Political Prisoner Maryam Akbari Monfared Joins Chorus of Eulogies for Executed Kurds

Posted on: September 21st, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Maryam Akbari Monfared, a political prisoner held in the women ward’s of Evin Prison, has penned an open letter in response to the highly controversial September 8th executions of Kurdish political prisoners Ramin Hossein Panahi, Loghman Moradi, and Zanyar Moradi.

Monfared, whose own siblings have been executed, expressed her sympathy for the mothers and sisters of the executed prisoners and chastised the broken promises of both current president Hassan Rouhani and the past 40 years of Iran’s Islamic governance.

The full text of her letter, translated into English by HRANA, is below:

Maryam Akbari Monfared

It has been a week since that day, September 8th, 2018.
September is the month of blood in Iran: September 8th, 1978*, and September of 1981**.

September 8th: Everyone is worried. My ward mates and I have heart palpitations. We are in a swarm of contradictory news flashes. Some say the families were told the executions have stayed; someone else says that their families visited them yesterday for the last time.

And then comes the 8 p.m. news, broadcasting a speech from a figurehead of a government touting “prudence and hope.”*** I think to myself, “Hope is such a beautiful word!”. Rouhani promises to break the chains of injustice with a golden key and to sow new hopes in the souls of the nation. He campaigned as his predecessors did before him, riding the wave of the country’s emotional elan. The ink on the ballots was still wet when he changed his stripes. How despicable of him to preside over the nation’s highest rate of executions and civilian crackdowns in 30 years.

All eyes in the ward are transfixed on the TV screen and the news ticker running at the bottom. Ears in the ward are attuned to the speaker’s’ every word.

Finally, the 10:30 p.m. broadcast: “Three terrorists…”

That’s right. For 40 years, they sent this land’s youth to the gallows, lined them up before firing squads, sent them off wholesale to torture chambers and prisons. Then, brazenly, they speak of their actions under the guise of eliminating “terrorism” and other excuses of this ilk. The chariots of oppression, torture, and captivity have been riding unbridled for 40 years.

I don’t intend to re-narrate the crimes of the regime, for the vileness and cruelty of the establishment are readily apparent. The news is abuzz with sympathy and condolences. Perhaps now it is too late to add my own….but for a while, I was unable to muster the presence of mind to pen even a few lines to the mothers and sisters of these beloved men.

To my mothers and sisters: I know your pain very well. I can almost sense the unbearable, scalding pain in your hearts. I know the whispers of the warm lullabies you used to sing, even those lost in the wrinkled lines of your bodies or drowned out by screams in a faraway land. I know the bitter taste of those tears shed by poppy flowers.

I know that you are adding a page to what will be the proud and bright history of Iran’s fight for freedom. I wish to honor your motherhood, this exalted, humane quality, and to thank you for your endless, unabating kindness. Your name is a comforting breeze in the sky. Your familiar faces and your kind gaze bear the promise of life, love, and resistance. When the flames of injustice burn your cheeks, I will put out the flames by touching your cheek to my own, which is frozen in the grimace of injustice.

I am brimming with unspoken words. My tears and the lumps in my throat are bursting with the pain of oppression. But now is not the time to cry. We have to spread our screams all over like ashes. I will lean against your warm chest from behind these stony and cold prison walls. My heart is ablaze with pain, and the tip of the flames reach my throat. This is not only the fire of pain–it is also the fire of life. I wish to carry your tears and your anguish on my shoulder, to feel the burden of this responsibility for the rest of my life. My mothers! My sisters! We must harness the power of our collective pain to soothe the wounds of the Iranian freedom movement.

The vampire will not leave its throne of darkness unless we shake that throne and force it to flee. Let me hold your warm hands with my cold hands, and together, we will join the ranks of the justice movement for our loved ones. To bring to justice the ones responsible for these horrific crimes, we must join forces.

Maryam Akbari Monfared
Evin Prison
September 2018

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Maryam Akbari Monfared was arrested amid the 2009 Green Movement protests, and in June 2010 was sentenced to 15 years in prison by Judge Salavati in Branch 15 of Revolutionary Court for “enmity against God and the Islamic government through membership in the Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK).” Monfared has denied these accusations.

Two of her brothers were executed in 1981 and 1984 by revolutionary courts for membership in the MEK. In the summer of 1988, two more of her siblings — a brother and a sister — were executed as part of a widespread massacre of political prisoners. In a letter to former UN Special Rapporteur Ahmad Shaheed, Monfared quoted her sentencing Judge: “You [Monfared] are bearing the burden of your siblings’ [political activities].”

Monfared served the first two years of her sentence in Karaj’s Rajai Shahr Prison on the western outskirts of Tehran. She was then transferred in May 2011 along with eight other female prisoners to Gharchak Prison in Varamin, southeast Tehran. Shaheed protested the transfer and shed light on the deplorable conditions at Gharchak. As a result, Monfared was then transferred to the Evin Prison women’s ward, where she is serving the remainder of her sentence.

* In the last months of the Shah’s reign preceding the revolution, September 8th, 1978 came to be known as “Black Friday” when soldiers opened fire on protesters assembled in Jaleh Square, killing many.
** Iran’s then-new Islamic government intensified its crackdown on the opposition in the summer of 1981, arresting and executing a countless number of people.
*** “Prudence and Hope” was Rouhani’s slogan during both of his presidential campaigns.

Tensions Mount over Unlawful Execution of Three Kurdish Political Prisoners

Posted on: September 12th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Shock, sorrow, and censure over the executions of Zanyar Moradi, Loghman Moradi, and Ramin Hossein Panahi continue to pour in from both international institutions and Iranian citizens in-country, further straining relations between Iranian authorities and the human rights activist community at large.

A number of Kurdish opposition groups have sounded the call to strike to Kurdish regions of Iran, inviting fellow Kurds to protest their comrades’ executions.

Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, has stated, “I deeply deplore the executions last week of three Iranian Kurdish prisoners despite the serious concerns raised by Special Procedures mandate holders that they were not afforded fair trials, and were subjected to torture.” Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, has also condemned these executions.

Imprisoned civil rights activist Atena Daemi was among a number of imprisoned civil rights activists publishing separate letters expressing sorrow and outrage over the men’s deaths. Golrokh Iraee and Human Rights Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, two more imprisoned activists, wrote and published their own messages of protest and sympathy, with Sotoudeh likening their executions to the *political massacres of 1988.

Some of these letters have reportedly incited blowback from prison authorities, who have subjected Daemi and Iraee to repeated non-routine body searches after their letters were published. When these women inquired about the reason for the searches, they learned the order for frisking had been issued by the Prison’s Director. A Prosecutor Assistant has since promised to investigate.

Excerpts from the letters of Sotoudeh and Iraee, translated into English by HRANA, are below.

Nasrin Sotoudeh:

“The judicial system has executed three Kurdish compatriots. Our Kurdish compatriots have been plagued by oppression for decades. The verdict and sentences of the Revolutionary Court, condemning these three compatriots to die, was the product of an unlawful process that runs counter to Human Rights principles and the laws of the Islamic Republic. In at least one of these trials, had due process been respected, the defendant may very well have been acquitted.

Zanyar and Loghman Moradi were on hunger strike when they were hanged, another testament to the inherent brutality of the judicial system, who itself is supposed to protect us from violence.

I extend my condolences to our Kurdish compatriots, who have had a steadfast, crucial presence in the cultural promotion of Iran; to all Iranians; and, in particular, to the families of Moradi, Moradi, and Panahi. I hope that in heeding the diverse manifestations of Iran’s judicial violence, the urgent need to renounce all forms of it will become clear.”

Golrokh Iraee

“[Their death] invites the wrath of Kurdistan’s Children […] Zanyar Moradi, Loghman Moradi, and Ramin Hossein Panahi, freedom fighters, Kurdistan’s immortal resistance, teachers of patience and persistence, have left behind a lesson in determination. They were hanged while on hunger strike, in protest of their mistreatment at the hands of authorities; they stood up to the monsters of despotism and reactionarism.

They unmasked those traitors who call themselves statesmen and rulers. Let it be known that the time for lip service has passed. To hold them accountable, we must act.”

****

After being hanged to death in an undisclosed location in Tehran on September 8th without notice to their lawyers, the bodies of the Moradis and Hossein Panahi were *confiscated by the Iranian authorities. The Ministry of Intelligence has since threatened the men’s surviving family members.

Ahmad Amouee, journalist and former prisoner of conscience, published an account of the Moradi and Moradi families’ visit to Tehran’s main cemetery, Behesht-e Zahra, where officials had summoned them to bid farewell to their sons’ bodies. Their final resting place remains unknown.

* In the summer of 1988, on the orders of Ayatollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran at the time, thousands of prisoners of conscience and political prisoners were executed after inquisition-style interrogation sessions. Almost all of these prisoners had already been tried and were either serving their sentence or, having completed their sentence, were awaiting release. All were buried in unmarked, often secret, mass graves.

Prisoner of Conscience Atena Daemi Rebukes Authorities, Eulogizes Executed Kurds

Posted on: September 12th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – From the walls of Evin Prison, detained civil rights activist Atena Daemi has written a letter in response to the executions of Ramin Hossein Panahi, Loghman Moradi, and Zanyar Moradi, three Iranian Kurdish political prisoners who were hanged to death in secret on Saturday, September 8th.

The executions of the Moradis and Panahi drew outrcry from human rights institutions internationally. The attorneys representing them called their convictions and executions — the latter which took place without the mandatory notice to, or presence of, their lawyers — legally ambiguous under both Iranian and international law. Caught unawares, none of the families were present during their sons’ final moments, as the executions were carried out at an undisclosed location in Tehran. The Ministry of Intelligence has since issued detention threats to the family members of the deceased men.

Condemning Iranian authorities for their treatment of the three men, and extending her condolences to their families, Atena Daemi’s letter joins the many voices of outrage over the course of the young mens’ fate. Daemi, imprisoned since 2014, is serving a seven-year sentence for “propaganda against the regime,” “assembly and collusion to act against national security,” and “insulting the supreme leader [Ayatollah Khamenei] as well as the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini.”

The text of Atena Daemi’s eulogy, translated into English by HRANA, is below:

They killed our loved ones, and claim with pride that in doing so they have administered justice.

The “justice” they refer to is not the one represented by Lady Justice holding a fair and balanced scale. It is instead a man — a man with a turban on his head [a cleric], whose forehead bears the mark of the clay which grazes his head during prayers. He is blindfolded, not as a sign of impartiality, but of blindness to the truth. In one hand is a rosary. In the other, a scale suspended by a noose.

These scales are so unbalanced that one tray is a speck in the heavens, while the other is laden with dead bodies dragging it deep into the ground. This “justice” they invoke has been neither seen nor heard in *40 years.

In this troubled time – a time of economic turbulence, poverty, and unemployment – what problem was solved by murdering these three beloved men? Has their killing soothed any of the ailments suffered by the Iranian people?

Your majesties– where is this mania taking you? By deceit and without warning, you led our loved ones to the killing fields. Even in the short lives granted them, you wouldn’t offer them peace. While they were still **hungry and thirsty, you cut their lives short. How it must have incensed you to your core to never see them falter. As you, dry-eyed, pitied them in their walk to the gallows to die for the ideals, their heads were held high, their steps steady…

How insolently you watch our loved ones draw their last breaths! It must burn you to hold them hostage from their families and brand them as terrorists, only to see them rise as steadfast symbols of democracy for the rest of us. For nine years, they showed friendship to inmates of different creeds and beliefs; they were endeared to their fellow prisoners, loved by us, and cherished by the Iranian people.

Before the start of religious months of Moharram and Safar(1) each year, you prepare yourself for mourning with a savage display. Drunk and armed with handguns, you launch into a monologue about Imam Hussein, who, lips dry from thirst, was beheaded by Yazid. What a repugnant contradiction–what abhorrent hypocrisy! You mirror Yazid’s troops, and for the past 40 years, you have tightened ropes around resolute throats, pulled the stool from beneath the feet of persistent and patient youth. You instigate sectarian war between Sunni and Shiites. Then, your pockets brimming with billions, you pretend to be mourning Hussain.

I am sure that you know your savage acts only dig you deeper into public contempt. Your path is one of self-annihilation. Today, you only dug your graves deeper. You did not kill Zanyar, Loghman, and Ramin. You have only endeared them in our hearts, inspiring the world into mourning the true martyrs of our time.

You have tarnished Iran’s standing and dignity in the world. They see us as a terrorist country for the cutthroat, blood-thirsty, and rapacious actions of a select and powerful few. How long and how far will you continue on this road? Dream on about imposing war on your people: they will rise to the challenge again and again. Stop your killing machine. Lift your lead boots from the throats of Iran and Kurdistan.

How tightly you cling to your towering throne, oblivious to the fact that you could tumble from your high horses at any moment to the miry earth below. Throughout history, many who rode high thought of themselves as invincible, only to take refuge in sewage tunnels, where they were tracked down and punished for their crimes.

Iran is a pile of live embers cloaked in a thin layer of ash. Lest your actions arouse the flames that lie beneath.

We congratulate the steadfast families of these martyrs.

Atena Daemi – Evin Prison Women Ward
September 8th, 2018

(1) Months in the Islamic lunar calendar commemorated by Shiite Muslims in mourning of Imam Hussein, the 3rd Shiite Imam, who was killed in battle against Yazid (Imam Hussain has come to symbolize the force of Good while Yazid stands for Evil).

* The Islamic Republic of Iran was founded after the Iranian Revolution approximately 40 years ago
** Zanyar and Loghman Moradi and Ramin Hossein Panahi were all reportedly on hunger strike before they were executed.

Women Prisoners of Conscience Respond to Executions of Ramin Hossein Panahi, Loghman & Zanyar Moradi

Posted on: September 11th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Political and civil rights activists detained in the Women’s Ward of Evin Prison in Tehran have released a statement in response to the execution of political prisoners Ramin Hossein Panahi, Loghman Moradi, and Zanyar Moradi.

In a letter, Narges Mohammadi, Nasrin Sotoudeh, Golrokh Ibrahim Iraee, Maryam Akbari Monfared, Atena Daemi, Azita Rafizadeh, and Negin Ghademian expressed condolences to the families of the three Iranian Kurdish prisoners, who were hung to death September 8th amid dubious legal proceedings and international protest.

Barring the families from interring their sons’ bodies themselves, authorities commandeered the remains to be buried in an undisclosed location. According to Ramin’s brother Amjad Hossein Panahi, the Ministry of Intelligence has threatened the Moradis and Panahi families with detention. To the surprise of all families involved, the executions were carried out in an undisclosed location in Tehran province.

Amnesty International, one of the human rights organizations who were aghast at the course of the young men’s case, called the executions an “outrage.” Voices of the Evin Prison Women’s Ward now join the wave of dissent against the outcome of their case.

During a visitation on Sunday, the authors of the statement, many of whom are being held as political prisoners themselves, joined the families in singing “Ode to the Bleeding Tulip” and “O Iran” to commemorate and honor the memories of Ramin Hossein-Panahi, Loghman Moradi, and Zanyar Moradi.

The full text of their message, translated into English by HRANA, is below:

No words could contain the crushing weight of our sorrow.

These brave children of our country leave us a legacy of patience, freedom, and perseverance.

Their names are affixed to the helms of those fighting for freedom, and for those that seek it, the path has been laid by their resistance.

We wish solace for the families and cellmates of Zanyar Moradi, Loghman Moradi, and Ramin Hossein-Panahi. We wish solace for all the afflicted citizens of our land.

We bear your pain in our chests and we stand with you.

Narges Mohammadi, Nasrin Sotudeh, Golrokh Ibrahimi, Maryam Akbari Monfared, Atena Daemi, Azita Rafizadeh, and Negin Ghadamian

Women’s Ward of Evin Prison