Letter by imprisoned activist Narges Mohammadi exposes abuse of women

Read in Persian/فارسی بخوانید

In recent months, we have seen women and girls entering prison with bruised and injured faces and bodies. With each entry of an injured woman, we have been shocked and concerned, visiting the prison administration and expressing our worries. However, the ‘physical violence’ against women has reached such an extreme that mere reporting and protest do not suffice.

Over three months ago, we witnessed the entry of a woman around 70 years old who had been so severely beaten during her nighttime arrest that the discoloration around her eyes, and the bruises on her face and body, lasted for 25 days until she was released on bail. She had received terrifying blows to her head area, raising concerns about head injuries.

At the same time, a 20-year-old girl entered the ward who had complained of pain in her ribs for a long time. She had been beaten and mistreated by male officers during her nighttime arrest on the street. The medical staff at Evin Hospital confirmed injuries in her ribs.

A month ago, another girl entered the ward with swollen and injured cheeks. Her arms and hands were covered in bruises. The prison doctor stated that her cheekbone had been fractured. She would cry out while eating due to the pain. An officer had hit her in the face, and another officer had pressed both sides of her jaws with his hands, causing her jawbone to make a sound and making it difficult for her to chew comfortably.

We have seen women and girls entering prison with bruised and injured faces and bodies.

A few weeks ago, a girl entered the ward with bruised ankles, shoulders, and hands. People stood around her while she showed her bruises. She had been severely beaten and kept saying, “I thought my leg was broken.”

Another woman arrived. My first question, as usual, was whether she had been brought from home or the solitary cell. She replied: One day, I was somewhere where male officers hit my face with their fists, kicked my stomach, and threatened me. There wasn’t even a camera in the cell. After that, I was transferred to the Ministry of Intelligence and then here.” She was transferred to Evin’s Ward 209 a few days later for interrogation.

While for various political-security reasons, only a very limited number of detainees are transferred to the women’s ward of Evin prison, we have witnessed cases of severe beating and injury over the past three months.

I urge brave compatriots, international human rights organizations, women’s associations, and feminists worldwide, journalists and writers, including the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, to prevent the escalation and continuation of the deadly violence by the regime against protesting women in Iran.

Unnamed detainees refrain from publicizing the violent and physical confrontations they endure due to being pursued, on trial, and threatened, and their families also avoid sharing such stories as well. These detainees are vulnerable to physical attacks by security forces.

As a witness to the acts of horrifying and lethal ‘physical violence’ by the government against protesting women, I declare that these levels of ‘physical violence’ during arrest and within unlawful detention facilities represent a form of systematic torture aimed at creating intimidation and terror. This could lead to irreparable horrors, which we have witnessed intensify over the past months.

The regime must know that escalating violence and suppression will not only fail to weaken the people’s ‘will’ to transition away from the despotic theocratic regime but will leave the people with no choice but to persist on this path.

Narges Mohammadi, Evin Prison, August 2023