Maryam Zia’s sister: My sister has been on a hunger strike
Maryam Zia has begun a hunger strike to protest her illegal imprisonment. A women’s and children’s rights activist and the Director of the Struggle for a World Deserving of Children, Zia has been detained in Evin prison since December 27, 2009, following widespread arrests of civil and political activists that took place during Ashura Day.
Masoumeh Zia, Maryam’s sister, described her sister’s condition as worrisome. Following is the interview of Masoumeh Zia with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran:
Campaign: Mrs. Zia, has any news of your sister’s hunger strike been published? Is there any news with regard to her physical and mental condition?
Masoumeh: Maryam has been on hunger strike ever since March 17, 2010, following her illegal arrest. She in very weak, takes medicine, suffers from severe physical conditions, headaches, and low blood pressure. At the same time, because of the hunger strike, the medications that she must take will have severe effects on her health. Her physical condition is worrisome, but she insists on continuing the hunger strike in protest to the illegality and uncertainty of her imprisonment. Despite of this, she has maintained her spirit and her mental state is favorable. She says under these conditions she is experiencing a different aspect of life.
Campaign: What charges have been brought up against Mrs. Zia, and what are the results of your follow-ups on her case?
Masoumeh: The charges brought up against my sister in the first stages of interrogation have been accusations of collaboration with the MKO. Considering the new year holidays, at this time there is no possibility to following up her case file, and we must wait until the end of the new year holidays. Prior to the holidays we did not receive any accurate and satisfactory replies to our questions either, and Maryam herself has no information about her case file situation or any possibility that she might released, and so she is in a limbo.
A few days ago, from a telephone contact with my sister’s husband, we were told that with a bail of $30,000 she would be released. But, even though with much hardship we put together this bail and despite fulfilling all the official conditions and document approvals in the Branch 11 of the Revolutionary Court in Shahr’e Ray, in the last moment the interrogators from the Ministry of Intelligence prepared a new petition and referred her case file to the Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, and prevented her release. In fact, despite holding the house documents for bail, which is worth more that the actual amount of the bail itself, they are still keeping her in detention.
Maryam was the director of the Struggle for a World Deserving of Children and she did not have political activities. As a social and active volunteer, she spent all of her energy educating deprived-of-education immigrant children, but unfortunately in our country even cultural and humanitarian works are considered political crimes.
Campaign: When was her last contact and what is her prison condition now?
Masoumeh: She has been transferred from Section 209 to the non-political financial fraud section of the general prison population after her interrogations were complete. Some people who have committed murder are Maryam’s cellmates and even though she tries to have a good relationship with them, an unsuitable atmosphere in the cell governs, and we are certain that this kind of atmosphere is not the a favorable environment for a civil activist.
Maryam Zia, a women and children’s rights activist and the director of the Struggle for a World Deserving of Children, was arrested in the morning on December 27, 2009, following the widespread arrests of civil and political activists that took place during Ashura Day. Security forces went to Maryam Zia’s house for search of her property and her arrest. Since she was not there, they forced her children to contact her and ask her to come back. Upon return, she was arrested and sent to an unidentified place. Previously, she was arrested during a women’s rights gathering to protest unequal laws that took place on June 12, 2006 in Haft Tir Square in Tehran. Zia’s husband, Mansour Hayat Gheibi, is an executive director of syndicated labor organization, and a member of the Bus Drivers Union in Tehran and vicinity who has been arrested several times, with Mansour Osanloo and other groups of trade activists, and several times has been attacked and insulted.