The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Revenge or ...

The first and only time I saw him, it was through the little 'window' on the cell door. Assadollah Lajevrdi was appointed by Ayatollah Khomeini to head the revolutionary court inside Tehran's infamous Evin prison. By that title, he instantaneously became the head of prison as well. There has been much speculation as to why he was chosen for that position. One of the more intriguing was about his background as a political prisoner in Shah's regime and how he had stood up to the main Muslim group inside the prison; the People's Mojahedin (MKO). Now a most prominent member of Mojahedin's upper leadership was in Evin and his one-time cellmate he shared a lot of history with, was none other than Lajevardi. The ex-prisoner turned interrogator Lajevardi was supposedly brought in to break Sa'adati.

Seyed Mohammad-Reza Sa'adati was a legend outside those walls, but nowhere nearly as notable as he was inside. He had endured years of imprisonment, torture and hardship under Shah's security police SAVAK, then essentially became the first political prisoner of post-revolution era when he was arrested on uncertain charges of espionage. He had been kept almost exclusively in a solitary cell, away from all other prisoners and except for a few second footage of him when a TV reporter was allowed to sneak in his ward and caught 'Seyed' poking his head briefly out of his cell, nobody from outside ever saw him.

'Seyed' was eventually sentenced to a prison term but that sentence was swiftly interrupted when he was put to death by Lajevardi a couple of years later, on charges of "organizing terror" from inside his little cell. Lajevardi had obviously failed to break Seyed.

There was an awful sound when the door's small metal opening was pushed aside. It always managed to straddle the 15 or 20 already scared "inmates", wondering who will be peeking through or whose name will be called to come for further "guidance". This time, all we saw was a pair of eyes mounted on top of a large eagle-like nose. They were these menacing eyes that infused terror and freight. It was as if he had been selected for the job by a great casting director, right out of Hollywood's biggest production houses.

The unforgettable "visit" only lasted a few seconds. He looked around, appraising everyone inside and then that noise again and the little door closed again. Immediately somebody in the back of the room said "that's Lajevardi" and upon my inquiry I find out who he was. I like to think he was on his way to see 'Seyed' again. Not sure why. Maybe it makes me feel good inside to be connected in this way to a man I had spent so many of my late afternoons with, in distributing "Free Sa'adati" pamphlets or in perfecting the art of spray painting his name on so many walls all over Tehran.

Over the next few years, Lajevardi rightly earned the "butcher of Evin" title by presiding over thousands of interrogations, issuing brisk sentences and sending wave after wave of his prisoners to face the firing squad. He later retired, going back to his old profession as a merchant in Tehran's famous big Bazaar. This is also where he met his destiny. 17 years after our only brief meeting, in the summer of 1998, Assadollah Lajevardi was assassinated at his store. Mojahedin immediately claimed responsibility. Although there are also rumors of this being carried out as a revenge by a father who had lost his two sons to the Lajevardi brand of justice. I suppose it really doesn't matter much who did it, but why.

When I heard the news, I was truly saddened. I remember actually saying something to that affect a couple of days later during a phone interview with a Persian radio program. The show's host was clearly upset by my comment and immediately asked what would I have done if I had been put in charge of deciding Lajevardi's fate. I said something along this; let's suppose we have a free and democratic Iran tomorrow where the rule of law is in place and I am appointed as a judge or prosecutor for his case, I'd offer him a million dollars, a blank passport and a one-way ticket to any destination in the world, in exchange for just one thing. He must sit down, write, speak and record and videotape ALL his memories, from the most mundane to the secret executions and gory details of each torture session involving rapes, murder under severe beatings and massive loss of blood. I'd want EVERYTHING to be recorded. Recorded for all the future generations to come. For them to not ever forget what happened in the last part of the 20th century, on this planet we call home. With his death, all of that is forever gone and buried with so many details he'd be the only witness to. We will simply never know.

Revenge may indeed be a sweet dish. But the pleasure only lasts so long before the reality sinks in. Before it becomes clear that violence only breeds further violence and this vicious circle needs to be stopped somewhere. Lajevardi, a one-time victim of unjust imprisonment and torture becomes the purveyor of more violence almost overnight. Where does it all end? If our generation doesn't stop this, our kids will pay the price.




Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews + Home href="letters.html" title=Letters>Letters + Archives

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

23 September 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Dissident Republicanism
Davy Carlin


Revenge or...
Pedram Moallemian


Chequers Nights
Eamon Sweeney


An Open Letter to Michael Moore: You Are Way Off Base About Wesley Clark
Terry Lodge


Remembering the other 9/11
Anthony McIntyre

The Letters Page has been updated.


18 September 2003


Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others
Eamon Sweeney


Members of 32CSM and IRPWA Physically Assaulted by RUC/PSNI
Andy Martin


Report: Belfast Anti Racist Meeting
Davy Carlin


The Shadows
Carrie Twomey


DHSS Lives
Liam O Ruairc


Freedom and Democracy in Cuba Depend on Support for Dissidents
Vaclav Havel, Arpad Göncz, Lech Walesa


Cancun - Whose Setback and Whose Opportunity?
Michael Youlton


How Do You Like Your Elections - Fixed and Murky?
Toni Solo


Armed Struggle
Anthony McIntyre


Republican Sinn Fein commemorates Robert Emmet




The Blanket




Latest News & Views
Index: Current Articles
Book Reviews
The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
Republican Voices