Wife of political prisoner: When I told authorities about the tortures, they laughed at me.November 16, 2011
Translation by Persian Banoo | Text has been edited by Persian2English
Kaleme– Journalist Siyamak Ghaderi has been incarcerated in Evin prison for over a year and a half without furlough. He was arrested in August 2009 and tried and convicted in branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, presided by Judge Moghiseh. Ghaderi was convicted on the charges of “Propaganda against the regime”, “Publishing and spreading lies”, and “Disturbing the public”
One of Ghaderi’s main charges was writing on his blog “Irnaye ma” (our IRNA), where he criticized the officials at the IRNA news agency (the official state-run Iranian news agency). He also wrote about the Green Movement and its leaders.
His wife Farzaneh Mirvand recently spoke to Kaleme about Ghaderi’s latest situation, and the problems she faces as the wife of a political prisoner wife and raising their only child.
Mirvand stressed that her husband was tortured in ward 209 of Evin prison but authorities have paid no attention to the complaints.
Kaleme: Tell us about your husband’s physical and mental status.
Farzaneh Mirvand: Thank God he is fine now. He just misses being at home with his family
Kaleme: Tell us about the time he was in ward 209. Apparently you had no news on him for a long period of time?
Farzaneh Mirvand: Even thinking about the days that my husband was held in ward 209 is very difficult for me. He was held in solitary confinement for 34 days under harsh interrogations. He was blindfolded, beaten with a baton, and threatened for the purpose of extracting false confessions.
During one of his interrogation sessions, an interrogator slapped his face so hard that he and the chair he was sitting on hit the ground. My husband is still suffering from an injury to his neck from the fall.
Kaleme: Have you filed a complaint with the judicial authorities about this incident?
Farzaneh Mirvand: Yes, about these pressures and other violations. I have gone to every place I could and have told the authorities about the [incidents], but they just laughed at me.
Even during his trial, my husband told the Judge about the tortures, but he, without paying any attention to my husband’s remarks, issued a verdict based on my husband’s false confessions.
I even wrote to the Islamic Human Rights Council, informing them about my husband’s tortures, but the only reply I received from them was that they had received the letter and my request was logged.
My husband was in ward 209 for nine months and the interrogators told him that if he does not provide them with false confessions they would not transfer him to the public ward 350.
Kaleme: Like most of the political prisoners and detained journalists, Mr. Ghaderi’s main charge was “Propaganda against the regime”. Is that the reason why they fired him from IRNA?
Farzaneh Mirvand: Yes, they fired him from his job [that he had for] 18 years, while his case was still pending in court. However, given the fact that the plaintiff in this case is Mr. Javanfekr (the head of IRNA), one of Ahmadinejad’s senior advisers, the action was not very surprising.
Kaleme: Was your husband’s sentence finally confirmed? In your previous interviews you said your husband is incarcerated without a final verdict and is imprisoned without being sentenced.
Farzaneh Mirvand: Yes, about two weeks ago, the Appeals Court upheld his four-year prison sentence and my husband was informed of the verdict. He immediately requested a hearing, but we already know what the results will be.
Kaleme: Mr. Ghaderi has been incarcerated for a year-and-a-half without furlough. Has he, like other political prisoners, been denied furlough for no reason at all?
Farzaneh Mirvand: I have no idea, but the Public Prosecutor’s recent denial of furlough for my husband makes us believe that all these decisions and the unjust sentence of three years on the charge of “Assembly and colluding”, and one year for “Propaganda and publishing lies” goes back to the animosity and the differing view points between my husband and Mr. Dolatabadi (the Public Prosecutor) from the time they worked together.
Eight months ago, I informed Mr. Dolatabadi of my husband’s condition without mentioning his name. His reply was that my husband has the right to furlough and he told the soldier present to provide me with the furlough request form. However, when I started filling out the form, he asked my husband’s name, and as soon as he heard “Siyamak Ghaderi”, he became outraged and exclaimed, “No, no, don’t write it. It’s too early for him to be released.”
The Prosecutor had requested the heavy sentence of 20 years ban from journalism and leaving the country, and exile to Iranshahr prison. This further strengthens the thought that the Prosecutor’s actions are based on a personal grudge against my husband.
Kaleme: So, Mr. Ghaderi, as part of his sentence, has been banned from his profession and is to be exiled for his prison term?
Farzaneh Mirvand: No, fortunately, despite the Prosecutor’s request, none of these were included in my husband’s verdict.
Kaleme: As a political prisoner’s wife, what is your condition and what kind of problems do you encounter?
Farzaneh Mirvand: I can only tell you that it is very hard. One of the smallest and least important problems that I face now is financial hardship. I struggle with this situation, and sometimes it becomes so difficult that I can only pray to God to give me strength to endure these problems- especially since my son misses his father very much.
Kaleme: How is your son doing?
Farzaneh Mirvand: My son, Ali is an introvert and also very patient. But, recently, especially since the start of the school year in September, he has been acting a little strange because he sees his father less.
One day he said something that really brought pain to my heart. He said, “I am starting to forget what my father looks like. Lately, when I have a dream about him, I don’t see his face anymore.” After hearing this I decided to put a picture of his father up on the refrigerator so he can see his face all the time.
After Ali heard that his father has requested furlough, he recited prayers every night. He was very optimistic that [his prayers would be answered]. He said that, even if his father is granted one day of furlough, he will have many plans [set up for his father on that day].
I didn’t tell him for days that the furlough request had been denied. When he heard the news, he locked himself up in his room for hours.
Overall it’s not a good situation. He is a teenager and has his own specific needs. I may be a very good mother, but I can not replace the role of his father.
Kaleme: We heard that the authorities have asked Mr. Ghaderi to write a letter requesting pardon so he can be released ahead of his full term sentence, but he has denied their request. Is this so, and if so, why?
Farzaneh Mirvand: Yes, when they informed my husband of his sentence they asked him to write a letter requesting pardon, but my husband refused saying he has not committed any crime to request a pardon.
Apart from this, in our religion, forgiveness is an admirable and beautiful act. In which Islamic text does it mention that a written request is required to be forgiven- unless the act of forgiveness is for propaganda purposes only and not an act to please God.
Kaleme: As a political prisoner’s wife you must have suffered a lot of hardships, however, even during times of hardship there can be good times as well. Can you tell us your best memory?
Farzaneh Mirvand: I cannot recall a specific memory, but I, like you, believe that in every hardship there also is a blessing. I could say that, perhaps all this has caused intellectual development and a change in my point of view- that is the best thing that has happened to me during this time.
Kaleme: What do you personally request from the Judicial authorities?
Farzaneh Mirvand: I have no request for them. Our lives are being steered by a much greater power.