Translation by Iran Press Watch
“I will not give up my integrity”
In an interview with “BahaiNews”, Press Mr Farrokh Rostami, the husband of Mrs Farahnaz Misaghian2, a Baha’i prisoner in Yazd, offered some information about his wife. He spoke about her condition and the stress which she is undergoing. He spoke of mounted pressure from the Yazd Information Office to luring her into “cooperating”.
Below is his interview:
Mr Rostami, it is mentioned repeatedly that Yazd prison does not meet any acceptable sanitation standard. Please elaborate on that and the condition of Mrs. Misaghian.
There are a lot of problems with sanitation. The intolerable heat and lack of proper care by prison authorities makes life unbearable there. The family members of Baha’i prisoners decided to provide an air conditioner, but were faced with the resistance of authorities. Food also is of very inferior quality, and they don’t allow food to be provided from outside by relatives. The majority of female prisoners are facing the distress of stomach pain and cramps. They are under so much pressure that even simple foods are not allowed to be brought for purchase by prisoners from outside sources. In addition, the prison canteen has been closed down for some time, but after opening did not sell food to Baha’is [because of religious nonsense about Baha’is being “unclean”]. All prisoners are housed in the same section, regardless of the crimes committed, including addicts and serious offenders as well as political prisoners.
You indicated that the heat was intolerable ‒ what do you mean by that? Are the halls small or are there no cooling facilities there?
Correct. Yazd prisoner has the worst conditions from the point of view of heat. The halls are 3 by 5 meters[yards] in size, and more than 46 individuals are incarcerated in each. On one of my visits I came to know that the prisoners are sleeping on the floor, and due to lack of space their heads hit each other. This indicates how little space is provided for sleep. It could easily be imagined how miserable their life is, as so many prisoners live in a small space without suitable cooling facilities.
In these circumstances, how is Mrs Misaghian’s physical condition?
Previously she had some problems, but recently her problems have been becoming worse. Currently she is on medication for nervousness. She is suffering from migraine; due to the lack of adequate nourishment from prison food, stomach pain is also added to all of her difficulties. Getting medication to her is a repeating story of pain and frustration. As mentioned before, for two months she has been sleeping on the floor. This has caused her severe pain in her shoulder and arm; it has also led to a lot of weight loss.
Have you asked for a furlough for her?
We went to request a furlough, but were turned away. They won’t even grant sick leave. She has to finish half of her prison sentence in order to be entitled to a furlough; even then we don’t have any right to requests for pardon or for her release. No one even responds to our letters.
Who told you that?
I was told when I went to see her interrogator.
How was their behaviour? Please explain further.
Usually their response is not positive, and we have to try number of times to get any response. Unfortunately they don’t allow anyone to visit Baha’i prisoners except immediate family members.
Mr Rostami, considering all your encounters during her custody and imprisonment, has there been any difficulty or problem created for her by the Office of Information?
Yesterday my wife, hand cuffed and in shackles, I presume, was transferred from the prison to the Information Office (for further interrogation and requests for cooperation). She was told that during her previous interrogation she did not cooperate, but now if she does, they would offer her a furlough or even sign her release documents. Regardless of her illness she replied that “whatever I have done in my life, I have not given up my integrity”. After this conversation, they transferred her back to prison, and she was told that if she makes even a little mistake she will never leave the prison. Despite all this intimidation from the Ministry of Information we are standing steadfast; as with all the citizens of this country we will defend our rights and voice our concerns.
1. “BahaiNews” is an independent non-Bahá’í initiative and is not affiliated with any Baha’i institutions.
2. Mrs Farahnaz Misaghian is a Baha’i of Yazd who was previously sentenced for a year She began her imprisonment on the 20th of April 2015 in Yazd. Mrs Misaghian, along with another twenty Baha’is, was arrested in August 2011 and sentenced to a total of 58 years of imprisonment. In the early days of the Islamic Revolution, Mrs Misaghian’s mother also suffered imprisonment.