Daughter of Iranian-Dutch Prisoner on Death Row Pleads For Help
In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, daughter of imprisoned Iranian-Dutch citizen, Zahra Bahrami who is facing the death sentence on charges of drug trafficking, expressed that the charges waged against her mother are not true, and that her mother has made confessions against herself under duress. Bahrami’s daughter told the Campaign that the Iranian government hopes to further a political agenda with the Dutch government through the death sentence. She said that Zahra Bahrami’s charges are political. Bahrami’s daughter added that she has been threatened with arrest several times.
The spokesperson for the Iranian Judiciary recently said about Zahra Bahrami’s case: “Her case is related to drug trafficking and under investigation.” He accused the western countries of using the excuse of human rights to defend Zahra Bahrami. Immediately after the Iranian election, a prominent human rights lawyer was also accused of possessing drugs in his office, discovered at the time of his arrest. Faced with resistance from the lawyer, the issue of the drugs was never mentioned and no explanations were offered.
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran asks the Iranian Judiciary to end threats against Zahra Bahrami’s daughter, and to let her lawyer free access to her case and to be allowed to meet with his client. The Iranian Judiciary authorities should also provide for conditions in which Zahra Bahrami is allowed to defend herself naturally. Considering the Iranian security organizations have, in many cases, framed political prisoners by planting drugs on them and adding such charges to their cases, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran asks the Iranian Judiciary to defend the rights of the citizens in the face of recklessly trumped up charges by security forces and their influence on cases of political prisoners, and to ensure that human and citizen rights of individuals are not sacrificed in favor of political considerations.
“The Prosecutor, Mr. Jafari Dolatabadi, made a lot of promises to us, saying: ‘don’t interview, we will definitely help you,’ but we not only didn’t get any answers, in the end they gave my mother such a heavy sentence. I know that even if we go to the Prosecutor’s Office again, we would not get any answers…Now we wait for actions of the Dutch government and human rights organizations to see what happens,” Banafsheh Nayebpour, Zahra Bahrami’s daughter, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
“My mother always says that the confessions extracted from her and her participation in a television interview were all done under duress, and that she was forced to do it, as they had promised to help her. Unfortunately, she was not helped at all,” Zahra Bahrami’s daughter answered about whether her mother has told her about prison torture.
Asked whether her mother transported drugs during her visits to Iran, her daughter said: “As her daughter, I do not accept any of these accusations. My mother said in court that because she was under pressure during the interrogations, she was made to say those things. My mother is not interested in such things at all. She doesn’t even smoke cigarettes, let alone possessing drugs. How could someone who participates in [post-] election gatherings and endangers her life, engage in such actions against her country?”
“There are a lot of contradictions in my mother’s case. None of her charges have anything to do with each other. First she was arrested on a political charge; therefore they should have reviewed her political charge first, but they completely forgot this charge. I say everywhere that their aim was to divert the public opinion and the attention of human rights activists and organizations . We do not accept these charges at all, therefore we have no opinions about them, either. My mother is a lonely woman and has no one in this world,” said Banafsheh Nayebpour.
“My mother is a citizen of the Netherlands. They probably leveled this accusation against her in order to cut the Dutch government’s reach [into the case]. They have previously waged such unfounded charges against others, too. A while ago, they claimed that they had found drugs in the office of a prominent lawyer, but because he was a distinguished man, they could not play on this story too much. But my mother is a lonely woman without anyone, so they think they can do this to her. They know she has no one to help her,” said Bahrami’s daughter, stating that the authorities want to divert the public attention from the election.
“When I saw her last Tuesday, she was not good at all. I mean I have never seen her this depressed. We were all shocked with the sentence. I have a 22-year-old brother in the Netherlands who has no one other than my mother. All our lives are ruined. They issued this sentence with utmost cruelty. No doubt my mother is extremely upset with this unjust ruling,” said Banafsheh Nayebpour about her mother’s mental state during their last visit.
“I was threatened myself several times, and they wanted to detain me, but I didn’t pay any attention. Even so, none of us could do anything to help her and in the end such a ruling was issued,” added Zahra Bahrami’s daughter.
“My mother accepts that she participated in the gatherings, and that she contacted foreign radio and television stations, but that’s all there was. She was identified during the Ashura Day (27 December 2009) protests, and she was arrested several days later on the street. We accept these charges, but we do not accept the drug trafficking charges they have added to her case and keep insisting on at all. Also, we do not accept the charge of her being in contact with the Kingdom Assembly of Iran, under any circumstances. The organization itself has issued a statement, saying that this woman, meaning my mother, was not affiliated with this organization. My mother only participated in protest gatherings, and sometimes contacted foreign radio and television [stations], and reported about the situation with the gatherings. That’s it. That’s all there was,” she said.
Regarding her mother’s confession about having provided financial assistance to the Kingdom Assembly of Iran several years ago, she said: “How is it possible to join this organization so easily, especially for someone like my mother?! Maybe she contacted her TV program and provided her opinion, but there has been no other kind of contact.”
“My mother used to travel to Iran frequently, because I live in Iran and she missed me. Additionally, my uncle passed away a while back and my mother helped his children financially and checked up on them. After the election, she made several trips to visit with me and to participate in the gatherings. That’s all,” she said regading her mother’s frequent visits to Iran.
Asked about her requests of the authorities and human rights organizations, the death-row prisoner’s daughter said: “I don’t even know what to say to the authorities, as whatever we suffer right now, is a result of those same authorities’ doings. I cannot have any requests of them, as I have already made my requests of both the Prosecutor and Judge Salavatgi. I have talked to them and asked them to help us, which they didn’t. But I would like to ask the human rights organizations to do whatever they can to help. I don’t know what else to do.”
Zahra Bahrami, 45, a music school graduate, has been a London resident during the recent years. She was arrested after the election and during the Ashura protests on 27 December 2009. Later she was charged with the discovery of 400 grams of opium and 400 grams of cocaine in her home, and she was sentenced to death at Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Courts with Judge Salavati presiding. According to the law, possessing more than 20 kilograms of opium and more than 100 grams of cocaine would lead to the death penalty.