'DEATH TO THE DICTATOR'

‘Death to the Dictator’ by Afsaneh Moqada is an eye-witness account of Iran’s stolen election and the near crippling of the Islamic Republic. It’s a harrowing portrait of Iran’s Green (democratic) Revolution that details the horrific torture of those who dared to defy the regime.

This is a disturbing and problematic book because not all the story can be told even a year after the events it recalls. All the names and many of the  details have had to be changed, because the torture and sexual violence that sustains the Iranian regime continues, and most of its victims are still trapped inside their homeland.

The reader does not know, for instance, who Afsaneh Moqadam is, whether this pseudonymous author is a man or woman, or what is the nature of his/her relationship with Mohsen Abbaspour, the name given to the protagonist in this powerful account of a stolen election. This might even be Mohsens book, but even if he didn’t write it himself, his terrible story nevertheless illuminates the horrors that ensue when an Islamic revolution turns into corrupt authoritarian rule with theocratic pretensions..

Death to the Dictator is the story of how President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stole last Junes election with the connivance of Irans supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, whom reformist Iranians had hoped would side with them and on the side of democracy. Mohsen Abbaspour, the name given to the protagonist, is portrayed in the book  is certainly no hardened political activist. Enraged by the vulgarity and stupidity of Irans rulers, he throws abuse and rocks at members of the detested pro-government Basij militia. After mopping his face clear of tear gas, though, he forgets to replace his face mask, so is a sitting duck when the police start rounding up suspects.
The accounts of Mohsens torture make for shocking reading. He is shackled and then beaten so hard on his back and the soles of his feet that he cant walk, and his ankles and wrists are slashed as his body recoils against the steel restraints. When a prison guard allows him to bathe his feet to reduce the swelling, he realises too late that the concession is offered only so that the beatings can resume.
The guards cover the dissidents in petrol and taunt: Light the match. Then they leave them out in the sun so the petrol scorches their skin. Prisoners are made to bark like dogs for food and water. The lucky ones are only beaten, explains Moqadam. Some have their hands put in boiling hot tar. Some are hung up by their wrists and ankles. One comes back stinking of shit. They forced his face into a blocked toilet until the filth entered his throat through his nose.
Contrary to all Islamic rules, sexual violence becomes an instrument of repression. Women protesters are raped and violated so grotesquely that their captors pour acid over their genitalia to cover up their crimes.
Mohsen himself is lucky to survive at all, though he is a physical and emotional wreck by the time the police dump him at the side of the road, for he has been systematically sodomised by the guards. Arent you Muslims? Mohsen plaintively asks them, and they reply: Anything we do to you anything at all is considered an act of worship. F****** you is a good deed in the eyes of God. Times Online