New Memoir Sheds Light from Inside the Prisons of Iran’s Khomeini Era

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A clear, well-written account, “A Journey Beyond Purgatory”, is both outstanding historical reportage and unforgettable, poignant personal story of endurance and courage.

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In A Journey Beyond Purgatory by A. Ahang, readers will be taken into the closed world of the Khomeini’s Iran, feared by many for its religious fanaticism. Early in the year 1980, a year after Khomeini took power, a group of army and air force officers participated in a coup to overthrow the newly established Islamic Republic of Iran. The plot was discovered a day before its execution, and in a frenzy, the government captured thousands of suspects from all over the country and flooded the prisons with army and air force personnel as well as many civilians.

A few days after interrogating the captured, they continued to arrest thousands of suspects; many of them were innocents who had nothing to do with the coup. Hundreds of those officers were executed, and the rest were kept in prison for a long period of time. A Journey Beyond Purgatory is the story of one of the innocent men whose crime was his close friendship with two of the army officers and was accused of being a part in the plot against the government. One early morning, a dozen of revolutionary guards invaded his house and took him away. During his six-month captivity, he was kept in solitude, was abused and tortured physically and mentally, and was moved from town to town to different prisons. Here is a sample description of Ahang’s experience:

“…wondering how people could be so cruel. The fear that they might take me back downstairs again and repeat the beating was driving me crazy. It did not take very long to find out. As usual, a tap on my shoulder by a guard was an invitation to the torture room. He did not say anything this time and quietly dragged me to the same route that I went through in the morning. It took a long time for me to get to the ground floor where the torture room was located. … I was taken to the same room that I was in (that) morning. I could sense the air…heavy…and…peculiar…”

His family and friends were kept unaware of his whereabouts, and members of his family were given the opportunity to pay him a visit only in the last month of his captivity. Among all those men, he was one of the lucky ones who were released and returned to the society, but he never had a normal life afterward. This is his horrifying experience in the prison of a fundamentalist religious regime. A. Ahang has provided a clear, well-written and unforgettable account of that infamous time in Iranian history that was made more terrifying by Khomeini’s cloak of holy rage.

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A Journey Beyond Purgatory * by A. Ahang
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Trade Paperback; $19.99; 148 pages; 978-1-4836-0521-0
Trade Hardback; $29.99; 148 pages; 978-1-4836-0522-7
eBook; $3.99; 978-1-4836-0523-4

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