As part of its propaganda campaign against the regime of the former Shah of Iran, officials of Ayatollah Khomeini's revolutionary government this week opened up the headquarters of Savak, the Shah's secret police.
As part of its propaganda campaign against the regime of the former Shah of Iran, officials of Ayatollah Khomeini's revolutionary government this week opened up the headquarters of Savak, the Shah's secret police. Representatives of the world press were given a guided tour and told of alleged atrocities committed by Savak during the Shah's reign.
SYNOPSIS: From the outside, the Savak compound in Teheran looks like any other bureaucratic building, a rambling jumble of office blocks in need of a facelift. But, inside, journalists were to be shown the gruesome instruments of torture allegedly used by the Shah's feared secret police. Here, in the preliminary interrogation block, hundreds were said to have been beaten and tortured to death. The fountain in this courtyard was supposedly used for immersion tortures, indicating the stage reached in the interrogation.
In the torture cells, a man said his daughter had been burned and tortured for five months, becoming totally paralysed before she died months later.
Former prisoners and relatives gave a catalogue of horrors to newsmen about their experiences with Savak. They said there was an initial softening-up process, a general physical beating and flogging. Then, intensive questioning would be followed by specific tortures.
The guides spoke of the "toast rack", a heated iron bed, burning with cigarette lighters, hanging by the wrists or feet, tearing out of finger nails, and heated needles in the skin.
Behind this simple facade, whole families were said to have fallen into Savak's maw, with innocent relatives of protestors against the Shah's regime being hauled in indiscriminately, and often never seen again.
Newsmen were later taken to Teheran's Ervin prison, where Savak once held many people. But, outside the gates was a huddle of people waiting for news of relatives being held under the new regime. One woman claimed there were more prisoners in Ervin now than before the revolution. Though its accuracy was questioned, the woman's statement to journalists did not enhance Khomeini's propaganda line.
In an exercise staged by the Ministry for National Guidance, former Savak officials and politicians linked with the Shah's regime were brought forward to speak to newsmen. Among these top-ranking prisoners was former Health Minister, Shaikholeslam Zadeh, now serving a life sentence.
Zadeh now looks after the health of the six hundred prisoners being held here without trial.
A Savak deputy adviser, Hassan Sana, claimed British Intelligence had co-operated with his men, giving information about students in Britain involved in anti-Shah activities. He claimed similar co-operation with France and West Germany, and with the CIA.