“People Shouldn’t Die for Their Beliefs” Says Wife of Death Row Prisoner
Mahin Saremi, wife of death row prisoner Mohammad Ali Saremi, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that she is asking for help from international human rights organizations to save her husband’s life, as he has committed no crime other than being a Mojahedin-e Khalgh (MEK) sympathizer. She emphasized that though her husband has been told about his death sentence several times, the ruling has not been served in writing yet.
Mohammad Ali Saremi is a political prisoner sentenced to death following post-election protests in 2009 due to his relationship with the MEK. Though his sentence has been announced by government sources, it has not been officially presented to his lawyer. Among all those sentenced to death for having relations with the MEK, Saremi is the only prisoner who accepted his charge. Mahin Saremi spoke with the Campaign about her husband’s relationship with the MEK, “How can a person be executed for his beliefs? Yes, my husband had sympathy for the MEK, but can a person be hung because he likes a political group? His activities were limited to going to grave sites of people who shared his way of thinking and reading prayers for them.
“Once we also went to see our son at Camp Ashraf [in Iraq] in 2005. A short time after our return we were arrested and my husband spent a year in prison. A few months later he was arrested on charges of participating in ceremonies commemorating the 19th anniversary of the mass executions of political prisoners in 1988. But I don’t know why he suddenly received the death sentence last year after the elections,” said Saremi.
“Three days after Ashura [27 December 2009], an officer went to my husband’s prison ward and told him that he has been sentenced to death, but my husband refused to receive the ruling, asking them to serve it to his lawyer. But his lawyer has not yet been served. Several times during public appearances, authorities have announced my husband’s death sentence, and have even announced that the appeals court upheld the sentence, but when we went to request a reconsideration of the sentencing, they asked us for a photocopy of the original ruling before they would take action on our request. We didn’t have the ruling, so we wrote letters, requesting a reduction in sentence, but whenever we go to follow up on it, they say our response has not yet arrived,” said Mahin Saremi.
“I expect [human rights organizations] to help us. My husband must be released because he has not done anything. Seeing my son cannot be a crime, but he served a whole year in prison for it. People shouldn’t die for their beliefs. I would like to ask the organizations to try so that my husband does not get convicted at all. He really does not deserve to be in prison or be executed,” said Saremi about what she expects of human rights organizations.
“I see him every 15 days. Thank God he is not in bad shape, but he is in prison after all and his conditions can’t be good,” said Saremi about her husband’s physical and psychological condition.
Mahin Saremi, herself, is also awaiting her sentence, since she was arrested with her husband twice before. “I was also interrogated for having gone to Ashraf. I was also arrested at the grave site with my husband and was released on bail,” she said.