The two women are wearing head scarves that cover all their hair. The man is dark-eyed and in a dark suit. They are young, but not youthful. They speak in Farsi; their escort interprets. They have come to tell about life in the hell of post-revolutionary Iran, which has gone from the dark night of the shah to the Dark Ages of Khomeini.
They solemnly sit down. They pass around a large paperbound book, pointing out pictures. It might be a high school yearbook. But its title is "List of Names and Particulars of the 12,028 Victims of the Khomeini Regime's Executions."
Their interpreter is Ali Safavi, a representative of the People's Mojahedin Organization, a Paris-based resistance group. The State Department doesn't think much of the group, but the politics are not important. What matters are the sickening stories, and the scars. They display them matter-of-factly. They have been through it several times, before the U.N. Human Rights Commission and the European Parliament, both of which have condemned Iran for human rights violations.
It seems an understatement. Amnesty International puts the number of executions at 6,108, but estimates thousands more. The Mojahedin says the total is 50,000, and counts no less than 140,000 political prisoners.
Mojgan Homayounsar, a 24-year-old math teacher, is in a wheelchair. She pauses in her appalling account. She decorously lifts her skirt to show an artificial leg. The limb was hacked off, she says, by a Revolutionary Guard in September 1981 as she walked home.
"They took me to a remote area, they were going to kill me. I recognized one of the guards, and I called his name. He lifted his machete and brought it down hard. I felt nothing. I looked over and they were playing with an object, throwing it to each other. I realized it was my leg."
She was left for dead. A passing motorist took her to the hospital. Seven weeks later, still in a cast, she was taken to the notorious Evin prison. Her jailhouse trial lasted 15 minutes. Her sentence: 15 months in solitary, 15 years of torture. Her crime: distributing anti-Khomeini leaflets.
"The guards are ex-Savak," she says, referring to the feared secret police of the late shah. "They use the torture techniques of the shah."
She found five childhood friends in prison. One was blind, another deaf, a third paralyzed. She had no cast, no cane. She got about by crawling.
Homayounsar was released in 1985, when she contracted tuberculosis. The Resistance smuggled her to the west through Pakistan.
She passes the book of the dead to Narges Shayesteh, a 27-year-old part-time bookstore manager. "See, this is the Ping-Pong champion of Isfahan."
Shayesteh quietly tells of being arrested in Karaj. In her store, she sold books critical of Khomeini. In interrogation, her nose was broken twice. She points to a scar on her lips, to knuckles beaten out of shape. Gravely, she opens her blouse and shows a ring of livid round scars. They are cigarette burns. Her torturers wanted her to go on television to recant, support Khomeini, deny there was torture in the prisons.
"They are living in an ocean of blood," she says. "Khomeini has a mullah in every prison; the mullah rapes women before the others. There is nothing more humiliating. Khomeini is from the Dark Ages. He hates women."
She was taken to the office one day. Her 2-year-old niece was there, to be tortured in a final attempt to break her down. Momentarily left alone, she seized the child and told a guard she had come to see her sister, got a ride to Tehran, was sheltered for a year by the Resistance.
Apopletic over the U.N. condemnation, the speaker of the Iranian Parliament fulminated against her for baring her chest "before the eyes of perverts and strangers at the U.N."
She says bitterly, "They took off my clothes when they did this to me."
The man, Hossein Dodksah, a 29-year-old electrical engineering student from Isfahan, had protested the closing of the university. He was seized on Dec. 17, 1982, tortured before his wife and 18-month-old child. He shows his mangled toes.
Dodksah escaped during a transfer to another prison. He fled through Pakistan. When he told his story, his wife was executed.
Amnesty International says one-third of the world's governments use torture as national policy to suppress dissent. Khomeini is different only in that he does it in God's name.