Shiva Nazarahari’s Mother: “Release My Daughter, She is Innocent!”
Shahrzad Kariman, mother of imprisoned human rights activist Shiva Nazarahari who was arrested on 20 December 2009, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that her daughter’s activities with the Committee of Human Rights Reporters was completely legal and charges such as “association with MKO” are baseless. Referring to Shiva’s ailing health she said: “Shiva continues to remain in solitary confinement since the day she was arrested. I have not heard anything from her for the past ten days and I don’t know whether she is well or not. Before she was imprisoned, she had chest pains and her treatment was incomplete. We were going to take her in for treatment for her heart and to get an EKG when she was arrested and we couldn’t go. She has not called for the past ten days and when we went to visit with her today, we were not allowed to see her.”
Referring to the 2009 death of Omid Reza Mirsayafi in Evin prison, she expressed her concern about her daughter’s health and talking about her daughter’s activities, and said: “The Committee for Human Rights Reporters website was established in 2006 by a group of people, most of whom are in prison now. This is a completely independent website and is not related to any group or party, its only mission is the dissemination of information. Wherever an individual’s rights are violated, these reporters write about it. Two years ago, during the crackdown on street thugs, they strongly reported on the Kahrizak Detention Center, but nobody paid any attention to it until after the 12 June elections when the atrocities in Kahrizak took place. All the website’s activities, even the software purchased for managing the website, are in Iran and Iranian. The team that started and now maintains this website collect and report their news inside Iran. The group is not supported by anyone from anywhere else. Even so, some of the reporters now are living in hiding, because they are being pursued.”
Nazarahari’s mother denied the charges made against her daughter and other members of this human rights defenders’ group, tying them to groups outside Iran. She said: “I consider all these charges baseless, just like the baseless charges made against many other people, because nothing illegal was taking place. In our Constitution, dissemination of information, such as defending the rights of minorities, is not considered a crime. Minorities are recognized in our Constitution, therefore disseminating information about them cannot be a crime. Defending women’s rights is not a crime. Defending children’s rights is not a crime. If they are stoning someone somewhere, just as several stoning sentences were overturned during Mr. Shahroudi’s term as Head of Judiciary, talking about it is not a crime. When they can’t find any crimes, they feel they have to relate them to a group or organization which no longer has a standing in Iranian society, a group which is really dead. I don’t understand why they feel compelled to revive a dead organization without any public support base. I don’t understand what the authorities intend to achieve. I am baffled. I was closely familiar with the Committee’s work and my daughter’s activities. I never saw anything against the Iranian Constitution in their disseminated information and their statements. What is the crime according to the gentlemen, I do not know. If you know, tell me, too.”
She made requests from Iranian authorities and those responsible for Nazarahahri’s file: “My request is that authorities behave according to our Constitution. I don’t want discriminatory or illegal behavior. It is true that she is now a prisoner, but a prisoner has rights. When I went to the Prosecutor’s Office, the Prosecutor said that my daughter can have one phone call and one visit per week. But, unfortunately, this has not happened and the authorities act arbitrarily. On the weeks when they want to hurt a family, they inform them that they cannot have a visit or a telephone call. My daughter has been in solitary confinement for 40 days. What is her crime? Is working in the human rights field such a bad thing that she has had to stay in solitary confinement for 40 days? I want the authorities to hear our voices. I would very much like for my voice to be heard through the Iranian state radio and television, I mean national television. But, unfortunately, nobody hears our pleas and nobody asks us what our pain is. When we go to see the Prosecutor, he won’t let us talk, even though they have a pleasant reception. What’s the use, though? It wasn’t an insulting reception but they wouldn’t let me talk, either. He only said what he wanted to say and informed me that their experts have said that this website is affiliated with MKO. We listened to all of this, but we couldn’t get two words in to the Prosecutor, to defend ourselves, and to say that none of this is true. They say: ‘You don’t know, we know better than you.’ That’s it. I wish they would hear our words and pay attention to our pain. When we go there, they shouldn’t treat us like we have leprosy. We love our children, too. Just like they love their children and they want them to sleep in their home at night; we want our children to sleep in our homes at night, too.”
Shiva Nazarahari is a human rights activist, spokesperson for the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, child labor activist, member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, journalist, blogger, and university student deprived of the right to education. She was arrested by security forces in her office during the post-elections unrest on Sunday, 14 June 2009. She was released on a $200,000 bail on 23 September 2009. She was arrested again on 20 December 2009 as she was on her way to Qom to attend Ayatollah Montazeri’s funeral procession, along with two other members of the Committee, Kouhyar Goudarzi and Saeed Haeri, in Tehran’s Enghelab Square. She went on a hunger strike from the moment she was detained. Her health deteriorated quickly thereafter and she was transferred to Evin prison’s health clinic. She is now in ward 209 of Evin prison. She has not yet had her trial for her June arrest and her new arrest is an attempt at keeping her from her human rights work until her court trial has been held and her sentence issued. She is a “Starred” student, deprived from education, who has been preparing news and reports about violations of human rights of political prisoners, women, and children for the Committee of Human Rights Reporters. Nazarahari had been arrested previously in August 2005 during a gathering of families of political prisoners in front of UN offices in Tehran and was subsequently sentenced to a year’s suspended imprisonment.