A State of Fear, a book by Dr Reza Ghaffari

Dr Ghaffari was arrested in the Spring of 1981. After that he spent years in Iran’s prisons. He witnessed the torture & interrogation of prisoners who had done absolutely nothing wrong. At least they had done nothing which in any normal civilised country would consider a crime. The Islamic régime has deprived women of their rights & executes children in an arcane version of Islam. The régime is a mirror image of Soviet communism. Both Soviet communism & Iranian Islam seek to suppress all criticism & both think nothing of killing people for the slightest infraction.

Dr Reza Ghaffari was a mohareb, an enemy of God. In fact he wasn’t an enemy of God. He just doesn’t believe God exists. He wanted the best for everybody. He believes in a pluralistic society. These days he is severely disabled as a result of the torture he suffered in Evin & 3 other prisons in Iran. He relates how, on entering Evin for the first time he heard screaming coming from tortured prisoners without realising what it was.

Thousands are suffering. Thousands are executed every year. At times, prisoners are queuing up to be executed. Suicides are commonplace. Most executions take place inside prisons, some are in public. The different organs of state security compete with each other to arrest & imprison dissidents. Enemies of the Shah & enemies of the Islamic régime are held in the same prisons.

After years witnessing all this Reza Ghaffari was granted home leave. Prisoners, it seems, were occasionally granted home leave. When on leave he managed to cross the border into Turkey & continue on his journey into the UK where he now lives. He lives with his wife & his children too have managed to escape from Iran.

At times the book is hard to read. It details one atrocity after another. In fact at times it is too painful to read. I had to put it down & come back to it later. But it should be; by anyone concerned about human rights. It should be read by anyone who is not aware of what is going on in Iran; anyone who still believes that Iranian society is normal & civilised. Like communism in Russia & the surrounding countries, at some point, some point soon one hopes, the ideology which in the case of Iran is Islam, will wither & fade away & the country will no longer be a theocracy. The Islamic régime is an aberration. In the end the country will return to normality. Pluralism will prevail & mass arrests & mass executions will cease. There is a demographic timebomb there. Most of the population is young; most of them it appears are not religious. They are ruled by old men in beards. One would think, hope & believe that the régime can’t last much longer. But who knows? After all the Feudal System in Europe lasted hundreds of years & it was only the Black Death which brought it to an end. Soviet hegemony over East & Central Europe collapsed suddenly & somewhat dramatically.

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