Written by Hamideh Taati
Fatemeh Ziaii Azad (Hoorieh), an Iranian political prisoner incarcerated in the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran, wrote an open letter to mark the anniversary of the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners.
The 56-year-old had previously been imprisoned on a number of occasions. She served five years in prison from 1981 to 1986 for supporting the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), also known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). In January 2009 she was jailed because she went to the “Mojahedin’s base in Iraq” to visit her two daughters. She was released towards the end of 2010. She was rearrested in June 2013 but was released only a few months later because of her age and health concerns. She was then arrested again in 2014 with her husband Mahmood Azimi. Her husband was freed very soon afterwards and Fatemeh was released the following year – both on a bail of 1 billion rials each.
Fatemeh was sentenced to 1.5 years imprisonment during her time on bail and she is currently serving her sentence. She was taken to the female ward of the Evin Prison to commence her sentence on April 9, 2019.
In her open letter she paid tribute to the martyrs that lost their lives during the 1988 massacre in their quest for freedom, saying that they died while defending their values. “In the summer of 1988, the freedom-loving swallows faced the gallows with smiles on their faces and were executed only because of saying ‘no’ and standing up for their beliefs.”
She also pointed out the cruelty of the event, highlighting that many of the victims of the 1988 massacre had either already fully served their sentences or had come to the end of them.
Fatemeh said that the regime was trying to extinguish the PMOI / MEK and the freedom-loving attitude that was so prevalent at that time. The regime’s biggest threat was the opposition and it tried to get rid of it in one foul swoop.
She said that the silence of the international community, especially the West, is something that the people of Iran have had to get used to. Fatemeh said: “In those days, nobody found out what happened to the freedom-loving youth, and unfortunately, Western societies stayed silent with their appeasement and securing their interests, and while families were crying out against the UN offices and in European countries, they turned a blind eye on the truth so their interests were not compromised. It has always been and will be this way in Iran’s history.”
Fatemeh said that when the audio file containing the objection of Hossein-Ali Montazeri to the 1988 massacre was broadcast, it brought back the emotion of the event and renewed the calls for justice. She said that it even prompted younger generations to search for the truth and justice. Montazeri was in 1988 Khomeini’s designated successor. He was sidelined for speaking out against the 1988 massacre.
“When Mr. Montazeri’s audio file was released and his protest to the 1988 executions was broadcast, a lot of issues were clarified for the Iranian people, and this led to the youth wanting to discover the truth even after 40 years. Of course, they (regime) try to mislead the facts for them with bias videos and books that are fabricated and published so that the truth is lost and vague.”
The full text of the open letter can be read on the NCRI Women Committee’s website.