Violent Search of Nafiseh Azad’s Home and Seizure of Property
Tuesday 3 February 2009
Change for Equality: February 3, 2009: Security Officials from the Special Security Branch of the Office of the Prosecutor of the Revolutionary Courts stormed the home of imprisoned Campaign member and women’s rights activist, Nafiseh Azad and seized her personal property as well as the property of her housemates. During this search and seizure operation officials violently beat Elnaz Ansari, another member of the Campaign and Nafiseh’s housemate and beat and handcuffed Vahid Maleki (Nafiseh’s husband).
Nafiseh is a graduate student and lives with Elnaz Ansari and Aida Saadat, her two housemates in Tehran. Her husband has come to Tehran from Isfahan to follow the case of his wife, who was imprisoned on Friday January 30, 2009, while collecting signatures in support of the Campaign’s petition. During this violent search and seizure operation, three officials from the Revolutionary Courts confiscated Nafiseh Azad’s personal property as well as the lap top of Elnaz Ansari and documents belonging to Aida Saadat.
Elnaz Ansari’s objections to the security officials with respect to the search of her property and seizure of her laptop computer resulted in violence. Security officials forcefully took these items from Elnaz. Mr. Maleki, who attempted to prevent the beating of Elnaz Ansari by the security officials, was beaten as well and then handcuffed for the remainder of the time, while security agents continued with their violent search and seizure of Azad’s home.
It is important to note that the court order allowing for the search of the premises and the seizure of property explicitly stated that only property belonging to Nafiseh Azad and in relation to the Campaign should be searched and seized. The property that was seized in direct violation of this court order included a large quantity of films, books, personal notebooks, and work related papers of Nafiseh’s housemates, as well as Elnaz Ansari’s laptop computer.
Elan Ansari explains the events as follows: "When the officials came to our house, I explained that Aida and I were housemates with Nafiseh. Because the court order allowed them to only search Nafiseh’s property, Vahid, Nafiseh’s husband, took the officials to Nafiseh’s room and identified her property. While the search was taking place I got a phone call on my mobile phone, which I answered. One of the security officers demanded that I hang up the phone, and when I refused, he threatened me, lurched towards me and attacked me. Vahid Maleki intervened to try to prevent the security official from beating me. As a result he too was beaten and then handcuffed."
Elnaz continued by explaining that: "the security officials then confiscated my mobile phone by force and violence and then my laptop while beating me. Despite my insistence that the laptop belonged to me and despite the fact that I showed them that the documents in the laptop were in fact in my name, they still confiscated my laptop. I kept insisting that neither my name nor Aida’s name had been mentioned in the court order. So, I kept asking for a court order for the search of my belonging and the seizure of my property. Nafiseh’s husband had also gone to great lengths on the way over to our home to explain our living situation. In response the security officials had promised him that they would only search Nafiseh’s belongings and that they would not seize any property. While confiscating my property as well as Aida’s the security officials continued beating Nafiseh Azad’s husband, despite the fact that he had been handcuffed."
She explains further: "the security officials ransacked our home, all the while cursing, and insulting us. They took DVDs, CDs, handwritten documents which I was typing as part of a project unrelated to the Campaign, and they took bags belonging to Nafiseh, Aida and myself. All this occurred despite the fact that the court order explicitly stated that they should only take documents related to Campaign and belonging to Nafiseh Azad."
Nafiseh Azad was arrested while collecting signatures in support of the Campaign’s petition along with two other members of the Campaign, on January 30, 2009. While the other two members were released within a day on a third party guarantee, the arrest order for Nafiseh Azad was extended. She is now in detention in Vozara Detention Center and being interrogated, as the investigation into her activities in the Campaign and in defense of women’s rights continues.