Sepideh Kashani was an administrator at the now-defunct Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, Iran’s premier conservation NGO. She was as well-behaved and unassuming a prisoner as the guards could have asked for. Despite the fact that we were being held in a maximum-security detention facility, the guards sometimes forgot to close the door of her cell, and Sepideh would pull it closed herself.
Both of us spent most of our time in solitary confinement, but for a time we shared a small, cramped cell. Forced to wear blindfolds every time we left it, Sepideh would pull hers firmly over her eyes and stumble around on the arm of the guard, whereas I was forever getting in trouble for wearing mine high on my forehead, my roving eyes registering every detail of the detention site and the shady, nameless individuals who ran it.
However, the day Sepideh found out that her husband, Houman Jokar, had been savagely beaten under the stairs in the interrogation block, something inside her snapped. Quiet, obedient Sepideh, who by this point had spent more than 18 months of her life sleeping on the floor of a cold, windowless cell, simply couldn’t stand that image of her intellectual, softly spoken husband, Iran’s foremost expert on big cat conservation, handcuffed and bleeding, his glasses broken and his ribs kicked in.
Houman was an employee of both the Iranian Department of Environment and the UN office in Iran when he and Sepideh were arrested along with seven other colleagues and charged with security offences by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
“Do whatever you want to me,” she had screamed at the manager of the facility, “but don’t touch him. You can kill me if you want, but if you people touch him again, I will kill you!”
Read the complete article at: The National News
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