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Wednesdays – Special Days for Imprisoned Mothers and their Little Children

Narges Mohammadi, the human rights activist who has spent years in the Islamic Republic’s prisons for trumped up charges, has written a report on the visiting day in the women’s ward of Evin Political Prison in Tehran.Narges Mohammadi and kids

“There are special days in Evin prison that mean a lot to the imprisoned women. Eight of 31 women held there, namely Maryam Akbarimonfared, Leila Jama’at, Nigara Afsharzadeh, Nargess Mohammadi, Zahra Zehtabchi, Fatemeh Mossana, Azita Rafeezadeh and Nazanin Zaghari have very young children.
According to prison regulations, very young children can visit their mothers on Wednesdays from 1 to 2 PM. The meetings are held inside the prison hall and observed by prison guards and 5 CCTV cameras. The children are accompanied by their families to the prison’s gate, and then guided by the officials from there towards the meeting hall to see their mothers for about an hour.
On Wednesdays, all the mothers in the women’s ward are excited and look forward to seeing their kids. Azita begins to talk about her sweet little boy Bashir, who is loved by everybody, as soon as she returns to the ward. Bashir has to go to Rajayee Shahr prison to visit his father, and he has to go to Evin prison to see his mother. His little body and soul are worn out from travelling long distances, long separation and short visits; but these visits are a source of hope for Azita.
Maryam had to leave Sara when she was only three and a half years old and so has not experienced a long term mother-daughter relationship with her. For Sara, who gets motherly love from her older sisters, Maryam is more a name than a motherly feeling.
It’s not easy for Leila’s children to visit their mother regularly. However, when Leila meets them she entertains everybody in the ward with the stories about her kids Arad and Armita who are 8 and 6.
Nigara Afsharzadeh is a young woman from Turkmenistan. Before being moved to the women’s ward in Evin prison six months ago, she was held for 18 months in the solitary confinement in Ward 209. It’s been two years since Nigara last saw her 8-year-old Eldar and 6-year-old Mirana and she is longing to see them. Eldar’s Birthday was celebrated in the women’s ward on January 17th.
Nazanin Zaghary was moved to Evin prison one month ago after spending 9 months in solitary confinement in Kerman and another section of Evin prison. Her baby daughter, Gisou, was only 22 months old when she was arrested. She does not get to see her mom on a regular basis and her father is in England. It’s now 10 months that Gisou has been deprived of being with either parent. These days, Nazanin is knitting a sweater for her daughter and Marjan is knitting a hat for her.
Zahra is so calm and unbelievably patient. On Wednesdays, her little Mina rushes from school to the prison to see her mother.
Fatemeh is very lonely. Hossein, her husband, is in Rajayee Shahr prison. Her two children Maryam and Iman can visit each parent every other week. Maryam is as lonely as her mother. At the age of 21, her brother Iman has to deal with the heavy burden of the imprisonment of their parents as well as household responsibilities. Iman takes Maryam to Evin prison and waits behind the stone wall for her to return from visiting their mother.
Narges’s twins are with their father in Paris. For Narges, Wednesdays are days of both good and bad feelings. It’s good that other mothers can see their kids but bad as she is deprived of seeing her own children.
Wednesday nights come to an end with all the visits and memories, while everybody here shares the same sadness for not being with their children”
Saturday February 4th 2017

Postscript:
Nazanin Zaghari 38, sentenced to 5 years
Zahra Zehtabchi 49, sentenced to 12 years
Fatemeh Mossana 48, sentenced to 15 years
Maryam Akbarimonfared 40, sentenced to 15 years
Azita Rafeezadeh 34, sentenced to 4 years
Nigara Afsharzadeh 39, citizen of Turkmenistan, sentenced to 5 years
Leila Jama’at 36, sentenced to 2 years
Narges Mohammadi 44, sentenced twice; once to 6 years and once to 16 years

MaZanan 28.02.2017

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