London, 10 Feb – A female political prisoner, Narges Mohammadi, has bravely described the horrors of being a mother in Iran’s notorious Evin prison in the country’s capital. She spoke about the one special hour a week in which the prisoners who are mothers can meet with their children.
She described the heartache of Nazanin Zaghari who came to Iran from the UK to see her sick mother. On her way back home she was arrested and separated from her 22-month-old daughter. She has since been sentenced to five years in prison. In a letter to her daughter, Zaghari wrote: “Believe me, I had no idea such a horrifying and painful fate was awaiting you in the country where your mother was born and raised, otherwise, I would’ve never rushed a single moment to pack for a two-week trip to Tehran in March 2016.”
Zahra Zehtabchi, 49, is another mother in prison. She is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence. Mohammadi describes her as a calm and patient woman who gets to see her daughter Mina on a Wednesday after school.
Forty-eight-year-old Fatemeh Mosana is serving a 15-year sentence. Her husband is serving time in Rajaee-Shahr Prison in Karaj. Their children, Maryam and Iman, see one parent every alternate week. Mohammadi mentions her intense feelings of loneliness.
Maryam Akbari Monfared, 40, has also been sentenced to 15 years in prison. She went to jail when her daughter was only three-and-a-half years old. Mohammadi said that the small child does not really have a maternal relationship with her mother due to her imprisonment. Her two older daughters have taken over the maternal role.
Azita Rafeizadeh is a 34-year-old mother who is serving 4 years in prison. Mohammadi said that Rafeizadeh loves to talk about her six-year-old son Bashir who visits her. She said: “As soon as she enters the ward, Azita begins talking about Bahsir, her 6-year-old son whose childish behavior and way of talking is so sweet for everyone. Bahsir goes to Rajayee-Shahr Prison to visit his imprisoned dad, and comes to Evin Prison to meet with her jailed mom. His little body can’t sustain long distances, short visits and heavy regrets and deprivations afterwards. But for Azita, meeting him is heartwarming.”
Thirty-nine-year-old Turkmenistan national, Nigara Afsharzadeh, has been kept in solitary confinement for 18 months. Her eight-year-old son Eldar and ten-year-old daughter Mirana have not seen her for over two years.
Mohammadi then mentions Leila Jamaat, 36, a young mother who occasionally gets to see her children. Her eight-year-old son and her six-year-old daughter, Arad and Armita, visit for half a day – but not very frequently. Jamaat is serving a two-year prison sentence.
Mohammadi then writes about herself. She is 44-years-old and has twins Kiana and Ali. She is serving two sentences – one is for 6 years and the other is for 16 years. She does not get to see her children because they live in Paris with their father. Although she deeply misses her children, she is happy that they are safe and she is happy for her fellow inmates who can see their own.