The 2011 International Human Rights Award has been awarded to HOUSHANG ASADI for his remarkable memoir, LETTERS TO MY TORTURER, published in hardback by Oneworld Publications.
HOUSHANG ASADI was born in Tehran in 1950. Prior to the Islamic revolution, he spent many years as the Deputy Editor of Kayhan, Iran's largest daily newspaper. For the next 12 years, he was Editor-in-Chief of GozareshFILM (Film Report), the country's largest circulation film magazine. He is the author of several novels, plays and films, and has translated works into Persian by writers including Gabriel Garcia Marquez and T S Eliot.
In 1983, following the Iranian government's crackdown on all opposition parties, Asadi was pushed blindfold into an unmarked car and kept in solitary confinement for over two years. Moshtarek prison in Tehran is one of the country's most infamous institutions. He was subjected to brutal torture and imhuman degradation. Asadi was convinced this was a case of mistaken identity. As a supporter of the Islamic Revolution he had shared a cramped prison cell with the Ayatollah Khamenei (Iran's current Supreme Leader) in the 70s, and considered him a close friend.
Asadi was forced to 'confess' to being a spy for the British and Russians. Hauled before a sham court, he narrowly escaped execution. Asadi was sentenced to 15 years before being released after 6. After escaping Iran, Asadi and his wife now live in exile in Paris, where he founded the infuential Persian news website, Rooz Online.
LETTERS TO MY TORTURER details the events following the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Houshang Asadi recounts in horrific yet gripping detail, the reality of life as a prisoner in one of the most hostile prisons in Iran - and probably the world. As a healing exercise, a way to purge himself of the hatred towards Brother Hamid, the perpetrator of torture in the prison, Asadi began writing Letters to my Torturer, in the form of correspondence to Brother Hamid. It was extremely painful re-living the terrible experience, the beatings, the whippings, the times he was suspended by his ankles from the ceiling for hours on end. When Asadi began the manuscript for Letters to My Torturer, the memories were so shocking that he had a heart attack. But he was determined to keep going. As the first draft of the book was finished in 2009, Iran once again descended into political chaos.
'At the height of one of his torture sessions, Brother Hamid asked me: If one day things change and we end up being your captives, what will you do to us? My answer is this: we will demolish all the world's infamous prisons of torture and we will sentence the intelligence officers and interrogators to go to their ruins to plant flowers and sing love songs. And the sham trials, the torture and all forms of degrading and inhuman treatment will at last be a thing of the past'. Houshang Asadi, March 2010, Paris.
... Payvand News - 04/28/11 ... --