In a strongly-worded letter to Tehran’s Chief Prosecutor, retired university professor Mohammad Maleki has expressed his outrage over the arrest of ailing human rights activist Narges Mohammadi.
On 21 April, Narges Mohammadi, deputy head of Iran’s Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC) was summoned to serve out a six-year prison sentence. She had initially been sentenced to eleven years in prison for acting against “national security,” her membership of a human rights organisation and “propaganda” against the Islamic Republic. That ruling was recently commuted to six years in prison.
DHRC is headed by Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi. On Wednesday, Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders “strongly” condemned Mohammadi’s arrest. Her husband, activist Taghi Rahmani, told the organisation he was very worried about her deteriorating health. Rahmani, also an activist, spent a total of fourteen years in Iranian prisons before finally deciding to flee the country earlier this year.
In his critical letter, Dr Mohammad Maleki, Tehran University’s first after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, cautioned Chief Prosecutor Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi and Iran’s ruling elite to “be afraid of the people’s rage.”
“It is clear how anyone with a speck of humanity would feel if he or she learned that [security forces] had entered the home of a sickly mother and had arrested her before the eyes of her elderly mother and two infants.”
“Indeed, Mr Prosecutor, how did it make you feel?” Maleki asked. “It must have felt like a victory!”
“Did you ever stop for a second to ask yourself ‘Is this a victory or is it in fact nothing more than sheer cowardice and terror?’ You claim to be carrying out your duty [while serving] a powerful state. Yet how is that that you are so fearful of an ailing mother … that you arrest her in Zanjan and immediately transfer her to [Tehran’s] Evin Prison?”
Narges Mohammadi’s mother Ozra Bazargan told opposition site Rooz that the security forces who arrested her failed to provide identification and carried no arrest warrants. “Narges’s father went to Zanjan’s Intelligence Bureau but was told that she had been transferred to Tehran,” Bazargan added.
“Indeed Mr Prosecutor, what have the Narges Mohammadis [of this country] done to deserve the barbaric behaviour of your agents?” Maleki adds. “You and your like-minded [associates] in the Judiciary, the Intelligence Ministry and other intelligence bodies have demonstrated that you are the enemies of freedom and tolerate no form of criticism or opposition from any party.”
“Until when do you think you, your masters and other tyrants will be able to continue with your criminal acts?” the letter went on to add.
Maleki, a former political prisoner himself, said the Judiciary was merely a tool at the hands of Iran’s hardliners. He called on Jafari-Dolatabadi to draw “lessons from the fate of others.”
“Mr Prosecutor, we know that you, your judges and the Judiciary are powerless, and receive orders from above and carry them out. But be warned that tomorrow, it is you who will be held accountable. Take a look at history and learn lessons from the fate of others.”
“Over the past 33 years, you’ve set our beloved Iran ablaze. Look around you; do you see anything other than corruption, theft, deceit, addiction and enmity? Rest assured that the Iranian people’s spring of freedom is near, and it will be too late for the oppressive rulers to be remorseful,” he continued.
Maleki himself has endured many years of imprisonment in the three decades after the 1979 Revolution. He spent five years in prison from July 1981 to August 1986. He was arrested again in March 2001 and spent more than six months in solitary confinement without trial.
Dr Mohammad Maleki was imprisoned again following the contested 2009 presidential election and was released on bail in March 2010 after six months of solitary confinement. While in prison, the 78-year-old was hospitalised several times owing to a heart attack and other health problems.
He currently faces a one-year jail term on the charge of “propaganda” against the system.
During his trial in July 2011, he declined to defend himself and said he would not appeal the court ruling because he considered the whole procedure to be illegal.