Kaleme—“Mousavi and Rahnavard’s home has been converted into a prison surrounded by tall iron walls”; this is the observation echoed by employees of the Office of the President and doctors and patients at Shahid Shorideh hospital situated across from Akhtar street, the street where Mousavi’s house is located.
We are reminded of the cold days when are hearts were warmed by a Green woman who either secretly left the house or did so despite major altercations with security agents waiting outside her residence, so that she could get herself to gatherings where so many patiently awaited her arrival.
Zahra Rahnavard always insisted on justice, she fought against discrimination, took pride in being a scholar of the Quran and as a result of her popularity endured repeated insults. It wasn’t long ago that in a sit in at Alzahra University, her head scarf was unduly snatched off her head and private pictures of her were broadcasted in public. They attacked her with pepper gas and tear gas, leaving bruises on her body from lashes by batons. She was insulted, accosted and interrogated while walking outside her home. Finally after threatening to expel her on numerous occasions, they banned her from entering Tehran University where she was a professor and as customary then and continues even now, proceeded to spread lies about her.
140 days have passed since Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard were incarcerated in their own home. The restless heart of a mother is unfamiliar with the counting of the passing days. The restless heart of a mother does not comprehend why the dead-end street where her daughter lives has been converted into a prison, surrounded by black, tall iron gates. The restless and worried heart of a mother is now facing the bitter reality that her daughter can no longer pick up the phone or appear at her door steps for a casual visit, for she has been incarcerated in her own house. They lie and insist that she is free and preoccupied with her art. Lies that leave her family with valid concerns that she too will perhaps be deprived of seeing her old and ailing father one more time, just as Mir Hossein was deprived of seeing his late father Esmail.
Zahra Rahnavard’s mother was much like we expected her to be. The strength in her voice was reminiscent of the cries of protest by Iran’s Green lady; the pain hidden behind her words, evoking the pain endured by the mothers of all Green prisoners of conscience. To interview an old and aging mother under such circumstances is not an easy task; a mother whose family has been exposed to a variety of threats, their worry increasing with the passing of each day, while they patiently await any news of their daughter
Mrs. Navab Safavi explains that during her last visit this month she was extremely concerned for her daughter and son-in-law as they seemed physically weak and had both lost a severe amount of weight. She is of the opinion that this entire ordeal is more like kidnapping than anything else
The following is the content of our discussion regarding the latest status of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard with Mrs. Navab Safavi, Rahnavard’s old and ailing mother:
What is the latest news on Mir Hossein Mousavi and Dr. Rahnavard?
I saw my son-in-law and my daughter approximately two weeks ago. As always, they were mentally strong and in high spirits.
To what extent are you free to behave as you wish during these visits? For example, are your other children who also miss them allowed to be present during these visits?
The visitations generally take place without any prior coordination. However, on a few occasions my other children happened to also be present when the spontaneous visitation was allowed.
Are you allowed to speak freely during these visitations? To what extent do you believe these visitations reflect the reality of their current circumstances?
I am a mother and obviously speak my mind freely. Of course I refrain from discussing politics because I have heard them tell my children that they should avoid speaking about politics during visitations for if they do, these limited and rare visitations will also be banned. Of course, it goes without saying that all visitations take place in the presence of a large number of security agents. A number of these security agents, both male and female remain inside the house and sit next to us at all times. I have not counted the number of security agents outside the house, but suffice to say, there are many of them.
I have no information what so ever and am not aware of the specifics of how they live under house arrest. I doubt that anyone has any such information. It must be said, however, that after a month and a half of no news they did contacted my husband and I on a few rare occasions.
How have the visitations been for Dr. Rahnavard’s daughters? Do they visit their mother regularly? How do they describe these visitations?
Unfortunately my grandchildren, Dr. Rahnavard’s daughters were left in the dark for long periods of time regarding their mother’s well being. For approximately 3 months they were deprived of all visitation. At one point, except for the few moments when Mousavi and my daughter were allowed to visit his late father’s body prior to him being buried, the family had had no contact with Dr. Rahnavard and Mr. Mousavi for more than 50 days. In the past 40 days however, there have been some limited visits in the presence of female and male security agents who have installed cameras everywhere.
My poor grandchildren don’t speak to me much regarding this issue for it is very difficult to discuss anything given the constant and permanent controls and they of course don’t want me to worry. It goes without saying that the presence of the security forces, the constant controls, bodily searches, searches even of food items and personal belongings has been difficult on my grandchildren. They even go as far as searching Mousavi and Rahnavard’s grandchildrens’ hair to make sure that nothing has been hidden, removing their hair clips. Is this acceptable behavior I ask?
How have the security agents treated you, your grandchildren, Dr. Rahnavard and Mr. Mousavi during these visitations?
On the surface they are polite, but in reality their behavior is threatening. For example, my daughter is not allowed to say one word to me in private. Their eyes are on us at all times. They listen to every thing asked and everything said. They repeatedly state that we should refrain from providing any news [from the outside world]. They threaten and demand that we keep silent. But how long must this silence last?
How would you describe the families spirits? How are Dr. Rahnavard and Mr. Mousavi’s daughters holding up? Do they face any particular problems
Much like their parents, my grandchildren have strong spirits and are resistant. Everyone is pained as a result of the predicament we find ourselves in. I am a mother and my daughter’s father is sick. I worry that something will happen to my husband, much like what happened to the late Mousavi senior. I hope and pray that such a thing does not happen and that my beloved husband continues to be amongst us for as long as possible.
Do you have any news of the physical condition of Dr. Rahnavard and Mr. Mousavi?
Unfortunately I am not allowed to see them all the time and as a result of their incarceration we have had limited visits at best. Their appearance during our last visit was however, extremely worrisome. They were both very pale and thin. Both my daughter and my son-in-law seemed to have suddenly lost a significant amount of weight. I am a mother and this was apparent to me. I have no idea what they have had to endure. Of course as soon as they realized that we were worried and upset they mentioned that they sometimes fast. I am sure however, that this cannot be the real reason and we are extremely worried about this extreme and sudden weight loss and their pale and weak physical appearance.
This is of course a very important issue. How is their medical condition? Do you know whether or not they are under the supervision of a specific physician?
Prior to their house arrest, my daughter and son-in-law were completely healthy. Everyone is aware of this fact. If it were not the case, they would have not been able to be so active in the past two years. Naturally, I am not in a position to speak regarding their current physical well being. I can only make a judgment based on their appearance. It goes without saying that their daughters are also worried as a result of the changes in their physical appearance and voiced their concern. They [security agents] said that they have their own doctor and will follow up accordingly. It goes without saying that as long as we are not allowed to use our own doctor, we will continue to worry about their physical well being.