Campaign Activist, Mehrnoosh Etemadi Being Pressured in Prison

Monday 23 November 2009

Campaign Activist, Mehrnoosh Etemadi Being Pressured in Prison

Change for Equality: December 4, 2009, In a visit with her family that lasted only five minutes, Mehrnoosh Etemadi, women’s rights defender and activist in the Campaign informed her family that she is under great pressure in prison.

This Campaign activist in Isfahan was arrested on November 23, in her home. Her lawyer, Mina Jafari, who went to Isfahan from Tehran to meet with Etemadi, explained to the site of change for equality that she was prevented from visiting with her client.

According to Mina Jafari, the investigative judge in charge of Mehrnoosh Etemadi’s case did not allow for the posting of bail, despite the fact that a bail order for Etemadi’s release had been issued. The investigative judge explained that they need Mehrnoosh as the investigations by the Ministry of Intelligence has not ended. In response to objections raised by Etemadi’s lawyer, the investigative judge said that he would change the bail order to an arrest order.

Etemadi is charged with “membership in the One Million Signatures Campaign.” There is no further information about the situation of Mehrnoosh Etemadi or the case against her.

Earlier this week, members of the Student Alumni Organization (Branch in Isfahan) visited with the family of Mehrnoosh Etemadi, Campaign activist who was arrested on November 23.

In this visit, the members of the Student Alumni Organization, spoke to Etemadi’s family, about the manner in which Mehrnoosh was arrested and offered their moral support to the family.

Mehrnoosh Etemadi is one of the first members of the Campaign and has worked extensively to address the issue of violence against women. Prior to her arrest Mehrnoosh was summoned to the local office of the intelligence ministry by telephone on several occasions and threatened, but refused to go as the summons were not provided in writing.

During the past three years, since the start of the Campaign in August 2006, 50 members of the Campaign have been arrested and four others have been charged in relation to their activities in the Campaign without arrest. Over fifteen persons have been summoned and interrogated in this respect.

In total, four years and six months of suspended sentences have been issued for Campaign activists, however there are still other cases pending court trial. In total, Campaign activists have served 273 days in detention.

Most activists have been released on third party guarantees. The amount of third party guarantees committed to as a condition of release of activists pending trials, amounts to 461 Million Tomans (roughly $461,000), while bail orders to free activists until trial have amounted to 230 Million Tomans (roughly $230,000).

Mehrnoosh Etemadi is in prison, despite the fact that 6 Campaign activists have been acquitted of charges brought against them in relation to their activism in the Campaign.

Interview with Sadighe Shalbafian, Mother of Imprisoned Campaign Activist Mehrnoosh Etemadi

"We Remain in a State of Limbo and Uncertainty"

Change for Equality, November 29, 2009: The site of Change for Equality has conducted an interview with Sadighe Shalbafian regarding the situation of her daughter Mehrnoosh Etemadi. Etemadi who is an activist in the One Million Signatures Campaign was arrested on November 23, 2009 after security officials searched her home and seized property. While she has contacted her family by phone a few times, her status in prison and the charges against her remain unclear.

The interview with her mother, Sadighe Shalbafian follows:

Could you please briefly describe the status of the case against Mehrnoosh?

On Monday November 23, 2009, at 8:00 am, Security officials who identified themselves as affiliated with the local office Ministry of Intelligence in Isfahan came to our home. They had a court order to enter our house and a court order for the arrest of Mehrnoosh as well as one permitting them to search the premises and seize her personal property. Of course the security officials not only searched and seized Mehrnoosh’s personal property, they also searched my property and her brother’s as well. They took some of these belongings with them, including Mehrnoosh’s computer and some of her personal writings. Needless to say, Mehrnoosh objected to this. On the afternoon of that same day, Mehrnoosh contacted us and said that we should go to the courts the next day. On Tuesday, the day following her arrest, a court hearing was held in Branch 11 of the Revolutionary Courts. After the court hearing we were informed that a temporary arrest order for the period of 24 hours had been issued in the case of my daughter. Of course this was not officially relayed to us. Two days later, Mehrnoosh contacted us and informed us that a bail order in the amount of 50 Million Tomans (roughly $50,000) had been issued in her case. But when we went to the courts the next day to post bail, the investigative judge in branch 11 told us that while he had issued a bail order, he would not allow us to post bail, as their investigation had not yest come to a close. We went to the office of the Deputy Prosecutor, who told us that it was impossible to issue a bail order but not allow for the posting of bail. Officials at the prosecutor’s office told us that we must have misunderstood. So you see, we are still in this state of limbo and uncertainty.

How much contact have you had with Mehrnoosh since her arrest?

We have only spoken to her a few times. But it was obvious to us that those telephone conversations were monitored. The interrogator in charge of Mehrnoosh’s case informed us that we would be allowed to visit Mehrnoosh, and on one occasion he provided us with a letter stating such, but when we went to the prison, after several hours of waiting around, we were told that Mehrnoosh was not allowed visitors, as she was in interrogation. At the same time, they have told us that we can visit Mehrnoosh on the regular visiting days specified by the prison authorities and we are hopeful that we will be able to see her then. We don’t even know for certain what the charges against Mehrnoosh are. I asked the security officer who had come to our house to arrest my daughter what the charges against her were. “Her activities in the Campaign,” was his only response.

Do you have any requests from court officials?

I just ask that they follow the law. I ask that they rescue me from this state of limbo and uncertainty. I ask that they allow us to post the bail order that Mehrnoosh has also signed. And I ask that they clearly announce to us what the charges against her are. Because we don’t have any reliable information about the situation of Mehrnoosh, it is natural that we be worried about her. My other request is that they allow Mehrnoosh’s lawyer to take on this case, so that the follow-up in the case against my daughter is carried out through legal channels and is official.

Are you aware of Mehrnoosh’s activities? Do you think that the treatment of Mehrnoosh by the authorities is in line with her social activities and deserved?

Yes, I am aware of Mehrnoosh’s social activities. Not only do I believe that her activities are legal, but I also believe that they are to the benefit of society. For years now, Mehrnoosh has been working on women’s issues, has been conducting research in this area and also conducting trainings. Not only are her demands with respect to women’s rights not illegal her approach in addressing these issues is also completely legal. I know that she has never broken the law.

What do you plan to do next?

We will go to the courts again and try to follow legal channels in an effort to resolve this issue. This is what the prosecutor has also told us we should do. It is the only thing that we can do. If for some reason we are not successful and don’t get our questions answered we will approach more senior officials within the Judiciary.

— End—

Temporary Arrest Order Issued for Mehrnoosh Etemadi, Campaign Member in Isfahan

Change for Equality; November 24, 2009:

Mehrnoosh Etemadi, women’s rights defender and a member of the Campaign in Isfahan who was arrested yesterday morning, went to the 11th branch of the Revolutionary Court in Isfahan to be arraigned. At the court a temporary arrest order was issued in her case. Because security and court officials prevented her from speaking to her friends and colleagues who had gathered outside the courthouse, there is no information on the charges pending against her. According to officials at Isfahan’s Revolutionary Courts, Mehrnoosh Etemadi will be brought to court tomorrow morning.

Mehrnoosh Etemadi has worked on women’s issues for many years, with a particular focus on prevention of violence against women. She began her activities in the Campaign in the first few days after the Campaign commenced activities in 2006.

Mehrnoosh Etemadi was arrested on November 23, in her family home. Security officers also searched the premises and confiscated her personal items.

Merhrnoosh Etemadi Campaign Member in Isfahan Arrested

Change for Equality; November 23, 2009: Mehrnoosh Etemadi, a member of the Campaign in Isfahan, was arrested early this morning in her home. Security officials came to the family home of Mehrnoosh Etemadi in Isfahan, with a search warrant in hand issued by the prosecutor’s office in Isfahan. After searching the home of this women’s rights defenders, they proceeded to confiscate a number of books, training materials, and her computer. Prior to this, Etemadi had been summoned by telephone and threatened on a number of occasions, but had refused on the grounds that telephone summons were illegal. In stead, she had insisted on a written summons. A family member who had gone to the courts to follow her case explained to the site of Change for Equality that: “no response was provided by court officials, except to say that no case against Mehrnoosh had been submitted to the courts.”

Mehrnoosh Etemadi has worked on women’s issues for many years, with a particular focus on prevention of violence against women. She began her activities in the Campaign in the first few days after the Campaign commenced activities in 2006.

Since her arrest, Mehrnoosh contacted her family to inform them that she had been transferred to Dastgerd Prison in Isfahan.
Since the Campaign began its activities in August of 2006, 50 members of the Campaign have been arrested in relation to their activities in the peaceful and legal effort. Three others have been summoned to court and charged, while nearly 15 have been summoned and interrogated.


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