Mothers of Laleh(Mourning Mothers)

June 18
This message was sent by : Amnesty Group 92 Sherman Oaks To our event in Kanoon Sokhan Dear fellow human rights activists and friends, On behalf of Amnesty International local Group 92 and as fellow human rights activists, we would like to express our respect and support on your unceasing efforts to better the current situation on human rights abuses specifically in Iran. We have met Sofia and Soraya along with other associates from Mourning Mothers of Laleh Park last year. It has been such an honor and eye opening experience for us. Mourning Mothers as provided first hand personal stories on human rights abuses, detailed and deep knowledge of the background which provided us deeper understanding of the core of the issues. It helped us to realize why we are doing our work in the first place…saving people’s lives. Thank you very much for sharing and educating us with such valuable knowledge. We were invited to join you today at the meeting, however we have a conflicting Amnesty monthly meeting on the same day, therefore unfortunately we cannot attend in person. However, please know that Amnesty is always behind you and hope we will further collaborate in the near future. This is a short message, but hoping that this would express our gratitude for your efforts and encourage on what you are doing. We hope for the kinder and gentler world. In Solidarity, MihokoTokoro and Patricia Dungo, Group Coordinators And all of Amnesty International Group 92, Sherman Oak

در بزرگداشت یاد جانباختگان جنبش سبز و در سالروز شکل گیری و حرکت مادران پارک لاله (عزادار ایران)، در روز دوشنبه هیجدهم جون 2012 برنامه سخنی با حامیان مادران پارک لاله در لس آنجلس/ وَلی، در کانون سخن برگزار شد. 

موضوع محوری این برنامه "نقش مادران پارک لاله (مادران عزادار ایران) و حامیان آنان در هویت پردازی جنبش آزادیخواهی مردم ایران بود. این برنامه با شعر خوانی آقای مجید نفیسی شاعر آزاده و مردمی آغاز شد و با سخنرانی خانم ها دکتر نیره توحیدی و سوفیا صدیق پور و آقای دکتر آزاد مرادیان ادامه یافت. خانم ثریا فلاح از دیگر حامیان مادران پارک لاله ضمن گرداندن برنامه، پیام همبستگی عفو بین الملل /
 شاخه 92 را به اطلاع شرکت کنندگان رساند. همچنین در انتها حضار به امضای پتیشن های موجود در آزادی زندانیان سیاسی – مدنی دعوت شدند. خانم پرتو نوری علا، به علت بیماری نتوانست در این برنامه حاضر شود. 

برای دیدن تصاویر بیشتر و خواندن شرح مفصل این برنامه به آدرس فیس بوک حامیان مادران پارک لاله در لس آنجلس / وَلی، مراجعه فرمائید

 مصاحبه رادیو انتفاده
 با  خانم ثریا فلاح فعال حقوق بشرو زنان،  واز حامیان مادران پارک لاله/ لس آنجلس-ولی
 درمورد مادران پارک لاله ( مادران عزادار ایران) و حامیان آنان در خارج از کشور
از سری برنامه های ماه مارچ، ماه زنان 

چهارشنبه  21 مارچ، ساعت 2:30 بعدازظهر
KPFK,      90.7 FM

Intifada=shaking off - oppression/silence 
Voices from Kolkata to Casablanca
Voices of Struggle, Voices for Change
Month Of International Women’s Program 
Iran's Mourning Mothers
 With Soraya Falah
Wednesday, March 21, 2012, 2:30-3:00pm
 KPFK/Pacifica Radio 90.7 fm, Los Angeles
Streaming at and available on audio archive for 90 days

The Mourning Mothers of LALEH 
 A report on an Iranian women's movement called the Mourning Mothers these Mothers whose sons or daughters were killed or jailed by the Iranian regime during and after the protests against the disputed Presidential elections of 2009 have formed a group that has been gathering in Parks around the world as well as Iran demanding justice and a stop to the continued violence, arrests, death and disappearances of their children. The Iranian regime continues to brutally attack the protesters and imprison them.
Guest: Soraya Falah Women's and Human Rights activist 

 Produced and Hosted by Nyma Ardalan  
of the
SWANA Collective, KPFK/Pacifica
(South and West Asia and North Africa)

Supporters of "Laleh Park Mothers"/ Valley- LA:

"Laleh Park Mothers"/ Iran:


 Support Mothers of Laleh Park

about The Mothers of Laleh Park: MLP are the mothers whose children lost their lives for taking part in the millions-large and peaceful protest marches held  to simply protest the results of June 2009 Presidential Election. Their protest was responded by opening fire and shooting directly onto millions of protestors as a result of which dozens of people were killed.

The Mothers of Laleh Park are the mothers of all the political prisoners and all those who have been jailed for their beliefs and their civil activities; they are the mothers of all unknown prisoners who were killed, tortured, raped, or received harsh and long term prison sentences in show trials. The Mothers of Laleh Park are the mothers of those who lost their lives in the past 31 years; these mothers will never abandon the fight to seek justice for their perished children. The Mothers demand those responsible for ordering and carrying out the individual and mass executions, ethnic and religious massacres, imprisonments, tortures, rapes, assassinations, raiding and ransacking the homes, pillaging the dormitories, etc. since the 1980s to be brought to justice.
The Mothers of Laleh Park are the mothers of all the youth of the land who have been arrested by security forces, have gone missing, and of whom there are no traces to this day.
The Mothers of Laleh Park are the mothers of all those wounded and injured in the events of the past year and, as a result, are struggling with an excruciating life marked by disability.
The Mothers of Laleh Park consider execution (death penalty) a form of organized murder, and are against any type of homicide in any form and shape, and under any pretext including stoning and Qessas (an eye for an eye). The Mothers demand abolition of death penalty.
The Mothers of Laleh Park, who themselves have been and continue to be victims of violence and discrimination against women, support all non-violent and equalitarian activities. The Mothers hail all the dignified women and men [who value freedom]. 


No freedom loving human being can stay silent when hearing the horrible news that leak from Iran’s prisons time to time. These news tell the story of a massive human catastrophe that is happening every day in small and large, well known and unknown prisons of the country.
According to prisoners, mock execution, rape, pulling of nails, pushing prisoners heads into toilet bawl, getting attacked by vicious dogs, witnessing the torture of their close relatives, being forced to take mind altering drugs until they are reduced to a plant life state, long interrogations while being naked. sexual humiliation, wiping, sleep depravation, being locked in small cage, long solitary confinement, being threatened and lied to have been common tortures in the prisons of The Islamic republic all along. But torturing the prisoners in order to get false confessions is only part of the crimes and what goes on to political and non-political prisoners, old and young, men and women on a daily basis, is horrible and inhumane.

Some of the letters from the prisoners that have been leaked to the outside, depict the catastrophe that is going on inside the prisons. By writing these letters, the prisoners risk their lives, hoping that some from the outside might hear about them and come to their rescue.
The second terrifying letter from the imprisoned journalist, Mehdi Mahmoudian**, comes out when he is still under tortures for leaking his first letter revealing the crimes committed in Kahrizak prison. Because of the second letter, he was sent to solitary confinement and was hospitalized after going on a dry hunger strike. Kahrizak is the notorious prison that some of those arrested during the demonstrations of the summer of 2009 lost their lives in it shortly after being arrested. Although the regime tried to repair the damage by closing it down temporarily and putting on trial some of the low ranking prison officials in closed courts, bigger crimes are still happening inside the prisons and the prisoners are dying slowly.
In his second letter from the prison of Rajaie Shahr, Mehdi Mahmoudian reveals the terrible situations and talks about the savage tortures that are going on. The widespread activity of the drug gangs, the easy availability of drugs and widespread addiction, in addition to rape and common human trades for sex in exchange for drugs, have caused the epidemic of Aids and Hepatitis.
Former student, Seid Zia Nabavi who is spending a ten year sentence in Karoon prison in Ahvaz, tells the story of the terrible conditions in that prison. The number of the prisoners are three times over the capacity and one third of the prisoners sleep on naked floor and one third have to sleep in a small yard and take cover inside the bathrooms during the rain. It is sad to know that after each strong rain, the swage pipes over flow into the yard and the prisoners have no alternative but to bear the horrible smell, eat, sleep and “live” with the cockroaches and rats amongst them. When other prisoners are let out, there are three prisoners walking and smoking on each one square meter space. “The top of the out side yard is meshed up and that limits he air flow and adds to the heat of Ahvaz‘ extreme summer. This not only deprives the prisoners from enjoyment of looking at the open sky, but turn them into caged animals.”
Another revealing letter written by nine female political prisoners, who recently were transferred for a while to Gharchak Prison in the outskirts of far away Varamin, tell us about horrible things going on in that prison. Although they have all been transferred to other prisons since, it is painful to know that there still are other women and young girls suffering in that prison.
There are prisoners several times over the capacity kept in this former chicken farm. Not only they suffer from the lack of any sanitation and air ventilators, hunger and unsecured conditions, they get punished with batons and by pulling their nails.
Parts of the letter reads:
Gharachak Prison in Varamin has seven cells, each with the capacity for several tens, but with more than 200 prisoners in it. The lack of any ventilation system and the strong smell and gas coming from the sewage has caused respiratory problems for a lot of the prisoners. There are two washing facilities and two bathrooms for the more than 200 prisoners. Because of these limitations, a lot of prisoners use the space between the bunkers as their washing space. Because there are no other sources of water available, the prisoners have to use the faucets in the bathrooms to wash their clothes and dishes. Three daily meals are supposed to be served at the prison’s canteen, but due to food shortages, a lot of prisoners did not receive some meals last week. Each meal is usually consists of two stale pieces of bread and one potato or a small portion of noodles. One can see the results of malnutrition, specially because a lot of the prisoners kept here are under 18 years of age. Because of food shortages, there are constant fights and the canteen is called by the prisoners “the beating chamber”.
What we hear time to time from the prisons in Shiraz are also worrisome. For example, the reports about the suspicious death of political activist Reza Mouhammadi. The cause of death to his family, which was not receiving any news about him for a long time, was told to be “falling down on the bathroom floor”. Not only his family was denied the body despite their several appeals, but they were intimidated and his brother was also arrested by Shiraz intelligent in order to stop them from spreading the news about his death.
We hear from Sanandaj prison in Kurdestan, where the Information Ministry and the Pasdaran interrogators methods of humiliation and applying pressure are making the prisoners lives unbearable. The prison guards attack the political prisoners cells, beat them up and destroy or take away their meager belongings.
The news from Vakil Abad prison in Mashhad tells not only of large scale mass executions, but of overall inhumane conditions. Seyed Hashem Khastar who was the teacher’s representative in the Council of the Educators and is being held there, in a letter addressed to the country’s judiciary head, reveals some details about this prison. He writes that the prisoners whom are numbered four times over the prison’s capacity, are denied the basic necessities and compares the prison to “Hitler’s death camps“.
Over all, over population, no regard to divide prisoners based on their alleged crimes, lack of prison security, desperate lack of any sanitation and access to health facilities, lack or illegal denial of availability of mass media such as newspapers and radio and the right to have access to telephone and visitation, indicate not only disregard for the prison regulation laws, but disregard for basic human rights in prisons, which is itself part of the larger problem of human right violations in the country.
How can we be silent while we are witnessing that our best children are suffering under such conditions. Facing these conditions, the task is now much grater than demanding political prisoners freedom. What goes on in the prisons of The Islamic Republic is against human dignity and it is the duty of every justice loving person to stand up against it.
The Mothers of Laleh Park (Mourning Mothers) and their supporters, in addition to stressing their just demands for unconditional release of all political prisoners, are asking that until these demand are met, the security and wellbeing of them be guaranteed, all theirs and non political prisoners rights be respected according to prison laws and those prisons that do not meet the international standards be closed. In our struggle and hand in hand with all the families of the political prisoners, we ask freedom lovers of the world and the international human rights organizations to support our demands and oblige The Islamic Republic of Iran to uphold its agreements to international laws regarding it citizens.
We demand the immediate closure of all illegal and unregulated prisons, providing health facilities (with special consideration for women and their children), separation of prisoners based on their crimes and finally, to respect basic prisoners rights, whether political or non political.

Mothers of Laleh Park (Mourning Mothers of Iran)
Supporters of Mothers of Lalel Park/ in Hamburg, Frankfurt, Dortmund, Vienna, Italy, Geneva, Oslo, Los Angeles-Valley, Koln

Copy to:
High Commission of Human Rights
EU Human rights Commission
Amnesty International

The Mothers of Laleh Park and Their International Supporters, in objection to the unjust sentences for human rights and political activists announce:

The authorities of the Islamic Regime of Iran have started a new wave of arrests and unjustified sentences for political and civil rights activists in a reaction to the public’s lack of participation in the recent elections.
In the past few days, we have witnessed the announcement of an undue sentence for the human rights lawyer, Abdolfattah Soltani. Judge Abbasi has issued this sentence for the “crimes” of founding the Organization of Human Rights Lawyers, supporting political prisoners, the alleged crime of “threat to the national security”, the “crime” of being the recipient of the 2009 Human Rights Award from governor of the city of Nurnberg. Soltani’s sentence for all this is 18 years of detainment in the exile city of Borazjan, and 20 years of being banned from practicing law. Since July 2011, he has been detained and spending time in the Evin prison, and like other political prisoners, has been deprived of the most basic rights of prisoners.

He has, many times, been under pressure to speak against the Organization of Human Rights Lawyers and Mrs. Shirin Ebadi, but has constantly refused to do so and has remained truthful and committed to his clients. His wife, Masoome Dehghan, has also been abused and summoned to the court numerous times. Such harassments have taken place against many other lawyers in Iran as well.
Likewise, the sentence for Narges Mohammadi, the Chair of the Organization for Human Rights Lawyers has been revised and confirmed as 6 years of prison. She had suffered from illnesses during her time in detainment and after being released, had spent a substantial amount of time recovering.
Parallel to these events, demonstrations have been started by the mothers, wives, and sisters of Arab political prisoners in the city of Shoosh, on the morning of Tuesday, March 6th. These families are protesting the illegal detainment, the lack of a clear reason for the detainment, the lack of access to a lawyer, and the torture of their prisoners. These families have been confronted with violent assaults by the police, and to prevent violence against them, this time the families have taken the pictures of their prisoners in their hands, and a Koran on their heads.
Today, we are in a situation where living a normal human life in Iran, especially for those who fight for freedom, is becoming more difficult every day. On the other hand, criminals are promoted to higher posts every day and there is no fair and just court to answer the pleas of the people.
While Abdolfattah Soltani, a human rights lawyer, is sentenced to 18 years of prison in the city of Borazjan and we witness more inhumane sentences every day, Judge Mortazavi, whose numerous crimes are known to everyone, is transferred from his position as a judge to the head of the Drug Prevention Committee after one of his crimes regarding the underground prison of Kahrizak became known to the public. Currently, he is also the head of the Social Welfare Organization.
We, the Mothers of Laleh Park and supporters, demand the freedom of these courageous men and women of Iran, support the demands of their families, demand trials and punishments for the causing agents of the crimes committed by the Islamic Regime, the unconditional freedom of all political and ideological prisoners, and the abolition of the death punishment. We denounce the evident violation of human rights, and the issuance of unjust sentences.
We ask that all free and conscious people of Iran, all human rights organizations, and especially the human rights committee of the UN, Amnesty International, and Mr. Ahmad Shahid, to seriously protest, more than ever, these unjust punishments.
The Mothers of Laleh Park, Iran
The International solidarity with the Mothers of Laleh Park
March 7, 2012------------------------------------


Report of The International solidarity with The Mothers of Laleh Park in Iran to the Geneva conference session to study human rights conditions in Iran

The Islamic Republic of Iran, one of the biggest human rights abusers in regard of the conditions of political and civic activists in prison

The International Solidarity with The Mothers of Laleh Park is grateful for the brief opportunity to take part in this session to express the demands of The Mothers of Laleh Park and in addition, talk about one of the major points of human rights abuse in Iran, which is the condition of Political and civil rights activists in the prisons of The Islamic Republic of Iran . Investigation of these conditions is one of our main demands.

The Mothers of Laleh Park  of Iran and their supporters abroad, were formed in the curse of weekly gatherings at Laleh Park, as "Mourning Mothers of Iran" after the killings of the street protesters during June 2009 Green movement uprising. With their supporters abroad and dedicated to defending human rights, they demand not only justice for all the killings and crimes committed by The Islamic Republic over the years, they demand the release of all political-conscience prisoners and an end to the death penalty. Unfortunately at this moment, some of the justice seeking  and freedom loving mothers are facing intimidation only for following up on the conditions of their imprisoned children or their support and solidarity with the mourning mothers. Parvin Mokhtareh(1) and Jila Karam Zadeh Makvandi(2) are amongst such women who are imprisoned or have been sentences to long prison terms.

United Nation's Human Rights Committee reported about grave human rights abuses in Iran at the end of its session on November 2011 and Mr. Ahmad Shaheed has expressed that "human rights abuses in Iran are an indication of the deteriorating situation". Despite all these, The Islamic republic has declared all international human rights agreements worthless and the signing of the International Human Rights Charter by the head of the Iran's judiciary a mistake.

Despite increasing pressures against human rights activists in collecting evidence, according to 
Reports by The appointed Human Right rapporteurs to Iran in Annual statistics of human rights abuses in Iran for 2011, 1020 cases of prisoner's torture, 263 cases of denying prisoners needed medical attention, 93 cases of unlawful transfer of prisoners to solitary cells, 927 cases of unlawful denials and preventions,189 cases of hunger strike attempts by prisoners, 260 cases of forced transfer or exile of prisoners, 2 cases of prisoner's suicide, 235180 cases of pressure and threat against prisoners, 83 cases of killing prisoners, 139 cases of holding prisoners without sentence, 5 cases of prisoner's death due to illness, 160 cases of prisoner's whipping and cutting off body part as ghesas punishment, 66 cases of lack of access to lawyer, 53 cases of falsely manufactured legal cases, 1050 cases of holding prisoners in unsatisfactory conditions and 162 cases of miscellaneous incidents have been reported(3).

Although a big number of political-conscience prisoners are lawyers, students, human rights activists and labor and trade organizers, the number of journalists are significantly high. The Committee to protect Journalists in its 2011 annual report, has named The Islamic Republic of Iran "the biggest prison of journalists in the world". According to this report, mass incarceration of journalists by The Islamic Republic of Iran is a way to silence the voice of the dissidents and to prevent coverage of critical news. As of December 2011, The Islamic Republic of Iran has been holding 42 journalists in unsanitary and over crowded cells of prisons such as Rajai Shahr and Evin. About half of these prisoners are held part of their imprisonment in solitary confinement, in order to get confessions out of them(4).

Recent attacks and confrontations of the security forces with Arab minorities in the areas of Ahvaz, Sush and Hamidiyeh, have resulted in several  being victims and getting arrested, whom their families have no news about them.

Also as  yesterday, March 4th we read in news,  Abdolfattah Soltani, the  prominent Iranian human rights lawyer was sentenced to 18 years in prison, (exile to Borazjan in Iran) plus a twenty-year ban from practicing law!  He was cofounder of Defenders of Human Rights Center,” and  the winner of, the “Nürnberg International Human Rights Award”, and unlawfully was accused of  “propaganda against the regime

Although according to the testimonies and writings of thousands of prisoners, torture has a long and painful history in Iran(5), in a recent report by The Amnesty International on February 2011, titled "Increased Pressure Against Political-Conscience Prisoners In Iran", some of the common forms of torture in the prisons of The Islamic Republic of Iran mentioned are as follows: sever beating, electric shock, holding in tight cages, hanging from feet, sexual rape or threatening women and men to sexual rape with objects such as batons, threatening to kill or creating an experience of being killed with mock executions, arresting or threatening to arrest and torture family members of the political prisoners, light, sleep, water and food deprivation and more. 

Applying torture for making political-conscience prisoners to confess to false accusations has been indicated in other writings and testimonies of prisoners including forcing the prisoners to eat the confession files until they respond the way the interrogators asking them to(6). Also, pulling nails, burning with cigarettes, forcing prisoners to take mind altering drugs, long interrogations while the prisoners are naked and being humiliated and forcing prisoners heads into toilet bawls are only samples of inhumane actions that have been witnessed numerous times over the years in the prisons of The Islamic Republic of Iran.

There are too many different examples of every day intimidations against political-conscience prisoners, but maybe only one can demonstrate this pain best. Nasrin Sotudeh is a lawyer who is in prison. Her 12 year old daughter is prevented from visiting her with her 4 year old son, because she is told that her Islamic veil is not proper, which is by the way, her school uniform(7).

Ahmad Bob, a Kurdish political activist, whom was prisoned and tortured for 4 months and 20 days at Marivan and Sanandaj prisons and was kept in solitary confinement for another 5 months, mentions deadly floggings to the sole of his feet, false executions, breaking his ribs, long sleep deprivations and threat of rape. When his solitary confinement was over, he had lost 33 kilos and after a year, torture marks are still visible on his body(8).

According to a report by Human Rights Activists News Agency, also, within the last couple of weeks, several of the political prisoners in Urmiya, have been pressures and put in solitary cells in order to agree to dictated accusations and to appear in staged televised confessions(9).

However, torture in the prisons of The Islamic Republic of Iran is only part of the crime and what the prisoners, political or non political, have to endure every day is a much bigger sad and inhumane story. 

Overall, over crowded prisons, not separating prisoner types, lack of security, lack of access to medical services, preventing prisoners from hiring skilled lawyers, sever lack of basic sanitary facilities, such as bathrooms and toilets, widespread activity of drug gangs and increasing drug addiction amongst prisoner population, rape and sexual harassment and selling and buying prisoners for sex, spread of aids and hepatitis, lack of rights to make telephone call, visitation and lack of or illegal prevention of contact with outside are not only indications of disregard for prison administrating guidelines, but a total lack of regard for basic human rights values.

Reports by some prisoners that have leaked outside, reveal the depth of the misery that is common in the prisons. Letters by Mehdi Mahmoudian from Rajai Shahr prison, Seid Zia Nabavi from Karoon prison and 9 female political-conscience prisoners transferred to Gharchak Prison in Varamin, reveal only a small window to the miserable conditions of the prisons.

Ali Kantoori, a political-civic activist, was in Ghezel Hesar prison and reports that 10-15 prisoners were kept in a 6 square meter cell. They did not even had a chance to take a 3 minute bath, twice a week and all prisoners suffered from head lice. Roya Araghi also reports about her imprisonment at Evin Prison that there were 4 of them in a small cell and they did not have enough space even to stretch their legs. The awful smell of a latrine in the middle of their room which had no window or a ventilation, was disgusting and a humiliating experience(10).

Lack of access to medical services has claimed many victims. Mrs. Fatemeh Alvandi, mother of Mehdi Mahmoudian, a human rights activist who has reported about torture and rape at Kahrizak prison, In a letter to the head of prison system, has complains that despite a request by the prison's physician, her son is denied needed medical attention. Due to tortures and sever beatings, her son has lost part of his lung and is in serious danger(11). It must be mentioned that because of her inquiries about the condition of her son, this mother has been subject of intimidation and several interrogations.

According to the head of the prison system in March 2011, only within the last 18 months, 55,000 has been added to the prison population without any new accommodations being build. On June 2011, Younes Mousavi, a member of the Judiciary Committee of the parliament, confessed that prisons are so over crowded that the prisoners sleep on the stair ways and prison budgets are so law that it does not even cover food, clothing and blankets needed for the prisoners.

Lack of attention to their basic needs has numerous times forced the prisoners to go on hunger strike, as a last resort against the judiciary and security system. Unfortunately, this has seldom resulted in any attention to their basic needs. One of these prisoners is Mohammad Sadigh Kaboodvand, a Kurdish human rights activist, whom has been in prison for the past 4 years. Even with a history of 3 partial brain and heart strokes, he had no other choice than going on a hunger strike on February 19, 2012, for his basic human right of being able to have visitation with his young son, who was suffering from cancer himself.

Also Dr. Mehdi Khazali, political prisoner, who is sentenced to 14 years imprisonment, 10 years exile, and 90 lashes, today is on  the 57th day of his hunger strike in  Evin.

These injustices are going on at a time when despite widespread international protests, the threat of execution is hanging over so many dissidents, political and civic activists and many other non political prisoners. Some of these prisoners are Saeid Malekpour, Zaniar and Loghman Moradi, Keshish Nadarkhani, Abdolreza Ghanbari, Mohammadreza Pourshajari, Vahid Asghari, Shahrooz VaziriAhmadreza Hashempour, Mehdi Alizadeh and Amirmirza Hekmati.

The International Solidarity with The Mothers of Laleh Park, while stressing on their basic demands of seeking justice, abolishment of the death penalty and unconditional release of all political-conscience prisoners, demand that until these goals are reached, the security of all prisoners, including non political prisoners be protected and their rights, according to the rules in place be respected.

In closing, on the eve of The International Women's day, The Mothers of Laleh Park and supporters like to keep in mind all political-conscience women prisoners, who are suffering behind bars, because of their struggle for humanity and justice and demand their immediate and unconditional release.

                                                          International Solidarity with the”Mothers of Laleh Park in Iran” 

                                                                                                                March 5th,2012

‘Mourning Mothers Iran’ Stand with Activist Mothers Worldwide

Elahe Amani with Lys Anzia – WNN Features
Weeping woman statue. Image: Luc De Leeuw 2009
Weeping woman statue. Image: Luc De Leeuw 2009
A mother protecting her child isn’t anything unique. But in Iran, humanitarian activist mothers are now becoming global icons for human rights causes worldwide. In silent public protest, the ‘Mourning Mothers of Iran,’ known locally in Tehran as the ‘Mothers of Laleh,’ stand together each week, on Saturday evening vigils in Tehran’s Laleh Park.
“I urge all women around the world to show their solidarity with the Committee of Iranian Mothers in Mourning by assembling in parks, in their respective countries, every Saturday between the hours of 7 to 8 p.m., wearing black,” said Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Shirin Ebadi, in a plea made to women and activists worldwide at a July 25 Iran pro-democracy rally in Amsterdam. Like the infamous “Women in Black,” and the ‘Madres de Plaza de Mayo,’ the Committee of Iranian Mothers use methods of ethics in non-violence to bring attention to the atrocity of their dead children.
Beginning in Jerusalem, in 1988, a group of almost 40 Israeli-Jewish women of conscience formed ‘The Women in Black.’ To make their point, they wore black clothing and stood silent in public protests. They protested against Israeli expansion into the West Bank and Gaza on the heels of the beginning of the 1987 Palestinian intifada. Soon Arab women from the northern region of Israel also joined the Women in Black. The message was a clear call for “Peace!” Opposing war, injustice, and militarism, Women in Black groups and their affiliates can be found in Iran, Australia, the UK, Serbia, Japan, South Africa, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, US, India, Nepal, Uruguay, Argentina and the Philippines, to name a few.
Outside of Jerusalem, 1988 was also a very dark period for Iranian history. In a few summer months, an enormity of crimes against humanity occurred as an overwhelming number of Iranian political prisoners were massacred. This left thousands of Iranian mothers devastated.
According to reports from Amnesty International, 4,500-10,000 Iranian political prisoners were declared killed or missing inside the country that year, over a period that lasted barely two months. After finding out about the death of their loved ones, the families of the victims were not allowed to receive the bodies of their dead. They were also not allowed to hold any funerals. Instead, the held bodies were dumped together in places like Khavaran or what the regime referred to as La’nat-Abad, ‘The Damned Place,’ a cemetery used for burying non-Muslims.
Mass burials at Khavaran were later accidentally discovered by an Armenian priest who had become curious as to why stray dogs kept digging for bones at, what was later determined the location of the mass graves. French-Iranian woman filmmaker, Mehrnoushe Solouki, was held in Evin Prison for nine months as she, too, stumbled on the discovery in 2007.
“The deliberate and systematic manner in which these extrajudicial executions took place may constitute a crime against humanity under international law,” said Human Rights Watch, in 2005. Perhaps of all the crimes against humanity in the last 30 years, the 1988 Iranian mass executions continue to be the most revealing indication of the regime’s contempt and fear of political dissidents.
“In the recent events, the government in Iran has been fabricating reports depicting an incorrect image of what has been going on in the country,” said Ebadi at the July 25, 2009 rally. “They do not want the people to know the truth.”
We may think this kind of protest is new in Iran, but Iranian mothers have always spoken out against violence, disappearance and the torture of their sons and daughters. Prior to the 1979 revolution, only two mothers’ organizations existed in the country. Both were affiliated with underground groups involved in struggles for democracy. They worked in opposition to the monarchy of the Shah’s regime, who’s policies had turned, at the end, to the jailing and torture of intellectuals, feminists, students, and labour union advocates.
“I need to tell my story. No one can stop me. No one!” said Parvin Fahimi, an active member of Mothers for Peace and the mother of slain 19 year old Iranian protester, Sohrab Arabi, said recently in July. “My son had been killed, but they refused to tell me,” she continued.
Mothers of Plaza de Mayo
Madres de Plaza de Mayo - Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2008.
On July 11, 2009, young Sohrab Arabi was identified as ‘Picture Number 12′ by his older brother at the Shapour Street Police Station in Tehran. He was dead and his family finally knew the truth. He had been missing for 26 days. On the realization, his mother was beside herself with grief.
“Please hear my painful story as a resident of Tehran. I lost my son on Monday 25 of Khordad (15 June) during a peaceful rally that was taking place to protest the election results. With the crowds estimated at a minimum of 3 million, many people were lost and I too lost my son. The mobiles were cut off and I couldn’t reach him – I searched everywhere for him and went back home and found he was not there either so I went back to Azadi Square to keep searching for him. The atmosphere was terrible, so much tear gas everywhere, it felt more like a battle ground and I have been sick ever since with chest problems. I couldn’t find my child and I returned home and together with the sons of my relatives. As we searched every hospital and police station we didn’t get a response. My son did not have his ID card with him; he just had a bit of money on him to go and buy test papers at Enghelab Sqaure to prepare for the university entrance exams coming up…
That night I still did not hear of my son. The next morning when I called 110 (the emergency police call number) they told me to refer to my local police station. I went to the local police station and filed a missing persons report and they started the search process. No one had the guts to tell me than that maybe my son was killed; some people said he was probably arrested and some said he may be injured. I found out that 7 people were killed that day (at the protests) of those, 5 had been identified and 2 had not. The 2 that had not been identified were apparently older. The sons of my family members went to see the 5 that were identified and they confirmed that none of them was Sohrab. I was relieved to hear that and thought that my son was therefore arrested. I knew that he wasn’t injured because I searched every single hospital. I am aware that some hospitals would not give me a clear answer, but others did.
So I headed out for the Revolutionary Court (Evin Prison) to follow up on his arrest. They told me to return home and I told them I couldn’t – I am a Mother – I couldn’t even eat. To this date I have a hard time eating. My throat just closes up. I have kept myself going through liquids only in the past few weeks. I can’t tell you how much time I spent at the Revolutionary Court… if I were to write the story it’d make a very thick book. . .
How can a 19 year old that has yet to sit at the University entrance exams, and has yet to fulfill any one of his dreams, be killed? By whom; and on whose orders; and for what? I ask the City Council, what did my son ask of you? What did he ever ask of the government? What did he ask of his country? …We wanted nothing but peace, tranquility and a freedom of thought – that’s what’s important to us, is that my son thought about whom he voted for and where his vote goes. He didn’t ask for anything else. Just because he was a supporter of Mr. Mousavi, he must be killed? For what crime? On the basis of what guilt? My son was in the prime of his youth, a 19 year old, who never fulfilled his dreams. As a mother, I ask God day and night to put an end to this injustice.”
- Parvin Fahimi, mother of slain protester, Sohrab Arabi
(Partial testimony given during a Tehran City Council
meeting July 23, 2009)
The exact circumstance surrounding the death of Sohrab Arabi continues to be unexplained. According to the International Campaign for Human Rights Iran, when the family received Arabi’s body, his death appeared to be from the result of a gunshot wound to the chest, but no one knows when or where this injury occurred. An official, but inconclusive, report was made by the Coroner on June 19.
The lives of the mothers of missing global activists, who are often called, ‘mothers of the disappeared,’ are often filled with moments of endurance and courage, in spite of the grief they carry. From the mothers of slain reporters working in Iraqi Kurdistan or the Ukraine; to the mothers of missing activist children in Iran or Argentina; the mothers of those who have who have ‘gone missing’ have the same experience over and over again. Mothers worldwide have the same fear, grief, anger and frustration about their dead and missing children.
“I begged the gunmen to kill me instead, and they pushed me away and told me that they wanted her not me,” said Kurdish mother of slain Iraqi journalist, Sara Abdul-Wahab, during a May 2008 Associated Press interview. In spite of her mother’s attempt to save her life, Sarwa was fatally shot twice in the head by kidnappers. Tragically, her mother felt she could do nothing to save her daughter. Sarwa was the only breadwinner for a widowed mother, a sister and brother. She was a strong defender of human rights, a Kurdish lawyer and activist in Iraq, who continued to work in spite of numerous threats against her life.
When Ukrainian Prosecutor, General Mykhaylo Potebenko, issued a statement saying that DNA tests were delayed due to the illness of Lesya Gongadze, the mother of the missing and presumed dead human rights reporter Georgy Gongadze, Leyla grew suspicious. “This is a complete lie and deception,” she told Ukrainska Pravda, the Web newspaper that her son founded. “I wasn’t that sick, not so much as to be unable to give my blood for analysis. I was even insisting on it because I wanted to know the truth,” she added.
For nine year Gongadze case has been rife with confusing facts and government shuffle. Georgy Gogandze’s mother, Lesya Gongadze has been struggling to expose the facts from the moment her son went missing. Faced with the dilemma of not trusting the validity of DNA tests made by the Ukrainian authorities for an unidentifiable body that was found in 2000, Lesya continues to ask questions and demand clarity on the true circumstances surrounding the murder of her son. To date, she has not been satisfied with the answers given her.

Mourning Mothers

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The Mourning Mothers are a group of Iranian women whose spouses or children were killed by government agents in the protests following the disputed Iranian presidential election of 2009.[1] The principal demand of the Mourning Mothers is government accountability for the deaths, arrests, and disappearances of their children.[2] The mothers meet on Saturdays in Laleh Park in Tehran, and are often chased by the police and arrested.[1]
The Mourning Mothers have called for the revocation of death sentences for political prisoners, the release of prisoners of conscience, and trials of "those who were responsible for and who ordered their children's murders." [3]
On January 9, 2010, more than thirty Mourning Mothers were arrested by security agents at Laleh Park. According to eyewitnesses, the mothers were attacked by over 100 police and plainclothes agents, who violently forced the mothers into police vans.[2] These arrests were widely condemned by human rights organizations.[3] The mothers were released from prison on January 14, 2009.[4]
Iranian Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi urged women around the world to show solidarity with the Mourning Mothers by wearing black and meeting in neighborhood parks on Saturdays from 7 to 8 pm.[5]

11 January 2010

Iran's 'Mourning Mothers' must be released

Amnesty International has urged the Iranian authorities to release a group of women who were beaten and arrested during a peaceful vigil in Tehran at the weekend.

The 33 women, members of a group known as the 'Mourning Mothers', were seized during their weekly meeting in Laleh Park, Tehran on Saturday, according to media reports. Several of the women were beaten and 10 were taken to hospital.

The 'Mourning Mothers' are women whose children have been killed, disappeared or detained in post-election violence in Iran since last June, and their supporters. All 33 women are now being held in Vozara Detention Centre, Tehran.

"Women who are grieving for children killed by security personnel should be able to count on support from the state to uncover the truth about what happened and to ensure redress for them, not face arbitrary detention and beatings," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme.

"These women should be released immediately and unconditionally and an investigation launched into their treatment."

According to the Internationa Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, on Sunday, protesters gathered and chanted outside the Vozara detention centre in support of the detained women, which led to traffic nearby being blocked.

Security forces reportedly attacked the crowd and violently dispersed it. Two people who were in a passing car taking pictures of the protest were arrested and taken inside the detention centre.

The 'Mourning Mothers' meet in silence for an hour each Saturday near the place and time of the killing of protester Neda Agha-Soltan, whose death was shown in footage circulated around the world in July.

Nine of the women are believed to suffer from illnesses, increasing the concern for their well-being.

"We are seriously concerned about the health of these detained activists  and hold the Iranian authorities responsible for their well-being," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

This is not the first time that members of the group have been arrested.  Up to 29 were arrested on 5 December, although all were released by 7 December.