Jail Time, Repression for Iranian Women Seeking Answers for Loved Ones Lost to 1980s State Violence
Mariam Akbari Monfared and Raheleh Rahemipour, two Iranian women seeking truth about loved ones lost to state violence in the 1980s, continue to suffer punitive treatment at the hands of the country’s judicial system according to February 17 reporting from Radio Zamaneh.
Mariam Akbari Monfared lost two brothers and a sister to the mass executions of political prisoners in the 1980s. In 2016, she submitted a formal legal complaint to authorities in Evin prison (where she continues to be held) pressing for an investigation of their cases, including their places of burial which were never announced to family members. The Justice Organization of Iran announced on February 17 that Monfared had filed a request with the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, asking the UN body to question the Iranian government on the matter. The Working Group is set to consider the request and announce whether it will investigate the matter as a forced disappearance.
Monfared’s insistence on the right to know landed her in prison, where she has been denied vital medical attention and temporary leave. In a letter addressed to the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, Monfared quoted Judge Abdolqassem Salvati as saying: “You’ll pay the price for your sister and brothers.”
Raheleh Rahemipour lost her niece Golrow and brother Hossein, who disappeared from Evin prison in the 1980s. Her efforts to secure truth from Iran’s judiciary have thus far earned her lengthy interrogations and a two-year prison sentence handed down on November 25, 2016. Five United Nations authorities – the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression, Human Rights Defenders, Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association, and Human Rights in Iran – have demanded that the Iranian government cease harassment and prosecution of Rahemipour.
The UN has recorded 518 cases of enforced disappearance in the Islamic Republic. The Iranian government has refused to comment publicly on such cases.
Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation’s The Massacre of Political Prisoners in Iran, 1988: Report of an Inquiry, provides thoroughly researched political, legal, and institutional context for the period during which Monfared and Rahemipour lost family members.
Access the original Persian reporting at Radio Zamaneh.