Evin, Theocracy and Lies

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Evin prison was visited by the foreign ambassadors in Tehran to be told lies by the theocracy. In charge of the grotesque show at Evin were the Larijani brother’s men. The local journalists reporting the self-serving lies, and adding to them, are accomplice to Evin torturers and executioners.

Evin, Theocracy and Lies

Even briefly, the pathological liars, namely theocrats, enjoy the attention that they get from others by telling extravagant stories. Manipulators, by presenting themselves in a favourable light, they tend to find ways to avert people’s thoughts away from exploring their lies.

The Iranian theocracy thrives on lies and creates occasions to tell its own to the world. Actually, only the feeble-minded may believe those lies, but since the liars are in a position of authority and their actions affect people’s lives, the lies have to be discussed before being disposed of.

The Grotesque Show at Evin

A staged visit to Evin Prison was organised by the authorities for the benefit of the foreign ambassadors in Tehran. There they could tell them extravagant lies and present them with fabricated evidence.

It happened on July 5, 2017. The venue was hosted by officers from the human rights bureau, Judiciary power, and detention centres. These departments are run by two of the five Larijani brothers, privy to inner information from the Supreme Guide.

In their twisted mind and boosted ego, they believed that the world would take their word for granted if they asserted to the ambassadors that the Iranian regime has the best and most caring system in regard to prisoners’ conditions.

After all, the regime’s men could not sit on their hands while they were internationally accused of imprisoning dual-nationals in Evin and thus using them as hostages and bargain chips in future negotiations.

Evin Prison has been infamous since the Shah and his SAVAK era. The Islamic Republic of Iran has expanded the buildings to take in ten times as many inmates. The theocracy’s crackdown on critics is by far more severe than the previous regime. It includes “criminals” charged with non-Islamic behaviour and the round-ups of members of religious and ethnic minorities.

Execution, torture, rape, solitary confinement, and inhuman conditions are acts closely associated with Evin. In 1988, it was a slaughterhouse: tens of thousands of prisoners were executed. The massacre was carried out by a number of Mullahs under the direct order of Khomeini. Ebrahim Raisi, second candidate in the last presidential elections, was one of them. Many ayatollahs recall this sinister episode proudly and even recently one has wished to award medals to those involved in the killings.

However, the ambassadors were spared hearing such unpleasantness. They walked up the red carpet leading to the prison’s gate, before attending an outdoor conference area. They were summoned as if the guests of honour at a country picnic.

For them, flowered conference tables were laid on carpets under the cool shades of tall trees; refreshments were provided and countries’ flags carefully placed in front of their seats.

The ambassadors dutifully listened to the lengthy speeches of their hosts before being guided through the prison’s facilities that the authorities wanted them to see. It was reported in the Iranian press that they kindly asked a number of interesting questions and left the premises satisfied.

Certainly the ambassadors reported back to their governments. What the reports say will not be published for the public’s eyes, as diplomatic usage calls for. I wonder if there would be an air of sophistry in the reports – and I certainly have doubts about their cogency.

The thought of it makes the shame of visiting Evin under these circumstances and using it as an alibi even more depressing and sinister.

The Media Impact

The visit was largely reported and condemned by the Iranian human rights activists around the world, although it was not mentioned in the mainstream European media.

Why would it be? They are still keen, despite reports to the contrary, to keep H. Rouhani, the Iranian president, as a moderate. They promptly blame the hardliners for the country’s shambles. For the mainstream international media, reading the small print of the Islamic Republic’s institutions and having to explain the nitty-gritty of Iranian domestic politics to their audience is by far too laborious.

Predictably, the Iranian media made the most of the visit by reporting the Iranian officials’ claims and swaggers. In a nutshell, Evin is situated in a lovely spot with beautiful weather, no inmate is constrained to chores against one’s will, and hearing live music gives them hope for a better future.

We insist that none of these words is ours or misleadingly translated from Farsi texts.

Kazem Gharib Abadi, Deputy Head of the International Affairs Section of the Human Rights Bureau, said: In the Islamic Republic of Iran, punishments do not aim to penalise and humiliate but are aimed to deter and prevent.

Further, referring to Imam Khomeini’s statement that the prison should be a university, he added: All programmes in the Iranian prisons are planned and based on this principle and strategy. […] Training and improving the education of inmates is one of the most important programmes of the prisons.

He heavily insisted that lies/fake news/Dorooq were being reported abroad about Evin by the enemies of Iran and Islam. He gave a clear-cut description of the merits of the Iranian detention centres in general, and the high standards of hygiene, healthcare and education in Evin in particular.

As it is the custom when people lie about something, they need to present proof. Since the truth is the opposite to what they claim, the authorities fabricated the evidence to be seen. For the day, sections of Evin were fixed up to look first-class. Scrubbed and polished corridors, sample cells with crisp bedding, and shipshape workshops were presented to impress the honourable guests. Briefed inmates or otherwise agents disguised as inmates were ready to adequately answer pleasing and neutral questions asked by the ambassadors.

As one ambassador remarked, in such good conditions, comparable in quality with a university campus, inmates may want to stay after serving their term. A quip or sheer inanity?

The visit to Evin was peppered with readings of the Koran and quotes from the twelve Imams. As reported in the local press, some inmates willingly (just short of fervently) prayed for the ambassadors’ health.

The Unasked Questions

No matter what the Iranian authorities pretend Evin to be, all the while swearing on the Koran, invoking the names of Mohammed and the twelve imams to show their good faith, Evin is no more than a despicable prison, in which life has no value and in which the inmates rot.

Were the sinister interrogation and torture chambers inspected by their excellencies? Did they chat at leisure with the publicly known or unknown prisoners of opinion, those falsely accused of spying and their confession extorted under duress, or qualified as being the enemies of Islam? Did they comfort the underaged awaiting execution?

The Iranian journalists who wrote about the visit did not mention these questions or reported any ambassador asking them. Neither did they mention the fact that the British representative took the opportunity to visit Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. I very much doubt if he even asked for it. Otherwise, it would have been detailed in inelegant and harsh terms such as interfering in Iranian domestic issues by an enemy of the people.

Xiyue Wang was not to be seen, even though the Swiss Embassy must have known about his fate before the public learned about the case a couple of weeks after the visit. The Swiss Embassy has represented the USA’s interests in Iran since 1979.

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Hundreds of prisoners of political opinions, many familiar figures among the human rights activist circles, were kept out of the visitors’ way. Full stop.

In the Iranian media, there was not a discordant note in singing the heart-warming praises of Evin. Despicable as it may be, dwelling on lies told by the authorities is their breadwinner and career advancement.

Let it be said clearly: those journos who wrote those lines in the Iranian media are accomplices to the torturers, executors and jailers of the regime. By failing to have and show a professional conscience or basic humanity, they spat on the memories of their fellow journalists tortured, or executed, in Evin.

Lies and Poltroonery

Kazem Gharib Abadi acted as all liars do: telling fictitious tales and expecting the audience to believe every word of it.

He is a deputy to, and under the thumb of, Mohammad-Javad Larijani’s, the chief of the Islamic human rights bureau and brother of Sadegh, Ali and Bagher. Between them they dominate two of the top three institutions in the country.

Ali is the speaker of the parliament and Sadegh runs the Judiciary, deciding who must rot behind bars in Evin. Other brothers, occupying less public, albeit key, positions, are active in higher education, the ministry of health. The brotherhood is part and parcel of Velayat-e Faqih, with privileged access to the Supreme Leader, the infallible man, born by the will of Allah to guide the herd of 90 million Iranians.

The charade held at Evin says a lot about how Muslim autocrats and their minions put to shame the very instrument of their power: Islam. Unfortunately, exploiting Islam for political purposes is widespread in the Middle-East, from Tehran to Riyadh and anything in between or related to these capital cities.

Later, I wanted to discuss the venue at Evin with an Iranian social contact and resident in Europe. We were sitting in a crowded café in a European city. Abruptly he put his wine on the table and lowered his voice: Don’t talk (Na-goo). Basically, it does not concern us (be ma tcheh). You must be a fool to mention it (Magar divaneh-i). If they [the Iranian agents] knew about our discussion, they would arrest us.

He implied that, after all, if there’s a chance for theocratic despots to make a song and dance about their humanity, then let them milk it for all it’s worth. Later he lectured on the Mossadegh era and how the USA and the UK meddled in Iranian affairs. As Iranians we would discuss the 1950s for decades to come and shy away from considering acting on the present situation, thus killing the future.

The Velayat-e Faqih regime is no near to change with this frame of mind.

For forty years I have heard the same song sung Na-goo, be-ma tcheh before switching to dissecting history in a rear mirror. For forty years, the human right activists, Iranians and Westerns alike, have worked on these issues tirelessly. All they have in return is Na-goo, be-ma tcheh from the Iranian diaspora, refusing to hear them. No wonder that the Iranian expatriates are as weak as kittens in social and political actions.

Apprehension with the feelings associated, that is faint-heartedness, caution and a general bias against action, is mistaken for prudence and lucidity. Although I am believed to be a fool, and more than I care to admit, today’s sad state of affairs concerns me as a citizen. What is the value of having a sterile review of the CIA’s/MI6’s role in producing SAVAK in the 1960s, if we fail to see what is happening in today’s Evin and try to act upon it?

Long ago, a few months after the Islamic revolution, I saw a cartoon in the press: on the first panel, a wretched prisoner held out his chained wrists to Khomeini and implored: Free us from our shackles! On the second, Khomeini walked away, holding a sword drenched in blood. He had just cut off the hands of the prisoner.

Surely, Khomeini did not cut more that the hands … or did he? At the same time, did he sever the precious symbols of courage?

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