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Mehdi Aslani

Mafan publication/ baran

Editor and Translator: Sepehr Manuchehri

Cover image: Parastoo Frouhar

Cover design and layout : Reza Talebi

First published in hardback by Mafan Publisher

2022 Copyright © Baran Publisher

ISBN: 978-91-88653-20-8

FROM THE EDITOR Decades in exile have not been kind to dissident Iranians. Alienated and persecuted by the Islamic Republic simply for having an alternative political viewpoint, exile was their only chance of survival from a brutal theocracy intent on silencing dissent by any means. Most have either tasted ‘justice’in Islamic prisons or lived in hiding prior to their escape from Iran. Some have written their memoirs detailing the horrendous experiences in Islamic Republic prisons. Thanks to these memoires, public awareness about the atrocities inside Islamic prisons has steadily increased in recent years. It takes plenty of courage and emotional energy to delve into one’s traumatic years in prison in order to document the atrocities and unmask criminals against humanity in detail. Mehdi Aslani has achieved exactly that. As this book is headed for publication, Aslani is preparing to give evidence to a landmark trial at a Stockholm court where Hamid Nouri is accused of crimes against humanity and involvement in the 1988 Massacre of Political Prisoners. Swedish prosecutors have included Aslani’s works Kalagh va Gol-e Sorkh and Akarin Forsat-e Gol as part of the Prosecution Dossier in this trial. The distinguishing feature of Aslani’s latest book is his focus on families of political prisoners. Unlike their loved one(s) who knowingly chose to oppose the Islamic Republic and faced the consequences, families were largely apolitical and simply caught up in the political cross fire. Their pain and suffering started at the arrest of their loved one and continues to this day. Aslani opens a window into an unexplored black box of trauma and misery. One that researchers can investigate further from various perspectives. Translating Aslani is not easy. He is a Persian language expert in his own right with a solid command of contemporary literature shining through 10 his speech and writing. Aslani wrestles with words and twists phrases to create fresh expressions. Often he relies on mythical, literary and even social metaphors to convey a message. In doing so, Aslani challenges the audience to think outside the established modes of expression. For example, in the Persian version of this work, Aslani selected a poetry verse as a heading for each narrative from the renowned contemporary poet, Ahmad Shamloo. One has to understand the context of the verses in order to connect the headings to each narrative. This takes me to my next point. The Persian version of this work contained many details that appear inexplicable to an English audience Enigmatic details that are rooted in Persian culture and traditions are not able to be understood without background introduction(s). There were also instances where the narrator(s) stray off topic, use poetic analogies or get sidelined by details. In editing this work, every effort was made to allow western audience to establish a rapport with all narratives. There were also commercial and page limitations. With these constraints in mind, I reluctantly omitted some sections from the Persian version. For that, I apologise in advance to all narrators concerned. Sepehr Manuchehri