Conversation series with Ms. Fereshteh Akhlaghi
Stories of Women’s Resistance, a collection that is now available on the website of the Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, is the result of a series of conversations with Ms. Fereshteh Akhlaghi, one of the officials of the Research Unit on the Martyrs of the Iranian Resistance.
Stories of Women’s Resistance is a look at four decades of resistance, struggle and self-sacrifice of Iranian women in prisons, detention centers, interrogation and torture chambers, as well as their fight against misogynistic fundamentalists.
Women who have been at odds with the ruling dictators since day one and who are determined to rise above the pain and suffering they have endured to raise the flag of freedom for their people.
Those who have found beauty in the fulfillment of ideals, resistance in infinite sacrifice and love in a heart full of faith; they are rightly the true historians of this land.
These interviews are only a small part of the rich history of the lives of women in Iran. This conversation depicts one part of their history; the period of struggle against the dictatorship currently ruling Iran. Through various statistics and verified examples, this interview provides an in-depth understanding of their struggle and resistance through the daily oppression enforced by the Iranian regime.
Part One – The 1988 Massacre
In her interview, Ms. Fereshteh Akhlaghi points to examples and statistics of individuals who have been victims of crime and murder in Iran.
The compilation of this information was made possible through a long and tortuous effort to find every single example; the result is a list of 20,000 identified individuals from the total of 120,000. This itself is an important and crucial step in recording the brutality of the Iranian regime. It is also a reminder of the resistance of a generation of freedom-loving men and women in Iran.
Twenty-five percent of the massacre victims were under 25 years old.
Among them were teenagers aged 13 to 15.
58% of them were up to 30 years old.
About 20% of the martyrs of the massacre were between the ages of 50 and 65.
Some were between the ages of 13 and 14 at the time of their arrest and were executed between the ages of 20 and 21 after serving seven years in prison.
48% of the martyrs of the massacre were killed by gunfire and 38% of the martyrs of the massacre were hanged.
For example, just in the three women’s wards of Evin Prison, 80% of prisoners were hanged or shot until September 1988.
Also, 14% of the martyrs were massacred, tortured, killed in prison, or hanged in public.
Remarkably, the massacre involved people from various walks of life, from students, teachers, nurses, workers, employees, housewives, academics, athletes, doctors and engineers.
In the continuation of the interview, Fereshteh Akhlaghi provided examples and brief descriptions of some of the women who were massacred in 1988:
Execution and flogging in front of other prisoners
Razieh Ayatollahzadeh Shirazi, a Bachelor of Physics from the University of Tehran and a mother of one child, was executed by hanging from a crane in front of other prisoners on November 1, 1988.
Parvin Haeri, 29, with a master’s degree in English, was hanged in Evin Prison in August 1988. Parvin had spent seven years under severe torture. In one example, to break her, officers in the Gohardasht prison yard put her on a torture bed and flogged her to such an extent that they themselves gave up. However, Parvin did not give up and resolutely resisted.
Execution of artists
Asieh Ahmadzadeh, 27, an artist, was hanged in Evin Prison. She was said to have been a prolific artist in the field of calligraphy and painting.
Execution of doctors and students in joint family ties
Hamideh Sayyahi, a pediatrician from Ahvaz, was executed at the same time as her brother, who was an electronics engineer.
Dr. Masoumeh (Shurangiz) Karimian, a physiotherapist, was shot dead in Evin prison on August 29, 1988, along with her sister Mehri, who was a student under the age of 30. Shurangiz was educated in Germany.
Mitra Jalali, a dental student, was hanged in Gohardasht Prison in September 1988.
Nahid Tahsili, had a diploma in mathematics from Kharazmi High School, was hanged at the same time as her brother Hamid. One of them in Evin and the other in Gohardasht Prison. Two other of Nahid’s siblings, a sister and brother, had been executed years earlier.
Execution of mothers who were politically active
Ashraf Ahmadi, also a political prisoner during the Shah’s reign, with four children, was executed in Evin in August 1988 after seven years in prison.
The examples mentioned, contain only a small part of the reality of the massacre and the crimes committed in 1988.
Resistance at any cost, the response of brave Iranian women to crime
At the end of this part of her interview, Ms. Akhlaghi emphasized that of everything that took place that summer, the most striking will always be the endurance and will of each and every woman who resisted the torture and dictatorship of the Iranian regime.
Under this perspective, it is there that the true value and importance of the women’s struggle for freedom can be understood to some extent. In the cold and dark cells of prisons, on torture beds, in post-interrogation injuries and in the gallows.
To be continued…