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Saturday 31 October 2015
Narges Mohammadi is a well-known Iranian human rights and civil activist who has been the target of the Iranian judiciary and security apparatus for years and is now in the notorious Evin Prison. Last week she was transferred from a hospital outside prison to Evin, while her doctors issued a warning that this was a dangerous move. Her husband Taghi Rahmani is an exiled writer who frequently writes for this online newspaper, told Rooz that his wife was under the threat of becoming a disabled person and that the regime was pursuing such an outcome.
After Ms. Mohammadi developed health problems in Evin earlier this year, she was transferred to a hospital outside the prison but even then authorities did not allow her to have telephone contact with her children. The children were taken out of Iran over three and a half months ago and she has not talked with them since then. Her husband explained: “Since we took the children out of Iran and brought them to me here (he lives outside Iran), Narges has been denied any telephone access to them and has had no contact with them. They did not allow her to speak to the kids even when my wife was in hospital. This alone add to her mental pressures and situation. The reason she was taken to hospital was that she was distraught because the way she was treated when women prisoners tried to give her injection for her lung.” He explained the excuse authorities were using to deny their children speak with their mother was that “I am a fugitive suspect and the children are kept by a fugitive, so there can be no contact with him. You see, we are trying to keep children out of this, but they pull them into their battles. If they were sincere in this, I could make arrangements so our children directly and exclusively talked with their mother, bypassing me completely. These people have no beliefs in anything.”
Taghi spoke about Narges’s conditions in hospital. “In the hospital, she had one woman guard inside the room and two men outside. But despite this, she was handcuffed to her bed through her hands and feet. The atmosphere in the hospital had improved a little, because of efforts by doctors there and they were supposed to remove her handcuffs, but her treatment was cut short and she was returned to prison. Because of this, there is the real possibility that Narges may become disabled because her imbalance and falls are a strong indication of muscular dystrophy. This happened to her several times when she was in hospital, so returning her to prison is dangerous for her health and doctors who treated her have said that she must stay away from the prison environment,” he said.
According to Mr. Rahmani, the decision to return Narges to Evin prematurely was taken by agents of the ministry of intelligence. “Even though she has been sentenced, it is the ministry of intelligence that continues to make decisions about her. It was they who decided that she should be returned to Evin while she was still being treated in a hospital. This is questionable. These agents have been there since former president Ahmadinejad,” he said.
Narges Mohammadi is a civil activist and the vice-president of Iran’s Center for the Defenders of Human Rights, and also the head of the executive board of the Peace Council, another Iranian organization. She was initially sentenced to 11 years of prison, which was subsequently reduced to 6. The charges against her were “demonstrating and conspiring against state security, engaging in propaganda activities against the regime and membership in groups that aimed at disrupting the security of the country.” Ms. Mohammadi was released from prison six months after her sentence began because of her poor health condition. But then about six months ago she was recalled to serve her remaining term and at the same time, she began being investigated for another lawsuit against her. She had earlier told Rooz that the contents and charges of this second case were the same issues that the prosecutor had raised in the original suit against her.
About the reason why judiciary and security authorities would be increasing pressure on Ms. Mohammadi despite her clear health issues, her husband Taghi said, “It is very simple. They want to scare her and other civil and human rights activists from pursuing their work. They want her to serve as a warning to others and show that engaging in such activities bears a heavy price. When there is strong international pressures on the government against its practices in this area, the regime bulks but usually only tactically. My wife should not be in prison because all she is a civil activist who should have the right to be active.”
There have been several publicized cases of prisoners who died in Iranian prisons because of their health conditions. Hoda Saber is the probably the best known such case. Mr. Rahmani told Rooz, “In security lawsuits, the life of a person takes less importance in the eyes of authorities. Iran’s security apparatus is used to this kind of issue (health problems and death in prison). My own interrogator had told me ‘We beat up a person and do other things to others, or just arrest them. This is followed by some disturbances but eventually things calm down.’ It is like a marathon run that Iranian pro-democracy activists are engaged in. Security projects have benefits to some authorities and brings them power and lives do not matter to them. Hoda told me himself that two or three individuals had a stroke in prison every week and died.”
On the role of civil activists, Rahmani said it is their duty to make people aware and sensitive to these issues, both those inside and outside Iran. “It is not enough for people outside Iran to be sensitive; public opinion inside Iran is very important,” he said.