Iran rebellion webcomic enters the secret prison

Gina from FirstSecond books sez,
Following Iran's 2009 elections, thousands of people took the streets in protest. An as-yet-unknown number of these protesters were arrested and taken off the grid, removed from the system, and many of them still cannot be found, despite continual inquiries from family, friends, and compatriots.

This is the subject of the current chapter of the webcomic Zahra's Paradise, titled Kahrizak. Kahrizak is the incarceration center where so many protesters disappeared to. It was eventually closed when it became public knowledge, and an embarrassment for the regime.

In this chapter of Zahra's Paradise, the narrator/blogger receives news: one of his friends who was missing, Ali, has been released and has returned home. Everyone rejoices, and they gather to celebrate. But Ali does not want to celebrate; his experiences in prison have been traumatic. He does have a message for the blogger, though: his brother, Mehdi, was held with him in Kahrizak, where the government moved troublesome people it wanted out of the normal system, inaccessible to any pleas for help.

This chapter, Kahrizak is a story about intimidation and rape and torture; it's a story about what people do when they're given power over others and no limits to restrain them. It's a story of systemic brutality that leaves everyone who goes through the prison system broken, sometimes for no more reason then the fact that they had an opinion, and spoke about it.

Zahra's Paradise - Chapter 10: Kahrizak (Thanks, Gina!)


  1. I have been reading Zahra’s Paradise for several months and would highly recommend that anyone who sees this should check out some of the other chapters. The People’s Press and Watermelon Juice tell a sophisticated story of national pride and shame, and The Revolutionary Court and The Malek Koran show a strange and conflicted view of the former monarchy. This is a very good and upsetting comic and anyone who cheered for the Green Revolution should read it.

  2. What i find myself wondering, is how much (or little) is needed for a a nation of “the west” to slide into this kind of existence.

  3. I read all of these in two sittings and was very moved. To anyone interested in getting an understanding of Iran beyond today’s headlines, I would also recommend reading “All the Shah’s Men.”

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