Ms. Akbari Monfared was held in various prisons over decades, and is currently serving her eighth year in Evin prison. In her letter, she describes the situation in the Iranian regime’s prisons, saying, “I’ve witnessed with my own eyes the devaluation of human and humanity”. She cites prison special guards beating female prisoners with batons.
Her heartfelt letter is reproduced below:
To honorable ambassadors Mr. Dian Wirengjuri of Indonesia, Mr. Mário Fernando Damas Nunes of Portugal, and others,
For all those whose hearts are beating for human and humanity, and for a value beyond geographical borders, I’m speaking as a witness. Witness to endless, horrible days in Share-Ray, Gohardasht, and Evin prisons, where one even fails to breathe. Dark, high-ceiling metal sheds without any window to allow sunlight in, filled with cigarette smoke, accommodating 200 inmates each; crowded, noisy places which drives inmates crazy. A total devaluation of human and humanity, witnessed with my own eyes.
I’ve witnessed inmates’ furious eyes, and feeble, wretched women being beaten with batons by prison special guards. I’ve witnessed fights over food and bread in prison’s dining room, which was renamed as beating room by inmates. Prison food was so little that hungry inmates were forced to collect the residue of other food trays as well as the food which was left on the ground, and a little while later, throwing trays and chairs, and fighting over the remaining foods.
I saw beautiful girls who were victims of a regime-made accusation, namely having ‘illegitimate liaison’. I saw an eleven-year-old girl who was sent into exile from children correction center to Gohardasht prison so as to be punished; an eleven-year-old girl who was charged with using drugs. Now guess what that little girl is supposed to learn among too many dangerous convicts.
I saw how women and girls were mired in miseries they could do nothing about, willing to do anything the prison guards wanted them to, so to be rewarded with a 15-minute phone call or a few days of furlough.
Women and girls who had repeatedly felt the hanging rope around their necks, being on death row for years. Now guess what it feels like to live everyday expecting for your imminent death.
I’m speaking as a witness; witnessing lots of efforts made to turn the truth upside down, to deny websites’ news and reports on gross violation of human rights in Iran’s prisons.
Transferring a number of inmates to Evin prison’s security ward and other places while honorable foreign countries’ ambassadors were visiting the prison on July 5 is another strong reason pointing to deplorable situation in Iran’s prisons.
Dear ambassadors, who were surprised by what you saw!
What you saw was a made-up face of this religious regime’s prisons. When I saw your visit’s pictures in newspapers, I wished instantly that those tall, lush trees under the shadows of which you were chatting, could talk and tell you what they had witnessed from the time they were just small saplings to date.
I saw inmates on death row in Share-Ray prison, desperately begging their families to talk their judges into implementing their death sentence sooner, as they didn’t wish to stay alive in prison.
Mr. Mohebbi, Director General of Iran Prisons, have said that many efforts have been made in prisons so the inmates can learn such skills as making mosaic and hairstyling so they can fill their leisure time and make use of their prison terms.
The question is, while the least human rights of inmates are not respected, what’s the use of their learning hairstyling and mosaic art?
Mr. Mohebbi had said that inmates are busy working in sewing and carpentry workshops, with 50 percent of their income given to their families, 25 percent given to them during their prison term, and the remaining 25 percent paid upon their release from prison. Did Mr. Mohebbi say anything about how much the inmates earn?
Mr. Mohebbai had said that inmates study at different levels during prison term, thus completing their education. Well then, it seems as if Evin is not a prison, but a university!
Mr. Mohebbi said that inmates learn how to translate English. That’s while foreign language books are not even allowed to enter prison as there’s no foreign language translator!
Mr. Gharibabadi, Deputy Chair of regime’s Human Rights Headquarters’ International Affairs, have said some countries and media present a false, inaccurate image of Iran’s prisons! If that’s true and there’s a wonderful situation in your prisons, why didn’t you even allow former UN Special Rapporteur ‘Ahmad Shaheed’, and the current one ‘Asma Jahangir’ to enter Iran, let alone visiting prisons?
Mr. Gharibabadi has spoken of prisons’ valuable healthcare services. Wasn’t it at these same prisons that Mr. Mohsen Dogmehchi got sick due to lack of medical care and eventually lost his invaluable life thereafter? Is it not true that Mr. Hoda Saber lost his invaluable life in this very Evin prison due to being sent to medical center late? while I’m writing this letter, my dearest wardmate Azita Rafeizadeh, mother of six-year-old Bashir and wife to Peyman Kushkbaghi who’s also serving his prison term in Gohardasht prison, is injured having broken her finger in two places on July 6. Three days on, however, she’s still not allowed to be sent to hospital for treatment.
Yes, I’ve been witnessing moments and conditions of which my pen is not capable of writing. I decided to step in freedom path. And while passing this route, I’ve become injured of harassments, and exile, transfers, and prohibitions have become part of my life. I’ve witnessed the desert of Gohardasht and Evin prisons, in which even plants fail to grow; gradual-death camps, not places to serve your prison term. I can still hear human dignity being trampled there.
What I saw or heard was obscenity and atrocity. I stretch my tied hands toward you so once again you give me a hand to pull down the curtains and reveal the puppetry of regime’s so-called reverencing women!
I once again convey the sound of pains and sufferings towards you so you can reflect my voice. Where it’s not even possible to breathe, you shout anger out of your mighty throat.
Maryam Akbari Monfared