Ali Ghashghavi joined the MKO as a fighter in Iraq in 1989. He was arrested in February 1995 during the “security clearance” phase and was imprisoned for four months in Camp Ashraf. He told Human Rights Watch of his experience during this period.
One night in January 1995, I was called over by my superior and told that a member of the Central Committee wanted me in her office. I was excited to be meeting such a high level official at such an unlikely hour. I assumed there was much importance attached to this meeting. We got into a military vehicle; it was around midnight. They took me to a place inside Camp Ashraf called Iskan. It is at the far corner of the camp where a series of apartment buildings were used to house families [before they were forcibly broken up]. It was a rather isolated spot – barren desert and frighteningly secluded.
There were a few people inside, five or six. I was taken to an empty room and told to wait. A few minutes later, another member, Hussein Nizam, was brought in. Hussein Nazim had spent many years inside the Islamic Republic’s prisons, so he knew something else was happening. I was somewhat naive and didn’t have much of a clue.
Suddenly the door opened and a group of people attacked us mercilessly, blindfolded us, tied our hands behind our backs, and put us inside a car. We were driven around for half an hour. We stopped inside an area that was approximately at the center of the camp. I didn’t know this was a prison until I was taken there. The prison was on Avenue 400 of Camp Ashraf near the water tanker. Until then, I had assumed that explosives or sensitive documents were guarded inside.
Our clothes were taken from us and we put on prison garb. We were led to a large cell holding nearly twenty-five prisoners. The prison cell was on the ground floor of the building; there was a small window near the ceiling for air circulation. A small toilet and shower were built at one end of the cell.
There was a period when prisoners were taken on a daily basis for interrogations and beatings. One method was to kick the prisoner’s legs and knees repeatedly with military boots with metal covers on the front. Another method was to put a thick rope around the prisoner’s neck and drag him on the ground. Sometimes prisoners returned to the cell with extremely swollen necks – their head and neck as big as a pillow.
I experienced the pain of leg-beatings firsthand. During one of my interrogation sessions, the interrogator told me that if I don’t give them guarantees that I will stay with the leaders forever, he would kill me right there and then. I asked him “what worthier guarantee there could be than my coming here to join your ranks and fight against Khomeini?” He replied that now that the ideological revolution had been instituted and life was harder, people like me couldn’t bear it and wanted to leave. He said, “I can see it in your eyes that you are dying to quit the organization.”
He went to the next room while he told me how he was going to beat me up badly. He changed his shoes and put on a pair of these military boots. He came back, and two hefty guards held me. He began kicking my legs repeatedly. My legs are still unbalanced from these beatings. Interrogations sometimes lasted for up to thirty or thirty-six hours non-stop.
Ghashghavi was released in May 1995, after a meeting with Masoud Rajavi who told him, “The judicial branch of the National Liberation Army has acquitted you.” After this experience Ghashghavi, explored ways to escape Camp Ashraf. On March 20, 1998, he was imprisoned for forty-five days and then turned over to Iraqi intelligence agents. He spent another forty-five days inside the mukhabarat prison in central Baghdad before being transferred to Abu Ghraib. He was repatriated to Iran on January 21, 2002. In Iran, he was interrogated and brought before a court that sentenced him to nine years in prison. After sixteen months of imprisonment, he was given a forty-eight hour release to visit his family. He used this opportunity to escape and leave Iran. In August 2003, he fled Iran and is currently living in Europe.
Human Rights Watch