Frozen butter and the Fedaii

The story of Arash Pouyan

Chapter 11

Arash wondered which prison they were driving him to. While they were all bad, one in particular was one of the most feared: The Evin House of Detention. "Evin," for short, is what everyone thinks of when they hear about the third-world dark dungeons, filled with the screams of tortured prisoners. It is the stuff of nightmares that movies and works of fiction are based on.

The prison, for both men and women, opened up under the Shah's regime in 1972. Evin was notorious for torturing and executing prisoners, especially political prisoners. But after Khomeini came to power Evin's reputation only grew more infamous. Thousands were tortured, raped and executed throughout the 1980s, and it continues uninterrupted to this day. While certainly all prisons in Iran are bad, Evin meant certain torture and death. Arash had heard the stories about Fedayeen and members of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (more popularly known simply as "The Mojahedin" for short) being tortured and killed in Evin. He knew if he were to go there, he wouldn't be coming out. It didn't matter who his father knew, what strings he could pull or how much money he could get.

But Arash was lucky. He would end up not going to Evin.

When the car stopped, they took him out and led him up and down several flights of stairs. The agents walked him into a small interrogation room. They made him sit down on a chair facing the wall, leaving him blindfolded, with his hands tied. He heard other men in the room, begging for mercy. Then a guard came in and tapped him on the shoulder and told him to get up.

It continued like that. Agents would throw Arash into different vehicles and take him to different detention sites. Sometimes he'd be in holding rooms, still blindfolded, with other men. Other times they would take off the blindfold and he'd find himself alone, sometimes for days and sometimes for weeks, with cockroaches crawling on the bed. With the constant change of location Arash would only sleep a few hours at night. There are tales of gruesome torture, like violent beatings and whippings, electroshock of the feet or, worse, testicles—and for female prisoners, rape. But the most common torture is sleep deprivation, which can lead to psychosis or suicide.   

At one location they took off his blindfold. Next to him was a desk. On the floor in front of him was a dirty, stained blanket. Next to the blanket, there was a quarter-inch thick electric cord. The interogators came around to the desk and sat down. He took his hand gun out and laid it on the desk. He took out a piece of paper and a pen.

"I want your name, your birth date, your political activity and all your political connections."

But Arash didn't write anything.

"I—I didn't do anything! There's been a mistake!"

The interrogator didn't respond. He nodded to the guard to open the door. Another guard pushed in Jalil. He looked weak. His skin looked yellow. This was the first time Arash had seen Jalil since getting arrested. They made Jalil stand in front of Arash.

Then he started talking.

Jalil confessed everything. About the Pishgam, the Fedaii, the fliers, the demonstrations.

What are you doing, comrade!

Then they took Jalil back to his cell. Arash was angry but also relieved because he didn't have to say anything now. There was no point.

Later on, Arash had found out that they had already figured it all out. They knew that Arash, Jalil, Masoud and Amir were all involved with the Pishgam and the Fedaii. They had been arrested just three days before they caught Arash.

They left Arash at the jail for a week before finally transporting him to Gezel, where Arash would spend the next three years of his life there.




Facundo Rompehuevos is an activist, writer, husband, father and recovering alcoholic and drug addict born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. He writes poetry, fiction and nonfiction. His work has appeared in zines and literary magazines and poetry journals, such as Rusty Truck, A Thin Slice of AnxietyThe Rising Phoenix Review, Red's Not White and Delirium. He has two books of poetry: Irreconcilable Contradictions (2017) and Grabbing the Stars from the Sky (2021), both published by Fourth Sword Publications. He is currently working on his debut novel and a collection of short stories.

You can find him on Substack at

Arash Pouyan was born in 1966 in Tehran. By the age of 12 he participated in the 1979 Iran Revolution. Later on he was arrested for his participation and support of the Fedaii. After three years as a political prisoner, he was released and left to Europe—where he continued his political activism against the Islamic Republic. Afterward, he moved to the U.S. He returned, briefly, to Iran in 2009 to participate in the Green Movement. Today, he continues to keep up to date with the popular movements not just in Iran but all over the world.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Wednesday, January 10, 2024 - 06:31