Allameh Tabatabai university student activist, Arash Sadeghi, was first arrested July 09, 2009, during the suppression of the post-presidential election protests. He was released after 50 days in solitary confinement.
Sadeghi was re-arrested on December 09, 2009 after the mass protests of Ashura, and was later released on March 6, 2010.
Arash was again arrested January 15, 2012, while visiting the grave site of his mother with his grandparents. Arash’s mother suffered a heart attack due to the stress and shock of her home being raided by the security forces who were trying to re-arrest Arash.
Arash’s father, a war veteran, had only spoken to the media (Guardian) once after the death of his wife, this is the first time that he has given an interview to a domestic media.
Following is translation of an interview conducted by Kalameh with Arash’s father Hossein Sadeghi:
Mr. Sadeghi, apparently your son, student activist Arash Sadeghi, is not in a good condition in prison. As the father of Arash, would you like to provide us with the latest news about his status?
“After the last visit that his grandfather had with him, he said Arash has lost a considerable amount of weight and is very thin.
Arash had a pre-existing lung condition that has been exacerbated in prison. They don’t do anything about his condition. He also has a stomach problem. Due to his repeated hunger strikes he has suffered stomach bleeding.
After the last visit his grandfather had with him, he said Arash looked extremely thin and was hardly recognizable. They have shaved his head, and he was very weak and very thin…..”
Can you tell us in which Ward Arash is being kept? Apparently he is not in the General Ward.
“Since his last arrest on January 15, 2012, he has been in the Intelligence Ministry’s Ward 209 and has only been permitted two visits.
He has been deprived of all of his rights, and during this period we had no knowledge of his physical condition.”
May I ask why you have kept silent since his arrest in 2009, and the 2010 raid of your home by agents which resulted in Arash’s mother dying due to the shock from this raid?
“I don’t really know what to say. I love my son. But, I have been serving in the military for 26 years now. Maybe if I did not interfere in the affairs of Arash, (the reason) was because of my work and the place that we reside.
I actually have no home other than the home provided by the military. If I don’t receive my salary we won’t be able to live.
Many of Arash’s friends accused me of abandoning my son. No one can ever forget their child. I have had many problems at work.
I was repeatedly threatened by the Intelligence section, told that I must not have any contact with my son and said any contact with him will result in my dismissal from my work and my residence.
I have no other means of income. I’m forced to continue in this manner. I would like to be able to follow up on his case. After all, he is my son.
Now that you have decided to speak up and break your silence, have you any worries?
“Nothing is important for me anymore. The bottom line of this story is that I may lose my life. I have already lost my wife, and have, in a way, lost my son.
Even after Arash is released, he won’t have his previous mental health, considering all the problems he has had to endure during this period.”
So, if you would like, let us go back to Arash’s first arrest, and tell us when was he first arrested, and by what organization. Then we can go back to the time when your home was raided by the agents; which resulted in your wife’s death.
“Arash’s first arrest was on July 9, 2009 by IRGC’s Intelligence, and, for about three months, his mother and I had no news from him. That time coincided with the time that they had buried some people as “unknown”, and we had felt that Arash may have been among them.”
Well, later it was found that Arash was in Evin at that time, was released a year later in 2010, and then the agents raided your home. Can you tell us exactly what happened that day?
“Arash was released on furlough ln November 2010. A few days later, without any reason, they raided our home, which unfortunately resulted in his mother’s death.
I was on guard duty that day and Arash was at his grandparents home. At four o’clock in the morning (according to my daughter) they knocked on our door.
Before my family had a chance to open the door, they broke the door down and rushed inside the house. Arash’s mother suffered a shock and fell down. My daughter says that her mother was screaming “Ya Abolfazl” ( a Shia Imam) and fell down from her bed. She could hardly breath and was hyperventilating.
The agents, ignoring that situation, did their work, searched the home and left. They left with my wife in that condition and unfortunately….sorry…recalling the memory of those events is disturbing…sorry I can not continue…”
I apologize for taking you back to the bitter days that you don’ want to recall. However, as was mentioned in the media, you saw this as Arash’s fault and apparently told Arash that it was his fault that his mother died, and told him you don’t ever want to see him back at your home. I thought, now that you have broken your silence, perhaps you have a different point of view and can explain what really happens with the families that in situations like this, that might cause them to blame their children?
“Unfortunately, I am not in a very good condition myself. I am a war veteran, and have to take fourteen pills a day to maintain my health, and to be able to remain calm for few hours. At that time, (when his wife died) I was very disturbed, and, unfortunately, was looking for someone to blame and may have thought that Arash was the person to blame. But later on I was very sorry for my conduct.
I feel that Arash virtually has no one in this situation. But he is my son, and I am willing to remedy the past and am willing to pay the price at any cost.
After the election (presidential election of 2009), Arash endured very hard times. I hope that he can at least have some solace and peace.”
Mr. Sadeghi, news reports after the election indicated that Arash was one of the people who was subjected to severe beatings during the interrogation sessions. Can you explain what was Arash’s situation during that time, and what effects have those beatings have had on Arash?
“Perhaps the worst torture that interrogators did to Arash was to pluck his body hair one by one. And a very hard slap he received, caused his front tooth to break.
He was beaten continually to a point that, at times under interrogations, he would lose consciousness.
In one case, after his mother passed, they arrested him and transferred him to prison, where he was beaten hard and suffered broken ribs.
His cellmates reported that Arash was taken to the clinic in Evin. But the doctor there did not even prescribe any painkillers, and prescribed deep breathing exercises, telling him that part of the rib is cartilage and will heal itself.
Another case was his shoulder-blade. Unfortunately they had beaten him severely several times and he suffered a dislocated shoulder-blade.
In his last visit with his grandfather, he complained of pain in his arm and shoulder and said they do not provide him with any painkillers.”
It seems that your follow-up of his case has not had any results. As someone who’s son is imprisoned and someone who has served in the military, have you anything to say to the authorities?
“I have nothing to say to the gentlemen who themselves are symbols of lawlessness. They only claim following the rule of law.
Arash’s grandfather and I have repeatedly written to the Judiciary asking them to at least transfer Arash to the General Ward.
In a meeting that Arash’s grandfather had with the prosecutor, the prosecutor, rather than following up on the discussion of transferring Arash to the General Ward, threatened Arash’s grandfather; complaining as to why he had written letters to the Judiciary, and told him he has become a pawn in the hands of the foreigners.
When in a country lawlessness virtually rules, our request for following the rule of law is pointless.
The only thing that I now can do is to at least be the voice of my wife and Arash.”
Have you anything to say to the public or the media? I suppose my question is that, when you have nothing to say to the authorities, who do you hope might do something to better your incarcerated son’s situation?
“The atrocities inflicted on Arash, and all the talk and stories that have been told about Arash have been very poignant for me.
As an example, one of things said, is that Arash himself requested to be in Ward 209 to become a hero.
My heart aches when I hear these sort of things. They make you feel so lonely from all sides. I would like to thank all the people who stayed by Arash’s side all this time. With all the media limitations and other things, they did not let Arash be forgotten.
I feel that if there was more media coverage of his case, perhaps his one year stay at Ward 209 would have been much shorter, and he would have been transferred to the General Ward.
In the absence of any media pressure and coverage, those gentlemen will do anything they want to the prisoners”