efe-epaTehran

Former Iranian detainees on Wednesday took EFE inside the notorious Ebrat political prison, once the site of torture and interrogation 40 years ago under Iran's last shah, now a museum for the crimes of the United States-backed monarchy.

Located in the center of the capital Tehran, the former prison is a mix of historical accuracy and propaganda, filled with mannequins in staged scenes of the torture inflicted on opponents of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was overthrown in the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

"I spent about three months in this torture center. First the interrogators would beat me, kick me and strike me with cables. Then, while blindfolded, they tied me to a bed and whipped me," Ahmad Sheikh, a 62-year-old former detainee, recounted to EFE from within the bowels of the prison.

"If the prisoner didn't speak, they stripped him naked and gave him electric shocks, placing the cables in sensitive parts of the body, like the testicles," Sheikh explained.

He was taken to Ebrat in 1974, after a comrade confessed under torture that Sheikh had typed out speeches by the exiled religious leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini for later dissemination.

In each room, mannequins recreate the techniques of the shah's dreaded SAVAK intelligence agency.

These included beating prisoners' feet with cables while their heads were encased in a metal helmet, or locking them a tiny metal cage with a gas burner underneath, known as a "hot box."

Though Shah Pahlavi's government collapsed in Feb. 1979, the prison remained open for a few years after to hold opponents of Ayatollah Khomeini - although this period is not mentioned in the museum.

Museum Director Qasem Hasanpur told EFE that at least 57 prisoners died under torture in Ebrat, and that between 1971 and 1978, only political prisoners were held there, ranging from 200 to 900 at any given time.

Passing through the prison's gates, Sheikh insisted that younger generations need to be reminded of the country's past, although the memories remained "very bitter."

By: Marina Villen