Esha Momeni Still Banned from Leaving Iran

CSUN Students Hold Vigil for Return of Esha Momeni to the States

Tuesday 25 November 2008

Site of Campaign in California:: Despite the fact that Mr. Jamshidi the Judiciary Spokesman announced in a press conference on November 20, 2008 that there was no ban on the travel of Esha Momeni, and that she was free to leave Iran, this woman’s rights activist and member of the One Million Signatures Campaign in California is being denied permission to travel. According to close friends of Esha, the statement by Jamshidi is not true, as Esha’s passport has yet to be returned to her and she is not being allowed to leave the country. Her friends and classmates at University of California are anxiously awaiting her return to California. Esha Momeni was arrested on October 15, 2008 while visiting her family in Iran and conducting research for her Masters thesis on the women’s movement. She was released on bail on November 10.

Fellow Member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, Roja Bandari, spoke at the CSUN Vigil organized for Esha on November 12

Esha is a part of two communities; her community here at CSUN and her community in Iran where she grew up. Esha’s work was going to bring these two communities just a tiny bit closer by correcting some stereotypes. Her thesis was going to bring a real image of Iranian women who are not weak and passive victims, but strong, intelligent and resilient; and an image of young Iranian men who are not chauvinistic bullies but friends and advocates for equality. We all know that Esha has not broken any law, she wasn’t part of a grand scheme, nor was she doing anything to threaten any government. She has not done anything wrong and that’s why we stood up for her.

Maybe through this terrible experience, we can still learn to come closer and make that human connection. Maybe struggling together for Esha’s freedom can teach us a little about those who were in her film. The people she interviewed did not remain merely the subject of her thesis. They became her advocates after she was arrested. Just like we stood up for Esha here, they stood up for her in Iran. So maybe all is not lost if we try to learn about the people she interviewed for her project.

The morning she was arrested, Esha was on her way to interview Delaram. Delaram is a 25-year old social worker who has worked tirelessly for the rights of children and women. Parvin, the person Esha called when she was pulled over, won Sweden’s prestigious Olof Palme prize last year for her work in women’s rights. But she was not allowed to leave the country to receive her award. Another woman Esha interviewed is Ms. Moghaddam, who gathered other mothers in the women’s movement after Esha’s arrest and visited her family to offer support. Ms. Moghaddam, Parvin, and Delaram have all spent time in jail and have charges similar to Esha’s. Just like Alice Paul and other women were jailed in the US 90 years ago for demanding votes for women, advocates of equality are under pressure in Iran. Learning about their struggle and standing in solidarity with them can make a difference.


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