Growing Pains in Prison

August 15, 2018

Shayesteh Vatandoust and her husband were arrested in 1987 and imprisoned just before the 1988 Prison Massacres. Her charge was nothing more than attempting to flee Iran but she served over 17 and a half years behind bars, in four different prisons.

Ms. Vatandoust recalls the girls and women she met in prison and shares the memories of their lives and fates. Among them is Zari Dadsetan, arrested at 12 or 13 years of age and charged with aiding guerrillas. Ms. Vatandoust explains that Zari was merely cycling in the forest when she was arrested. Zari had said that the judge at her trial accused her of lusting after the guerrillas, and Zari, in her youthful naïveté, didn’t know what the word ‘lust’ even meant.

On July 31st, 1988, Shayesteh Vatandoust lost Zari and 27 others in the early hours of morning. The 28 women were all promptly executed by Iranian authorities. She continues to honour their memories by keeping their names and stories alive.

There has been no redress or accountability for this crime against humanity, or for the many other instances of torture and mass executions inflicted upon prisoners and political dissidents during that decade in Iran. However, the tragedy of the 1988 prisoner massacre is a part of Iran’s history that will never be erased or censored, so long as people like Ms. Vatandoust continue to commemorate the victims.