In a short note published on Kaleme website, Zahra Rahnavard, Mir Hossein Mousavi’s wife, writer and university professor, expressed grave concern against unjust sentences that send political prisoners to exile. Zia Nabavi, a student deprived from completing his university degree, was for example sent to exile at Karoon prison in city of Ahvaz (South of Iran).
The full the content of Zahra Rahnavard’s note is as follows:
The families of political prisoners have demanded nothing more than the unconditional release of their loved ones; birthdays, mournings ceremonies, national and religious celebrations such as Mehregan and the start of the new academic year are all opportunities for prayer and worshiping God; praying “O Almighty God have all those in chains freed.”
All the families of political prisoners have ever looked forward to, and asked for, is that their loved ones be released from jail unconditionally. However, unfortunately they have only found themselves facing new challenges imposed by the ruling powers, the latest of which is punishment through exile to far away prisons. As a result of this newly imposed punishment, proud and resilient prisoners such as Shiva Nazar Ahari, Zia Nabavi, Ahmad Karimi, Hamed Rouhinejad, Majid Dori and others have either been sent to exile to far away prisons or have received lengthy sentences and are painfully enduring this bitter predicament together with their families.
Zia Nabavi, a student activist has said on many occasions that he has no affiliation whatsoever with any group outside of Iran. He has insisted that his only crime has been to fight for his right to an education; a right that was stripped from him and his friends by the 9th government. Zia’s cell mates have written and spoken extensively of his moral values, and in particular his resilience and mind boggling patience. They say that Zia never holds any grudges, not even against the judge who sentenced him to 15 years exile in a far away prison. This fact is clearly evident in the recent letter Zia wrote to the judge in charge of his case file. Someone like Zia does not belong in jail; he does not deserve to be sent to exile in a far away prison.
Exile to a far away prison not only punishes the prisoners, but also punishes their families, forced to suffer and tolerate the long distances between them and their loved ones. Aging mothers, women with children and even families under extreme financial strain are forced to travel long distances only to visit their loved ones for a few minutes at a time; a predicament that is not only difficult but also intolerable. Take for example Zia Nabavi’s suffering father, who wrote a letter to the head of the judiciary stating “I come from a family of simple peasants, rural workers with little to no financial resources. I have worked hard my entire life to earn an honorable, yet simple living for my family. Today at the age of 55 I can hardly work and after God, I turn to my son for hope. Not only is our son no longer amongst us, but we don’t even have the financial resources to visit him in a far away location such as Ahvaz.”
The judicial authorities should be aware that God is monitoring their actions and as a result they should finally put an end to their unjust actions. Not only should prisoners not be exiled to far away prisons, but the authorities should make sure that they are freed unconditionally. If they do so, I am sure that they will please Mahdi, the hidden Imam.
with special thanks to Banooye Sabz for English translation