Reza Khandan, husband of imprisoned Iranian lawyer and human rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that Sotoudeh is in very poor conditions in prison and is planning to go on another hunger strike. He told the Campaign that security forces clearly told his wife that so long as she does not confess, she is not allowed to leave the prison.
Sotoudeh has repeatedly refused to give such confessions. Security officers have prevented Sotoudeh’s transfer to Evin Prison’s General Ward for the past eight months. “Ms. Sotoudeh told me during our…visit that due to her poor prison conditions, she is intending to start a hunger strike. I talked to her and convinced her not to do it. She said that if the situation persists until June, she would embark on a hunger strike again, and I really hope that this wont happen,” said Khandan about Sotoudeh’s resumption of her hunger strike.
“From the very first days of her arrest, she somehow communicated that she is under pressure for confessions, but I think it was near January and February when her interrogators told her very transparently and clearly that she would not be able to leave the prison until she has been ‘interviewed.’ My wife also told them very clearly that she would not do it,” said Khandan about pressure on his wife to interview and confess to the charges against her. “But I don’t know why they said that, because my wife would not give in under any amount of hardship. Even if they keep her in there for 100 years, she would not do it. Not only would she refuse to do it, she would not even consider the topic of an interview. She could have done a lot simpler things prior to her arrest to ensure that she would not be arrested,” Khandan continued.
“They talked about this around the [Iranian] New Year again. When they realized they could not achieve results, they told my wife to forget it, that it wasn’t serious, and that it was just to show her cooperation. Her response was still the same as she had given them before. But prisoners can’t normally leave these things behind. Even an hour before her release, they may still ask her to do it,” said Khandan about the new wave of pressure on his wife for a televised interview. “Really, if they keep her for two thousand years and put her under physical and psychological pressure, she would still not do it. I don’t want to say that what my wife does is right; I just want to say that she does not have the mentality to do this. Maybe in the future, when there is again pressure on her to interview, but I am sure that her answer will be no. Confessions are meaningful only when an individual has committed a criminal act and then confesses. But they want her to admit to doing things she has not done and to talk about them. This is not called a confession,” said Khandan.
Asked whether Nasrin Sotoudeh has been under physical abuse, Khandan said, “She has never told me anything about this. I believe the worst torture for her is not being able to see her children. When my wife was first arrested, one of her friends came to see us. She said that when she was single, she was arrested and sentenced to eight years in prison, but she didn’t care back then at all. But when a few years ago, after she had two children, she was arrested for 20 days, she thought she was willing to give up the world for holding her children in her arms for a second. My wife has been waiting for such a moment for eight months. You can imagine what kind of psychological pressure this is. She has been unable to hold her children once without the presence of forces.”
“During their seven or eight minute visits, the children have not once been able to see their mother without the presence of officers. I don’t know what this is called. I won’t call it torture or pressure; I will let others name it. Maybe a mother is willing to be beaten but to visit with her children in a relaxed environment, free of officers, where their pockets are not searched and their chocolate and hair barrettes are not confiscated. There is nothing more horrible than this for a mother,” concluded Khandan.
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