Dr. Mohammad Maleki, the first president of Tehran University after the revolution, has written an open letter to Dr. Ahmad Shaheed, the Special Rapporteur appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Pointing out the tragic plight of human rights in Iran, Dr. Maleki has underscored the crimes committed by totalitarian rulers and has announced that he is ready and available to testify about the torture and execution of prisoners in Iran. Dr. Maleki has also declared that he stands by his words and is prepared to face the consequences of his testimony.
Dr. Mohammad Maleki has spent a long time behind bars in various Iranian prisons and was once sentenced to death. During his last incarceration, Dr. Maleki spent 191 days locked up in prison while being harmed and harassed throughout that time until he was temporarily released from Evin Prison because of his deteriorating health. Although Dr. Maleki received a seven year suspended prison term in March 2000, he remains in a legal state of limbo thus far.
The content of Dr. Maleki’s letter in its entirety as released by Daneshjoo News is as follows:
In the Name of Justice
Your Excellency, Dr. Ahmad Shaheed
With warm greetings, I wish you success in the grand, humanitarian endeavor you have undertaken.
I am Dr. Mohammad Maleki, a retired professor and the first president of Tehran University appointed after the revolution. I am writing this letter in order to share with you a small portion of human rights violations in my country as witnessed by me. I provide this information to you with the hopes of taking a step towards rescuing my people from the tyranny, corruption and cruelty of the rules oppressing this nation.
My brother, Mr. Shaheed, I am one the tens of thousands of individuals whose human rights have been violated multiple times by authoritarian and oppressive rulers reigning the Islamic Republic of Iran for thirty two years. In Iran’s prisons, I have witnessed numerous crimes but can draw your attention to only a small number of them in this letter.
In 1979, after the revolution succeeded and following my appointment to the presidency of Tehran University, in order to achieve one of the revolutionary goals, I strived to establish a democratically elected council consisting of professors, students and employees who would run all university affairs. This undertaking wasn’t received favorably by a government monopolizing all aspects of life within the country. At last, a coup d’état dubbed as “the Cultural Revolution” was orchestrated to attack universities, kill a number of students, injure scores of them and finally arrest the rest. Then, universities were closed down, and student dissidents detained, tortured severely and eventually executed.
The Management Council of Tehran University and the High University Council responsible for the day to day operations of the university opposed “the Cultural Revolution” and raised their voices against it. Nonetheless, instead of addressing these concerns, the government detained a number of dissidents including me and under the pretence of opposing the Supreme Leader’s (Ayatollah Khomeini) decree, imprisoned us.
I was unlawfully tried in a court without legal representation and was sentenced to death at first. This verdict was then modified to ten years in prison. During this time, I have endured the most brutal treatments such as being beaten on the soles of my feet and elsewhere with an electric cable and being hung from the ceiling. My head was repeatedly banged against the wall, and I was punched, kicked and forced to tolerate a number of other forms of torture. As a result, I lost vision in my left eye and suffered from a broken bone in my right wrist. The markings of some of those tortures still remain, and my body bears the scars to this day.
After five years, I was supposedly released from prison, but for months, I had to report to the judiciary every few days to be interrogated and tormented in other forms.
Together with tens of other activists, I was arrested again in March 2000 under the pretext of plotting to overthrow the government and was locked up in an isolation cell measured 1×2 meters in one of the most gruesome and dreadful prisons (Eshratabad) operated by IRGC. Legal experts and psychiatrists refer to the incarceration of prisoners under extreme sensory deprivation and isolation as “white torture.” After tolerating approximately seven months of “white torture,” I was released in order to stand trial. Subsequently, I was illegally tried again behind closed doors and received seven years of suspended prison sentence.
On August 22, 2009, intelligence agents raided my house in the early hours of the day. After searching the premises and seizing many books, they took me out of my sickbed and directly transferred me to Evin Prison, Ward 209, where I spent three months in solitary confinement. At the time of my arrest, I suffered from prostate cancer, irregular heartbeats and abnormal blood pressure. I was also receiving chemotherapy and struggled with regular fainting spells and blackouts.
During interrogations, I was insulted and humiliated in so many different ways, and only because of my writings, I was charged with the crime of Moharebeh [Waging War Against God] and insulting the supreme leaders of Iran, Mr. Khomeini and Mr. Khamenei. Eventually, after 191 days of incarceration and due to rapidly deteriorating health, I was granted a sick leave from prison in order to continue my chemotherapy and undergo a surgery to implant a pacemaker in my heart.
Recently, I have been summoned to court to stand trial behind closed doors once more against the laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran. For now, I spend very difficult and agonizing days, waiting to find out the court’s ruling. Although I am a 78 year old, sick elderly man, I am ready to face any verdict issued against me because my goal has always been and will remain to be fighting against tyranny, oppression and injustice imposed by those holding power in Iran.
I lean on God and the masses and fear no punishment. I wish to meet with you in order to recount the reality of what has happened in Iran during the last three decades and what injustice has been inflicted upon this nation.
Your Excellency, Dr. Shaheed, I will testify that during 1980s, how young prisoners and students including men and women, after being brutally tortured, were taken in groups of tens or hundreds every night to face the gallows. And down that road they went to face their destiny while chanting songs. I am prepared to cite the facts as witnessed by me in the prisons of the Islamic regime and stand by my words to pay the price for such testimony.
At the end, as an Iranian, I wish you every success in all your undertakings. Rest assured that God is with you. With warmest regards and hoping to meet you,
Dr. Mohammad Maleki
Political Prisoner and Tehran University Retired Professor
Translated by Laleh Gillani