Moore-Gilbert’s Letters from Revolutionary Guard’s Prison Ward Reveal Struggle to “Survive”
January 21, 2019 – Since being jailed in the severely restrictive Ward-2A of Iran’s Evin Prison, British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert has struggled to obtain proper food and medication, and has been denied contact with the outside world including her family, she wrote in a series of letters obtained by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
Echoing similar statements by other prisoners held there who hold foreign citizenship, Moore-Gilbert noted that the intelligence organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which controls Ward 2-A, had pressured her to become a spy, an offer she firmly rejected in one of her 10 letters published in full here for the first time by CHRI after excerpts were printed by the Guardian and the Times of London.
“Moore-Gilbert’s letters provide a glimpse into the lives of prisoners isolated in the Revolutionary Guards’ Ward 2A, where intelligence agents are free to subject prisoners to the most unlawful and inhumane conditions with impunity,” said CHRI Executive Director Hadi Ghaemi.
“Iran’s State Prisons’ Organization and the judiciary to which it reports are responsible for the health and well-being of all prisoners in the country,” he added. “In Moore-Gilbert’s case, this requires immediately ending her prolonged isolation and transferring her to Evin Prison’s Women’s Ward, and allowing her access to proper food, medicine, counsel, family contact and consular access.”
The following letters were written between July-December 2019 by Moore-Gilbert and translated into English by an intermediary before being sent to CHRI by a vetted source who requested anonymity for security reasons. They have been published below in unedited form.
July 5, 2019
“in the name of God”
Dear Mr. Ghaderi: First of all, I’m very grateful that you met with us last week, and thanks for your help in alleviating our concerns. If my behavior gave you or the staff of ward “2-A” any trouble, I apologize. I’m taking psychiatric medications, but these 10 months that I have spent here have gravely damaged my mental health. I am still denied phone calls and visitations, and I am afraid that my mental and emotional state may further deteriorate, if I remain in this extremely restrictive detention ward “2-A”. Mr. Ghaderi, please, help me get transferred to the normal ward, and please schedule the remaining hearings for my trial as soon as possible. Moreover, I would be very grateful if you followed-up with the issue of retrieving all my English language books from my “case expert”, and to lift the ban on phone calls and visits. Once again I thank you for your kind help. Regards, the innocent professor of Melbourne University.
June 20, 2019
Dear Mr. Hosseini, [illegible] …I now feel much better than when I was alone. I want ask you for your kind help again (sorry!). I went to my trial two and half weeks ago, and I followed your advice of asking the judge to allow IRGC to give me back my books and my right to phone calls. Two weeks ago, I had a visit from my ambassador and most of my English books that were brought to me were confiscated by IRGC. This is in addition to the books that my ambassador had brought for me in a visit 4 months ago, which are still held by my “case expert” and not given to me. All the titles and author names of the books were translated by the Embassy and all the books were bought in Iran- IRGC really has no excuse. My “case expert” has taken the books hostage in order to put psychological pressure on me. These books belong to the embassy and the judge has explicitly ordered that they should be given to me (the same goes for Quran in english, which DOES exist inside “A-2” ward- I know). Please help me retrieve these books from IRGC, and please don’t listen to the excuses and lies of my “case expert”. In addition, in the past 3 months I have only had one 4-minute phone call with my family. The judge has allowed me phone calls as well, but I was still denied phone calls. I want to write an official complaint letter to the Prosecutor Mr. Vaziri, could you please provide me with the correct complaint form? Many thanks for your time and help (as always!)
Aug 2, 2019
“In the name of God”
Dear Mr. Ghaderi/ Mr. Vaziri: I, an innocent woman, have been imprisoned for a crime I have not committed and for which there is no real evidence. This is a grave injustice, but unfortunately it is not a surprise to me- from the very beginning [of my arrest] it was clear that there was fabrications and trumped-up accusations, by the hands of IRGC and intentionally. Since I only gave 20 days to prepare my defense for my appeal court, I ask you to please allow me to meet with my lawyer urgently. I will also begin a hunger strike from Saturday Aug 3. I have already informed Judge Salavati about this hunger strike. The decision of the IRGC Intelligence branch that I will remain in “2-A” ward even after my verdict has left me no other way. I can no longer take this extremely restrictive detention center (I’ve been here for 11 months now!). I will reject all my medications and food until a decision is reached to transfer me to the normal ward. Given these matters, I ask you again to please help me kindly. Many thanks for your time. Regards, KMG, Professor of Melbourne University and an innocent political prisoner.
Aug 9, 2019
“In the name of God”
Dear Mr. Vaziri, following to the previous letter (dated Aug 2), I beg you to please allow me to meet with my lawyer urgently. On July 31 I received a vey harsh and unjust verdict and I now only have 10 days to submit my appeal. I must speak to my lawyer about my defense before this deadline. I ask you once again to please help me. Regards
Sep 18, 2019
“In the name of God”
Dear Mr. Vaziri, Many thanks for all your help in bringing me all the English books that my “case expert” had held on to a long time. I was very happy when I finally got the books- many thanks for your assistance. Unfortunately I have to write to you again for another problem (one of many!) which you can help me with. Every time that a shopping request list is given to my cell I never have enough money in my account, because my embassy never transfer me enough money. This has been a consistent problem, even as early as my first meeting with the Australian ambassador 9 months ago. I have food allergies and I cannot eat most of the food coming out of the “A-2” ward kitchen. I really need to buy a lot of medication and all my personal items myself.I have explained this several times, most recently to my lawyer 3 weeks ago. This has been the 3rd time in a row that I didn’t have enough money and my kind cellmates bought me food and personal need items. I am entirely alone in Iran. I have no friends or family here and in addition to all the pain I have endured here, I feel like I am abandoned and forgotten, that after so many times of asking my embassy, I still have no money at all to endure all of this. Mr. Vaziri, you know that I am still denied any phone calls and visitation rights, and I have no way to reach my embassy. Please help me again. Please deliver a message to my lawyer or my embassy, that I need approximately 2 Million Tomans [about 68 $ AUS] per month to survive here. Many thanks for your time and help. Regards
Aug 23, 2019
Dear Mr. Vaziri, for you information I am copying to you the letter that I wrote to the case manager, which is about the topic I spoke to you about in the presence of the The Honorable Head of Legal Department of the IRGC:
“Dear Mr. Case Manager, Please accept this letter as an official and definitive rejection of your offer to me to work with the intelligence branch of IRGC, and as a testimony that you confirm you heard all of these from me verbally before. Under no circumstances will I be persuaded to change my decision. Even my current verdict or the impending result of my appeal, or the prospect of remaining locked up in “2-A” detention center (or any other prison in Iran) will not influence my rejection of this offer. I am not a spy. I have never been a spy and I have no interest to work for a spying organization in any country. When I leave Iran, I want to be a free woman and live a free life, not under the shadow of extortion and threats. I ask you to relay my decision to your boss. I hope that you do not ever speak to me again regarding this matter. Regards”
Aug 26, 2019
Dear Mr. Vaziri, First of all many thanks for meeting with me last week and thanks for you help in organizing a meeting with my lawyer. I am very grateful that you took the time on a Friday to listen to my problems. Thanks to you I was able to speak to my lawyer before my appeal deadline. Mr. Vaziri, I ask you please to help me get transferred to the normal ward, given my mental and physical health. I have been in “2-A” for almost a year and especially after my verdict, my health has deteriorated significantly. In the past month I have been to the special care at “Baghiatollah Hospital” twice and the prison infirmary 6 times. I think I am in the midst of a serious psychological problem, I can no longer stand the pressures of living in this extremely restrictive detention ward anymore. My situation here is even more difficult due to the ban on having any phone calls with my family. I worry a lit about their reactions to my verdict but I cannot talk to them. This is really inhumane. I know that my Case Manager wants me to remain in “2-A” ward until my final verdict, but I beg you please to immediately facilitate moving me to the normal ward due to my psychological and physical state. Once more I thank you for your kind help. regards, Kylie Moore-Gilbert, Prof. of Melbourne University. [in English]: I really appreciate your taking the time to assist me in this difficult matter, and sorry for my terrible Farsi!
Nov 22, 2019
Dear Mr. Vaziri, I hope you are well. I know that you are very busy these days. I don’t want to burden you further but if you will be present at “2-A” ward and have time for me, could I please have another meeting with you. In our previous meeting you told me that you would help me and I will be very glad to hear from you regarding the legal and diplomatic state of my case. Many thanks, regards.
Nov 27, 2019
Dear Dr. Vaziri, I hope you are well. Following to my previous letter of Nov 22, I ask you please for a meeting to talk about my legal status. Today (nov 27) I was shown two different appeal decisions: one indicating a 13-months sentence, and the other confirming my initial verdict of 10 years imprisonment. My case manager said that the 13-months decision was “fake”, and was an illegal attempt by my lawyer and my ambassador to free me from prison. On the other hand the security officer at “2-A” ward told me that the 13-months appeal decision had been relayed through official Chanels to them. How is it possible for this to have been “fabricated”, and how is it possible that two very different appeal decisions were delivered to “2-A” detention center?! It is clear that IRGC Intelligence is playing an awful game with me. I am an innocent victim. I have suffered 14 months in this temporary detention center- without any justifications, and my tolerance for such a game is really low at the moment. Honorable Mr. prosecutor, you told me yourself that based on law, IRGC Intelligence branch can only keep me in “2-A” detention until my final verdict is reached. In an odd and absurd way TWO final verdicts have been delivered, so I hope that you, as a person fully knowledgable about relevant laws, can explain this to me. If the 13-months verdict is correct, I must been freed from “2-A” now (I have been here over 14 months). If the the confirmed 10-year imprisonment verdict is correct, based on your statements there is no legal basis to keep me in “2-A” detention center, and I must be transferred to the normal ward. Whichever of the appeal verdicts are true, I must not remain in “2-A” any longer. Mr. Vaziri, you told me you would help me. I unfortunately need you help again now. If you have any time for me, I would be very glad to talk toy you urgently. With thanks and regards
Dec 2, 2019
Dear Mr. Hosseini I hope you are well. Many thanks for visiting us in the women’s ward last week, I know that you are now particularly busy. Last Thursday you verbally allowed us to have a shopping request list this week. It has now been over a month since our last shopping request list and we are still following up about the items that we had put on that list. I know that you currently have a lot of challenges in the detention center and all the security officers and staff are very busy. But we have been here for a very long time and food and sufficient personal care items help us a lot to tolerate the extremely restrictive conditions of “2-A”. If possible, could you please allow us a shopping request list as soon as possible. In addition, the security officer should check my bank card to know how much money do I have in it now before I put in my requests in the list. Many thanks Mr. Hosseini for your time and help, regards.
P.S. have you received any updates regarding my request to meet with Mr. Vaziri? (or any other official?)
*This article was revised on January 22, 2019, to note that excerpts of Kylie Moore-Gilbert’s letters were initially published by the Guardian and the Times of London.