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Witness Statement: Shadi Sadr

17. I knew the characteristics of the previous group of interrogators well because in 2006 and 2007 I was summoned to interrogation plenty of times. The government viewed the Raahi office I founded with suspicion and subjected it to random searches and surveillance in 2006 and 2007. I was brought in for interrogations in connection with these searches until the office was ordered by government officials to permanently close in mid-March 2007.

18. I think that until November 2008, the group of interrogators was the same. The team was led by a man named ‘Mahdavi’ (not his real name), who also went by the alias of ‘Foroutan’ or sometimes ‘Khakzad’ or ‘Khakpour’.

19. My guess is that In November or December 2008, about six months before the presidential election, there was a shift in the security forces who were in charge of women’s movement. When I asked the man I recognized at the Tracking Office about where ‘Foroutan’ was—he replied curtly and said ‘What is it to you? He is not here.’

20. I did not know for certain why the old team left but I found it odd. These people handled the women’s file for 5-6 years and interrogated over a hundred women’s activists and supporters. They knew a lot of details. One time my interrogator Foroutan told me “I know so much about all you ladies that if you were to quiz me and ask when Parvin Ardalan’s her first tooth grow, I would be able to tell you.”

21. Later, when I discussed the change in interrogators with other women activists, we concluded that the team had probably not been as extreme as Ahmadinejad’s cabinet required—and so had been forced to leave. While the old group was focused on security issues, they did not believe that just because someone was an advocate for women’s issues that automatically meant they intended to overthrow the government. In contrast, the new group seemed convinced that all women’s rights activists were active proponents of regime change.

22. I got the sense that my new interrogators did not know much about me and did not have access to my previous interrogation files. For example they did not know basic biographical details about me—that I am part of the Women’s Field Website, that I am an advocate against stoning. Only my first interrogator at Tracking Office, who was part of the ‘Foroutan’ clan, knew. The later interrogators did not. The lack of knowledge starkly contrasted with Foroutan and his clan—they knew which groups we belonged to, what our activities were. The old team even knew about the internal disagreements among the members of the women’s movement.

23. These interrogators told me that the women’s movement did not do anything useful—we only made ‘a lot of pointless noise’. They told me that the women’s movement unjustifiably tried to take credit for initiatives of the state. They told me that if the Iranian state makes decisions to reform laws, the women’s movement has nothing to do with bringing about that change—the state reaches its own decisions. I countered with the argument that obviously the women’s movement helps the state get to where it is because otherwise why wouldn’t the state undertake these reforms 30 years ago?

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Tagged as:

Statement, Due Process, Right to an Attorney, Equality Before the Law, Discrimination