Witness Testimony of Tuba Kamangar

 Name and Surname: Tuba Kamangar

Tuba-Kamangar-184x250

Date and Place of Birth: Kurdistan

Date of Arrest: June 1981

Accusation: Collaboration with Komala

Date of Release: August 1982

 I was arrested in 1981 in one of the villages of Kamiaran. [First] I was at home but because my brothers were peshmergas, our house was set on fire by the Islamic Republic. Along with my mother we accompanied Komala Party and went from one village to another with the peshmergas. We were with them. At that time I was 17. I married one of our peshmergacomrades. It was more of a forced marriage by the party. The first week after my marriage the battle between the Kurdish Democratic Party and the Komala began. Without the knowledge of Komala, I returned to the village where I was arrested. Two of regime’s mercenaries were arrested by Peykar and handed to Komala. At that time Peykar was small and only comprised of a number of people who would accompany Komala into the villages. After two weeks when I was in these village—it was the beginning of my pregnancy too because I got pregnant within a week of my wedding—around 3 am they came [for me]. They had reports that I am in this village so they came and arrested me. My husband escaped.

They had reports that I am in the village, in Ta’eeneh. They knew my family because they had set fire to our house. Two of my brothers were Komala peshmerga and had been martyred. They came at 3 am and surrounded the house. They had given them my identifications and how I looked and what kind of body I had because there were 4-5 other women in the house I was at.

Those who had come for the arrest were all men. They were sepahis there as well as Jash. They were from Nashour village. From amongst those who had come, I only knew one. He used to be a peshmergafor Komala but had then surrendered himself and become armed and accompanied the [regime forces]. I forget his name but I knew him. There were many others amongst them who knew my family.

Acquaintances who knew my family, by first and last name, they came into the room. They took me out of my bed. I didn’t show any reaction because it was very normal for me that they were arresting me. I knew it. The first moment when they took me out of my bed they shown a flash light in my face and immediately recognized me.

They brought me and put me in another room. They said, “We only have business with you. We will take you and you will be released this afternoon.”

My mother was not with me at that moment. She was in hiding. They kept me in that house until 4 am and then took me with them. More than 200 men were there. Wherever you looked, at every corner of the house, there were 4-5 men standing.

If they knew my husband was in the house, because he was armed, they would most certainly set fire to the whole village and arrest him. But he wasn’t there; he had escaped.

At 4 am they took me with them. By then the village people had woken up and realized that they had arrested me. They got really upset. They all came to the end of the village to beg in any way so that they would not take me. I was very young, about 17 [or 18] years old. They didn’t allow anyone to come with me. They took me and around 8 am we got to the village of Nashour.

They had brought a lot of cars to the end of the road. At that time, in most of Kurdistan villages, and particularly in the Kamiaran area, there were many bases. There was at least one base at every fifty meters. They had brought all the women and children of that village so they could see me. All the people had come and were looking at me. Those who were armed left me alone. We were at a large courtyard with high walls. The man who was their leader [head of the prison] had two wives. They all left and it took until 12 noon. They threatened a lot. My crime was that I was with Komala and my family was with Komala as well. In fact we were doing secret work in the villages and collaborating with the city branch of the organization. On that first day, they threatened me. They said, “You are a new arrestee. You will be here with us! Either you will marry one of us, or you will be executed.” I said that it would be better to be executed than … he said, “You either have to marry one of us or be executed.” Right there, I said that I was pregnant. It had been three weeks since when I should have gotten my monthly cycle. I said that I was pregnant and got a bit scared.

At that time, they were under Komala pressure a lot. They all left and place four guards to watch me. One of the wives of the head of prison—who had two wives—came to me. She cried a lot and said that she was very upset that they had arrested me. She had a girl with her and said, “You are the age of my daughter but don’t worry, believe me that I will not let anything happened to you, even if it costs me my life. Don’t be afraid.” I said nothing, not even a word.

I stayed in the courtyard on that day. I said in the corner of the yard because all the rooms were filled. They were either releasing someone or transferring that person to SAVAK’s former prison in Sanandaj. They emptied a small room for me with nothing in it. It was summer time. I stayed there. Truth be told, they didn’t physically torture me but mentally, they tortured me a lot. Whoever entered my room was a bastard. Each room of the building had someone in it. They had built little windows for them too; basically they had built a prison. All of those arrested were either family members or sisters of peshmergas. Whenever each guard would come in, he would say a sexually suggestive threat. For example, “we want to be with you tonight,” “tonight we want to sleep with you,” “we like you, you are so young, such a waste!”

There were three guards who were very good humans. They really helped me psychologically. The other, however, would come inside and discuss sexual issues, discuss sleeping with me, they would say, “We want to sleep with you. You are a young woman and having sex with you would be very pleasurable.”

They would say such things when they were alone. One person would come to the front of my window. The room had a small window. I was always at a corner of the room. He would open the window and say such things. Another person was guarding the door. I always had two guards, one in front of the window in the yard and another in front of the door. The prison was on a main road. They pretended like the person who was at the door had not heard anything but others, who were in the prison while I was, who were mostly parents of peshmergas would hear. Because I was always inside the room and they always spoke to me in that manner from in front of the window, the fact that they were bothering me and harassing me like this, psychologically, had been talked about all over Kamiaran and even Sanandaj. It was effective. This was pressuring me a lot. Those who were nice to me, the biggest help they gave were that they would inform me of Komala’s situation. Later they brought announcements of Komala for me. They said, “if they do anything to you, physically, we will certainly set fire to this village. We will not allow a Komala peshmerga to be insulted in this manner.” This situation lasted six months. Each day, Komala would attack the village a few times. Every time they attacked or caused damage to the bases in the villages, my situation would become worse. They would take me to the stable. They wouldn’t let me remain where I was. I was banned from having visitation for the year and some months that I was detained. I was arrested in June of 1981 and was in prison until my baby came to full term and delivered while in prison. After a year and some months I was released. Each time Komala attacked they took me to the stable and really harassed me. They would touch my breasts. They would push me in the dark and harass me a lot. Although at the time I was in prison, the issue of prisoner had not yet been very clear. I was the only woman who was arrested in the Kamiaran area. They psychologically tortured me for six months. They would push me around and insult me, insult all my beliefs every day. The sexual issue was more pronounced. Through the 2-3 guys who were good people, I filed a complaint against them to the Kurdistan Provincial office that was their supervisor. They said that they went and delivered the complaints but they had told me not to mention the guys’ names and so I didn’t put their names in the letters I secretly sent out and so unfortunately the complaints did not result in anything.

The only thing I ate or drank in the first six months was buttermilk (dough). Without any accompaniment! The health and nutrition condition was non-existent. When the winter started I had nothing in the cement-built room. There was a foam mattress with nothing on it. There was a light too. My legs would swell each night. I could not sleep at all because I was afraid. They had the lock and key and everything. My stomach was slowly growing. After six months, they sent me to SAVAK prison in Sanandaj.

If Komala would attack and damage the villages, this would increase the times they would touch my breasts and other such things. But they could not rape me. They knew that the 3-4 people [there] were in touch with Komala and were worried that they would inform the party if they would go further.

Every day, Komala would threaten them that if a hair was missing from my (Tuba) head, they will all be massacred. They feared that if they were to get closer to me, the threat would be carried out.

When they would do the things, I only screamed. As I said, they took others in prison to the stables too. This was not like other places, like SAVAK prison in Sanandaj, where there were different floors and they could take me to the basement. So when Komala attacked, they took us to the stables in the village. They would push me in the darkness, throw me, touch me and wanted to get closer to me in the darkness. I would scream and then they would keep a distance.

There were three other women in prison aside from me. Mostly they were wives of the peshmergas. They had different sentences, for example, once a month would pass, they would release them. Their condition was better than mine because when they were arrested they were together, all three in the same room. I was alone.

I don’t think they were threatened as much. As I said, the three of them were in the same room together. Usually the attacks are less likely to occur when prisoners are in twos of threes. Even the men who were arrested were placed in separate rooms; each in a room alone. But these three women were together. I was alone in one room.

All of my pregnancy was spent in this manner. After six months, no matter what they did, I was not willing to give up in any way and said nothing about the party or the works they did. Mohsen Rezai, who has now candidate himself for presidency in Iran, was in Sanandaj and generally Kurdistan prisons during those days.  He came. They spoke to Mohsen and said that I have been in prison for six months. That my crime was that I was Komala myself and my family was as well and it has been six months and I have not been willing to say anything or marry any one of them although they had threatened me a few times. After six months, they took me to SAVAK prison in Sanandaj. There I was kept in a solitary cell for a week. Within that week, Mohsen Rezai came three times and started trial procession for me. They brought one of the Jash from the village I was imprisoned in to translate. On the first day, they didn’t even blindfold me. the second day, I was in the cell and they said, you have been imprisoned for six months and this is your crime, that you are a Komala member. He said a lot of nonsense about Komala, yelled insults and said, “Be assured that we will bring them all, one after another, bring them all to you and you will be executed along with them, one after another.” I said, “Fine! It’s not important! You can execute me; I have no problems.”

I was six months’ pregnant. When they took me downstairs the second day they blindfolded me. I know that we went down a lot. We were at SAVAK of Sanandaj office. Each floor that we climbed down I could hear the scream of girls from the nooks and crannies of the prison. The whole of the six months that I was in the village prison and felt like I will be killed any day, I hadn’t been bothered as much as I was during that week. Each floor that we went down, he would say, “All these people who are screaming are your comrades, Komala members. They are being tortured and raped.” Mohsen was saying this.

I didn’t know how to speak Farsi then and so they had brought someone [to translate]. I was blindfolded. Someone was holding my hand. Mohsen Rezai was with us. He said, “We will do this if you don’t talk.” I said nothing; he was the one who used the term “rape.” He said, “These people who are screaming, are your like-minded fellows and comrades, Komala members.” I said nothing. Then took me inside a room and I sat on a chair. They said it is nine am. They questioned me until 8 pm. They didn’t even give me water to drink. They said, “You will remain here.” Mohsen said, “You can’t be any stronger than others. You can hear all the noise they are making and know what it is. Just know that we shall do much worse to you.”

He said, we will do one thing. Maybe we will allow you to remain alive until your child is born. If we could, [we will wait] until then. If not, so be it. It is not important.” I said, “It is not important. [I’ll be like] all other humans who wasted away.” In truth I had no fear and the only thing that happened and really bothered me was that you couldn’t cross into the lower level without hearing the screams and yells.

Unfortunately they wouldn’t allow anyone to visit or see me. Because they knew that we all know one another. There was no one there. During that one week at Sanandaj prison, I was alone inside a small cell with a toilet and a bed. No one was there. Last day of that week, Mohsen Rezai came and said, “we are returning you to the village prison where you were kept but I have spoken to the head of that prison and said that you are to be executed either before your baby can be delivered or allow the delivery and then execute you. There is another simple solution too; you can marry one of our Muslim brothers.” I said nothing.

I am myself a complainant of Mohsen Rezai. Once I saw him without a blindfold and twice with blindfold but I knew his voice and recognized him to be Mohsen Rezai. Whenever I see his image I think he is one of the lowest of people. During the time he was in Kurdistan, he did so much crime against the guys, the guys in the secret branch of Komala who were arrested between 1981 to the end of 1982.

Then they returned me to the prison in the Nashour village. I remained there. It was winter and very cold. I could not sleep out of fear because I was afraid that they would rape me if I would fall asleep.

The guards were the same ones as before. They lived in that village. It was their jobs. They would conduct operations, attack Komala and all, and leave but they were there 24 hours a day. They changed and other guards would replace them. I came back to the village and the head of the prison of that village came and said, “Mr. Rezaei spoke to you and told you the final words. His thoughts are the same as mine. Either you marry one of us or you will be executed.” I said nothing. I went inside the room. They locked the door and I sat down. Then I remained as before until I was about 7 months pregnant. I was seven months pregnant but the talks continued daily; the issue of harassing and propositioning me. They would knock on my window asking, “Would you sleep with us tonight or tomorrow night? Ok fine, if you don’t feel like doing it tonight you can do it tomorrow night. Promise us that you sleep with us.” Very rudely they would say, “We have nowhere else to take you so you have to do the business right here. We have to be together in this room. If I OK it, it wouldn’t be a problem. We can do this.” There was a lot of pressure on me, psychological pressure that continued throughout the seven months I was there. Then, I sent a message to Komala that my physical and psychological conditions were such. My physical conditions were such that I would fall if I would get up. I would pass out. I had no nutrients and was pregnant too. They sent message to Komala and Komala was planning on discharging me, exchanging me. At the time, Komala sent them a message to take me to Sanandaj and hand me over to my husband’s family through a third party. At that time, two of the religious zealots who were important for the regime were captured by the Peykar guys and handed over to Komala. In fact, my arrest was based on that they wanted to keep me hostage and exchange me with those two and have the [Komala] hand them over in exchange for me.

The night I went it was the policy of Komala to do this. In fact they had bluffed and hoped that the situation would work itself out. I came the first night. The secret branch came and told me to get my stuff together because the party has ordered for me to leave the city. That they had no intention of releasing anyone [the hostages]. On the first day, they took me but it didn’t work out for me to join the secret branch. On the second day they sent message that I am not staying with my mother and that someone took me. Along with sister Goli and my cousin who were all in the secret branch… they had come to our house and taken my mother, sister, and two young brothers who were six and seven years old. Then they sent message to the secret branch of the city that all of my family who were in the city were arrested and that they should do something. The party outside of the city had no idea that this had happened. They took me to my mother’s house and I went and handed myself over for the sake of my mother and brothers and sister.

Four people were arrested and taken. They had attached my brother to a car. It was very hard for me at the time. They had pulled him on the ground for a hundred meters. I went and handed myself in and said, I am willing to die but not willing even for a second to have my brother and sister stay in the place where I was kept at the age that they were. I handed myself in and my sister and two brothers were released.

This whole situation took three days; I handed myself over, they were released. My mother was with me and she was arrested there. They kept her for a week and told her that she has to marry them. They had pressured my mother too. My poor mother was going crazy. It was hard for me too but we were not in the same room during the week she was in prison. I was in one room and she was in another.

The whole Kamiaran area protested when my mother was arrested. The entire mothers of peshmergasin Sanandaj, they all came there and said, we are willing to give all we have but have her released. My mother was released within a week and I was left. My condition in prison continued until nine months. My baby was born. When my baby was born they didn’t provide me with anything in the room. I had contraction and pains for three days. I couldn’t even get up and when I would get up to go to the bathroom I would pass out but also couldn’t deliver the baby either. They didn’t even bring a midwife for me.

I don’t even know how my baby was born. I was unconscious for two full days and was bleeding heavily. They brought my older sister and Dalir’s mother. My sister said that when they arrived, I was bloody all over and my own clothes were under me and I had nothing else and 4-5 men were standing around the room saying that nothing must happen and no one must attack. They said that this was what it was like when they arrived. I was unconscious for three days until my baby was born the next day. The next day my sister screams and cries and begs for me to go to the hospital until they finally take me to the hospital in Sanandaj with four guard cars. They threaten that until I get better they will come after me and I was guarded every day. They said they will attack the hospital. My placenta had not come out [with the baby] so they do a surgery. After one day in the hospital, I wake up.

My baby was a girl who is now in Kurdistan. After two weeks in the hospital I was able to sit, even on the hospital bed. After that the city branch came to take me with them but when they came to the hospital and saw how many guards there were, that there are two guards at the entrance everyday [they didn’t]. After two weeks they returned me to my room in the prison with my baby.

My mother then told them that her life is never worth more than mine and whatever they wanted to do to us, whether they intended to execute us both in Sanandaj prison, we will be together and that she will come with me. This was because, after one month had passed, I was still so weak that I could not stand on my two feet. My mother accompanied me but I couldn’t stand or really move because I had bled so much. In fact I am not even sure how I didn’t die! They returned me to the same room in prison along with my mother.

My mother was there for a week. Komala found out how my conditions were and seriously threatened that either I will be let go or that they will set fire to the villages. After two months from my delivery, they knew that I had a seriously bad condition. They were very afraid of the Komala with four guarantees and two houses, they released me.

When my baby was born, one of the officials who always said those [sexually charged] things came to my window and started laughing out loud. I looked at him. He asked, how come you are not asking me why I was laughing. I said that I didn’t care if he laughed or cried. He never laughed and always came with an anger so as to scare me. He said, “I have propositioned your mother. I told her and swore a promise to her that either she marries me and you both are released or she will be in the same conditions as you. We have also told her that if you don’t marry one of us, you will certainly be executed. I said nothing; I couldn’t even talk to them and frankly had nothing to say to them. Then they release my mother after a week with a guarantee. At the time of her arrest, my mother was 45 years old. It was 1981; she is now 75 years old.

They propositioned my mother a few times but she never feared anything and said whatever she could think of to them. They would proposition me in front of my mother. After my delivery! They would say, “It matters not if the baby dies or stays alive, we are careful now to make sure nothing happens to you. It is great because you can now marry this guy or that guy or the other. Or you will be executed!” my mother feared nothing because she had lost two of her sons at that time too. She said, “You have set fire to my house, killed my children! I fear nothing! I am here now and if I have just one drop of blood to spare, it belongs to Tuba. I will not let you treat Tuba in this manner. Either we are both executed or both released.”

My sister lived with one of our friends at that time. My father passed away when we were little and my mother basically ran the household.

During that time, they gave the baby to my mother and told her to take the baby with her because they had decided that I would either marry someone or be executed. My mother left. She came to visit me every day but until that moment I didn’t have any visitors. I hadn’t seen even one person. My mother would come every day and show me the baby and then leave. She had relayed news of my physical and psychological condition to every mother in Sanandaj. Komala threatened again and they feared Komala at the time. After two months, they released me with guarantee.

I was in hiding but my mother had to go every two weeks in my stead and give signatures. My mother finally told me that this manner of life was not sustainable. She said that either I had to stand my ground and show my face in the city or that I have to get out of there. “It is better if you leave because it makes it harder for me [when you are here] and it is harder on my other kids.” By order of Komala I came out in the open. I remained in the city until 1984. Each week I would go to Sanandaj intelligence and give signatures to show that I am still around.

My child was with me for three years. I gave signatures every week. I knew that if they were to find out that I had contacted Komala, I will be executed without a doubt.

This was very pressuring on me. The police pressured me a lot. I was being followed everywhere I went. If there was something going on in the city or if I was sitting at home with my child. Anyway I felt that this was the case every day. Like I said, the Kurds that were Jash [followed me]. For example if I would enter my home—I was renting from a relative of mine—they would tell me, “didn’t you see the guy behind you?” I had not. They said that I was being followed 24 hours a day. So I realized that I could no longer live that way. I left the city with my daughter. I left in February of 1985 and went to the Iraqi Kurdistan. [Komala] headquarter was there. I went to [stay] with my Komala comrades. I was in Iraq till 1991 then I escaped to Turkey and was there for six months. I arrived [WHERE?] in 1992. At the time the conditions of the Iraqi Kurdistan was really bad. It was around the time of Halabja and the Islamic Republic bombed every location we moved to. Komala said that those who have kids should send them to the cities. “We will be sacrificed and that is fine but children are innocent.” So, along with one of the peshmerga’smother, I sent my daughter to Iran to stay with her paternal uncle. I saw her in 2001 in turkey. She was 16. She had grown up in Iran and is now married. She doesn’t remember anything but tells me, “I don’t remember any of those things but whenever I pass by those villages, I have a bad feeling. I don’t even want to see it. It makes me feel strange.”

There was a guard who propositioned me all the time and asked me, “Why won’t you let us sleep with you?” at Sanandaj’s central prison and later in the military base and SAVAK prison. He said that those who are executed mostly sleep with the pasdar brothers 3-4 times before execution. To tell you the truth, this really affected me psychologically. Very much so! In fact I had thought about it and was ready for them to rape me. Because they were not ashamed of anyone either! They didn’t even have an iota of humanity in them. But they couldn’t [do anything with me]. Later when I was released and went to stay with my mother, I had nowhere to be and so I lived there. I could sleep comfortably while I was there. She told me, “You can never sleep! You wake up and walk around and cry. You jump from bed and sit still.” But I had no idea about any of this! It took about three years. I didn’t spoke to anyone about it then. I told my mother once that they had propositioned me as such. I also told my brother who came here because both of us were imprisoned and he knew what the prison conditions were like, particularly in 1981 that was the beginning of the secret branch of Komala and they arrested many people. My brother said, “It is not important. Even if they would rape you ten times, that wouldn’t matter. What is important is that you stuck to your beliefs and ideologies and never gave them any information.” That is exactly what I did and they didn’t rape me but they tortured me. I still can’t, after all these years, sleep comfortably.

At that time in prison, I heard about the raping of the virgin girls. I heard that one of the guards say that, as they said in those times, if she is a girl and then executed, this is sinful. Before they are executed, one of the pasdar brothers has to sleep with them then they can be executed. I was very afraid. I didn’t fear execution but this was an issue for me. In the year and some months that I was in prison, I told them many times too, I was willing to be lashed forty times a day but never to be told that I will be raped. They touched the breast and this area [points at the genital area]. This was very important to me. I don’t know if it was because namous—my body or what. These things belonged to me!

Lashing was a lot easier for me psychologically. But when they pushed me like that and grabbed my breasts, whether it was during night and my sleep or during the day when I was walking, I felt like a wolf had attacked me. A wolf that had no right to attack me! But I couldn’t say anything to them. It was hard for me. I don’t know why. I even told them, begged them. I think they knew that this was hard for me and that I was not even comfortable to say it. Maybe they could even make it happen one day, rape me; it mattered not to them. But that they told me about it was very important for me. Like I said, it happened a lot that Komala would attack the villages, place mines for their cars in different parts of Kamiaran. Whenever a villager would shoot a bullet, they would go. Forty cars would be dispatched. They would come and inform me immediately that a bunch of them are fighting with Komala. Then they would come and crash on me psychologically. It would start from 8 am and continue till 4-5 pm. This was very important for me. I couldn’t eat anything. I told them, “I want you to lash my hands from morning to night but not say these words or touch me. it crushes me psychologically when you touch me.” this was very hard for me. I don’t know why. When they would grab my breast and then push me and hit me to the wall, it was easier on me when he hit me to the wall or even kick me than when he touched my breast or even any part of my body. When they bruised me in a place. This was hard on me psychologically. I couldn’t understand it. I couldn’t figure out why. I knew that they are bastards and mercenaries. What bothers the most is that you can feel that they are enjoying it sexually.

When they lash a prisoner, the screaming is enjoyable for them. As much as they raped women then, they are raping men now. They enjoy acts like rape, grabbing the breast, touching the genital area, touching the body. This is torture, psychological torture.

I think their desire or lust to want to rape me is a small part of it. What is important for them is to crush you and belittle you. During that time, 1981-82, they did this to a lot of our comrades. Not necessarily physically but psychologically tortured. Both in prison and in the society. They crushed them. All the tortures that they endured! In truth they are not human beings. No human being can enjoy harassing another human being. I always felt that way and still do! Even when I think about it now, if I see someone on TV talking about torture and rape, I always change the channel and can’t watch it. No matter what channel it is on. I always think, that person [who did it] where was the humanity in him? Where is it now? Because I know how much harassment they subjected people to in those prisons. How many times they put someone on the floor and raped them, tortured them, tried to crush the humanity, the feeling of self, inside him. This was really their main issue.

Once I briefly spoke to Komala television. When my family saw the video they were very upset why I had not said everything because they knew and my mother had been told what they intended to have done to her daughter. At nights, before I fall asleep, I always remember those things. It is on and off but certainly difficult for me. To be honest I don’t want to even think about these things.