Intelligence Ministry Interrogates Mourning Mother
Behkish, founder of the Mourning Mothers group (Mothers of Laleh Park), was asked during the hours-long interrogations not to go to Khavaran Cemetery for the anniversary of the 1988 prison executions, and not to hold any events commemorating them. She was also questioned about the reasons she wrote letters to President Hassan Rouhani.
The source, who is aware of the summons and interrogations, told the Campaign, “Ms. Behkish has been threatened very politely that if she continues writing letters to the president and to other officials, and if she pursues the 1988 executions and conduct any events in Khavaran Cemetery, her six-month imprisonment sentence will be enforced. She was asked not to go to Khavaran Cemetery on September 1 on the anniversary of the killings.”
The source continued, “Ms. Behkish told her interrogators, like the other times, that going to the graves of her deceased kin is her right and no one can stop her from having this right, and that she will continue the pursue the reason for the death of her kin.”
Mansoureh Behkish was arrested on the street on June 12, 2011, and released on bail on July 9, 2011. Branch 15 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced her on December 27, 2011, to four years and six months in prison on charges of assembly and collusion against national security by forming the Mourning Mothers group (Mothers of Laleh Park), and propaganda against the system, but on July 11, 2012, the sentence was reduced to six months in prison and three years and six months of suspended imprisonment. Airport authorities confiscated her passport and banned her from foreign travel in February 2009, when she tried to travel abroad.
In the 1980s, Mansoureh Behkish’s four brothers, sister, and brother-in-law were executed and their bodies were buried at Khavaran Cemetery. Despite opposition from the authorities, she has held a memorial event every year and formed the Mourning Mothers group after the 2009 events that followed the disputed presidential election. In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights for Iran last year, she said: “During the interrogations I was asked why I was in contact with the Mourning Mothers, why I was calling for memorial services for their deceased kin, and why I was writing things, and for this reason I was charged with propaganda against the system. They were unhappy that I was going to Khavaran and Behesht-e Zahra Cemeteries, and why I continue to pursue things and complain. On my way to the cemetery, they have repeatedly searched my car and have removed my car’s license plate.”
In addition to the threats, police forces did not allow the families to enter Khavaran Cemetery on September 1, and closed the cemetery’s gate on them. “On Friday, September 1, there were police forces around the cemetery and as soon as they saw our vehicles, they closed the cemetery’s gate. There were even verbal altercations between them and the families, but the police forces said, ‘You must leave.’ A few of the families were also called on the phone and they were threatened not to go to Khavaran Cemetery on September 1,” said the source, who also lost family members during the 1988 prison executions.