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Women's Day Ceremony in Evin Prison
Sun 27 03 2016

translated by Mina Siegel: On international Women's Day, women political prisoner and prisoners of conscience held a ceremony in Evin prison. In this ceremony, a few political prisoners gave speeches about women’s current social status, the problems they face and the importance of women’s rights with respect to social progress in general. Among the participants, six women from theBahaii faith talked about their children left at home deprived of their parental care for years since their fathers are in prison as well. And finally, a letter addressed to the head of the Judiciary about this issue was read.
According to the Defendants of Human Rights’ website, at the beginning of this ceremony Mariam Naghsh Zargaran , referring to the history of women struggle for equality in West, congratulated all the women, from various political and religion beliefs who were present in this celebration to discuss women’s issues.
Then Reihaneh Tabatabii gave a report about her past trip to the providence of Sistan and Balouchestan. While bearing witness to women's achievements there, she talked about their various legal problems including citizenship rights. According to law, the right to citizenship is warranted only when the father is Iranian. Therefore, children who are borne from mixed marriages where only the mother is Iranian not only remain without non-citizens and are deprived of the right to have a birth certificate, which results in their denial of rights to education, work, or even marriage.
Bahareh Hedayat, another political prisoner, talked about the need for women to participate in the social, economic and political affairs of any country in the process of reaching any level of progress and wellbeing, although she considered affirmative action unnecessary.
Nargess Mohammadi, another speaker, talked about the regime’s use of torture and imprisonment as a means to keep women from demanding their rights to gender equality. She emphasized the advances of civil society in Iran and its effectiveness in promoting women’s empowerment both as individuals as well as a gender.
Nassim Baghery, a prisoner believing in the Bahaii faith, gave a speech titled "Artin and Bashir's Marathon." She talked about the children who grew up away from their parental love and care. She mentioned Kamran Rahimian, a Bahai father who left prison recently after five years, to be with his 7 years old son, hoping that his wife, Faran, could also leave prison after 4 years so their little family could gather together for the Persian New Year.
Faran and Kamran were barred from attending university because they were Bahaiis. They studied in Azad Educational Institute and then continued their graduate study in Canada. The returned to Iran intending to teach there in order to pay their dues. But this came at the cost of Faran being sentenced to four years prison and Kamran for five and their separation from their dear son. During these years, the good will of the society, Iranians as well as international, towards their family was their only solace and comfort. The portrait of a man who kisses the feet of a Bahai child brought them great hope, but not only registered the sad history of this era forever, but did not prevent the repetition of this bitter injustice.
On March 1, while Azita was preparing herself to meet her husband, Payman, in the prison waiting room, she was informed that her husband had been arrested upon arriving at the prison. {{Her family had accepted the guardianship of their little boy who for the next several years has the right to visit them only once a week.}}
That day, many of the prisoners' families who had come to visit their loved ones in prison witnessed the arrest of Payman and could not hide their bewilderment as well as their grief. This was the second time that the husband of a prisoner was arrested in this fashion quite unexpectedly. The first time Fatemeh Mossanna's husband, a member of the People’s Mojahedin, was arrested in this fashion. One is wondering how on top of all the injustices done, why the regime should resort to such unlawful and immoral tactic to arrest people. Neither of these prisoners expected such a sudden change in their family situation, nor did either of these kids expect to be abandoned in an empty house without their parents! Undoubtedly one day they would ask themselves for what crime they all should have committed to have paid such a high price.

Finally, a letter that was written to the head of the Judiciary in this respect was read:

Respected Head of the Judiciary of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
We respectfully bring to your attention that on October 24, 2015, a young woman, Azita Rafizadeh, joined us in the women’s ward in Evin Prison to spend her four years term of imprisonment. She was charged with teaching in Azad Educational Institute, which was established as an alternative institution to educate young Bahais who have been barred from attending the country’s other educational institutions owing to their faith. Her young husband, Payman Koushk Baghi, was also arrested in an unlawful fashion in front of Evin Prison when he came to visit his wife on a visiting day. He was arrested under the same charge as his wife, for teaching in the same institute, and his prison term is also five years. Meanwhile their 6 years old son has remained alone and without parental supervision.
Though education is highly recommended by {{ the sacred faith of Islam, and while the constitution of the Islamic Republic does not specifically discriminate based on access to educati }} on, thousands of Bahai youth are barred from higher education. Even though the Attorney General, Dari Najafabadi, had issued a memorandum according to which, although all the establishments of the Bahai community should stop their operation, everyone should still enjoy their full citizen rights. This memorandum was published through the Islamic Republic’s news networks, but has never been implented. We urge you to take an action to cancel the sentence imposed on this couple, or at least cancel the it for one of them so he or she could supervise the child.
The ceremony of Women's Day in women ward of Evin prison ended with all the participants singing the anthems Yar-e Dabestani and Eye Iran .

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