviewer: Which city?
Interviewer: The prison’s name?
Azar: It belonged to the Revolutionary Guards.
Azar recounts her experience: The interrogator told me once that ‘when you walked in streets, you held your head too high. You walked with a high head. I should bring your head down.’ I said, ‘what do you want to do?’ It didn’t even pass my mind that he was thinking about rape. Of course, at the time of interrogation, I used to sit on a chair with closed eyes. He always used to come and sit in front of me and talk. I realized that he was doing some things. I used to pull myself together. He usually brought his legs forward to touch my legs. And I pulled myself together. I was with a chador. And I realized he was doing some things, but I didn’t expect anything more. And I didn’t have the experience and hadn’t heard about it.
Azar tries to talk about the night of rape: At the night of that incident, the corridor was very quiet. I don’t remember what night it was. At nights of “Kumayl Prayer”, there was a lot of noise. I don’t remember what night it was, but it was very quiet. I don’t know why. It was very quiet. There was no interrogation. And in the corridor where I was, it was very quiet. He moved forward. I thought he was coming for interrogating – like always that he used to come forward for interrogating (so close that you could feel his breaths on your face, and sometimes when he talked, his saliva splashed on your face). I thought he was interrogating me again. He said ‘I will do something to dishonor you. We don’t want intelligence anymore. We don’t want you to say anything at all.’ Then he started to take away my chador, and unbutton my blouse. I really thought he was trying to intimidate me.
The interviewer asks: Your eyes were closed so you couldn’t see?
Azar responds: My eyes were closed. My eyes were closed and I was in the corridor. My hands were tied to the radiator. It was natural to show a reaction. I said, ‘What are you doing?’ With the silk scarf that he used to wear around his neck, he closed my mouth. He started to unbutton. The only thing I had to defend myself was my legs. My hands were tied and I didn’t have anything else. It was for a while that I had been mentally and spiritually devastated. During the time I was being interrogated, even though they hadn’t beaten me like the first time, I was mentally and spiritually devastated. I struggled with my weak body. My hands were tied and I couldn’t do anything. Anyway, he did it. Again, he put my pants on me and buttoned my blouse.
Azar talks about how she feels about being raped: Sometimes, people can solve the issue of rape for themselves, but unfortunately, I haven’t been able to solve it for myself yet. I know that it was my enemy who was doing this –touching my body and raping me. Although at the time of flogging me, it was a sort of rape as well, his beating me with a cable was easier for me to digest. Because I feel that I forgot the pain the cable caused me after a while. I never remember how painful the cable was. But the pain of the rape and the pain of his filthy hands touching my body – even remembering it is like … is like a mother whose child has been killed right in front of her eyes. This is how I imagine what happened to me. It is heavy!
The interviewer asks: Did you talk about it with anybody?
Azar asserts: With my father. After this issue, I tried to commit suicide twice. Because they had taken me to prison’s clinic, my family understood about it. Because of what my father had done, all interrogators used to tell me in relation to my father that ‘you don’t highly value your father. He is always here day and night.’ My father didn’t expect it at all. And now that I am talking about it, I am still trying to… My father told me ‘my dear, why did you try to kill yourself?’ I said, “you really want to know why I tried to kill myself?’ An interrogator was there too. My father said, ‘yes tell me why you tried to kill yourself. You will be released. I am sure you will be released. You have done nothing wrong.’ I said, ‘it is not because of being released or not that I tried to kill myself. The problem is that so and so interrogator has raped me.’ Then for a moment my father just froze. And without even blinking, he was shedding tears. After a while, he said, ‘don’t worry about us. We will take care of your child very well. Like always. Whatever you do, we have your back. I and your sisters, and your mother have no problems. I only wanted to know why you tried to kill yourself. Now I see.’