He was arrested with a friend right before the uprising of the Green Movement, which called for peaceful demonstrations to fight against the election fraud that secured a second term for extremist President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and captured the world’s attention.
Imprisoned for five years, Madadzadeh says “I was a prisoner in the notorious Evin Prison and Gohardasht (Rajai-Shahr) Prison in Karaj, northwest of Tehran. I was tor-tured in prison. The only reason I was being tortured was because I was a PMOI sup-porter.”
Assisted by a translator, Madadzadeh goes on to describe his treatment in jail. “I was arrested and they took me to Ward 209 which is run by the regime’s Ministry of Intelli-gence and Security. I was in solitary confinement for [a total of] six months. When I was arrested, I spent three months in solitary, the first time, after interrogation.” Torture was soon introduced into the interrogations, according to Madadzadeh. “It went on for weeks. It started at 8 a.m. and went on until 9 or 10 p.m. at night… They tortured me in the interrogation room. For example, they asked me questions then battered me like a football. And then they passed me to another person and it would happen all over again. Every interrogation was repeated.”
During a brief respite, Madadzadeh learned that his brother and sister were killed by allies of the regime in Iraq. As related by his translator, “He and his friend held a small memorial for those killed and because of that they transferred him back to Ward 209 and the torture began once again.”
Although Madadzadeh survived, the friend arrested with him wasn’t so fortunate. “When I was in prison,” he said, “the regime in Iran executed my friend in prison, and other political prisoners in Iran.” He told Opportunity Lives some of their names: Ali Sa-remi, Jafar Kazemi and Mohammad-Ali Haj-Aghai.
When Hassan Rouhani was elected president in 2013, Madadzadeh was still in prison. He said. “Outside of Iran, a lot of politicians thought there would be some kind of change, but it was the opposite. Things got worse.” He witnessed more arrests of stu-dents and journalists. “The teachers were also arrested; many who tried to hold pro-tests. They were cracked down upon and arrested and brought to where we were held.”
From his observation, once Rouhani came to office the executions suddenly in-creased. “It’s about three years since he has been in office, and [there have been] 2,600 executions since then.”
He also accused Rouhani of breaking his economic promises. “Rouhani made a prom-ise that within 100 days of taking office he would turn the economy around, but it did not improve, everything got worse.” and adds that Rouhani passed the blame. “He said everything was tied to the nuclear deal and issues with sanctions… that the nuclear deal would benefit us, our dinner tables, but what I witnessed inside Iran is that within the last two years, the price of everything went up, despite the official government fig-ures. The only benefit of lifting sanctions is for [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] and Hezbollah. They have been on the receiving end.”
In the year since the nuclear deal, the government hasn’t become more moderate, not has the economy stabilized. Madadzadeh said that the Iranian people know this, too. It’s why Madadzadeh escaped to Europe as soon as he completed his prison sentence.
“I have never been any sort of leader and I never claimed to be. I’m just a small member of the resistance trying to do my bit. I saw many of my friends executed, so I could not just say silent,” he said. “The only option for me that was left was to go abroad and bring their voice to the international community,” he said. “In particular, the voice of the young Iranians, that would like to inform Western politicians that they want change.”
Madadzadeh joined other former political prisoners, members of PMOI, and interna-tional leaders from the US, the UK and the Arab world July 09 in Paris for the annual “Free Iran” conference.
His message to the West, specifically America, is that, “The people of Iran are not ask-ing for any agreement, even a nuclear agreement… the people of Iran are looking for a change in the regime… and to learn of their plight and feel their pain and stand on the side of the people. Iranians showed it in 2009 that they want regime change. The Irani-an people do not want a military invasion of Iran or for Americans to overthrow the re-gime for us, but we want them stop assisting the regime and cut ties.”
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), seemed to agree, when he told the crowd, “I want you to know that the message I will take home to America is that there are thousands and thousands of Iranians: who are prepared, who are ready, who are committed, and who believe that we can truly bring democracy to Iran.”
Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, who echoed this statement. “There is only one answer here, to support legitimate opposition groups that favor overthrowing the dicta-torship in Iran,” Bolton said. “It should be a declared policy of the U.S. and all our friends to do just that at the earliest opportunity.”
“I hope in these few days… the West heard the real voice of Iran,” Madadzadeh said. “This is the true voice of the people. If Western governments want to fall on the right side of history, they should hear the voice of the Iranian people and their resistance movement… people who for many, many years forewent everything, even their liveli-hood, for their people and their nation.”