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The Memoir of a Political Prisoner in Iran

by Jafar Yaghoobi

Pub Date: April 26th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-61614-449-4
Publisher: Prometheus Books

Yaghoobi chronicles his experiences as a political prisoner in Iran from 1984 to 1989.

In 1979, an idealistic young graduate with a doctorate in genetics, the author returned to Iran to participate in “one of the largest popular revolutions in modern history.” He became active in a secular left-wing political organization. Five years later, he was arrested and held without trial, as part of a sweep against opposition groups that was organized by the Khomeini regime to consolidate its police-state power. Interrogated, tortured and kept in solitary confinement for months, Yaghoobi was terrified but managed to resist police efforts to force him to become an informer. Finally, he was moved in with other prisoners, into a situation in which prison authorities arbitrarily granted and removed privileges and living conditions were changed without warning as prisoners were shifted to different cell configurations and moved to different prisons. In response, the prisoners engaged in group resistance, even resorting to hunger strikes on occasion, and organized their communal-living situation, holding classes and sharing food and housekeeping tasks. Close friendships developed, and members of different political groups which opposed each other on the outside managed to collaborate while they were in prison. The situation, though difficult, remained tolerable until July 1988, when an armed rebellion broke out against the ruling regime. In reprisal, more than one-third of the political prisoners were summarily executed. A year later, Yaghoobi was finally released from prison and gained asylum in the United States. He remains a passionate human-rights advocate, but despite his desire to see regime change, he warns against efforts by foreign powers to impose changes on Iran.

A timely, inspiring story of the triumph of the human spirit in the face of oppression.