Thursday, October 8, 2009

'Did these children have to be killed?': Mother of dead protester Sohrab Aarabi speaks out

Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, former Majlis speaker and current head of the legislature's cultural committee, said last week that three deaths at Kahrizak 'should not become the main issue.' The Iranian regime has officially recognized only three deaths at the notoriously barbaric detention center.

The comment provoked widespread outrage and prompted Parvin Fahimi, the mother of dead protester Sohrab Aarabi, to write a sharp letter to Haddad Adel, considered particularly close to the regime because his daughter is married to Leader Ali Khamenei's son, Mojtaba. Fahimi also spoke to the Voice of America and Radio Farda this week, providing new details surrounding Sohrab's death.

In her letter, Fahimi wrote that Haddad Adel's comments were were like 'salt poured on the wounds of those who have lost loved ones in the crackdown after the election.'

'Would you make the same judgment if your child, like Mr. Rouholamini's child and our children, had been tortured or killed in the streets,' she asked Haddad Adel, referring to Mohsen Rouholamini, 25, who was beaten to death in Kahrizak.

Sohrab Aarabi disappeared during massive demonstrations in Tehran on June 15, but it is unclear when, where, or how he was killed. The authorities informed Fahimi of her son's death on July 11. Fahimi had been shuffled from prison to morgue to judiciary office to hospital for 26 days as she sought her child in vain.

The following video documents Sohrab's story:

Fahimi spoke to Voice of America's Farideh Rahbar two days ago. A translation follows the video:

One of those killed in the post-election unrest is Sohrab Aarabi, 19. His mother told Farideh Rahbar that she wants her son's killer identified and is still waiting for her son's personal belongings.

Parvin Fahimi:
A week after Sohrab was buried, I hired a lawyer and filed a complaint. The only thing they've said is that he was fired upon from a range of 3 to 15 meters by a Kalashnikov. The coroner has no record of who brought him to the morgue and left my child's naked body there. They still haven't given us any answers about who killed him or where he was killed. 

Farideh Rahbar: 
You mentioned some things to Mr. Haddad Adel. What do you expect from the authorities? 

Parvin Fahimi: 
It is important for me that the murderer is identified and brought to trial before just judges. They have to tell us who carried out these acts and to what end. Where was my child killed? I wrote a letter to Mr. Haddad Adel because he had said that three people had died in Kahrizak and that this was not an important issue, the main issue. But as a mother, I have the right, as a citizen in this country it is my right to know what happened, what horror befell my child. If he was killed... he had his mobile on him... why was I not informed? They kept me hanging for 25 days. I kept going to the Revolutionary Court and Evin Prison. After several months, we still know nothing. I've sent letters to the Majlis, the judiciary... They must answer me. Instead, they put salt on our wounds. Haven't we suffered enough? As a mother, the head of the household, I expect them to respond. Why aren't they returning my child's personal belongings? His mobile phone? If anyone loses his mobile or has it stolen, they follow up and find it in a month. But from the day he disappeared, my child's mobile has still not been found. They haven't returned his personal belongings... His ring, his chain, his glasses, his clothes... These things are dear to me. They may not be worth anything to them, but for me they have sentimental value.

In an interview broadcast by Radio Farda yesterday, Fahimi said that she had written to Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani, judiciary chief Sadegh Larijani, former judiciary chief Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, the Majlis's National Security Committee, and the Majlis's Article 90 Committee. She has yet to receive a response. The Article 90 Committee investigates grievances against the three branches of government.

Fahimi gave Radio Farda additional details about Sohrab's injuries. 'His arms were lowered. They shot him in such a way that the bullet broke his left arm, passed under his heart, and punctured his lung. But it is unclear whether they took him to a hospital or not,' she said.

'How could they bring themselves to kill these children because of a civil protest over their vote,' she wondered. 'Did these children have to be killed?'

Asked whether she now thought that her son had died in vain, she responded, 'No. He went out for his beliefs and these children will always live on. [...] I am certain that his struggle will continue through other young people and we can see that it is still continuing.'

Listen to a portion of the Radio Farda interview

Letter leaked: Tehran governorship forbids city council members from visiting families of post-election victims

The deputy governor of Tehran province has demanded that Tehran city council members cease their compassionate visits to the families of post-election victims.

The 'request' was conveyed to Tehran city council president Mehdi Chamran in a letter that came to light two days ago, but was dated September 15 and was registered by the council's secretariat on September 26. The missive was signed by Safarali Baratlou, Tehran province's social and political deputy governor who is also in charge of security and police affairs. Baratlou was placed in charge of organizing the presidential election in Tehran province by Governor Morteza Tamaddon in March.

In the letter, Baratlou states, 'Given the recent actions of some members of the city council who have visited families who have suffered in the post-election events, and given the necessity of maintaining national concord and avoiding tension in the society, I request that you order the honorable council members to shun uncoordinated actions (which may contribute to tension and...). It is evident that the continuation of the visits will be considered a provocation which will have to be dealt with.'

City council president Chamran belongs to the conservative Principlist faction, but he shifted his allegience from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Tehran Mayor and Ahmadinejad rival Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf in 2006. Baratlou, like other provincial officials, is appointed by the Interior Ministry.