Heshmat Alavi, the Iranian activist and journalist, recently interviewed former political prisoner Shabnam Madadzadeh, who was able to exit Iran not long ago. She has discussed her imprisonment and has written articles that described the terrible conditions she endured.

Excerpts from the Alavi interview follow.

Shabnam Madadzadeh was a college student in Iran. She and her brother both spent five years as political prisoners in the regime’s jails as political prisoners. She was subjected to long interrogations and solitary confinement, death threats and mock executions. She was also deprived of contact with her family, and was forced to witness the beating of her brother.

She said, “These methods are used by the Iranian regime to obtain so-called ‘confessions’ and forge a case against you in court, while depriving you of legal representation. I was sentenced to prison and exiled in the notorious Gohardasht Prison in the city of Karaj, west of Tehran.”

During her sentence she was deprived of any furlough, and says that she witnessed many crimes by the regime authorities, including executions and tortures, not only inflicted on political prisoners, but also on ordinary inmates.

She stayed in a ward with hundreds of other women and witnessed their suffering. Being deprived of family visits and phone calls, she was unable to tell anyone about those women went through, or the circumstances inside the prison walls. She was also deprived medical care.

A letter written by Gohardasht Prison political prisoners has leaked from inside Iran. In it, they describe those taking part in Saturday’s “Free Iran” rally as “the voice of all the Iranian people in the larger prison called Iran, who all yearn for a ‘Free Iran,’ a democratic Iran.”

Like others, Shabnam Madadzadeh believes that Hassan Rouhani was wrongly depicted a moderate by the international community. She said, “This is nothing but a fantasy and mirage for those not familiar with the reality of Iran’s regime.”

Iran has been called out as the leading state sponsor of terrorism, who exports Islamic fundamentalism to the Middle East.

“I was a young college student and spent one year of my time in prison during Rouhani’s tenure. After being released I witnessed how the highly boasted nuclear deal signed by the P5+1 with Iran failed to render any positive change in people’s lives. In fact, their living conditions have become far more difficult. The Iran nuclear deal has only loosened sanctions in favor of the ruling elite in Tehran, and yet human rights violations and state-backed violence have ramped up,” she said.

At least 3,000 executions have occurred under the “moderate” Rouhani. Meanwhile, there have been an increasing number of popular protests over the past four years, especially during the run-up to the May 19th presidential election. Even now, teachers, workers and many others are protesting as the failing economy makes life nearly unbearable for the ordinary Iranian people.

The regime responds viciously to acts of dissent. Life has become so impossible that because of unemployment and financial problems, many workers, teachers, college students, and teenagers have resorted to suicide.

The billions of dollars Iran received after the nuclear deal has not been seen by Iran’s population, as it has instead been used by Tehran for military purposes.

According to Shabnam Madadzadeh, “The Iranian people are demanding the mullahs’ regime bring an end to warmongering and exporting terrorism to neighboring countries that they see as their friends. This money belongs to the Iranian people and must be allocated to advance their needs and welfare.”

She adds, “Any negotiation by the West with Iran will only add more gallows in Iran’s squares, escalate the Iranian people’s misery and fuel further meddling by the Revolutionary Guards in the Middle East and even beyond. For the first time this year I will be taking part in the NCRI’s annual convention in Paris scheduled for July 1st.”

The message at the massive “FreeIran” rally will highlight the necessity to establish a united front against Iranian sponsored international extremism under the banner of Islam. The political figures in attendance will add their support for the Iranian people’s demand of regime change in Iran, and will demand a firm international approach in the face of Iran’s aggressive behavior.

Shabnam Madadzadeh concludes, “I am certain that that the presence and solidarity of various Western and Arabic governments and nations will be very inspirational for all. I hope that I, as an Iranian who has decided to be the voice of my people, can be successful in sending their message: the Iranian people are determined, at any price, to topple the mullahs’ regime once and for all.”