From the beginning of the 1979 Revolution, which toppled the Shah of Iran, Nahid Tahsili was active in a student center in central Tehran, working in connection with the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
Nahid Tahsili was around 19 years old and the last child in her family. In August 1981, along with her older sister, Fahimeh, and two brothers –Hossein and Hamid– Nahid was arrested by the revolutionary guards and taken to prison.
In a memoir, one of her cellmates wrote: “The first time I saw Nahid was at the beginning of 1982 in Ghezel Hessar prison. In the overcrowded prison ward, I soon learned about her situation from other prisoners. She had an adorable character. In addition, her courage and determination against the prison guards had turned her into one of the most popular and admirable people in prison. We all learned from Nahid’s precise planning, strength and seriousness at work, patience, and modesty.
“We could see the scars of torture on her body. The blows of the lashes had lacerated her feet. They had to locally patch up her feet in the prison’s clinic by stitching the skin from her thighs to the soles of her feet. Her thighs and feet were deformed and wrinkled. However, Nahid kept her resilience and did not cave into the hardships she endured under torture.”
Nahid Tahsili was transferred to Ghezel Hessar’s punitive ward 8 for some time.
In 1983, Haj Davoud Rahmani, a notorious interrogator, initiated a torture chamber called “cage” or “doomsday” to break the resistance of PMOI prisoners.
Nahid and several other prisoners, including Mahdokht Mohammadzadeh and Sepideh Zargar, were transferred to the new torture chamber. However, they endured the most complex and painful conditions for six to seven months and did not give in.
In 1984, Nahid Tahsili received her sentence, which was to end in the summer of 1986.
One of her cellmates wrote: “As we had expected, a new wave of crackdown began at the beginning of 1986. The authorities of Ghezel Hessar transferred group after group of prisoners to Evin Prison for punishment. I was in a group which included Nahid Tahsili, Zohreh Haj Mir-Esmaili, Tahmineh Sotoudeh, and Fereshteh Hamidi. From the first hour of our arrival, one of Evin’s torturers named Mojtaba Halvaii attacked and beat us with his guards. Even inside the wards, the guards and a few defectors would beat us. We would try not to leave our room for the first few days to avoid conflict with the defectors. When we left the room, we would leave in teams of two or three. Nahid and I would firmly hold each other’s hands and leave the room together.”
In 1986, they called Nahid and several other prisoners for interrogation. All of them, including Sepideh Zargar and Forouzan Abdi, had finished serving their sentences. The interrogators told them that the condition for their release was to do a television interview, which they refused.
After a while, the prison authorities called them again. This time they told the prisoners to write a letter denouncing the PMOI. They refused, again.
For the last time, the authorities told them to write a pledge denouncing any political activity after they were released. But Nahid and her friends refused to do so and returned to the ward.
In autumn 1987, they transferred Nahid Tahsili and 100 other inmates to Hall No. 1, a punitive ward where prisoners were confined inside closed rooms and deprived of fresh air. They were only allowed to use the washrooms three times a day.
One of Nahid’s cellmates wrote in her memoirs: “In mid-May 1988, after seven years in prison, I received a temporary leave of prison. I used an excuse to find my way back to my cellmates, to say goodbye, even if it was from behind bars. Amidst everyone’s cries, Nahid recited a poem. She said: ‘Send our greetings to all the blossoms and the rain,’ referring to our friends outside.