By Jila Baniyaghoob(1)
Monday, 31 October 2011
Today, in Evin Prison’s meeting hall, they beat up Mohammad-Reza Moqisseh’s son, Mostafa. Mohammad-Reza Moqisseh is a journalist, one of our very good colleagues. He has been a member of the presiding board of the Association of Iranian Journalists. He’s very serious, and had with a very good reputation in following up his colleagues’ cases. I wanted to know what had caused the beating up of his son, and asked many of the prisoners’ families what had happened.
Most replied that Mostafa had been using a table in the meeting hall to fill in the ‘meeting card’ so he could see his father. A prison official, a private doing his compulsory military service, had told Mostafa that he did not have the right to use the table and had to fill in the card while standing. This seems to have led to a verbal argument, followed by two or three men ganging up on Mostafa and beating him up.
For a long time, there has been a table in the left-hand corner of the ground-floor of meeting building, on top of which one finds the blue ‘meeting cards’. Every week, we pick up these cards and fill them in with our personal details and those of the prisoners we would like to meet and hand them over to the, no doubt good-tempered, officers in charge of the meeting hall. An hour, or hours, later, they would call us to say we should go up to the second floor of the building for the meeting.
Today, when I went to the same table, I noticed a piece of paper underneath the glass top, with a note which said: ‘Avoid using the table to fill in the meeting card.’ With the beating up of Mostafa Moqisseh on my mind, I approached an officer standing near the table and said: ‘Why don’t you let us use the table to fill the cards from today? Is it made of gold or silver, and you’re worried that it might be worn out?’
The officer, a private doing his compulsory military service, said: “I’m nobody. This order’s come from my superior. But if you had heard his argument, even you would have agreed that this is the right decision.’
‘Please tell me your superior’s argument,’ I said.
‘Well,’ he said, ‘very often, it’s women who come to visit [the prisoners]. When they bend over to fill in the cards, they have their backs to the crowd standing behind them. Well, when this bending over of theirs might create a pleasant scene for some of the men standing behind them...’
I could not bring myself to hear the rest of what he said. ‘What on earth are you talking about?’ I said. ‘First of all, the person who was beaten up today for bending over and filling the card on the table was a man, not a woman. Secondly, I am amazed that your superior has such a creative mind, which makes him have thoughts that would never cross our minds.’
Some ‘argument’; wouldn’t you say so?