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A Letter by Bahareh Hedayat from Evin in Response to the Recent Attack on Ward 350


In response to the recent attack by Iranian authorities on Evin Prison’s Ward 350, Bahareh Hedayat has written a letter from the women’s ward of this prison. The original content of the letter was published on the Kaleme website and translated to English by us. Hedayat is a university student leader and women’s rights activist. She was arrested on December 31, 2009. The Iranian Judiciary has sentenced her to a total of nine and a half years in prison for speaking out against the injustices in Iran.

During the past four years the phone lines have been cut off in Evin and Rajai Shahr prisons. During the past four years prisoners and their families have tried various ways through all possible legal channels to resolve the injustice, but to no avail. During the past four years frequent inspections have been performed on the prisoners with the purpose of seizing any form of communication from them. And, unfortunately, in the last inspection– that took place in Ward 350 of Evin– we witnessed that our brothers were not even spared from cowardly beatings.

[During the raid on Ward 350] judicial authorities became flushed with anger after “discovering” a few mobile phones. We must ask [the authorities]: Do you know what it feels like to get [no more than] 26 hours of visitation time a year with your family? Like burying the prisoners alive! When you cut off the phone lines and unjustly deprive prisoners of their right to communicate with their families you have condemned the prisoners to a slow death– an unwritten ruling sentence that just adds to the cruelty and oppression imposed on prisoners during these years.

When you grant the prisoners no access to the telephone you have ultimately condemned the prisoners to [about] a half hour of communication with their families a week (and mostly it is indirect communication), and this [deprivation of communication] eats away at and endangers the emotional and psychological health of the prisoners. This is a type of slow and silent torture that fills the place of visible bruises and injuries.

You intend to slowly detach the prisoners of conscience from their families and the outside world. You lock away the prisoner in a vacuum until [her or his] spiritual connection or relation with the free world is blocked or even destroyed. Your intention is to destroy the insidious and cruel, but you’re angry because prisoners have chosen to not die a slow death, so you have vowed to inflict greater pressures?

Throughout the years the situation of political prisoners has been like holding their heads under water for one week, then giving them a half hour of breathing time, and then repeating this for years. You can easily imagine that the breaths taken in the half hour are filled with anxiety and stress, but, unfortunately, the judicial authorities are more concerned with why the prisoner under water thinks he has the right to cheat by flailing his arms and legs up and down.

Are they trying to get the attention of “dissident media” in order to tarnish the image [of the nation]? Are they trying to say that “Islamic human rights” tortures? Are they trying to provide content for the western media? Prison authorities are proud of the fact that they have crushed any person who they have held their heads under water during inspection. But, there is no one to answer, what percentage of the calls made [by prisoners] with these “discovered” [mobile] phones were to someone other than their own family members?

These days the the Judiciary, the Ministry of Intelligence, and the Prisons Organization have all sworn to the pact of carrying out this unjust [unwritten] ruling sentence. Bravo to your unity, but you should know that the behavioural reaction and resistance of prisoners is only natural and even critical.

In our unjust trials and hearings [in the revolutionary courts] none of us [prisoners of conscience] were condemned to “Being buried alive”.

Communication with the family is the right of a prisoner. [Depriving prisoners of this communication right] does not comply with any standard of human rights- whether it be Islamic or non Islamic or Eastern or Western. [There is no solution in sight and thus we are left with no other choice but to be] proud of Iran’s prisons when comparing them to North Korea, Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay.

In regards to the situation of telephone rights in the political wards of Evin and Rajai Shahr prisons, it is more appropriate for wiser policies and more humane decisions to be adopted and made. The practice of frequent inspections and intimidation lead to nowhere.

Prisoners are authorized and entitled to defend their psychological and emotional health. This is a [prisoner’s] fundamental right, and no regulation or bylaw can strip it away.

April 2014
Bahareh Hedayat
Evin Prison