It has been more than three years that the gathering of people at the left side of Imam bridge, from where the Evin magistrate’s office is located, up the steep hill that leads to Evin’s entrance gate, with a small gray door and it’s small window a, has become normal and does not draw attention anymore.
But when you get closer to the crowd, you can see the differences in the course of the last three years. There were weeks of the distraught and astounded families that were looking for their missing children, both political activists and what the regime called street protesters.
Then there were the days that families of those arrested on 13 Aban were there; then there were the days of those arrested on Qouds day.
There were days that those arrested on Ashura were gathered there and, to no avail, tried to obtain information about their children, but were sent from building to building and from Evin to Moalem center.
Now days, all passers-by in that area hear are of those arrested for their cyber space and Internet activities. Arrests that not only have not been covered in the pro government media, but neither have they been reported in the opposition media.
It’s been nearly two months since the arrests by IRGC’s intelligence of many young people who had Internet activities, and their families still haven’t any information on their status.
According to Kalameh, these days the families of these incarcerated young people go to Evin everyday, trying to obtain the status of their children, but no one gives them any answer.
These arrests began on May 23, 2012, and, so far, twenty people have been arrested from various provinces under these charges. Other than Tehran, among the detainees are people from Ilam, Mashhad, Kermanshah, Rasht, Karaj, Zanjan and Khozestan.
Many of these people were initially detained for days in the city they were arrested, before being transferred to Evin prison in Tehran.
These people were mostly arrested on charges of Internet activity such as membership in social networks like Facebook and also charges of blasphemy in cyberspace.
Most were incarcerated in solitary confinement in IRGC’s Intelligence ward 2-A at Evin prison.
Harassment of the families of those arrested under what is known as the “cyber case”, seems to be the common denominator in reports from the families.
One family says that they are constantly threatened, the conducts towards them are harsh and they will not give them any information about the cases of their children.
According to obtained reports, so far only one of those arrested has been released on bail and, despite bail having been set for four more, they have not yet been released.
A parent of one of the detainees said, in a recent phone conversation with his son, he was told that a number of the detainees are still being interrogated. He continued, “Apparently the Facebook page, in which they have been accused of membership, is still active and they are being pressured to reveal the identity of the other members. This, is in spite of the majority of the detainees not even knowing each other.”
The father of a detained young girl, says that, unlike their usual method of the interrogator acting tough and harassing the detainees, in this case, the investigators seem to harass the families more than the interrogators, to the point that they have even stopped the normal legal process of these cases.
The families of these detainees are constantly threatened by the interrogators not to publicize these arrests. The families are told “Alerting the media will cause further problems for your children.”
According to the latest reports, a number of these detainees have been transferred out of solitary confinement but still are restricted from contacting their families.
A threats that many political prisoners say they heard during their incarceration, was that they continuously heard the phrase “You are going to stay here for a long time”.
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It’s now three years, and many of the taxi and minibus drivers in this area know their customers well.
I go towards the parked taxis to catch a ride and leave. The driver of a taxi cab that is there by the river on Mondays, close to the back door of Evin, where visitations take place, is standing there trying to attract passengers.
He says, “Sometimes, with some of the families that you see, it is hard to believe that they have come to visit a prisoner. They are so dignified and have so much class that you feel such pity for them having to go through this. Sometimes families have come from faraway cities and are on their way back home, that makes one feel ashamed for their hardship.”
Another cab driver tells me, “Ma’am, last new year, my when mother was very ill, I vowed to give free rides to these old men and women who come here that don’t have much money. Since then, I do this from time to time.
As a friend says, we all need to help and do what we can. I am not a journalist nor a political activist to be imprisoned, so this is my way of helping. One needs to be able to sleep at night.”
In the mean while, I am thinking about the services that Judge Moghayeseh, Judge Salavati and the Judiciary Chief, Sadegh Larijani that they perform for their country which this cab driver has no clue about.
Or Saeed Mortazavi’s (former Tehran Prosecutor General) services he performed that the people apparently do not appreciate, from closing of so many newspapers to the events in Kahrizak prison (3 confirmed cases of post-election protesters killed under torture).
Or how people should feel safe and able to sleep soundly at night, when those “in the trenches” of embezzlement and bribery are supposedly keeping them secure.
And the nightly sleep that I don’t understand how the rulers of this Islamic country have been able to experience each night in the past three years.