Memories of Qasr Edifice

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A museum to wonder and reflect, a prison for torture and control, and a spectacular palace fit for a king! Perhaps these three places don’t have the faintest connection with each other, but the thread of time has woven them together to create the tapestry of the Qasr edifice. This documentary explores the history of Qasr edifice. The story of a museum that has had so many ups and downs, dependent to the different utilization of the place; the journey from a luxurious palace which was converted to a dreadful political prison and is now a museum. Qasr edifice is intertwined with some of the most turbulent and crucial years of Iran’s history. And within the confines of its walls it holds countless memories of suffering and struggle. Now, after more than 3 decades since the Islamic revolution in Iran, this documentary brings the untold stories of those who experienced the horrors of the edifice in its darkest years.

TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00

Narration: 1979 – Tehran- The country is on the edge of a precipice; street clashes are raging between the army and the people; endless strikes are crippling the country; Prime Ministers are being ousted one after another and foreign nationals leaving the country. The Shah is helpless; The Shah is hopeless.

-They are killing all the people.

Narration: October 24, 1978 – Tehran, the Qasr Prison. A few months before the Islamic revolution of Iran, a great number of political prisoners are released after years of being in prison and under torture. Since the beginning of the Pahlavi Dynasty, the Qasr Prison had been the graveyard of many political opponents but, within a few months, it would fall into the hands of revolutionaries and a new chapter in the history of this edifice would begin. The name of this prison still conjures up images of many contemporary, Iranian figures that fought heart and soul against the Pahlavi regime. “The Qasr Prison” Over the last two centuries, this building has undergone many fundamental changes, each one mirroring part of this land’s history.

Title of Program: Memories of the Qasr Edifice

Narration: Tehran – The Qasr Garden Museum. In 2001, the Qasr Prison was closed down after 76 years. In a ten-year project, the municipality of Tehran converted it into the Qasr Garden museum. The museum has three main parts: The Markov Prison, the Political Prison and a large garden the prisons are located in. In the Garden Museum, exhibition stands have been set up, each one representing a critical moment in the history of Iran. a numbers of political prisoners during the Pahlavi era are here to recount their first-hand experiences for visitors. The building is located in the center of Tehran but, around 200 years ago, during the Qajar dynasty, it was miles away from the city in a district known as Khorram Abad Hills. In 1798, Fath Ali Shah, the second king of the Qajar dynasty, ordered a recreational palace to be built outside Tehran - a great palace that cost the court dearly …

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Seyyed Mostafa Taghavi, Historical Researcher: During the early years of the Qajar dynasty, Tehran which was the capital city of the country was about 6 kilometers away from where the Qasr Garden Museum is now located in. In that era, this place was a green region with a nice weather to an extent that at the time it was known as Khorram Abad or a verdant place.”

Narration: Iranian palaces share a similar structure - a large garden with small brooks running through, a stately summer house in the middle and a luxurious mansion at the end with numerous rooms for the Shah and his wives. It is said the palace cost the Shah 400,000 tomans, a huge sum of money in those days. Many foreigners visited the palace, among them Samuel G. W. Benjamin, the US Ambassador to Tehran, Pierre Amédée Jaubert, Napoleon Bonaparte’s envoy to the court of Fath Ali Shah and Madame Carla Serena. Visiting the palace, Madame Serena was impressed by the paintings she saw there, writing in her travelogue: “The Palace has been heavenly decorated and the paintings done in the most delicate fashion. In 1806, His Majesty spent three months of March, April and May at this palace.” But the glory days didn’t last long. During the reign of Nasereddin Shah, the palace fell from grace and, abandoned, a devastating flood razed it to the ground. After that, its precincts were used as military camps and makeshift war prisons. But the future had something else in store.

TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00

Narration: When Reza Shah came to the throne, the country’s penal system needed a complete overhaul. The number of prisoners was growing and the old prisons no longer met international standards. The government had to establish modern prisons and recognize civil rights for its convicts.

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Seyyed Mostafa Taghavi, Historical Researcher: “During the Qajar dynasty, prison was not basically like the one in the Pahlavi era. It was a small building made up of three rooms and some rooms in the basement. This was the police’s detention center during the Qajar dynasty. But with the growing confrontation between the Iranian nation and the Pahlavi regime, the number of prisoners increased and the regime was prompted to establish a big prison.”

Narration: The Qajari prisons were old and small, more like dungeons than modern prisons, and couldn’t accommodate the increasing number of prisoners. Brigadier Mohammad Dargahi, the Tehran Chief of Police, requested a new and larger prison.

In 1927, Reza Shah commissioned Nicolai Markov, an Iranian architect of Georgian descent, to build the prison. Working for the municipality of Tehran, he had designed many building including Tehran’s “Post Office and Telecommunications”, and Alborz High School. Markov decided to build the prison in the south part of the dilapidated palace. The prison took two years to complete. In December 1929, it was opened with 192 rooms, designed to house 800 prisoners.

In the opening ceremony, Brigadier Dargahi was showing the new prison to Reza Shah and other high-ranking officials when the group reached the iron cell. The Brigadier opened the door for the Shah and asked him and his entourage to step in. But the Shah refused to enter when he was warned by his court minister of a possible coup d’état. Two days later, Brigadier Dargahi was relieved of his command and became the first prisoner of this macabre prison.

Under Reza Shah, the Qasr Prison was the only prison in Tehran. In those days, prisoners were kept together without any classification. Many scholars, writers and poets spent years of their lives within its walls. Mohammad Farrokhi Yazdi, a well-known poet, was one of them. His revolutionary poems were so critical of the regime that he was imprisoned and his lips sewn together with needle and thread.It is widely believed he was put to death at the prison by venous air injection. In the past, there were two underground canals that supplied drinking nad irrigation water to the palace.

Years later when the palace converted into the prison the two canals that gushed out to the surface and prisoners would quench their thirst drinking from the freezing water, Hence the Persian idiom “to drink cool water” was coined, an idiom with a pleasant, literal meaning but an unpleasant reference.

Shot in 1958, the footage shows prisoners busy with various activities.

TIME CODE: 10:00_15:00

Narration: The edifice has seen many hard days when Iran, under the boots of Russian and English troops during WW2, was occupied and ruined accused of being a nest for German spies. They destroyed the country’s army, toppled Reza Shah from the throne, forcing him to exile, and made his son, Mohammad Reza, the king of Iran. The occupying forces took all national resources into their hands, letting thousands of Iranians starve to death.

The year 1953 is a year indelibly imprinted on the minds of the edifice. That year, Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh, the Prime Minister at the time, nationalized the oil industry, a success that enraged the United Kingdom and the United States of America. On 19 August 1953, in an Anglo-American coup, the Prime Minister was removed from power and many Iranian nationalists arrested. The Edifice bore witness to the demise of a nation’s hope. Mohammad Reza Shah, who had fled the country, returned a few days after the coup.

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Seyyed Mostafa Taghavi, Historical Researcher: “It’s quite natural that hadn’t that movement failed, the Iranian nation would have continued its journey toward its historical perfection in a natural fashion and experienced its local, balanced development. But the meddling in the national movement by imperial powers that is the US and the UK interrupted the current of balanced, intrinsic development in Iranian society.”

Narration: After the 1953 coup d'état, the nation’s pent-up anger came to the surface every now and then while the regime searched desperately for ways to curb the situation. In the mid-1950s, a new organization was established, with the help of the CIA and the Mossad: SAVAK, or the Organization of Intelligence and National Security, aimed to counteract any security threat to the country. Dr. Javad Mansouri was a political prisoner before the 1979 Revolution in different prisons across the country.

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Javad Mansouri, Historian: “After the 1953 coup d’état, they decided to have a powerful organization to suppress the Iranian anti-imperialist movement, especially since the movement had continued for a long time and the regime was impotent. So in 1956, the bill was officially put forward and approved in Parliament and with a design by the CIA this organization was established. The CIA had even an office in SAVAK. And all plans, information exchanges, training, equipment were from the CIA.”

Narration: Nipping any protest in the bud, SAVAK planned to round up all political dissidents in the country. A need for more prisons was urgent now. New prisons were built around the Markov Prison. One of them was for political prisoners where a large number of political opponents of different trends spent years of their lives.

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Seyyed Mostafa Taghavi, Historical Researcher: “Right after the 1953 coup d’état, again due to the increase in the number of political prisoners and their inherent difference from criminals, in the early 1950s a separate building was officially built as the political prison.”

Narration: Of those prisoners, some were as docents at the Garden Museum, telling visitors their stories of the hardship they experienced there. Mr. Hussein KhanAli is one of them. As a political dissident during the 1960s, he spent five years in the Shah’s prisons.

TIME CODE: 15:00_20:00

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Hossien Khanali, Docent at the Qasr Garden Museum: “There was a man in this prison for 30 years: Safar Khan Ghahramanian. This man was for a long time in this room. For 16 years since he was arrested, no one was allowed to visit him. After 16 years, he was called up to the meeting room. He couldn’t believe it. He was called a few times and he finally went to the meeting room. When he went there, he saw a woman with a little child and a man with her. The woman called him over. As he stood in front of her in the meeting room she said, “Father, I’m your daughter. This is my child and this is my husband.” Of all his family, only that girl had been left for him. All others had passed away. And that girl came here every week for the last remaining 14 years to visit her father.”

Narration: After the events of June 1963 led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, SAVAK, an intelligence agency, turned into a secret police to crush any signs of revolt and the “iron fist” became the signature of this fearsome organization. Habeas corpus was no longer a right for all people and forced confessions and long detentions became SAVAK’s repeat prescription for any political dissident.

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Javad Mansouri, Historian: “In 1963, after the demonstrations of June 5 and 6, 1963, it was decided that suppressing the opponents had to be more vigorous and more extensive and the opponents had to be treated more violently. It was here that the Mossad came to help SAVAK and the Mossad also established an office in SAVAK and began to train, equip and exchange information with SAVAK.”

People’s slogans: O Nation, we become united to stem the root of exploitation.

Narration: The 1953 coup ushered in the emergence of leftist parties, though they couldn’t play an important role in the political arena of a religious country like Iran.

People:

- There are specifics days when all people can demonstrate.

-When they chant,” Equally, brotherhood, the government of Laborers” the very people would suppress it.

Narration: While the religious movement, led by Ayatollah Khomeini, aimed to raise public awareness, the leftist groups took arms to fight against the regime. Mr. Davoud As’adi Khameneh was a founding member of the Islamic Society of Students in Stockholm. In 1977, soon after his return to Iran, As’adi was arrested for political activities inside the country. After a 6-month interrogation, he was transferred to the Qasr Prison. For him, there were two main ideologies in the prison.

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Davoud As’adi Khameneh, Docent at the Qasr Garden Museum: In those days, there were two points of view for struggling: Some held that the struggle must be a cultural struggle; from a cultural perspective, the society must reach a level so as not to accept a person as shah; but there were some people that believed in the armed struggle. They aimed to announce their opinion by killing the people near to the Shah. And among those two groups, there were some groups that believed in a combination of a cultural and an armed struggle. Anyway, this issue that the movement must be purely cultural was one of the views at that time which was preferred by many figures, that is those who were intellectual.”

Narration: In 1972, as the armed struggle against the Pahlavi regime gathered momentum, “The Joint Counter-Sabotage Committee” was founded, aiming to establish close liaison between different security agencies and armed forces to confront the opponents. At the same time, a new prison was given to the committee. Many prisoners were killed in this prison under the brutal tortures of SAVAK agents. Dr. Mansouri was in prison both before and after 1972. During his second imprisonment, in the Joint Counter-sabotage Committeeprison, he suffered harsh interrogations and harrowing torture.

TIME CODE: 20:00_25:00

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Javad Mansouri, Historian: “From the year 1971, the Pahlavi regime treated political prisoners very brutally and revengefully. Before that, they would treat a political prisoner like a bankrupt, in a very ordinary way. But from 1971 on, they were facing people they considered as their sworn enemies who intended to overthrow the regime. The treatment was so brutal that they thought no one would dare to go on this way or that prisoners would never resume their activities after being released.”

Narration: After the year 1970, the regime had initiated a shake-up in the way they treated political dissidents. Almost all of those arrested for political reasons underwent long, excruciating interrogations.

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Davoud As’adi Khameneh, Docent at the Qasr Garden Museum: One afternoon it seemed that the interrogators had nothing to do and were bored. They called me and another young man who had come from abroad and I didn’t know him. They put us in front of each other forcing us to beat each other but we didn’t. They told him to beat me. He refused and therefore they gave him a beating. Then they left him alone and asked me to beat him. I also refused and then they gave me a beating. They beat me very hard. Then another interrogator arrived and said, “I know this guy. He is not an important person. Take him to the cell and release him tomorrow.” They grabbed my arms and dragged me into the cell. One week passed by but no one came to release me. After one week, they called me and took me directly to the torture room. Usually they would take us to the interrogation room and then to the torture room. They took me directly to the torture room. They aimed to break one’s concentration so that one couldn’t be able to speak about anything in a measured way.”

Narration: After endless sessions of interrogations and trials that could take several months, they would be sent to one of the political prisons, including the QasrPrison.

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Hossien Khanali, Docent at the Qasr Garden Museum: “During the time the prisoner was in the committee, his family would never know of him at all. One could be there for a year or more or less. Wherever their families would go, for example to Evin Penitentiary, they couldn’t find their children. That’s while some families knew their children were there.”

Narration: It was clear that the Shah had given the green light to SAVAK brutality. In hindsight, SAVAK harassment merely fanned the flames of the revolution. Mr. Davoud Yazdani, a former political prisoner, was a soldier during the revolution. He was arrested for his political activities inside the garrison and spent a long time incarcerated in the Qasr Prison. Now he’s working as a guide at the Garden Museum.

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Davoud Yazdani, Docent at the Qasr Garden Museum: “SAVAK harassment and torture accelerated the downfall of the Shah and the Iranian people became stronger and stronger and continued the struggle to overthrow the decadent regime.”

TIME CODE: 25:00_30:00

Narration: In 1974, student activities intensified and street demonstrations flared up. With draconian power, SAVAK set a reign of terror that lasted two years. Many were arrested, tortured or even killed on the slightest charges. This era was one of the darkest chapters in the history of Modern Iran.

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Davoud As’adi Khameneh, Docent at the Qasr Garden Museum: “In 1977, the regime had decided to put in prison whoever showed the least opposition thinking that this way it could reduce the number of its opponents. Therefore, the prisons of the Shah were overcrowded. That is political prisons – at that time the Qasr Prison and others were overcrowded.”

Narration: This is the voice of aprisoner recorded in the 1970s.

-Knocking at the door of a cloister when a person came out and said; Come in. Come in, for you are our special man.

Narration: Inside prisons, clerics would shoulder a special burden: to teach young prisoners and broaden their horizons.

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Davoud As’adi Khameneh, Docent at the Qasr Garden Museum: “Prominent religious scholars like Ayatollah Taleghani and others tried to attract other people rather than to reject them. Even a person who had caved in a little to SAVAK torture would get ablaze when associated with such great people.”

Narration: SAVAK, long suspicious of clerics’ activities in prisons and afraid of their success, began to hold them back.

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Davoud As’adi Khameneh, Docent at the Qasr Garden Museum: “Up to the year 1974, the circumstances were desirable for political prisoners because they were no separation between them. For example, Mr. Taleghani or other prominent figures were in the same prison with a young man sentenced to a few months for distributing communiqués. Such a man would mix with them and get trained by them. The political prison had become the University of the Revolution but after the year 1974, most of the religious scholars were transferred to Evin Petitionary, to a place specifically for religious scholars in order to disconnect their relations with other prisons so as to prevent them from growing up.”

Narration: Identifying different political and ideological currents in prisons and sowing discord among prisoners were on the list of SAVAK’s priorities. The main aim was to pit opposition leaders against one another, tarnish their reputations and drain them of power so as they couldn’t fight the regime.

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Hossien Khanali, Docent at the Qasr Garden Museum: “SAVAK itself would provoke prisoners to discuss with each other and pit them against each other. So it was probable that a problem would rise between those people and the winner was SAVAK. So to avoid such a thing inside prison, the prisoners tried to keep their unity saying, “We have a common enemy and in front of this common enemy we have to be united and must not provide SAVAK with excuses.””

Narration: By arresting political dissidents, SAVAK aimed to quench the raging flames of the revolution but, since almost all political prisoners were transferred to Tehran, the prisons became a hive of political activity. The prisoners were filled in on the latest gossip, news or instructions and announcements issued by Ayatollah Khomeini by their families who would visit them from every corner of the nation.

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Davoud Yazdani, Docent at the Qasr Garden Museum: “The best point of this prison had to do with meeting, a long narrow corridor, a wall about one meter in height with rails and netting and a distance of one meter with officers in between.”

TIME CODE: 30:00_35:00

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Hossien Khanali, Docent at the Qasr Garden Museum: “When they came here, they would stand behind these bars; prisoners on this side. Imagine such a large number of visitors who wanted to talk to prisoners all at the same time in ten minutes. In ten minutes, all of them wanted to talk and tell their things. How was it possible for them to do so in ten minutes? That’s while some prisoners and families had to exchange political information from inside and outside the prison, all in ten minutes.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Javad Mansouri, Historian: “After all, political prisoners would try regularly to be up-to-date and have the best analysis of the issues. It may be interesting to know that we in prison knew much more about the country’s issues than those who were outside prison. The reason was that besides studying and discussing, those families who came to see their children would give them information from all over the country and this information would come into prison.”

Narration: Drunk with absolute power, the Shah of Iran gave SAVAK more leeway to oppress any opposition. No matter how hard political parties struggled, the prospect looked grim. From 1975, SAVAK stopped releasing political prisoners, even after serving their sentences.

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Davoud As’adi Khameneh, Docent at the Qasr Garden Museum: “At that time, freedom had no meaning for the political prisoner. Even if a person who had finished his term in prison – there are many examples in this case who had finished their terms in prison in 1977 – they had been convicted to a few years in prison and they had finished their terms but they were not released from prison.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Hossien Khanali, Docent at the Qasr Garden Museum: “Right on their release days, one week before their release they would be transferred to Evin Penitentiary and on their release days they were forced to sign their detention papers. After serving their time, their families were waiting for them on their release days. They would be counting the days for their release. But not only they were not released on the day but also they were given a detention paper to sign and held in Evin Penitentiary. What’s the significance of Evin? In Evin, there was no visit. The families lost touch with the prisoners again.”

Narration: In those days, the Shah was the cruelest dictator in the Middle East and reports on human rights in Iran were disappointing but, since the US didn’t put pressure on its Iranian ally, the Shah never admitted the deplorable conditions in his country.

SOUNDBITE [English], MohammadReza Pahlavi, Iran’s last Shah: “Not the torture in the all sense of torturing people twisting their arms but in intelligent ways of questioning now”

  • -But they are talking about psychological and physical torture.

Physical – I don’t believe, not any more, maybe in the old years

  • -I talked just today to a man whom I believe whom told about torture
  • He was tortured?
  • -Yes.
  • And you believe that he was tortured?
  • -Yes.
  • How many years ago?
  • -Within, I want to be very careful. Not yesterday.
  • Ah, well, maybe. I don’t know.
  • -The world wants to stop it.
  • To stop what?
  • -Torture!
  • But a long time ago, yes!”

Narration: Until 1976, the Shah was a despot - a ruthless man with everything at his disposal - above all, the country’s wealth. That year, the Republicans in the US stepped down from power. The Shah had spent the country’s petrodollars on his favorite candidate, Gerald Ford but, in the end, the young Jimmy Carter –with his slogan of “Human Rights” – was sworn in as the new President of the United States.

TIME CODE: 35:00_40:00

SOUNDBITE [English], Jimmy Carter, Former President of US: Human rights must be absolute, but let no one confuse our idealism with weakness. Because we are free we can never be indifferent to the fate of freedom elsewhere.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Javad Mansouri, Historian: “During the US presidential elections, in order to earn a domestic and international reputation, the Democratic nominee announced his decision over abiding by human rights because his predecessors didn’t do that at all; they were Republican, abrasive, belligerent and suppressive. When they came to power, they asked all the dictators who were US pawns to open political space and improve the image of the US.”

Narration: The Shah of Iran made a U-turn on political freedom in an attempt to win favor with the new US President. As a result, the SAVAK’s harassment reduced and political activities increased.

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Davoud As’adi Khameneh, Docent at the Qasr Garden Museum: “It was decided that international organizations like the Red Crescent, the International Amnesty, the Human Rights Organization to visit the country’s prisons, the political prisons. The very Joint Counter-Sabotage Committee had a torture chamber where Dr. Hosseini was in. They quickly put some shelves in the torture chamber and converted it into a library. They put the books they had taken from us there to tell the international organizations that they had a library in prison.”

Narration: With this democratic gesture, the Shah aimed to ameliorate the situation and persuade the White House to sell him arms. Both Carter and the Shah rested assured that, with the SAVAK and the most powerful army in the region, an open political space would never put the regime in danger.

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Javad Mansouri, Historian: “The US Senate had asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cyrus Vance, “Mr. Vance, if political freedom in Iran leads to the downfall of the Shah, you will be held responsible.” Vance said that they would abide by human rights as far as US national interests were safe.”

Narration: In the end, opening a political space rather than defusing the situation helped the opponents hold demonstrations, deliver speeches and attack SAVAK for its crimes on an unprecedented scale.

People’s slogans:

We, the Muslim nation, are victorious;

We, the Muslim nation, are victorious;

Under the auspicious of the Quran, O God, O God!

Down with the Shah! Down with the Shah!

Ayatollah Khomeini must come to Iran.

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Javad Mansouri, Historian: “Anyway, as they faced the events in 1977 and 1978 they found out that they couldn’t do anything because that had done anything possible without being successful. They agreed to have an open political space since the US had asked them. They were to hold a free election and form a national government but in reality, from early 1979 they lost control and could do nothing although Jimmy Carter called the Shah several times allowing him to do anything to control the situation and assured the Shah of his support. In other word, Carter said what Cyrus Vans had said before; the US didn’t want the Shah to fall but to improve the situation a little bit.”

People’s slogans: Cannons, tanks and machine guns are no longer effective.

Narration: These changes improved the situation of political prisoners and old lags on small charges were released.

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Davoud As’adi Khameneh, Docent at the Qasr Garden Museum: “Since SAVAK had lost its support, it was forced to release many prisoners; those who had finished their terms and those who were in prison for very simple, unarmed activities.”

TIME CODE: 40:00_46:36

Narration: On October 24, 1978, 1126 political prisoners were released. Among them was Safar Ghahramani, one who had been in different prisons for about 30 years. By releasing these prisoners -most of them on minor charges like reading forbidden books – the regime wanted to control public indignation. The newly-released prisoners went to Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery to pay homage to those who lost their lives fighting for freedom. They said they owed their freedom to public support, not the false benevolence of the regime. In January 1979, the Shah left Iran, under the pretext of receiving medical treatment. Three weeks later, Imam Khomeini returned to Iran after 15 years of exile. His arrival gave the nation a new lease of life. Within a short space of time, the people took control of all military and strategic centers, including the Qasr Prison and released all political prisoners.

A number of army top brass and SAVAK agents were arrested and put in this prison for a while. The first trials to investigate their crimes were held in the mosque of this prison. After the 1979 Revolution, the Qasr Prison was converted into an ordinary prison but, since it was located inside the residential district, in 2001 it was closed down forever. The municipality of Tehran then reconstructed the building and turned it into a museum - a museum that embodies the 200-year history of modern Iran.

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Davoud As’adi Khameneh, Docent at the Qasr Garden Museum: “During the time I was in the political department of the Garden Museum I saw the youth we talked to him change their opinions completely at the end of their visit. They couldn’t believe that in Iran under the Shah such things existed. The society must be informed about it; the world must be informed about it.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Javad Mansouri, Historian: “For me, these things must be etched on the walls of the Qasr Prison. Here is the mirror reflecting the downfall of cruelty and corruption.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Hossien Khanali, Docent at the Qasr Garden Museum: “Here are the cells used for those condemned to death. Please go inside. Please go inside.”

Narration: The QasrGarden Museum in the heart of Tehran, a place that would once send shivers up and down spines, has now become a favorite haunt for people.

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Hossien Khanali, Docent at the Qasr Garden Museum: “Most of the visitors who come here have a critical attitude but when they are leaving here they are overwhelmed and express their kindness to us. When it is explained for them, they realize what had happened here and who had to bear what harms and sufferings.”

Narration: With its many programs and shows, the museum magnetizes a variety of visitors from friends and families to school students and tourists.

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Mohammad Reza Saeedi, Docent at the Qasr Garden Museum: “In my opinion, the Qasr Garden Museum is a national place and its program must be national and distinguished and even have a look at international programs.”

Narration: A palace, a prison and now a museum –witness to the pain and grief of many people, this edifice has many stories to tell the children of this ancient land.

SOUNDBITE [Persian], Mohammad Reza Saeedi, Docent at the Qasr Garden Museum: “I believe that these bricks and this space are alive with the breaths of the people. They must come and go if we want this place to be alive. When you enter the Qase Garden Museum we see a pleasant place. That’s due to the breaths of families who come here willingly.

   

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