This number, however, reached 80 by the winter of 2003. These people were sold at different periods to the Iraqis in groups of three and four. The Red Cross visited Abu-Quraib Prison twice during my one-year stay there. Prior to each visit, the prison authorities would visibly and violently torture some of the prisoners in front of others in order to instill fear in everyone’s heart. They would separate those of us former MKO members and would threaten us so as to discourage us from speaking to the Red Cross officials. The Red Cross inspectors were surrounded by two groups at all-time preventing us from getting close to them. Following cooperation between the intelligence and security forces of MKO, Islamic Republic of Iran and Iraqi regime, an agreement was reached among them involving the exchange of 50 former MKO members with 650 Iraqi prisoners of war. [..]
In an event, towards the end of January 2002 [Dey 1380], Abu-Seyf visited Abu-Quraib Prison speaking to me and four other former MKO members. When I confronted him with his false promises and lies, he once more swear that we would be exchanged in the near future. I voiced my protest and said that, under no circumstances, I wish to go back to Iran. I said that I wanted to join my daughter in Denmark. He told me that at the time of exchange, I would be able to tell the Red Cross that I didn’t wish to be returned to Iran. At that time he said, the Red Cross would transfer you to the City of Al-Ramadi first and later sent you to Denmark. The long time prisoners at Abu-Quraib also confirmed that the Red Cross was present during the prisoners of war exchange between Iran and Iraq in 1998 and 1999. They said those who didn’t wish to go to Iran were placed under UN protection.
After two years of being at virtually no contact, Iraqi regime and the Islamic Republic of Iran held meetings on political and security issues in January 2002 [Dey 1380] news of which received widespread coverage in both countries marked a turning point in relations between them. Towards the end of January 2002 [ Dey 1380] ,Iraqi TV announced that 650 prisoners of war were going to be exchanged with 50 Iranian prisoners the following week. They also announced that the Red Cross would be present at the exchange. Our hopes were raised considerably when we heard that the Red Cross was going to be present at the exchange. We, however, didn’t know that the 50 prisoners were former MKO members [dissidents].
On either 18 or 19 January 2002 [28 or 29 of Dey 1380], a voice on the prison loudspeakers asked the prisoners who had been kept in the so-called “protective custody” to gather in the yard. The warden read 50 names who were Mr. Rajavi’s prisoners kept in “protective custody”. My name was among them. The warden asked who wished to return to Iran and who did not? He separated those who wished to be returned to Iran from those who did not. Around 23 or 24 people said that they did not wish to go back to Iran. The warden threatened them telling the prisoners that they had to go back to Iran otherwise they would remain in Abu-Quraib forever. He then began to intimate us by shouting and beating us. A number of the prisoners changed their minds until the number of those not wishing to return to Iran was reduced to 12. A number of my friends, who were former MKO members, and I coordinated our efforts and asked to see the Red Cross and UN officials. The warden spoke to each one of us separately trying first through conciliatory and sympathetic approach, to convince us to go back to Iran. And when that failed, he threatened and ordered us to write a letter stating that we would wish to spend the rest of our lives in Abu-Quraib Prison. He asked me first to write the letter. I refused and told him that I neither wanted to go to Iran nor did I wish to remain in Abu-Quraib Prison in Iraq. I said that I wanted to speak to the UN and the Red Cross. The warden threatened me again telling me that I should write what he dictated to me. I still refused and wrote what I wanted to say. The other 12 people did the same thing, more or less. Finally through the coordinated efforts among MKO representative, Mehdi Abrishamchi and Abbas Davari [in charge of National Resistance Council’s labor committee] and Abu-Seyf, the decision was made to video tape all the prisoners, in which they were supped to express their desire to return to Iran. A number of people, fearing that their names might be taken out of the prisoner exchange list, agreed to be videotaped.
To be continued