Iran Ebrat Museum
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Iran Ebrat Museum information
Lonely Planet review
There is nothing subtle about the Iran Ebrat Museum, a one-time prison of the shah’s brutal secret police that now exhibits that brutality with an equal measure of prorevolution propaganda. The prison is an incongruously attractive building, with wings radiating from a circular courtyard. But what went on here was not attractive at all.
During the 1970s, hundreds of political prisoners – including several prominent clerics and postrevolutionary figures whose names you will recognise from street signs – were held in tiny cells and, in many cases, tortured by the Anti Sabotage Joint Committee, a branch of the despised Savak (National Intelligence and Security Organisation). The various functions of the prison are dramatically re-created with waxwork dummies and liberal doses of red paint. The shah’s henchmen are depicted wearing neckties (a pro-Western symbol in modern Iran) and looking brutish (check the eyebrows). The propaganda element is emphasised with numerous photos of the former royal family – just in case you forget who was responsible.
Propaganda aside, this prison was undoubtedly a terrible place to end up and the people running it guilty of brutality on a grand scale. It’s just a pity that the abhorrence of torture and politically motivated incarceration expressed here is not shared by the current ruling regime; stories from Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison are just as horrifying.
All visitors must follow the 1¾-hour tour, conducted in Farsi by a former prisoner. Some exhibits have brief explanations in English, though little interpretation is required. The tour includes a film that’s not suitable for children.