Atieh Taheri, wife of Azerbaijani journalist and civil activist Saeed Matinpour, spoke with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran in an interview about her husband’s health condition and situation in Evin Prison. Matinpour, 36, studied philosophy at Tehran University and wrote for Zanjan Weekly. He was active in human rights and ethnic minority rights causes and was arrested on 25 May 2007 for participating in a seminar in defense of Turkish-speaking citizens in Turkey. He was sentenced to eight years in prison by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, presided by Judge Salavati, on charges of “contact with foreigners,” and “propagating against the regime.” Describing Matinpour’s situation, Taheri said:
Fortunately, Saeed has always had very high morale. But he has physical problems. He has spinal problems which cannot be treated in the limited facilities of the prison infirmary. He has also had several heart attacks. Before going to prison, he did not have a heart condition at all. The last time he had a heart attack, prison authorities told us to make a doctor’s appointment so that they would bring him to his appointment, but because they wanted to transfer him in foot cuffs, Saeed refused to be taken and has not had a cardiac examination yet.
I don’t know why they treated Saeed like this. During his interrogations, they made inappropriate requests of him, which he didn’t oblige. He was asked to say that he had received money from the US. He was under pressure so many times, but he didn’t succumb. He said, “Why should I write or admit to this when I have not done it?” I consider Saeed’s sentence a result of his interrogator’s wrath on him. This sentence can have no other explanation other than a personal vendetta. It isn’t logical at all that in a case with 11 suspects, he would be the only one sentenced to eight years while all the others were acquitted.
Taheri described the activities her husband was involved in, saying:
Saeed’s activities were in the area of human rights and ethnic rights, especially Turks, because we are Turks ourselves. He went to a seminar with 10 other people in 2007. Some time after their return, all 11 of them were arrested; but eventually, 10 people were either acquitted of their charges or sentenced to a suspended prison term of one or two years. We were very surprised as to why Saeed’s sentence was so different from the others’.
One of Saeed’s most serious requests was that [Iranian] Turkish children be taught in their mother tongue in school, and for them to speak and write in their language. His sentence was issued because of this request.
When asked about requests she has for human rights activists, she said:
I believe all Iranian political prisoners have been arrested without any crimes and I hope they are all released soon. I have no requests. I am encouraged when I see human rights activists pursuing his case. I’m happy when I see that people are paying attention to those activists who have fought for basic human rights.