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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Shirin Alam-Hooli, Kurdish Political Prisoner on Death Row Writes About her Ordeal

When they realized I was decided to go on with my hunger strike, they tried to force feed me with tubes inserted in my stomach through my nose.



RHANA Prisoners’ Right Unit- Some time ago, the Kurdish political prisoner, Shirin Alam-Hooli was sentenced to death by the initial court. The court’s ruling said that her confession to having ties to Pezhak (Kurdish opposition group) was one of the reasons for her conviction as a Mohareb. In a letter written from Evin, Shirin talks about her detention and tortures she was subjected to in order to make false confessions.
The following is the English translation of her letter:

What I Endured During Detention
I was arrested in May 2008 by a group of military officers and plain clothes agents who took me to an IRGC base. Upon arrival to the base and before a single question was asked the beatings started. I stayed in that base for 25 days of which 22 days on hunger strike, being tortured mentally and physically all along. The interrogators were all male and I remained cuffed to a bed during the interrogation sessions. They would beat me all over my body, sometimes with an electric baton or a piece of cable and on other times by kicking and punching me. Those days I had difficulty understanding or speaking Persian. When they would see that their questioned were unanswered they would beat me up even harder until I would fall unconscious. When the call for prayer would come, they’d leave to pray but not before telling me that I should take advantage of their absence to make up my mind. Upon their return from prayer the same vicious circle would start over: Beatings, Fainting, Cold Water…
When they realized that I was decided to go on with my hunger strike they tried to force feed me with tubes inserted in my stomach through my nose. I resisted and each time and pulled out the feeding tubes which resulted in bleeding and extreme pain. Even now, two years later I still suffer from the effects.
One day, during the interrogation they kicked me so hard in the stomach that I started bleeding. Another day one of the interrogators, who was the only one I had seen because I was not blindfolded, came to see me. He started asking me the same irrelevant questions. When he saw his questions remained unanswered, he slapped me and put his gun on my head and said: Answer my questions. I know that you are a terrorist and a member of Pezhak. It does not make a difference whether you talk or not because we know and are happy that a Pezhak member is detained in our hands.
During one of the visits the doctor made to see my condition, I was half conscious. The doctor told the interrogator to transfer me to the hospital. The interrogator asked: why should we take her to the hospital? Can’t she be treated here? The doctor answered: I don’t mean for treatment. Let me take her to the hospital and I’ll make her sing like a bird. The next day I was taken to the hospital blindfolded and in handcuffs. The doctor made me lay down on the bed and injected me with a drug. After the injection I felt I was not myself anymore. I started giving all the required and desired answers to their questions as they were filming the whole session. When I came back to my senses, I asked where I was and realized I was still lying on the hospital bed. They then took me back to my prison cell.
This (My confessions under influence of the drug) did not satisfy my interrogators who were decided to inflict on me as much pain as they possibly could. They used to make me stand on my wounded feet until they would become swollen, they then would bring some ice to put on them. All through the nights I could hear sounds of crying, sobbing and screams. The sounds used to make me nervous but later I found out they were all recordings used to make me suffer. There were days when they’d make me sit for hours in the interrogation room with drops of cold water slowly falling on my head, until late night when I would be taken back to my cell.
During one interrogation session as I was sitting on a chair blindfolded, the interrogator burned my hand with his cigarette. Another time he pressed his boots so hard on my feet that my nails became black and fell off later. They used to make me stand on my feet for long hours without asking any question. During those sessions the interrogator would just sit and solve crosswords. Brief, they did everything that was in their power to make me suffer.
When I returned from the hospital, they decided to send me to ward 209 of Evin. I was in such bad physical condition, that upon arrival, ward 209 officials refused to admit me in and I had to wait behind the door for an entire day before finally being taken to Evin’s Clinic.
I could not say the difference between day and night anymore. I don’t remember how many days I remained in the clinic before my wounds were healed. I was taken to ward 209 and the interrogations started over. Ward 209 interrogators had their own techniques they referred to as “Hot and Cold Policies”. First the Bad interrogator would enter the room to threaten and torture me, claiming that he did not respect any laws and would do anything he desired. This would go on for a while and then the Good interrogator would walk in to offer me a cigarette and tell his colleague to stop, only to start asking me the same questions himself, like a vicious circle.
During my detention in ward 209, especially in the beginning when I was still under interrogation, I used to get frequent nose bleeds. The only treatment I’d receive was a tranquilizer injection which would make me sleep the whole day. I was never allowed to get out of my cell or go to the prison clinic..
Shirin Alam-Hooli
Women’s ward, Evin Prison

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