State of Fear

By Reza Ghaffari

State of Fear Look inside
  • Publication Date: 4 Jun 2012
  • Publisher: John Blake Publishing Ltd
  • Imprint: Metro Books, London
ISBN: 9781843583967
eBook (ePub/MOBI)
ISBN: 9781857827163



'Night after night througout Evin and the surrounding valley a noise rang out like thunder. At first I thought it was girders being unloaded from large trailers for constructing the new prison extensions. It didn't take me too long to find out that the thunder came from the barrels of the automatic weapons of the firing squad. Each time after this terrifying barrage - 5,000 rounds at a time - we would hear the lone voice of the coup de grace: a pistol shot to the head of each victim.' In the spring of 1981, a professor from the University of Tehran, Dr Reza Ghaffari, woke to find ten armed men standing over his bed. His house was turned upside down and he was arrested for being a member of a banned socialist group, blindfolded and bundled into the back of a car. It was the beginning of a nightmare that would last for ten long years. With searing honesty, Dr Ghaffari tells the story from his arrest to his eventual, nail-biting escape. He recalls his experiences of a decade of torture and as a witness to, and near victim of, prison massacres. But the book is not merely a catalogue of atrocities; it is also a story of unswerving integrity and the triumph of the human spirit in the face of the utmost degradation. There are even humorous moments as prisoners take firm hold on their sanity, entertain one another and come to terms with the absurd aspects of their predicament. Nothing - in English or in Persian - has so comprehensively, so movingly or so colourfully portrayed prison conditions and the strength of those suffering them.

About the author

Dr Reza Ghaffari has been a political activist since his school days. He attended Tehran University before going to study in America, where he washed dishes and cleaned toilets to pay for his education. During this time he campaigned tirelessly against the oppressive regime of the Shah. After 12 years away he returned to his native Iran in 1974 and took a job at his old university. Finally, in 1979, came the revolution that so many Iranians had been praying for. The new regime turned out to be even more brutal than the last, and Dr Ghaffari soon found himself a marked man. He was arrested in 1981 and spent ten years inside some of the regime's brutal prison camps. He eventually escaped and made his way to England, where he still lives today. Despite some violent threats - he has spent almost a year in an M16 safe house - he is determined to share his experiences with the rest of the world.

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