Can Ahmadinejad Help Our Imprisoned Children Like He Helped Sarah Shourd?
Nahid Kermanshahi, mother of journalist and prisoner of conscience, Hengameh Shahidi, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that her daughter was healthy when she first went into prison but is now suffering from various illnesses, and a continuation of the present situation will have grave consequences for her. She also complained about the $600,000 bail set for her daughter, a higher bail amount than that of American prisoner, Sarah Shourd.
“Hengameh has developed rheumatic heart disease, kidney problems, stomach problems, and severe depression in prison. She has even been transferred outside the prison a few times for MRIs, and prison doctors have said that she needs outside medical attention in order to address her ailments. I don’t know why the American hiker, whose charge was espionage according to the authorities, would be released due to her illness, but my child cannot go on medical leave for treatment. After two months, eight days ago they asked for a $600,000 bail in order to release her on medical leave. They know that Hengameh’s parents who are retired teachers would not be able to post a $600,000 bail,” Kermanshahi told the Campaign.
Journalist Hengameh Shahidi, who served as an advisor to Mehdi Karroubi during his 2009 presidential campaign, was arrested on 30 June 2009 along with dozens of other journalists and activists. She was released on 24 October 2009 on bail of $90,000, but returned to Evin prison on 25 February 2010 after receiving a sentence of six years in prison.
“Tuesday is visitation day and I know that I will find my Hengameh worse than last week. The worst thing for a mother is to see her child sick and be unable to help her. If I were to sell whatever I own in this world I could not come up with $600,000. After I get her out, I will still have to spend thousands of dollars on her medical treatment. My house is tied up as collateral for the first time she was arrested and released on bail. I have nothing else. They know all this. If they don’t want to grant her medical leave, they should just say it and treat her inside the prison,” said Kermanshahi.
“I don’t know whether you know this or not, but my daughter has not been allowed to make any phone calls for the past 40 days. I mean my sick child is not even allowed to make a phone call to her family. She isn’t allowed to have in-person visits. She isn’t allowed medical leave. I couldn’t do anything for her, either. I don’t know what they plan on doing with these young people. Since the bail amount was announced eight days ago, I have been unable to do anything for her,” Kermanshahi continued.
Kermanshahi told the Campaign that a murderer is allowed to go on furlough on $60,000 bail. “Do they mean to tell me that my daughter’s crime is even bigger than a murderer’s? They feel sorry for an American girl, but not for a child of this country. I have been coming and going for this medical leave for the past two months. What have I accomplished? They have put up a huge road block for me. There is no way I can raise this bail,” she said.
Kermanshahi said that she is only allowed to see her daughter through a booth every week. “Each time Hengameh asks me ‘Mom, can’t you do anything to get me out? I think I will have to stay here forever,’ and I don’t know what to tell my loved one. Tell me. I am a sister to two war martyrs. My daughter is a child of the Revolution and this country. Why doesn’t she deserve this help? Instead of going on international maneuvers, telling the world that he has helped Sarah Shourd due to her illness, Mr. Ahmadinejad should come and help the children of his own country,” she said.
“Don’t they say that this revolution was achieved through the help of the martyrs and their families? I am the sister of two war martyrs. My request of Mr. Ahmadinejad is that he help me. I swear I am so tired. My child is sick. I am 55 years old. I have been chasing Hengameh’s case for a year. Please take a look at the children of our own country. They are desperate for help. I am regretful that my daughter who has such a good education should be in prison. My child is at the infirmary all the time, hooked up to an IV. When I go to visit her, she is pale as a corpse. Sometimes they bring her directly from the infirmary,” said Kermanshahi when asked what request she has of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Addressing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iranian authorities, Kermanshahi finally said, “You must come and have an interview with me. Why won’t you come and talk to a martyr’s sister whose child is in prison right now? If something should happen to my child, all authorities must be accountable.”