Mehdi Aslani was born in Tehran, Iran. After graduating high school he was drafted to serve in the military. When the revolution started in 1978, Mehdi fled his military unit to participate in the revolution. He joined a Marxist group called “The Organization of the Fedayean Khalgh.” In 1985 the Islamic Republic authorities arrested Mehdi because of his political affiliation and after months of torture and interrogation sentenced him to 6 years of imprisonment. Mehdi survived the 1988 prison massacre and was released in March of 1989. After his release he fled Iran because of the constant harassment by the authorities. He resettled in Germany, where he continued his activities to expose the Islamic Republic’s atrocities and gross human rights violations. Mehdi has published his prison memoirs in a book called “The Crow and the Rose.” He is also a co-publisher of “The Hemlock Forest,” which is a collection of last wills by executed political prisoners. Mehdi collaborates with “Arash” magazine.


Monir Baradaran was born in Tabriz, Iran. She started her political activities and was a political prisoner during the Shah’s regime along with her brother, Mehdi. They were both released on the eve of the 1979 revolution and were arrested again by the new Islamic regime in 1981. Monir’s brother Mehdi was executed 40 days after their arrest. Monir spent 9 years in the Islamic Republic’s prisons. After her release, Monir fled Iran and resettled in Germany where she continued her studies in Hanover University as a sociologist and started her career as a writer. Her first book is called “The Plain Truth” and tells the story of her 9 years of incarceration in the Islamic Republic prisons. Monir’s other books include “The Psychology of Torture” and “Against Forgetfulness: Truth Commissions around the World”. In 1999 Monir was awarded the Carl von Ossietzky medal in Berlin, Germany for her efforts in promoting human rights. Currently Monir is collaborating with the “Bidaran” website, which runs campaigns against torture and capital punishment and the establishment of tribunals. She also collaborates with “The Boroumand Foundation” in documenting the stories of all victims of the Islamic Republic of Iran.


Saiid Esmati was 13-days old when his father Reza Esmati was arrested by the Islamic Republic authorities from their home in Tehran, Iran. For a year his mother and grandparents took him for visits, but life turned out to be too dangerous for his mother in Iran. In 1982 Saiid and his mother fled Iran through the mountains of Turkey. Today Saiid lives in Berlin, Germany and works as a coach in seminars promoting intercultural and interfaith dialogue. He is also interested in the issues that the youth around him are facing today, especially the role that racism is playing in the lives of Germany’s immigrant youth.


Iraj Mesdaghi was born in Tehran, Iran. He started his political activities when he was 17 years old, with the dream of a society based on freedom and social justice. Before the 1979 Iranian revolution Iraj was studying in the United States and was a member of the “Iranian Confederation of Students”. When the revolution started, like many other Iranian students abroad, Iraj rushed back to Iran and actively participated in the revolution. He joined the “Mujahedin Khalgh” organization, and because of his political affiliation was arrested by the new Islamic regime in 1980. He spent ten years in various prisons. After his release because of constant surveillance and harassment by the Islamic authorities he fled Iran with his wife, who had spent 5 years in prison and their new-born son.The family resettled in Sweden where Iraj resumed his political activities, bringing the atrocities of the Islamic Republic to the attention of International Human Rights organizations, such as the United Nations’Commissions, the International Labor Organization and the European Parliament. Iraj has authored numerous articles and reports exposing the human rights abuses and atrocities of the Islamic Republic. He is also the author of many books, including the 4 volume book “Neither life Nor Death” about his 10 year experience in the Islamic Republic prisons and”Hell On Earth” investigating the ideological roots of torture in the Islamic Republic.


Mihan Rousta was a student activist and a sociology major at Tehran University during the 1979 Iranian revolution. Mihan and her husband Reza Esmati, who was a political prisoner in the Shah’s regime, both actively participated in the revolution. In the summer of 1981, when the couple was celebrating the birth of their son Saiid, Reza was arrested for a second time, this time by the new Islamic regime. After living underground for a year, Mihan made the difficult decision to leave Iran with her son Saiid. They resettled in Germany where Mihan continued her political activities, bringing to the attention of the world the plight of Iranian political prisoners as well as defending refugee and women’s rights. Mihan is a co-publisher of the two-volume book “The Inescapable Escape: Thirty Stories of Escape from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”


Mahnaz Saeda was born in Tehran, Iran. She was drawn to politics in the 1979 revolution, when she wasin middle school. She was attracted to the “Mujahedin Khalgh” organizationbecause of their equal treatment of women and men. Because of supporting this organization Mahnaz was arrested by the Islamic Republic in thesummer of 1981. At the time of her arrest she was 15-years old. After torture and interrogation, Mahnaz was sentenced to 5 years. She was tried once again during the 1988 prison massacre. She survived the massacre and after her release focused her energy on her education. She obtained her high school diploma and passed the university entrance exam. But because of her prison record, the authorities required her to collaborate with the Intelligence Ministry. She fled Iran and settled in Europe. Two of Mahnaz’s cousins were murdered in the 1988 massacre and her uncle was killed in a street fight. “The Secret Fatwa” is the first occasion that Mahnaz has decided to tell her story.


gholamreza shemirani | witness


Gholamreza Shemirani was born in Tehran, Iran. During the 1979 Iranian revolution he was a student at Tehran University. He participated in the revolution and joined the student organization of the “Mujahedin Khalgh”. When in the spring of 1980 the Islamic Republic shut down all universities under the pretext of a cultural revolution, Reza dedicated all his efforts to political activity. He was arrested in June of 1981 and spent 10 years in the Islamic Republic prisons. Reza endured torture and bore Story Teller to the execution of many of his friends. He is a survivor of the 1988 prison massacre. After his release, Reza was constantly under surveillance and was prohibited to continue his education. In 2001 he fled Iran and resettled in Europe, where he continued his education in the field of medicine.