“He Won’t Be Released Until He Has Learned His Lesson,” While Unionist’s Health Deteriorates
In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, the wife of imprisoned teacher, Hashem Khastar said that her husband is in critical health conditions at Evin. Hashem Khastar’s two-year prison sentence was recently issued at an appeals court. His wife told the Campaign that as a result of damage to his right retina, Khastar’s vision has been severely impaired. She said the authorities told her that the reason her husband is not released is that “he has not learned his lesson yet.”
Khastar’s wife, Sedigheh Malekifar, told the Campaign, “My husband is in poor physical conditions. His heart disease and blood pressure have caused damage to his right retina, and his vision has been impaired drastically. He has digestive track problems and suffers from arthritis.”
Hashem Khastar is an agricultural engineer and a retired teacher who taught at a technical high school in Mashad. He heads Mashad Teachers Union. He was initially arrested on 15 June 2009 and released six weeks later on a $35,000 bail. He was arrested again and transferred to Vakilabad Prison while he was taking a walk in a Mashad park on 16 September 2009. A lower court sentenced Khastar to six years in prison. An appeals court reduced his sentence to two years.
“Before the [2009 presidential] election, the Mir Hossein Mousavi elections campaign honored several individuals who had been active in defending teachers’ rights. After the election, all those individuals who had been honored were arrested. My husband was one of them. At the last Teachers Union meeting which was held in Rasht, he announced that the next meeting would be held in Mashad. Three days before the meeting, he was summoned and issued a warning not to hold the meeting, but Mr. Khastar said: ‘I will hold the meeting at my home and guarantee its security, too.’ Ministry of Intelligence brothers prevented the teachers from attending and the meeting was not held,” added Sedigheh. Maleki.
Regarding a punitive cut in Hashem Khastar’s paycheck, she explained: “The Committee to Review Administrative Violations ordered a mandatory retirement for my husband, but at appeals stage, because my husband had 30 years of service, they said that only 1/8 (12.5%) of his salary should be cut.”
Sedigheh Maleki said that she was told her husband could not be released because “he had not learned his lesson yet.” “I asked the Head of the Prison Oversight Department: ‘Why won’t you grant my husband a furlough leave? Why won’t you release him?’ He said: ‘He hasn’t leaned his lesson yet.’ I asked ‘What is the lesson he needs to learn? He can’t do anything inside the prison.’ He said: ‘He, himself knows that until he learns his lesson, we won’t give him a furlough, nor will we release him.’, said Hashem Khastar’s wife.
“Last December he asked for a furlough. We had a prayer session at our home. His friends and colleagues had also come to our home. When my husband called we put the call on speaker. Some time later, when I was talking about his release with the Prosecutor, he said: ‘You think we don’t follow you? Your husband has talked with his friends from prison.’ I said: ‘Are you dismayed that he sounded upbeat and in good spirits when he talked with his friends? A man cannot cry and complain about prison conditions.’ He said: ‘If he talks to people from prison like this, what will he do when he is released?’ But I hope my Ministry of Information brothers understand that…people who object love their country and believe in the regime. My husband only struggled to protect the social status of teachers,” she said.