Iranian authorities have launched a fresh crackdown on political activists, arresting the brother of jailed activist Majid Asadi and issuing fresh charges against activists Atena Daemi and Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee.
Mohsen Asadi, a professor of archeology, was arrested on May 26, 2019 in the city of Yazd and taken to Rajaei Shahr Prison, Karaj. As with many activists arrested in Iran, the accused and his family have not been informed of the charges against him.
Fatemeh Vakili, the mother of Mohsen and Majid Asadi, spoke to IranWire about her sons’ arrest and the case against them. She said security agents will not leave her family alone and her sons have committed no crime.
It was a few days ago when your son, Mohsen, was arrested. Can you tell us where he was arrested and what happened?
On the morning of Sunday, May 26th, security agents went to Mohsen’s office in Yazd and arrested him. They then took him to his house, and after searching it, took his laptop, camera, computer, and phone with them.
Were his wife and daughter at home at the time of the search and arrest?
My granddaughter Anahita, a six-grader, was at school at the time and his wife was at work. However, the agents ordered him to call his wife and ask her to return home. When she got there, she saw them tearing the place apart. Mohsen told her he had done nothing, and that he would be released soon. When she asked them on what charge they were arresting her husband they did not give any answer. We still don’t know why he was arrested.
Do you know what organization arrested him and whether the agents provided any arrest warrant or not?
We don’t know where they were coming from. Maybe the Intelligence agents or Revolutionary Guards officers. But Mohsen told his wife at home that they showed him the arrest warrant when they were arresting him at the office.
Has he been able to contact you since then? Were you able to talk to him?
The day after the arrest, he called his wife and said he’s fine, and that there was no need to be worried. He also mentioned that he doesn’t know where he is.
Were you able to get him a lawyer and follow up on his case?
He does not have an attorney yet and during this phase, they don’t give lawyers any access to the case. However, his wife went to the Revolutionary Court in Yazd yesterday and was able to see his prosecutor. When she asked him about the reason for Mohsen’s arrest, he replied, come back Saturday and he’ll tell you himself. It’s not clear if Mohsen will be in court on Saturday or if he [the court official] just said that to get rid of us. We don’t know if they will accept bail or will extend the detainment period. Nothing is clear at the moment.
To best of your knowledge, was Mohsen involved in anything other than teaching and research? Anything political or related to civil society?
Mohsen does not like politics at all and the only thing he was involved in was teaching at the university. He really loves his job and began working right after graduation. We have no idea why he was arrested. Now my granddaughter, who does not yet know her father has been arrested, is very worried about him. We don’t know what to tell her. [We can’t] tell her why her father was arrested.
There were news reports that your other son, Majid, who is currently in jail, has also been denied medical attention or leave, although he’s suffering from a host of ailments.
Majid has been in prison for more than two years now and prior to that, he was also arrested for three months back in July 2008 at one time, and another time for four years in Evin Prison, from 2011 to 2015. He was only free for a year and a few months before he was arrested again on February 18, 2017, and sentenced to six years in prison and two years in exile. He now is in Rajaei Shahr Prison. During those years of prison, he has been diagnosed with various diseases. When he went on a hunger strike in Evin Prison in spring 2014, his health was badly impacted and later he experienced some pain in his spine. Recently he has some issues in his eyes as well.
Do authorities let him leave the prison to treat these diseases?
In the beginning, they took him out for a visit to the doctor every three months, but now it’s been a very long time, maybe more than a year, that he has not seen his doctor at Imam Hospital. Although the prison clinic recommended doctor appointments for Majid, the prison director, Mr. Ziayi, does not let him. This is while he’s suffering badly from the diseases and is always in pain. He is in need of urgent medical attention.
What did he do during the year that he was free between arrests? And why he was arrested again?
During that year he began working as a translator for a company and other than that was busy dealing with his own and his father’s medical situations. His father’s liver failed and he had a liver transplant surgery during that time. The night that 10 agents raided our home with his arrest warrant, he was coming back from the hospital and had his father’s medical documents in his bag.
Are you able to meet Majid regularly?
Yes, we go to visit him every week. Wednesday was the last time we saw and told him the news of Mohsen’s arrest. He was angry and said they took him for no reason, and it is not fair that he can’t do anything about it. He knows his brother is innocent and was arrested unjustly.
My sons are not thieves, did not take million-dollar bribes and did not suppress people on the streets. I’m proud of my sons. They live their lives with honor since that’s how I raised them. This is why they arrested them. I have no idea what the [authorities’] problem with my sons is. Why don’t they leave them alone?
I want Iranian people to know what is happening in their country.