Torture: Never Forget. Dinyar Godrej Listens to a Messenger for Lost Blood

By Godrej, Dinyar | New Internationalist, September 2000 | Go to article overview

Torture: Never Forget. Dinyar Godrej Listens to a Messenger for Lost Blood


Godrej, Dinyar, New Internationalist


'Life is a mirage, you know. You are walking to reach the water, but it keeps flowing back and back. You begin to count the minutes and seconds, waiting to see what will happen.'

In the light of the life experienced by the speaker of those words, they appear somehow less desolate. They could almost be consolation.

Babek, were he not flesh and blood, might be a mirage too. He is careful not to use his name when I introduce myself and, in the story he recounts, all the names of his family members are similarly suppressed. I have no telephone number for him, no e-mail address and I promise to destroy the tapes of our interview. When we finish and he leaves, there is a sense that we will never see each other again. He has come to treasure anonymity.

But there is other evidence that he is real -- quite apart from the fact that he has been vouched for by the London-based torture-survivors charity the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture. It's in his bolt-upright bearing and control, as if all hell would break loose if he let that slip. And it's in the tears that track silently down his face as he continues to speak as calmly as he can. And it's in his apologies for his tears.

'I used to be a teacher of literature in Iran. The reason why I was arrested was because I was trying to stop children going to war and dying for nothing. I was also like other people trying to talk about our rights and asking the government to deliver on its promises. So that's why I became suddenly, overnight, a communist. They have to find a label to stick on you.' It was 1980 and Khomeini's reign of terror was taking hold. The dreaded Revolutionary Guard were becoming a law unto themselves and, with the advent of war with Iraq, people found themselves imprisoned and awaiting execution for the vaguest of charges, sentenced in secret without access to defence lawyers or a jury. Khomeini believed 'criminals should not be tried; they should be killed'. In the first four years of the war half a million Iranians left the country, a further two million became refugees, 10,000 were executed in wave after wave of terror (though Babek insists the true figure was closer to 40,000), thousands died in the Kurdish rebellion and nearly 100,000 were killed in the war with Iraq.(f.1)

Babek knew it was only a matter of time before they came for him. It first happened at three in the morning. He had taken a sedative to help him sleep and suddenly the door was kicked open, breaking it to pieces. 'There were these four Revolutionary Guards in my room. They just pushed me and said: "We are going to search the house." And when I said: "You have no right to search my house; where is your warrant?", one of them pulled a gun and said, "This is our warrant; don't talk too much.'" He was kicked in the stomach and dragged to jail without being allowed to dress. He was released a few weeks later. 'That time it wasn't very difficult because they weren't a very established regime, so there was a fear that they might lose their control of the people.' By the time of his last arrest things were very different. Babek had already seen one of his brothers destroyed both body and soul after 48 hours of continuous torture. He died of his injuries.

The Guards came for Babek at a relative's house, saying: 'We just want to talk with him for a minute, then we will bring him back.' 'They dragged me out, blindfolded me, put a hood on my head, tied my hands and put me into a van. The Revolutionary Guards were insulting and kicking me, saying: "You fell into the trap like a mouse.'" They drove to another city where he was herded into a yard with other prisoners. When the hood and blindfold came off, he saw that his 14-year-old brother had also been picked up. They were immediately separated and Babek was taken for questioning.

A gun's barrel pointed at his head, he was commanded to remain stock still. The slightest movement and one of the guards suggested chopping off a finger. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Torture: Never Forget. Dinyar Godrej Listens to a Messenger for Lost Blood
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.