My escape from prison in Iran


For all those who aspire to freedom and respect for fundamental human rights, the Iran of the mullahs is a real prison. This is what Massoumeh Raouf tells us in his latest testimonial book, soberly entitled "Escape from Iranian Prison", published by Balland at the beginning of February. From the dream of light in the spring of 1979 to the blackness of the abyss of the religious fundamentalists' soul presiding over the massacre of the summer of 1988, Massoumeh Raouf's detailed account invites us, among other things, to question our Western democracies as to the relationship they have with the mullahs' republic.

Arrested, tortured and sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment in September 1981 on the mere suspicion of belonging to the political opposition, Massoumeh Raouf tells us in detail how she managed to escape a few months later and reach France. But more than a simple story of escape, the author of these notebooks tells us about life in Iran since the confiscation of the popular revolution of spring 1979 by religious fundamentalism. How the promises made to the people by Rouhollah Khomeyni while in exile in Neauphle-Le-Château turned into a new tyrannical dictatorship, with the newly appointed supreme guide not hesitating to use torture and summary execution to enforce his vision of the Islamic republic.

Massoumeh Raouf uses his personal story to explain to French readers what Iran has been like since the mullahs were installed in 1979: "I am writing this book for readers who hear the name of my country in the news but don't know what is really happening in Iran. Through my story and my experience, I want to tell of the crimes that are perpetrated there with impunity, (...) the suffering of a people in chains who are still fighting for their freedom. What is happening there is atrocious! 

Atrocious! The word is out. From her arrest on the way to the funeral of a dear friend on 13 September 1981 to the massacre in the summer of 1988 on the orders and fatwa of the Supreme Guide, not forgetting her escape on 4 May 1982 and the execution of her younger brother Ahmad, Massoumeh Raouf spares us no detail and plunges us into the sadly very real daily life of the Iranians: his sentence pronounced by a religious judge after a sham trial lasting barely 10 minutes, the killing of 30,000 political opponents (in this case the People's Mujahedin, an opposition movement to the government founded under the Shah in 1963 and still fighting against the mullahs today), the arrest of his mother with cancer and her fatal heart attack at Ahmad's execution, the raids organised by the Revolutionary Guards, the violent repression of the regime since its constitution, the escalation of the violence of the state's religious fundamentalism to the point of allowing men to decapitate their wives with a knife with impunity... 1"The regime, led by misogynist mullahs, implicitly encourages "honour" killings and the brutal culture of revenge on "disobedient" women. It is the inhumane mullahs' regime that with its misogynistic laws allows women to be tortured and killed. Because this regime lets the killers go free and not only does not consider any punishment, but also encourages them.

Beyond these recurrent events in Iran, Massoumeh Raouf invites Western chancelleries to question their relations, particularly of a commercial nature, with a tyrant state, capable of elevating to the rank of president a man recognised as one of the main architects of the 1988 massacre, a man whom many NGOs ardently wish to see judged by an international tribunal. Very involved in the "Campaign of the Movement for Justice for the Victims of the 1988 Massacre", Massoumeh Raouf is now fighting to bring to justice the perpetrators of this "unpunished crime against humanity". With the country on the brink of explosion, would it not be possible for our democracies to consider letting go of the current Iranian leadership before a new bloodbath and enter into an era of more peaceful negotiations with the Iranian people as a whole? The political alternative exists. It is called NCRI2 and it brings together all the voices of Iran and campaigns through an internationally recognised political programme for the full equality of women and men in political, social, cultural and economic rights, the equal participation of women in political leadership and the abolition of all forms of discrimination.

1 On 5 February 2022 in Ahwaz, southwestern Iran, a man was seen in his neighbourhood holding his young wife's head in one hand and a knife in the other.

2 The NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran) is a government in exile composed of more than 50% women and representing all ethnic and religious groups in Iran. It is chaired by a woman, Maryam Rajavi, and has already drawn up a ten-point transitional political programme, pending the drafting of a new democratic constitution and the holding of free elections.