Political Prisoner With 10-Year Sentence Is Innocent, Sister Insists
Zahra Rahnama, sister of Fatemeh Rahnama, a 50-year-old prisoner of conscience sentenced to 10 years in prison in exile, who is currently spending her sentence inside Sepidar Prison in Ahvaz, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that her sister’s charges are fabricated. “Mr. Dolatabadi (the Tehran Prosecutor) once told Fatemeh that when she has served 10 years in prison, her honesty could be proven. What does this mean?! We tried through our lawyer to transfer her to Tehran or Isfahan, but they said that the sentence could not be changed. But is a sentence the words of Koran which cannot be changed? She suffers from cancer and has deep depression. We delivered all her medical files to the Prosecutor’s Office. We are concerned about her physical and psychological state,” Zahra Rahnavard.
“Our mother has been in a coma for several months. You can imagine our state.We have asked through our lawyer several times for her to be allowed to come to furlough for a few days to visit her mother in coma. We have written letters to the Supreme Leader, the Head of the Judiciary, and the Tehran Prosecutor, but it was futile. The Tehran Prosecutor said once that the Case Analyst does not approve the leave, but on what basis does the Case Analyst disapprove of the leave?” added Zahra Rahnama.
Fatemeh Rahnama was arrested on 29 July 2009. Branch 26 of Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced her to ten years in prison in exile on the charge of “relations with the Mujahedin-e Khalgh Organization” (MEK). On 6 October 2010, Rahnama was transferred from Evin Prison to Sepidar Prison in Ahvaz in order to begin her exile sentence. Rahnama was also arrested during the 1980’s at the age of 19, and sentenced to 3.5 years in prison on the charge of supporting the MEK. She suffers from cancer. Her continued presence in prison despite her illness and unanswered questions about her case review and trial process remain points of criticism by human rights activists.
“We live in Isfahan,” said Zahra Rahnama. “I came from Isfahan today to see the Prosecutor, but they wouldn’t let me in. They said that if the leave request is approved, they would contact us, but we haven’t heard anything yet. My sister is not young. Her mother is in a coma; they should at least let her see her mother for a few days. For the past six months, due to our mother’s illness and our father’s old age, and the long distance, we have not been able to go to Ahvaz to visit with her. We cannot fly there, either, as it is really expensive,” said Fatemeh Rahnama’s sister.
“How could we accept her political charges, when even the case Judge did not approve [this charge]? It may be interesting for you to know that several days after her lower court trial ended, we went to Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court and the Branch office manager brought my sister’s case file to tell us what the Judge had said. The judge had written that Ms. Rahnama does not have contact with the MEK. The case lawyers told us after the trial session that they were satisfied with the proceedings and that our sister would surely be acquitted of her charge. But a few days later, we read about her ten-year sentence in exile in the media,” the prisoner’s sister said.
“After she was arrested on 29 July 2009, they wrote on official government websites that she had been arrested while setting a motorcycle on fire, whereas she was arrested at her home. Another day, regarding her situation at the Revolutionary Court, they said that my sister had morality problems and this is why she was arrested. Then they said that she has political problems,” Zahra Rahnama added.
“My sister’s question is why she is in prison and she cannot find an answer for this. It is difficult to be placed next to thieves, murderers, drug dealers, and addicts when you don’t belong there. Even so, she is very satisfied with prison authorities. They have given us a telephone number which we can call during business hours and talk to our sister. She is also able to call us several times a week,” said Fatemeh Rahnama’s sister about her conditions inside the Sepidar Prison.
Addressing the Iranian Judiciary autاorities, Zahra Rahnama said: “If anybody can hear us, I would like to ask the Supreme Leader, the Head of the Judiciary, and the Tehran Prosecutor to listen to our pleas just once. We have been screaming for attention for two years. Fatameh Rahnama is innocent. Please review my sister’s case once again.”