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Ali Afshari: Message to My Interrogator

May 10, 2016
Message the Torturers and the Murderers
3 min read

Each of us have perhaps found ourselves in a situation where we have been bullied by somebody in a powerful position, and remained silent out of expediency or fear. He or she may have been a friend, the neighborhood bully, an interrogator, or even a murderer.

Now imagine that years after the distressing event you have the chance to talk to that person and tell him how you felt, what you think and whatever else is on your mind.

IranWire asked a number of political and civil activists and artists who have been the victims of interrogators, or have been forced to be separated from their families, to imagine they are in the interrogation room and are able to talk to their bully, send him a message, or speak to those responsible for victimizing their family members.

In this part of the series, we asked Ali Afshari, a student activist, to send a message to his interrogator. Afshari, who now lives in the US, was the secretary of the Central Council of the Islamic Student Association at Amir Kabir University of Technology from 1995 to 1999. He was a member of the Central Council of the Students’ Organization Office to Foster Unity from 1999 to 2004. From 1996 to 1997 he was also the coordinator of former President Khatami’s Student Political Campaign.

From 1996 until 2005, when he left Iran, Afshari was arrested and interrogated many times. Although he could record a message to any of his interrogators, he chose Reza Sarraj. As an interrogator in 2009 during the protests that followed the contested presidential election, Sarraj, under the pseudonym Alavi, was one of several interrogators who pressured students to confess and repent publicly. Today, media affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards refer to him as Dr. Reza Sarraj, a security and political affairs analyst.

“Does your family know about your interrogations and other crimes you’ve committed?” Afshari asks his interrogator in this video. “I met an assistant of yours by chance at a gathering. His family was shocked when they learned about what he did. He swore that he had never been involved in interrogations or intelligence work. Perhaps, like him you hide your work from your family.”

Despite his obvious anger, Afshari tells Sarraj he does not hate him. “I followed the example of good people,” he says. “Davoud Karimi, who visited his interrogator on his sickbed although the man had treated him ruthlessly, is one example. Abbas Amir Entezami, who visited the corrupt judge who ruled on his case while the man lay dying, is another.”

Afshari ends his video by telling him that it is never too late to seek salvation: “I hope your conscience is stirred and you will come to believe in the Judgment Day. I hope you stop being an agent of evil and become a friend of humanity, compassion and mercy.”

IranWire has recorded a number of messages from victims. And perhaps you have had similar experiences as well. If you have, we ask you to participate in this project. For more information — technical or otherwise — email us at [email protected].

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