In the previous periods, both under Reza Shah and his son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, of the numerous political prisoners, only a handful published their memoirs or reflected on the experience. Under the present system many political prisoners once released have written about it. Of course it will take time. It is not easy to forego such a trauma and immediately live through it all over again by recounting it. It took more than ten years before we could compile the first collection of prison memoirs. But, as a few stepped forwards and broke the taboo, the door opened to others. It was not an easy escapade.
The book, which took ten long years of research to complete, is divided into six chapters in which 25 eyewitnesses talk, in harrowing detail, about the massacre that took place at the end of the Iran-Iraq war, in the summer of 1988, as per a fatwa issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic. Declaring that he had drunk the cup of poison ending the war, Khomeini ordered a “final solution” to the plight of thousands of political prisoners who had been incarcerated for years, having undergone horrible torture and awaiting the termination of their sentences.
In 1988, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, issued a secret fatwa (a religious edict) ordering judicial authorities to execute between 4,500 and 5,000 political prisoners. The inmates were men and women, young and old who had been arrested over the previous ten years for their dissident views or participation in street demonstrations. Some were teenagers at the time of their arrest.
TWO NEW BOOKS surface, with urgency, the 1980s executions of thousands of political prisoners in Iran. Voices of a Massacre: Untold Stories of Life and Death in Iran, 1988 provides a multifaceted record of state violence and its astounding impacts. It arrays testimony and analysis from prison survivors, grief-mobilized activist mothers, and the grown children of the executed, placing these alongside historical essays and documents that consider both the event and its aftermath. Survivors here provide not just testimonial but analysis, vision, and leadership. Nasser Mohajer’s substantial compilation is a vital contribution to the record of this still-suppressed history […]