In a gathering of Iranian communities in Paris on the occasion of the World Day Against the Death Penalty, October 10, participants called on international community to stop executions in Iran which has escalated since Hassan Rouhani took office two years ago.
Participants were moved by stories of two young dissidents who had fled Iran in recent months. Farzad Madadzadeh, 29, released after serving five years in prison, and Paria Kohandel, 18, daughter of a dissident currently serving a sentence in Gohardasht prison, west of Tehran, offered their firsthand experience of the situation in Iran and prisons and encouraged Iranians to continue fighting the regime.
Remarks by Farzad Madadzadeh follow:
In the name of God and in the name of freedom
My greetings to sister Maryam and brother Massoud and special greetings to heroines and heroes of Ashraf in the battle field of Camp Liberty.
I salute my dear compatriots and to you, the supporters of the Iranian resistance
I greet combatant political prisoners
And hail to martyrs who have fallen for the cause of freedom, and Akbar and Mahdieh (two of his relatives), who are eternal source of pride for me.
My name is Farzad Madadzadeh. I have just come out of Iran. I am 30-years-old and have spent 5 years in the Iranian regime’s jails.
12 years ago, when I saw the photograph of sister Maryam on the front page of Asia newspaper in Iran and after watching Simay-e Azadi TV that supports the resistance, I became acquainted with the Iranian resistance and the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran.
After I found out about the Mojahedin, my entire life changed. People’s pain and sufferings became my prime concern, therefore, fighting the criminal regime in order to put an end to all these sufferings became my prime objective.
I was arrested in 2008 and jailed for 5 years in Evin and Gohardasht prisons, accused of being enemy of God.
When they arrested me, they took me directly to Evin’s terrifying ward 209 and I had to spend a total of 6 months in solitary that took place in two turns.
In solitary confinement you only hear the sound of death knell. This is used by the regime to break the resolve of the prisoner. It is in these circumstances where the torturer presses you to appear on TV and tell lies about yourself and critical views.
My biggest lesson from solitary confinement is that you must fight, and must fight every moment of it. This is the key for prisoner’s success.
After the very difficult time of solitary confinement in ward 209, I was transferred to Evin’s general ward first and then to Gohardasht prison in Karaj, west of Tehran.
I shared prison wards in Evin and Gohardasht with heroes such as Ali Sarami, Farzad Kamangar, Farhad Valiki, Jafar Kazemi, Mohammad Ali Haj Aqai, Mansour Radpour, Mohsen Dogmechi and Shahrokh Zamani.
I live every moment of my life with these martyrs.
When Jafar Kazemi heard about his death sentence, turned to us and said, this struggle and the tree of freedom need blood and I am honored to have my blood spilt for this cause.
Farhad Vakili, a man from Kurdistan, always told me: Farzad, let them execute me so that the children of this land and especially my own little children would prosper in future and never experience torture or execution.
And Ali Saremi, a martyred hero. I discovered humanity and love in him. He used to say, I fight the regime with my pen so that the world would know the kind of cruelty done to our people.
One day in Gohardasht prison I told Ali Saremi that you always carried photos of Sister Maryam and brother Massoud when you were out of prison (he used to hide these pictures in his wallet and showed them to people he trusted). I asked him, what do you do in here without those pictures? He turned around and gave me a note book that was on his bed. When I opened it I found pictures of Sister Maryam and brother Massoud hidden in between the pages. He had cut out those pictures from newspapers inside the prison. He told me with his usual smile: My son! I do not go anywhere without the pictures of my leaders.
Indeed, their only crime was having a big heart and were filled with love.
One day we will find our doves,
Compassion and love will prevail,
And it will be a day when people will care for each other,
And I am longing for such a day,
Even if I am not alive,
Dear compatriots and supporters of the resistance,
Today is the World Day Against the Death Penalty. Let me tell you about those poor souls in their teens who are being arrested for any charges when they are as young as 13 or 14 and kept waiting in a gradual death until they reach the legal age to be executed.
Their dates of birth are their worst days as they get closer to their deaths.
During long years of waiting, do you know what the regime does to them? the regime makes them addicts.
Do not be surprised. The only thing you can easily access in Iranian jails is drug because the regime’s agents are the one who bring them into the prison in order to make the young inmates, especially the political prisoners, addicted.
This is while, people outside prisoners are arrested and executed for possessing as little as 30 grams of drug.
The day I was released from Gohardasht prison, as I was saying goodbye to my prison mates, I pledged to be their oppressed voice and the oppressed voice of the Iranian people. Therefore, I moved fast from the gates of Gohardasht to the bases of the resistance for freedom.
Iranian people and the political prisoners have this to tell the world community:
Verbal condemnation of the regime is not enough. The mullahs’ must be tried in international tribunals for their crimes, especially for the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners and the ongoing daily executions.
At the time I was in jail, and now that I am among you, I have always been confident, and I strongly believed that freedom will prevail in Iran.
We will no doubt take Maryam Rajavi to the liberated Iran and will sing the song of victory together with our oppressed nation and honor the memory of our martyrs.