Evin Prison


The above is a youtube video posted yesterday on the youtube channel of Atena Farghadani. Atena is an Iranian children’s rights activist and artist. Many months back, she was arrested and sent to Iran’s infamous Evin prison for her work as an activist and women’s advocate. After a long hunger strike, she’s out on bail before her trial which begins shortly. This might be the last chance she has to get her message out.

Please help me in spreading her words and illustrations! I have translated the video below (let me know if you have any edits):

“For everyone that wove the carpet to freedom with the pain of their fingertips and the essence of their being”

Hello to all of the people listening and watching. I am Atena Farghadani. I was born in 1986 and I graduated from University of Alzahra with a degree in fine arts. Today is Sunday the 23rd of November 2014. It has now been a few weeks since I have come out of Section 2 of Sepah Pasdaran in Evin prison. I want to send out my message because maybe it will be a step towards stopping the rage against women. I’m filming this video after I sent many letters to officials in Iran and received no response. For this reason, I have decided to send out my message in this video to transmit it to the people.

I always had a passion for illustration and the need to create, I tried to follow the same path the past few years, to continue with a pen in my hand while I was in prison. For that reason, I used the paper cups they gave us milk in as canvas, and the flowers in the prison yard, such as the lavenders and geranium, and their leaves to create paint. When they noticed I was using the paper cups for this purpose they stopped giving them to me. My only choice was to use the paper cups that were thrown away in the trash of the bathroom. On Friday Oct 17th 2014, it had been mentioned to me that the security cameras in the bathroom didn’t work, so I took two cups and hid them in my clothing. When I came back to my cell, I heard the whispering of two guards. One was asking “why does she needs those cups? and the other was saying “rewind the tape and replay it.”

Suddenly, one of the guards in a horrifying and wild manner flung open the door of the cell and screaming curses at me told me to take off my clothes right now. No matter how many times I said this is against the rules, even on a religious level, for me to remove my clothing, still the woman kept screaming and cursing me. The other woman held up my arms, because i was resisting their removal of my clothing and their hands on my body. My right hand slammed against the wall and later the bone of my wrist would become intensely bruised and swollen. The other guard was searching my upper body and hadn’t found anything, her nails left scratch marks all over my chest. While the woman was searching my lower body, I said this isn’t right, I’m on hunger strike and I will take action against you, and the women just began cursing me again. The other guard put her hand to my mouth and said “Shut up or I will hit your mouth so hard it will fill with blood.” The other woman said- and  I’m sorry to say this - “What kind of whore house did they bring you from??”

I felt so broken down that they would treat me like that. While I was in prison, I wanted them to acknowledge this act, and the only thing the head of the prison told me was “Ms. Farghadani, this act was not done to you randomly, it was a result of a command from above.”

I have recorded this video completely of my own choice and desire, and my goal is that something like this never happen to any other political prisoner. I hope that in the future we won’t have ANY political prisoners, but with that said… I am hopeful that a political prisoner will never experience so ugly and misogynistic a violation of their body… for all of the women in my country a lot of whom are very educated and even if they’re not as educated, we all deserve equal rights as humans. I don’t want you to lose hope and certainty that you will get your rights. Don’t be scared and don’t scare others because these things are happening. 36 years have passed since we heard all of the damages of the spirit, mind and body [that occurred in the prisons] and i feel after the past 36 years we are one step ahead, maybe the rage that we saw at the beginning of the revolution, for example in 2009, it’s not as severe as it used to be.

Something my interrogator told me several times and I really wanted to explain to people when I was out of prison was “Do you see that the constant cursing and torture that people said were happening in the prisons were lies and how polite we are being to you.” After he said that, I realized the shadow I am sitting in is a result of the hand that planted the tree which now provides the shade, the people like Hoda Saber and Sattar Beheshti.

Prominent Iranian journalist and opposition activist Hoda Saber died of a heart attack while on hunger strike in the infamous Evin prison. He was taken to Modarres hospital from the Tehran prison where he died of cardiac complications, most likely related to his ten-day hunger strike. His death comes at the same time as the two year anniversary of the contested election that kept Ahmedi-Nejad in power. Read more at the Guardian (photo from the news article).

Continue to Pray for Pastor Saeed Abedini

Continue to Pray for Pastor Saeed Abedini

Let’s continue to send prayers up for Pastor Saeed! We shall not forget him in these times!

Pastor Saeed Abedini was sentenced to eight years in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison on account of his Christian faith. He has been physically abused and suffers from internal bleeding. The prison leaders have refused to allow him to be treated for his injuries.

According to the Christian Post, in a letter…

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Christian Pastor, Farshid Fathi, Will Reportedly be Released from Iranian Prison 2 Years Early

Christian Pastor, Farshid Fathi, Will Reportedly be Released from Iranian Prison 2 Years Early

Iranian Christian Pastor Farshid Fathi A Christian pastor who has been held in Iran’s notorious Evin prison since 2010 will be released two years early in an apparent goodwill gesture by Tehran. (more…)

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Iran still seeks to erase the ‘1988 prison massacre’ from memories, 25 years on

The last time Jafar Behkish saw his brothers, Mahmud and Mohammad Ali, both political activists imprisoned in Iran, they only had 10 minutes to talk through a glass window.

None of them imagined that it would be their last interaction or the horror that would unfold over the following months.

A few weeks after that meeting in August 1988, without any warning, Iran’s prison authorities suspended all family visits. Televisions and radios were removed from the wards, delivery of newspapers was cancelled and prisoners were suddenly not allowed to exercise or visit the prison’s clinic.

Shortly afterwards, hundreds of political prisoners were taken, one by one, to a special room, where they were interrogated in special summary “re-trials”.

Many thought they were going to be pardoned and released – as most were about to complete their sentences. Instead, they were executed.

Human rights organizations estimate that between 4,500 and 5,000 men, women and children were killed in the summer of 1988 in prisons across Iran. The pattern of political executions changed dramatically from piecemeal reports of executions to a massive wave of killings that took place over several months.

The true number of dead, however, is still unknown as the executions were carried out in secret. In fact, many relatives were never told about the killings or where their loved ones had been buried.

A quarter of a century after the mass killing, the Iranian authorities do not want to talk about what happened. In fact, they seek to erase any trace of the “prison massacre”. The mass killing was never investigated and none of those in charge at the time has faced trial – in fact, some senior officials of the time are still in high-ranking positions today.

The authorities have also persecuted and harassed the families of the victims, including by dispersing gatherings and arresting them on the commemoration day held annually on the last Friday before 1 September in Khavaran Cemetery in southern Tehran.

On the 25th anniversary of the “prison massacre”, Amnesty International is once again calling on the Iranian authorities to bring to justice those responsible for these gross human rights violations – regardless of their former or current official position.

Iranian Pastor Farshid to be released from prison soon!

Good News From Iran: Christian Prisoner Pastor Farshid Fathi Gets Early Release Date

ICC Note:  Iranian pastor Farshid Fathi, imprisoned since 2010, has now been given an early release date. He was anticipated to be in prison until December2017 but will now be released December 2015 according to reports. He has suffered inhumane conditions and beating while in Iran’s notorious Evin prison. His…

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Young Activist Sentenced to 12.5 Years in Prison for Facebook Posts

A Revolutionary Court in Tehran has sentenced artist and civil rights activist Atena Faraghdani to a total of 12.5 years in prison for drawings and content critical of the government that the young activist posted on her Facebook page.

Faraghdani’s lawyer, Mohammad Moghimi, stated in an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that under Article 134 of Iran’s New Islami…

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We Will Not Forget

A scene in front of Libertad Prison in Uruguay on March 14th, 1985, when several prisoners were released after a decade of detention.

One of the founding principles behind Amnesty International is the belief that justice must be sought for prisoners of conscience. Our founder, Peter Benenson, originally coined the term “prisoners of conscience” when he published an article in the Observer entitled “The Forgotten Prisoners" which sparked the idea for the organization that is Amnesty International today. When I first began campaigning for Amnesty, I felt strongly for a number of causes, but prisoners of conscience were further down on my list. It was difficult for me to understand exactly why Amnesty International placed emphasis on prisoners of conscience when mass atrocities, from genocide to extreme poverty, were causing what I thought to be more pain on humanity than someone living in a prison cell.

This weekend, I listened to the story of Dorothy Parvaz, an Al-Jazeera reporter who was arrested in April of this year when she was covering the protests in Syria. She was placed on a plane and taken to Evin Detention Center outside Tehran, Iran, a notorious prison that has been known as “Evin University” due to the high number of intellectuals that have been detained there over the years. During her interview with Michel Martin on NPR, she was audibly shaken by her detainment. Recalling the surreal moments she had with her interrogator, whose face she never saw, it was clear that Parvaz had experienced something one hopes never to experience. After she detailed her time spent there and the haunting cries she still hears even after being released from prison, Martin asked Parvaz how she learns to cope now that she is free. Parvaz responded:

 “I don’t know if I should forget those sounds, I don’t know if I should forget that feeling… At one point, when I thought that they might kill me… I remembered the worst feeling was, ‘Okay, I’m going to die and my family is going to keep looking for me’… And then I thought about all the people I was hearing being beaten… They’re in the same boat, they’re families aren’t going to know what’s going to happen to them.”

States and regimes that employ imprisonment tactics to control their populations do so for a reason: it is ultimately effective. People can learn to overcome a fear of death. But overcoming the fear of prison takes an immense amount of courage, because years in prison entail much more than the finality of death. Parvaz is one among thousands who has been detained for speaking out against an oppressive regime, for organizing protests, or for simply attempting to write about the events of a country. Too many have been through what she has been through: months in solitary confinement, the uncertainty and anxiety of not knowing if one will be released or killed, the numbing effect of prolonged torture and the humiliation of losing agency over one’s life.

A prisoner peeks out from a hall in Evin Detention Center.

Campaigns to release a prisoner of conscience do more than simply fighting for one individual. The act of releasing even a single prisoner provides hope for all those that would’ve been discouraged to speak out for fear of spending years in prisons like Evin Detention Center. Just as the regimes that arrest and torture prisoners send a message to the public, Amnesty’s message rings loud and clear: we will not forget.

To listen to Parvaz’ interview with Michel Martin on NPR’s “Tell Me More,” click here.

Campaign for a prisoner of conscience and shine a light at AmnestyUSA.org 

-Meher Ahmad

Iranian Pastor's Appeal Against Extra Year In Prison and 74 Lashes Fails

Iranian Pastor’s Appeal Against Extra Year In Prison and 74 Lashes Fails

Iranian Christian Pastor Farshid Fathi An Iranian pastor serving a six-year prison term has failed in his appeal against a further sentence of 74 lashes and an additional year in jail – for the alleged possession in his cell of two liters of alcohol. This latest news about Farshid Fathi was reported on 24th May. (more…)

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Iran: Prisoner of conscience faces death threats

Prisoner of conscience Mohammad Ali Taheri, who has spent over three years in solitary confinement in Section 2A of Evin Prison in Iran’s capital, Tehran, has been threatened with death by interrogators. He is serving a five-year prison sentence on a charge of “insulting Islamic sanctities”, in relation to his spiritual beliefs and practices.

Mohammad Ali Taheri, founder of a new spiritual group in Iran called Erfan-e-Halgheh, was arrested on 4 May 2011 by officials linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and held incommunicado for nine months in Section 2A of Evin Prison. Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran convicted him, on 30 October 2011, of “insulting Islamic sanctities” and sentenced him to five years’ imprisonment. However, it found that his offence did not involve, as the prosecution had argued, saab ul-nabi (deliberately denigrating Prophet Mohammad) which would have carried the death penalty under the Islamic Penal Code. Amnesty International understands that the authorities have, nevertheless, continued to threaten him with death, apparently based on religious fatwas that order the killing of apostates.

Mohammad Ali Taheri has been serving his prison sentence entirely in solitary confinement and his repeated requests to be transferred to a cell shared with other inmates have been denied, leading him to undertake at least seven hunger strikes and attempt suicide four times. Except for a six-day period of leave in March 2013, his interaction with the outside world has been limited to brief bi-weekly visits from his wife in a “cabin” (behind a glass screen) and limited telephone calls, both of which have stopped since his wife was arrested on 2 July 2014 for a period of two weeks.

Please write immediately in Farsi, Arabic, English or your own language:

  • Calling on the Iranian authorities to release Mohammad Ali Taheri immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience, held solely for the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression;
  • Calling on them to ensure that he is protected from all forms of torture and other ill-treatment, and that he is no longer held in solitary confinement;
  • Urging them to allow him regular visits from his family and lawyer.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 7 OCTOBER 2014 TO: (Time difference = GMT + 3.5 hrs / BST + 2.5 hrs)

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Continue to Pray for Pastor Saeed Abedini

Continue to Pray for Pastor Saeed Abedini

Let’s continue to send prayers up for Pastor Saeed! We shall not forget him in these times!

Pastor Saeed Abedini was sentenced to eight years in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison on account of his Christian faith. He has been physically abused and suffers from internal bleeding. The prison leaders have refused to allow him to be treated for his injuries.

According to the Christian Post, in a letter…

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