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Witness Statement: Ronak Hesami

Ronak Hesami, an Iranian Kurdish writer who converted to Christianity, recounts the troubles she and her family faced after Islamic Republic agents seized a computer containing her translation files and the video file of her family’s baptism ceremony.

 

Name: Ronak Hisami (Pseudonym)

Place of Birth: Kurdistan, Iran

Date of Birth: April 12, 1962

Occupation: Freelance

Interviewing Organization: Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC)

Date of Interview: April 16, 2010

Interviewer: IHRDC Staff

 

This statement was prepared pursuant to an interview with Ronak Hisami. It was approved by Ronak Hisami on November 15, 2010.

 

Witness Statement

 

MY LIFE IN IRAN

 

1. My name is Ronak Hisami. I am a 47 year old refugee from Iran, currently residing in Turkey with my two sons. My sons and I converted to Christianity in 2006 and our baptism ceremony was recorded on videotape.

2. Before leaving Iran in 2008, I wrote several articles on the state of political prisoners in Iran for foreign media based in Iraq. I wrote under a pen name in Kurdish and Persian languages. Besides my civil activities, I translated a few Kurdish books into Persian. The books I translated were about the history of Islam, based on Tarikh-e Tabari and other sources, which contradicts the version generally presented in history books.

3. Though I never engaged in political activism myself, I grew up in a family of political activists and married a political activist. Unfortunately, the political activities of those close to me produced a myriad of issues for my family.

4. A sibling of mine is a leader of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran. After illegally crossing the Iran-Iraq border to visit her, my eldest son and I were arrested and interrogated by Iranian authorities. Our interrogators asked us questions like, “Why did you illegally cross the border into Iraq,” and “Why did you try o contact your sibling?” Worse still, they beat my son in front of me and beat me in front of him in order to compel us to speak. By the end of the beating, my face was heavily bruised and my son’s nose was broken. Before releasing us, our interrogators warned us never to speak to anyone of our ordeal. We concealed our injuries by telling friends and family that we were involved in a car accident.

5. Like my sibling, my husband was also a member of the Secret Organization of the KDPI. His activities led to problems for himself as well as our family, and he was forced to flee Iran ten years ago.

6. My family suffered the consequences of my political activities. After his departure, I effectively became a widow while my sons grew up without a father. My younger son who was only 13 when his father left often tells me that he doesn’t know the meaning of having a father. Furthermore, as a result of their father’s political activities, neither of my sons was permitted to pursue their education in Iran. My older son was expelled from university and my younger son was expelled from high school. For my younger son, the fact that he never graduated high school is an endless source of shame and embarrassment. When my husband left, my older son was nineteen; he is now 29 years old. Finally, due to my husband’s political activities my entire family was consistently subject to harassment by agents of the Islamic Republic. The harassment continued even after his departure.

7. My own political troubles stemmed from translating a set of books about the history of Islam that contradicted a number of ideas often propagated by the Islamic Republic. Due to the frequent searches of my home, I could not keep my work safe at my house. Consequently, I got into the habit of giving my finished translations to my son who, in turn, typed them into a computer at a friend’s home. After transcribing the work, my son would save it onto the computer and so that I could send it to my contacts outside of the country. Ultimately, one of the books I translated was published while the other one was posted onto a blog. Out of fear of the political repercussions of translating a book that contradicted the Islamic Republic’s dogma, I never told anyone outside my family about my work on this project. In fact, I once received the published book as a present from a close friend who had no idea that I, in fact, was the person who translated the book into Persian.

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Tagged as:

Kurds, Christians, Freedom of Religion