Babol Political Prisoners Told to Request Pardon for Release
Political prisoners inside Babol’s Mati Kola Prison have been asked to write letters asking for pardon, the daughter of Ali Akbar Soroush, an imprisoned member of the reformist Participation Front’s Central Council, said in an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
“We heard from [my father] and other political prisoners inside Mati Kola that about three weeks ago, they were told to write a text, requesting their pardon,” Motahareh Soroush said. “But all these prisoners responded, ‘Even if we remain here for ten years, we would never write anything asking for a pardon, a reduced term, or release. If they want to release us, they should do it because they have realized their misdeeds.’”
Ali Akbar Soroush, a member of the Central Council of Mazandaran Participation Front, was formerly head of the Education and Development Office of Babol during President Khatami’s term (1997-2005), as well as a faculty member at Babol’s Science and Technology University. He was arrested on 13 March 2010 and was released after spending 47 days in a solitary cell. Branch One of Babol Revolutionary Court under Judge Bagherian sentenced him to 15 months in prison on charges of “assembly and collusion against the state.” He was arrested again on 26 December 2011 to begin serving his prison term.
Motahareh Soroush called the charges against her father “trumped up,” adding, “There is no evidence about any of the charges mentioned in his case. My father’s entire words and deeds have always been within the framework of the law. But the authorities in charge of his case conducted a show trial for him, and a judge that did not have sufficient independence issued a prison sentence for him.”
Ali Akbar Soroush’s daughter also told the Campaign that her father and several other prisoners should be released according to the law, but judicial authorities refuse to allow this. “It has been a while since my father completed serving half of his prison term. According to law, he can be released now, but the authorities have responded negatively to this legal request. Aria Aram Nejad has also served half of his prison term, but he was told that he couldn’t use this right. I hope the authorities will stop this trend of preventing full implementation of the law. It is also a prisoner’s right to have in-person visitation with his family, but the officials even refuse to offer this right to Alireza Falahati and his three-year-old daughter. It appears that their aim is not only to imprison our loved ones on the threshold of the elections, but to also psychologically torture these prisoners,” she said.
“In his last phone call to me, he said several times that he is amidst criminals who have committed dangerous and serious crimes, and when he indicated what some of those crimes were, it was very shocking and frightening. I am very concerned about this situation. I don’t know why our political prisoners and prisoners of conscience should be among individuals whose crimes have nothing to do with the charges leveled against my father and other political prisoners,” added Motahareh Soroush.
Recently, families of prisoners detained inside Babol’s Mati Kola Prison issued a statement objecting to inappropriate treatment by prison authorities inside visitation halls. Motahareh Soroush and her mother signed that statement. “I visited my father through a booth twice. Both times I witnessed uncivilized and insulting treatment by prison officials and the soldiers. From the moment one arrives, there is a long wait inside the waiting hall, and they treat everyone as if we are all their prisoners, and as if they can talk to us and address us any way they like. After taking our birth certificates, they stamped our hands and caused a lot of pain for all the families. Even the soldiers stationed there spoke with disrespectful and insulting tones. We objected the very first time they stamped our hands, but they did not pay any attention. I believe their conduct has improved a little since the statement,” said Motahareh Soroush.
Regarding other problems facing political prisoners, Soroush said, “According to information I have received from the families, some regular prisoners continually try to agitate political prisoners to make them angry, so that amidst scuffles and unrest political prisoners are put under more pressure or sent to solitary. One wonders, from whom do such prison personnel and prisoners take their orders?”