Pressure on Sotoudeh Continues: In-Person Visits With Children Prevented
Evin Prison authorities have once again prevented imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh from visiting her children in person in order to put pressure on her for forced confessions. In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Sotoudeh’s husband, Reza Khandan, spoke of their children’s disappointment. “After our booth visit, we waited for the children to be allowed to have an in-person visit with her. First children of two other families went in. We waited outside for about 20 minutes, but in the end they didn’t let my children to enter, and we returned home without their visiting with their mother. This is such a devastating blow to the children,” he said.
“This week, while we were having our booth visit and before we found out they were not going to allow the children to have an in-person visit, Nasrin was observing our young son’s acting up. She knew the reason for this, that Nima suffers in the atmosphere of booth visits. She said then: ‘if they don’t let me have in-person visits with my children, I will cut off all my booth visits, too, in order to protest,'” Reza Khandan told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
“Last week, when I realized they were not going to give in-person visitation to my children, I asked one of the authorities: ‘Do you put this kind of pressure on my children to [force] my wife to confess to things she didn’t do?’ But they said: ‘This has nothing to do with us. This has to do with the Prosecutor’s Office.’ Children of other families went to visit with their mothers without having letters from the Prosecutor and just on authorization from Prison Manager,” Sotoudeh’s husband told the Campaign.
“During the eleven months since my wife’s arrest, none of us have ever had regular in-person visits with her. First they announced that in order to have in-person visits we had to get a letter from the Prosecutor’s Office, but during this whole 11 months, we were only once able to get a letter from the Prosecutor’s Office and go to a formal in-person visit. We are unable to see the Prosecutor at all. The other in-person visits the children have had always took place under special security conditions and lasted for only 5 minutes, where they left and came back with a guard. I mean none of the visits have ever taken place under normal circumstances or inside the prison visitation hall,” added Reza Khandan.
“Evin Prison has an in-person visitation hall. This means that there should also be some type of regulation and procedure for using it; but my children never visit their mother there. We expect that our children should have healthy visits. Healthy visits mean that they should visit with her in a safe environment, without the presence of prison guards, or that they would not have to go through the main prison entrances in order to reach their mother. All these entrances are always full of guards and hand- and foot-cuffed prisoners. More than being beneficial, these visits are disadvantageous,” said Sotoudeh’s husband.
“We expect the Prisons Organization, the Prosecutor, or any organization in charge of prisoner visitations to implement an organized schedule for in-person visitations, especially for children who need to see their mothers at least once a week. If a letter from the Prosecutor’s Office is needed, this should take place routinely, not in such a way where we are only able to get a letter once in 11 months,” he continued.
“The children never talk during the booth visits. There is a little girl my son’s age who doesn’t even turn her face toward the booth when she comes to booth visits, let alone talk. My son always finds an excuse to cry during booth visits or he bothers others. This week everyone noticed him. In the middle of their visit, others had turned around to look at him. Booth visits hurt the children’s spirits,” added Khandan.