He wasn’t aware at the time that he had been investigated by the ministry of intelligence for his support of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK). 30,000 of like-minded activists were executed by the regime in 1988. Mr Madadzadeh had supported activities that propagated human rights in Iran, taken part in protests against the Iranian regime, given his support to the family members of other prisoners and helped their stories reach news channels outside of Iran. Such a cause came with its price, but it was a risk that Mr. Madadzadeh – and many other Iranians – are ready to face.
“It is the right of any individual to protest. I recognise this right for myself as well. Many of my other friends realised this right for themselves. Of course, the price is high many of them are in prison now, are executed now. I accepted that if it comes to that I would be willing to pay the price for it with my life.”
At the time of his arrest, Mr. Madadzadeh had no idea that he’d be brutally beaten and confined to a solitary cell in the notorious Evin Prison, for a total of five years. His sentence was proclaimed in a court, during a five minute ‘mock trial’. “In five minutes the judge told me you are accused of War on God and having a Relationship with the PMOI they do not give me a chance to defend myself.”
Following the proclamation of his sentence, he endured months of extreme torture. Being tortured, he said, is a definite outcome for anyone who is arrested “by the intelligence ministry of the revolutionary guard. Unless that particular person from day one is willing to cooperate and say whatever the regime wants, that’s the only exception. But even that is only after torture.”
He described the extent of his torture. “They would take me at eight or nine in the morning or eight or nine in the evening. Whatever information they wanted from me, if I wouldn’t give it to them they would start to beat me. There was three of them and they would kick me around like a football.”
“They wanted me to make a false confession. Provide false evidence against the PMOI. In essence, to lie about everything I believed in.”
Mr. Madadzadeh also reported the worst aspect of his experience – the solitary confinement. He was forced into a single cell for two to three months at a time where he suffered tremendous physical and emotional distress. Despite his horrifying experience, Mr. Madadzadeh can be considered among the lucky inmates who escaped. Many don’t survive the enduring months of torture. If they do, it is only to be executed without a fair trial.
Despite Hassan Rouhani, the current president of Iran’s claims to support human rights issues in Iran, Mr. Madadzadeh believes that things have taken a turn for the worst in Iran. “For us not only did the human rights situation not improve it got worse.” He describes his own experience as the years went on in prison. “The atmosphere in prison became more closed, for example, hospital treatment for those that are ill, that was put off completely.” He paints a grim picture of the future of Iran, reporting that since his release, “The number of arrests increased; teachers workers, all sorts of people. Also, the number of executions of prisoners was higher.” This is a worrying fact in the light of recent reports about increased security measures at the notorious Gohardasht Prison in Karaj which saw the execution of 25 Sunni inmates earlier in August.
“Right now is a very worrying time inside Iran. The social atmosphere is very intense. It’s like a powder keg every day there are protests and anything can trigger a protest. The only tool the regime has to be able to maintain power is suppression and, in particular, execution.”
Mr. Madadzadeh is not the only one who fears a repeat of the 1988 revolutions. The international community has been actively engaged in highlighting the extent of Iran’s crimes against humanity and calling on the UN and international human rights organisations for action.
Mr. Madadzadeh, a survivor, and eyewitness to the regime’s darkest acts, agrees. “The western governments must put pressure on the regime to make it stop. All these arrests and executions they show Iranian society wants change.”