In the book, Let Us Water the Flowers, author Jafar Yaghoobi explains the horrifically true story of his time as a political prisoner in Iran. Yaghoobi was an elite member of the political organization Fadaiyan Sixteenth of Azar, one of many groups against the rule of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Fadaiyan Sixteenth of Azar was formed in 1981, and had branched off from its parent organization, Fadaiyan, but both were extreme leftist groups against the regime.
Yaghoobi had been on his way to a meeting spot to talk to the leader of the organization when he was attacked by agents and taken to a prison. At first arrival, he had to wait for hours just to be signed in to the prison. With none of his questions answered, he was taken to the block with many other prisoners. He was to wear a blindfold at all times which just disoriented him further.
Finally, he was taken to a room where three men questioned him about who he was, what he had been doing, and who or what he was affiliated with. The men were kind at first, until they realized he wasn’t going to tell them anything. They then gave Yaghoobi two options: tell them everything, or keep up his resistance and be tortured.
The men had made it clear that they knew all the information already, but wanted him to tell about the organization anyway. Yaghoobi was given 30 minutes to contemplate his options.
“If I knew they had a piece of intelligence and just wanted me to admit it, then I was not going to be stupid and put my life on the line. If I thought they knew nothing on the issue, I was going to resist as much as I could and when I could not resist anymore, I was going to provide them with false intelligence to buy myself more time.”
His plan did not go over well and he was beaten, but he kept his beliefs and showed a strong sense of courage.
Throughout the book, Yaghoobi is transferred from prison to prison, beaten and tortured countless times, and suffers many hardships, but manages to survive and not be sucked into being a tavvab. A tavvab is someone who was once against the regime, but who repents and shows authorities that they are once again Islamic, in order to attain less abuse and time in prison.
Yaghoobi pushes for a revolt saying, “Iran often is portrayed in the West, particularly in the United States, in a way that mainly serves the purpose of those bent on military action against Iran, whether for the destruction of Iranian nuclear facilities or for regime change engineered by the West…The millions of Iranians who flooded the streets in June 2009 to oppose the regime are perhaps the most graphic illustration of why this picture and ‘solution’ are so terribly flawed…Regime change is needed in Iran but must be done by Iranians in their own interest, in their own time, and in their own way, rather than imposed by foreign powers” (372). He makes a point that this needs to happen not with America or anyone else, but Iranians.
In 1988, prisons were brimming with political prisoners. The Islamic Republic decided to separate people into groups of reformed, who would be set free, or non-reformable, who would be killed.
Yaghoobi was set free by pretending to give in to Islam, and moved to America where he wrote this book. This is a great read for all people to see the horrors the regime has brought to many people, and one man who survived it all.