By Niloufar Rostami
June 1, 2019
The mother of Atena Daemi, the jailed civil society activist who is serving a five-year prison sentence, says there are new charges against her daughter, stemming from letters and statements she has made while in prison.
Masoumeh Nemati told IranWire that her daughter had been transferred from the women’s ward at Evin Prison to appear at the 26th branch of the Revolutionary Court on May 30.
Daemi faced fresh charges of “insulting the Supreme Leader” and “propaganda against the regime” in connection with her recent correspondence and activities. When she was originally arrested, she faced the same charges for previous activities, as well as charges of “conspiracy against national security, “insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic,” and “hiding criminal evidence.”
According to Nemati, her daughter had not been allowed to meet with her lawyer, who was also banned from court proceedings.
“Unfortunately, her lawyer has not yet received authorization to read the case or even meet with her. He did not even know about the new charges before they were publicly declared,” she told IranWire. “According to what Atena told me, she was also harassed when entering the court because of her hijab.” The last observation suggests court officials or employees regarded Daemi’s headscarf to be not in keeping with the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women.
Nemati also said fresh charges had been brought against civil rights activist Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee. In 2016, Iraee was sentenced to six years in prison on charges of “insulting Islamic sanctities” and “propaganda against the regime.”
Daemi’s mother added that judicial authorities told Daemi and Iraee that Evin Prison’s prosecutor had found them guilty of the new charges “according to the evidence and testimonies of witnesses.” In Daemi’s case, the letters and statements she sent to the outside world from prison were regarded as evidence.
“They told her the letters she wrote inside prison are examples of propaganda against the regime,” Nemati said. Another piece of evidence was the fact that on one occasion the two jailed activists had sung a song with other prison mates, and that this has been the reason for the charge of insulting the Supreme Leader. Nemati added that the prosecutor working on their cases had changed more than once, and that the details and outcomes of both women’s cases were not clear. “One of the prosecutors, in the beginning, said he would stop the prosecution because of the way the evidence was gathered, which was not according to the law,” Nemati said. “But unfortunately, he was relocated, and the new prosecutor is not a fan of Atena’s work at all.” Nemati said she was desperately worried about her daughter and did not know what to do.
The Original Case Against Atena Daemi
Revolutionary Guards Intelligence agents arrested Daemi on October 21, 2014. On March 14, 2015, she was charged with “insulting the Supreme Leader,” “propaganda against the regime,” as well as with charges of “conspiracy against national security, “insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic” and “hiding criminal evidence.” Judge Mohammad Moghiseh sentenced her to 14 years in prison. Following an appeal, her sentence was reduced to five years.
After 14 months of detainment, Daemi was released on bail, but then arrested again on November 26, 2016 at her father’s home and told she had to serve the remainder of her sentence. Since then she has faced a total of five new charges. In one case, authorities regarded her two sisters and a brother-in-law as her accomplices. After a string of court hearings, she was eventually exonerated from the charges in three cases, but the prosecution against her continues in the other two cases.
According to Nemati, her daughter has also been charged with “disobeying prison guards” and “breach of prison peace,” but the prosecuting court for these charges had not yet been determined. She expressed concern about Daemi’s health, and says she has not been allowed access to the medical attention she requires.
“My girl is only 30 years old but has high blood pressure. Recently, a doctor in the prison detected a tumor in her breast and wanted to send her to a hospital for more tests. We managed to book her an appointment, but the prison authorities did not agree with our choice and said they only work with certain hospitals. We finally took her to Imam Khomeini Hospital and she went through some tests there. The doctor confirmed the tumor in her breast and said she needs to go back every six months in order for them to shrink the tumor and prevent its progress. But it’s been more than six months since then and she has not been visited by a doctor. I’m extremely worried because we have a history of cancer in our family. My daughter needs to be checked regularly to treat this tumor.”
According to Nemati the drinking water in the prison is polluted and many of the prisoners, including Atena Daemi, have suffered from stomach aches and other health complaints.
“Unfortunately, they won’t agree with her requests for a short prison leave. It’s my dream to see her out on leave and for us to be able to take care of her medical needs ourselves. Unfortunately, when they do the tests while she is in prison, they don’t provide us with the results and only tell us general information. I constantly feel like I’m stuck in limbo.”
Since March 2019, prison authorities have also denied Atena Daemi from seeing her family on a weekly basis, and have given no reason for this decision. According to her mother, she has only been able to meet her daughter once since then. “On May 6, 2019, her father and I met her in the hallway of the court. I’m frustrated and sick. I’m worried about both the new charges against her and for her health. I have no idea what will happen to her and when she’ll be released. I’m exhausted and can’t carry on anymore.”