Jila Baniyaghoob’s story “Three Years Have Passed”

Iranian journalist Jila Baniyaghoob shares the story of her and her husband's arrest in 2009.

Source: Jila Baniyaghoob's blog
Three years have passed, three years since the day they arrested me and my husband (Bahman Ahmadi Amouee) in our home. It was the 30th of Khordad [June 20, 2009]. It was at night. The neighbors said later that from 8 PM on, two cars with eight agents were staked out a little father down [the street]. Bahman had gotten home before me. The agents apparently waited for me to get home as well. Both Bahman and I were ready for arrest in those days. We are all ready in those days. In a way, we were even prepared for death.

That night, the security agents inspected our home for hours and ripped everything apart. Books and Manuals, CDs, and even clothes... they gathered up many things, gathered them up and took them with us to Evin.

That very night, two of those agents were sitting in one of the rooms and eagerly looking through our personal photo album.

I said: Who gave you the right to look at other people's personal photos?

Without raising his head from the album, one of them said: We've been legally authorized to look at any picture.

Legally authorized? Even now, when I look at an album, those words spin around in my head: legally authorized.

They took many of our albums, even the album with our wedding photos. What do they need these pictures for?

I spent the first days in solitary confinement. I was interrogated for 10-12 hours a day, sometimes as long as 17-18 hours. The interrogator was very motivated and determined, and even on Fridays he would come to block 209 of Evin Prison for the interrogations. Some of the interrogators were gentle, some violent... some polite, some rude... but all of them used threats. Some, very calmly and with smiles on their faces, would say: "We will execute you! You'll see, this is not about dying here or dying there. This time is different than the other times you found yourself in prison, everything is like the 1980s this time. You warred against God!"

Sometimes I believed the threats, sometimes I didn't. It's like I became superstitious! I would tell myself: They arrested me on the 30th of Khordad [June 20]. The 30th of Khordad is a fateful day in the history of Iran, the same day on which many things happened in Iran in 1360 [June 20, 1981], a day after which many people were executed in Iran's prisons. I told myself that, since we were arrested on that day, perhaps Bahman's and my fate would be the same!

I later discovered that Bahman and many others who had been arrested were repeatedly threatened with death.

I was released 60 days later on relatively heavy bail, but Bahman is still in prison. Before being transferred into the general prison population, he spent more than three months in a cell in solitary confinement. A small without any air circulation or air conditioning... what a hot and difficult summer it was. Bahman is still spending his days and nights in prison. Bahman is just a journalist. Bahman is only in prison because of his critical articles. Bahman has committed no crime other than writing articles. It's as if writing articles, especially critical articles, is now more serious than any crime...

Jila Baniyaghoob

 

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