Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh’s Daughter:
Worrisome accusations change the direction
Over nine days have passed since Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh and Shadi Sadr; two Iranian women’s movement activists have been arrested. Worrisome news of the case progression is filtering out, revealing new charges, and the possibility of psychological pressure for achieving untrue confessions. Some Judicial authorities are trying to seek assistance from highest levels within their system in order to release the women. New charges create a new path for this case, however. Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh’s daughter, Maryam Ommi talked with me about her fears and worries about her mother’s arrest, investigation, and pertinent follow-ups. (The Farsi text in Roozonline)
During the several days since your mother’s arrest, have you heard from her directly?
“It is now more than eight days since my mother’s arrest. She hasn’t called us and we are so worried for her. Shadi Sadr has contacted her family twice during the same time, but not my mother. With our experience from her previous arrest [in 2004], we fear that she is under psychological pressure to make unfounded confessions, or she is in such dire health condition that she cannot talk. Last time she served twenty some days in solitary confinement and a few days in a general cell. When she was in solitary confinement, they told us that she was in a general cell. The truth was that she was in solitary confinement under the most insulting conditions. That time she called us after a few days. This time, however, the delay seems suspicious.”
Do you have any information about the charges made against your mother and how the case is being handled?
“First there were three charges, similar to the ones against the other 31 women. However, Judge Haddad added two new charges during his meeting with my mother’s lawyers. Her lawyers say it is illegal to start an interrogation with certain charges, and attempt to find new charges during the interrogation. Over the past few days, they had been using the charge of [illegal] assembly as a reason for the arrests; but it appears that using that charge they have now arrived at new ones. We worry that this case will have new accusations in it. I heard after [my mother’s] last arrest, she has been receiving threats. We worry that in order to thwart support for the arrests, [District Attorney’s Office] might bring up new charges. Judge Haddad has explicitly talked about new charges for which they will be able to continue the detention of the women.”
Have the authorities contacted you, for example for posting bail?
“Not at all. Some members of our family have been intimidated to go and provide information, and they have said in reply that without legal summons they won’t show up. They have been threatened with arrests if they don’t cooperate.”
Have they questioned any detainees about other individuals such as your mother?
“Yes. The interrogators wanted to separate the others from them [these two women]. For example they have told them not to follow these [two] women. Or, they have been asked “what was your relationship with these [two] women? What were you doing for them? Why did you go to their offices?” They tried to tell the others that these [two] women were after self-promotion, but that they are good people, and this type of psychological games.”
What do you, yourself think is the cause of the lengthy interrogation?
“Look, two years ago after much torture and psychological abuse by all, Ayatollah Shahroodi closed the [other] case and exonerated the rest. But the same thing is repeated again in order to pursue the same objectives of the last time. In the face of exoneration by Head of Judiciary, should agents be seeking revenge [on my mother]? They should be admitting their errors. According to authorities, the culpable in the previous case, including interrogators, were supposed to have been questioned and to have been held accountable for their wrong-doing. But the same individuals are again involved in this case. They won’t get far, however, because the feminist movement in Iran is not a political one; neither is it an opposition [force]. These are people who all love their country and can work with any government to create equality and equal rights. Therefore it wasn’t such a good idea to do this under the country’s current conditions…anyway, Mr. Shahroodi must know about what is going on…”
How are your other family members under the circumstances?
“My sister’s psychological situation is very bad and she is very depressed. She has to study for Konkoor [Iranian university entrance examination], but she can’t concentrate. I am a university student in Zanjan but I had to return [home]…My sister is sitting by the telephone …for my mother to call, but she says with the gentlemen’s whispered promises, she is waiting for her to walk through the door. She is waiting any second for my mother to request posting her bail…we can’t sleep at nights, because our father doesn’t live with us and we are alone. We fear the police might pour into our house like the Gestapo, and worry for scenes like this has us restless.”
How was your and Shadi Sadr’s families’ visit with Mr. Karroubi?
I didn’t go to see Karroubi; my family members and those who went have told me that Mr. Karroubi received them with open arms and has promised to deliver the letter to high Judicial authorities. But Mr. Shahroodi cannot take care of this with a telephone call, as Block 209 is not under his jurisdiction. It is in the hands of Mr. Ejehi, Minister of Information….but they are following up…Mr. Baghi, Iranian Bar Association, and others are also following up. Iranian Bar Association is active because Shadi Sadr was performing her duty as a lawyer, leaving the courthouse when she was arrested……
I think under the current political conditions of our country, because of the nuclear energy issue and opposition groups; Iran is not at its most stable right now. We love our country. Instead of destroying those who can help promote a better image for Iran (and in the process destroying the country’s image), we must be thinking about our country. I can’t keep quiet. The newspapers are now keeping silent…The only one who will let me talk is Voice of America. I must talk through them, and I don’t want that to happen…But they won’t let anyone to hear us…”
Do you believe that the silence of media and a lack of coverage of the current arrests were ordered?
“I am sure of it. I talked to a few journalists. They told me that after their coverage of the news, they received orders to completely censor this event…It isn’t like the newspapers don’t want to, they are not allowed to…Though the news agencies also want to cover the issue, they can only write something fearfully, whereas this is really important news. Today Marzieh Mortazi said at Mosharekat Party: ‘A tree is a national resource for our country, and we talk about it at length. But about these two human beings, we say nothing and these two are in prison.’ She said ‘When we were in prison, we found out that they are scheming something for these two, and want to do something to keep them from continuing their work upon release. All that they [these two women] have done has been in the interest of our women…’ “
Photo: Arash Ashoorinia, Kosoof Website