The Free Iranian Report
Abbas Amir-Entezam, Iran’s longest-serving political prisoner and former deputy prime minister, has died at age 86. Amir-Entezam died of a cardiac arrest, having been in poor health following his years in prison.
Amir-Entezam who served as a deputy prime minister and government spokesperson in the cabinet of Mehdi Bazargan, the Khomeiniist regime’s first prime minister, following the 1979 coup, was opposed the establishment of a clerical dictatorship. In late ’79, he was posted as Tehran’s ambassador to Sweden only to be recalled in 1981 and sentenced to life in prison on charges of spying for the United States. He always denied the allegation.
After serving 17 years, he was let go in 1998 but arrested again that same year for criticizing the former head of Evin prison. He had spent 555 days in solitary confinement, and his jailers forbade him from wearing shoes, even confiscating those he had made himself.
When asked how he survived all those years, he answered: “In my twenty-six years of confinement, no one ever saw me in a bad mood. I always smiled and kept up my optimistic outlook. I knew I had done nothing wrong except to defend my own rights and the rights of my compatriots. I knew I had struggled for my homeland. Everyday I saw the distressed faces of my poor cell mates and although at times it was difficult, I had to smile in order to give them moral support. Despite the fact that I had no idea how long I would be kept in prison, whether I would ever be released, or whether I would eventually face death, I still maintained a cheerful disposition. In this respect I was doing what that aforementioned philosopher had said: I had found the reason for living and did my best under the conditions I was faced with.”
In the early 2000s, he was sent back to prison after calling for a referendum on Iran’s political system. In an interview last year, he cried while recalling being prevented from seeing his children and family for 36 years.
Due to the regime officials’ concerns, a low-key funeral was held on Friday at Tehran’s main cemetery, Behesht’eh Zahra. His widow, family members and several political activists were among a small group of mourners in attendance. Traditionally funerals are known to include a street procession from the home of a deceased to the cemetery, however in the case of Amir-Entezam and many other opposition figures, the regime’s authorities have often banned funeral processions.
Human rights groups have described Amir-Entezam as Iran’s longest-incarcerated political prisoner and one of the country’s most prominent jailed dissidents