Witness’s name and surname: Fatemeh Davand
The place about which she is testifying: Bukan, West Azerbaijan
Witness’s status: Eye witness to protests, firing at the people, arrested
Type of testimony before the Tribunal: Public
We started to assemble in front of the Governorate of Bukan on Sunday 26 Aban (17 November) at 11:45 am. I was the first person to start this assembly. Initially, we were 50-60 persons. Then our numbers grew considerably. People occupied the entire street and the intersection. Young men would not allow vehicles to pass through.
I started speaking immediately. There were few policemen there who pushed me and would not let me speak. One Peykan automobile passed from there; we stopped it and I went on top of it. I began speaking in front of the Governorate. I explained what I believed was my right. When I spoke, the Governor came, the head of public buildings came. They sent after my father and older brother to come and get me down from the top of the vehicle.
They brought a large number of security men in front of the Governorate. They threw tear gas. Still, I did not come down. I was on top of the vehicle for about one and half hour. There was a huge crowd. They (security men) would get hold of my legs to bring me down; young men would not let them do it. Generally, there was a wall around the car between us and the security men. Then they fired shots at me; a bullet passed under my arm. This is clear in the film that was taken. Later they said that I was killed. That is, they created this rumour about me. They brought a huge number of officers. When they started firing, they were able to disperse the people.
There were plainclothes officers. There were a number of officers who came out from inside the Governorate; they were in dark green uniforms, but they were not police officers. Perhaps they were from the Intelligence; their faces were covered. They carried AK-47 assault rifles. They had tear gas which they threw directly towards the people. They beat up people with their batons. They fired shots from a very short distance, from about six meters.
When I left the scene, security forces came in two helicopters which landed in the city. When I came down (from the roof of the car), young men had seized the entire city; they had besieged it. The moment they phoned me and said that the Intelligence was after me, I was forced to leave the city. I was passing through the alley and the security men were following me. At that moment I saw a young man in a car. I asked him and he helped me, and I was able to escape at that moment. But I did not go to my home. Later my son told me that the security men had come to our house and beaten the hell out of my 14 year old son. They had beaten up his hands and legs so much that they had become wounded. My son had asked the security men about me and they had told him that his mother had died.
I was forced to go out of the city. I went to an acquaintance’s house. I have three children. My older son is 14 years old, my daughter is 12 years old, and my younger son is in grade one of primary school. I could not take it anymore and called a taxi driver who is our acquaintance. I told him to bring them (my children) to the place where I was staying. Later I learned that this man, who was a taxi driver and trusted by us, was an Intelligence agent. When we were there, a huge explosion took place at about 01:00 am. We saw that a large number of officers in plain clothes jumped inside the yard. There was a sniper on the rooftop. They broke the door and glasses and came inside. There were over 40 officers. The ones who came inside the room were about 15-16 persons. They arrested me as the leader of Bukan riots. The ones above were (uniformed) officers; the ones inside were all plainclothes men. I saw three-four of them at the Intelligence. They were my interrogators. Those who were inside, their faces were clear. They had tied a small camera to their clothes. They were all plainclothes men. Two of them carried weapons and had mingled with the others. They carried weapons- Colts, tied around their waists. They had tucked small cameras in their clothes. They filmed from the moment they entered the room, while I was sleeping.
Later they said that they had arrested me at the Iraqi border, but it was just a house there. The number of officers was so high, it was laughable. They had besieged the entire street for (arresting) one regular person. My cousin’s wife pleaded with them to allow me to put on my dress. They refused. One of them caught my leg in front of my children in such manner that I fell length-wise. I said, “At least a female officer should be with you. Why are you touching me like this?” Two years have passed since that day, but I will never forget that moment, not for my own sake but for the sake of my children. When they entered the room, the first thing they did was slap my husband’s cousin; then they slapped my son. My kid is so thin; they beat him up. Then they dragged me this way and that. They slapped me right in front of my children. It was a frightening scene. Small children were crying. My host’s son had wet himself. I said, “Please leave the room and allow me to change my clothes. I will come with you.” They forced me to change my clothes right in front of them. I mean, the way they insulted me at that moment I simply cannot describe.
I was not going with them the first time. I told them to show me something- a court order, or to bring a female officer. He said, “Come, I am a woman.” They took me out in that condition, it was really ugly. At the time of arrest my clothes would move up and this disturbed me a lot. I had fallen down in lying position. One officer would hold my hand, another would hold my leg. And they call themselves (representatives of) the Islamic Republic. They believe in halal (permissible). My pants would go up, the top part of my leg would be exposed. (My clothes) would move up here or there. After that they did something that (forced me to say that) I would go with them wherever they wanted if they would let my children go. The homeowner himself had called the 110 police and told them that the plainclothes men had rushed into his house without a warrant or a letter.
It was absolutely quiet from the beginning of the street to the end. Later, my husband’s cousin said that they had told the neighbours that if anyone came out, they would shoot them. There were several vehicles there. They grabbed my head and pushed me into the car. They had placed two men at the back and one man at the front of the car. The distance from Saqqez to Bukan is thirty minutes drive. For this distance, those two men sat close to me with their weapons, each on either side of my body. When they covered my eyes inside the vehicle, I thought I would not get to Bukan in one piece. Then they took me inside the Intelligence (building) of Bukan. They kept me there in a very small room from the night to the next morning. At the Bukan Intelligence, officers would visit me every moment one after the other. They insisted on filming me. I did not agree to be filmed. They would threaten to teach me a lesson. One judge named Boostani came there. He was very unhappy about that situation. But he could not do anything. One officer coerced him (the judge) to write that I was a member of Komoleh or have connections with the other side (Iraq). They added this charge to my list of charges. But initially the judge did not want to write this as I had told him, “I participated only in the protests over the high price of gas. You know how we earn our livelihood.” The judge was familiar with us.
They kept coming in and going out the room until the next morning. They fettered and blindfolded me at 06:00 am. They said that when I will get on the vehicle –a van with a net inside – I would find others there. They said, “Do not behave in a manner that the men inside would know that there is woman in the van.” They took us to some place in Orumieh. Later I learned that it was the Ministry of Intelligence (building). Then they took me for interrogation. It was midnight. They took me to a place, the person in charge of the place did not want them to take me there. It was meant for men only. They took me there anyway.
He (the interrogator) said that his method of interrogation was such that it required me to speak in front of the camera. I refused. They took me in a room that was very dirty. There was a camera. The bathroom was in the same room and had a small 10-centimeter wall that if you sat down, you would be clearly visible to the camera. Once a female officer came in the room and disrobed me in front of the camera. She said, “Remove your shirt, pants, and underpants. I will see whether or not you have concealed something in your body.” She touched my breasts and my body. When I was before the court, I told all this to the judge. The judge said he could not give me a lesser sentence because the prosecutor and the Intelligence would not like that.
One night, around 03:00-04:00 am, several persons called me. I woke up from my sleep. I peeped through the small window and saw that the female officer was opening the door to let them in. The men were talking in Turkish with each other. I was seized with terror for a moment. He said, “Who are you? I have come to see how things are going on.” I replied, “You have come at four in the morning to see what is going on?” All of them were men. I did not see the officers; I heard only these men who were talking in Turkish language with each other. I said, “(if you come in the cell) I will kill myself with this chador.” I shouted and yelled, and they went away.
But when they took me for interrogation in the morning, I saw a large injection at the door. That is, they wanted to do something to me that night. This terrified me because I am afraid of rape. They said to me, “You are the leader of the riots; you have disrupted the city. You have caused damage worth hundreds of billions.” This did not bother me at all. But that night, when they came to my room, I was terrified that they would rape me. If I had stayed there for a hundred years, I would not be afraid of them and I am not afraid of them now. However, they can do anything to you. I was afraid that they would rape me; I was afraid of this.
Then they took me to a yard. The officers who were there said that I must speak in front of the camera and confess. I was forced to do it. I introduced myself and said whatever they told me to say. Then they cut this film to several pieces; none of it was true. Then they forced me to make a confession.
At the interrogations, my eyes were always closed. They opened my eyes only when people from the news channel came to make a film. I cried only in front of the camera. They accused me that I had received money from a foreign country to run riots (in Iran). We had a Peugeot car, we had sold it for 35 million toman and the money was in our bank account. They said that this was sent from overseas for running riots.
After obtaining my confession, I was there for 13 more days until they sent me to a common prison. During this period they did not allow me to speak to my family. When my family made inquiries about me, they would not tell them where I was. After making a confession, I was able to make a brief call and they brought my family for me to see. My younger son, who was 7 year old, was sick. I cried a lot for him and was worried about him. I wanted to talk to my son. They said that I must speak Farsi. I said, “How can this little boy speak Farsi? His mother-tongue is not Farsi.” They did not let me speak to him. Once they brought my family to the Intelligence prison in Orumieh. The moment they arrived, they filmed the family from inside the prison, suggesting that they had allowed the family to meet me. I was in the Intelligence (building) of Orumieh for 20 nights. They interrogated me each day; most nights at midnight they would take me for interrogation.
They threatened me a lot over my son and my family. They would say things like, do you think we would leave your son alone? We would do this or that to him. My son is 14 years old. Later when they arrested me, my son ran away from the house. We faced a lot of problems.
Since I was in such a condition, we were in a mess economically. Officers summoned my husband every day. My son could not take it anymore as he was at a critical age. He escaped to Iraq. He was the top student at school. He was so frightened, he forgot about schooling and all those things. My husband said that he (my son) would wake up at nights and say, “Father, let us go away from here. They will come and arrest us too; they would take me, I know it.”
When I was in prison, they phone my husband once and said, “Tell your wife to cooperate with us. Tell her to go to Iraq and bring such and such person with her. We will release her from the prison.” My husband told them that even if they killed my child in front of my eyes, I would not do that. My husband is a labourer; he has nothing to do with politics. He said that he had three children and even if they killed all of them in front of his eyes, he would not do anything for them.
Once I refused to give any replies until I had a lawyer. They would phone my husband and say, “She must be executed but we want to help her. She is the leader of the riots.” I had no lawyer and saw no one. I fainted there twice since I would not touch their food; I only drank water from the washroom. I could not eat anything due to stress and concerns. They took me to the doctor.
Then they took me to the women’s prison in Orumieh. The first time, I stayed there for four months. Then I was released on a bail of one billion. I was out of prison for about two months. Then, they handed out the judgment and I remained in prison for nineteen months.
They had opened two files for me, one for the violation of hijab and the other for riots. I had to attend one court in Mahabad and one court in Bukan. They had labelled eight charges against me: Blocking the traffic route for vehicles; creating traffic jam as the starter of protests; propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran in favour of terrorist parties such as Komoleh; disruption of public peace by participating in the protests; membership in political groups opposed to the ruling system and terrorist groups; violation of hijab; seducing and inciting people to war and killing with the intent to disrupt the security of Iran; objection to the writ of provisional arrest and unauthorized departure from Iran.
They gave me five months of imprisonment and 30 lashes for violating the hijab and creating chaos and uproar, but there is a film showing me with my scarf on my head.
Initially, they had sentenced me as mohareb (enemy of God). Judge Javad Gholami had said that I must be executed. When I was released the first time after four months, my business permit was cancelled. I visited the Guilds Department and asked why it was cancelled. They said that the Intelligence Department had told them to cancel my permit as I was not allowed to engage in business activity.
I told the judge in the court that the Intelligence had made an offer to me to go (to Iraq) and bring such and such member (of Komoleh Party) and they would provide resources for me abroad. They offered to do this favour or that to my family, and provide a good living for us. They had made such promises. Well, don’t I have a husband? How could they make such offers to me? The judge did not say anything, he just listened to me. They did not allow my lawyer to speak enough so as to put up a defence for me.
On 16 Mordad 1399 (07 August 2020) a judgment of 5-year imprisonment was issued against me. I did not file an appeal. My file was strange; they had exaggerated it so much. It was voluminous. What objections could I have raised against the (trumped-up) charges they had laid against me? I knew that it would get worse, not better. Where could I have filed my petition? They told me that I had 10 days’ respite to report myself to the prison of Orumieh. I went to the prison.
When I went to the prison for the second time to carry out the judgment, I remained incarcerated for 14 months. At that time, those electronic fetters (ankle monitor) had appeared in the market and were used on those who had 5-year imprisonment. I staged a 14 day hunger strike and said that it was my lawful right to be released with the electronic fetter and stay at home with my children. For that reason, they released me. It has now been four months that I have been at home with the electronic fetter, but I am not allowed to even to go to the door of the house. Now I am on conditional release. That is, they called me and obtained my signature through which I agreed that if I made the slightest move in those five years, I would return to the prison and remain incarcerated for five years. They obtained an undertaking from me and prohibited me from leaving Iran. I am not allowed to engage in any activity. They have framed-up my son on security charges. For his escape to Iraq, they charged him with ’unauthorized crossing of border.’ They sent him to court but have not handed down any judgment yet.