For years, I wanted to tell the story of my brother and the victims of the great massacre of 1988 in Iran, while wondering how to transmit to future generations the message of these thousands of young people who sacrificed their lives for freedom. in Iran. In particular, to the generation which is today the age of Ahmad at the time.
The last time I saw Ahmad was two days before my arrest by the mullahs’ regime in 1981. He was also arrested and imprisoned in 1982. I first heard from him by letter in March 1988 telling me that he had just been released after almost six years in prison and that he was trying to leave the country to join the resistance. It had been months that I waited for any information about him and his return.
In the fall of 88, I decided to call my father immediately upon hearing about the massacre of political prisoners. He told me with surprise: “Ahmad isn’t with you? He just left us to go see you. If he’s not with you, then where is he?” Unfortunately, my father’s presentiment was confirmed.
To shed light on the 1988 massacre, I participated in several research projects on the prisons of the Khomeini regime. Books Massacre of political prisoners and Heroes in Chains are the result of five years of work during which I managed to collect the testimonies of my brother’s former cellmates, and therefore information on his conditions of imprisonment.
Is this a way to exorcise this terrible memory?
I write to advance the cause I defend. Engaged in the Campaign of the movement for justice in favor of the victims of the 1988 massacre, I am fighting today to bring to justice the perpetrators of this “crime against humanity” who have gone unpunished. My brother Ahmad Raouf Basharidoust embodies the generation of the revolution that was crushed by the mullahs. A generation that said “non” to Khomeini and his executioners, despite their degrading conditions of detention. A generation with a dream of freedom and democracy in Iran. They were the best in Iranian society.
It should be noted that more than 120,000 young people were executed by the mullahs’ regime, and among them, 30,000 in the space of a few months in 1988. The majority of them were active members or sympathizers of the United Nations. Iranian People’s Mujahedin (PMOI), a democratic opposition movement to the mullahs.
Your book has been prefaced by Ingrid Betancourt, which is quite symbolic; Amnesty International has supported you. Is this a sign that the story of the 1988 massacre is beginning to be recognized by the international community?
Ingrid Betancourt is a courageous woman, for whom I have a lot of respect and admiration. I met her at a conference in Paris and gave her the model of the comic strip, asking her to support my project. Two weeks later, I received a very moving preface from him; I had tears in my eyes.
Over the past thirty years, thousands of pages of documents have been collected and published on this crime against humanity. Among these documents, the Amnesty International investigation published in 2018, the investigation by Geoffrey Robertson, renowned human rights lawyer and former United Nations judge, 2 investigative books by Tahar Boumedra, former head of the Office of Human Rights in Iraq, the book Crime Against Humanity published by the PMOI. The latter book contains the names of more than 5,000 executed People’s Mujahedin, details of 35 death commissions as well as the location of mass graves in 36 cities.
It is now up to the UN to play its role! As Amnesty International points out, “The UN and the international community have seriously failed in their duty to the families and the victims” et i[“[elle] must conduct an independent investigation into these crimes against humanity. “]i. This cycle of killings will continue until these criminals in power in Iran are brought to justice. They must no longer go unpunished.
How did the narration of Ahmad’s story go? How did you work with screenwriter Summer Harman?
I first published my brother’s story in Persian in 2017 to pay tribute to him. It was a 100% text book that received good feedback from readers, including Ms. Harman, artist designer, screenwriter and cartoonist. She says she was greatly touched by the history of resistance and Ahmad’s personality. In support of the Campaign of the Movement for Justice in favor of the victims of the 1988 massacre, she suggested that I work together on a comic book project.
This collaborative work lasted over a year and was not always easy. She needed very precise elements to draw the boards. For the first chapters, which are memories of my childhood and the time of the shah, I tried to describe the mental images I kept from that time.
For the revolution and the following years, we used newspaper archives, as well as the rich library of the Iranian resistance. The testimonies of former cell mates and information about my brother’s incarceration have helped us a lot.
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