Following the arrest of 12 women’s rights activists, and the continued detention of two of those arrested while on their way to pay a traditional new year’s visit to the family of the late Dr. Zahra Baniyaghoub—a medical doctor who died in custody-- the Mothers for Peace have issued an open letter addressed to the Head of the Judiciary, Ayatollah Shahroudi. The translation of the letter appears below:
The Honorable Head of the Judiciary of the Islamic Republic of Iran
We are sure that you are aware that in the first few days following the Iranian New Year, some members of Mothers for Peace along with some civil society activists set out to pay a New Year’s visit to the family of the late Dr. Zahra Baniyaghoub, who after two years continue to mourn the death of their daughter. These activists were arrested by security police and transferred to prison. They were also charged with groundless accusations of disrupting public opinion.
Your Honor, Mr. Shahroudi, you know well that visiting families of those who are facing problems and whose family members are in prison has been a long standing and respected social and religious tradition even recommended by religious figures. The Mothers for Peace too, with motherly and charitable intentions in line with humanitarian concerns and commitments and their ethical duties set out to visit these families when they too were taken into custody.
Mr. Shahroudi, is it appropriate to treat mothers who set out to visit and console those who at the time of the New Year festivities are mourning the loss of their loved one, in such an insulting and violent manner?
We ask you where in the civil or penal codes of the country is it written that visiting the family members of prisoners with the intent to console them, constitutes a crime or constitutes the disruption of public opinion? Is there detention and imprisonment specified as punishment for such an act? When the country is on the verge of the tenth presidential elections, our nation is more than ever in need of peace and contemplation. These actions and rouge detentions, only lead to negative impressions of our country among foreign observers, feeding negative stereotypes promoted by the foreign press, which ultimately undermine our national security and the concept of independence in our country.
The indifference and silence of the Judiaciary and ethical judges to such illegal actions is tantamount to the approval of violence and the promotion of lawlessness in our society, and it contradicts the policy of reducing detentions and promoting lawfulness, which the Judiciary has in recent years promoted and stressed.
While condemning these arrests and the unlawful detentions of civil society activists and those involved in Mothers for Peace, we call upon the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Khadijeh Moghaddam and Mahboubeh Karami and drop all charges against all those arrested in this recent wave of arrests. Under current circumstance the great nation of Iran needs solidarity for addressing the economic and social crisis it is facing, so that greater participation in creating a free, safe and happy destiny can be attained.
We believe security, freedom and national prosperity can only be achieved under the security of peace, compromise, and mutual respect and trust between the people and government officials.
Mothers for Peace