Breaking the Language Barrier on Human Rights

They Sealed My Office Door: Mohammad Mostafaei Talks To Voice of America

August 10, 2010

VOA correspondent interviews Mohammad Mostafaei, the human rights lawyer who fled to Turkey and is now in Norway.

Interview originally aired on VOA Television on August 9, 2010

Translation Persian2English

They Sealed My Office Door Shut: An Interview with Mohammad Mostafaei

Mohammad Mostafaei:
I miss Iran and its people.

VOA Correspondent: Why did you leave Iran?

Mostafaei: I never wanted to leave Iran. Any time someone wanted to leave Iran, I always objected and told them that there is nowhere better to work than Iran. Unfortunately [the regime] created an atmosphere for me that made me unable to fulfill my duty [I.e. service]; but even this was bearable. What made me decide to leave Iran is solely the illegal actions of the interrogator in branch 2 of the Shahid Moghaddas investigations office [in Evin prison]. He illegally issued the arrest of my wife [Fereshteh Halimi] and a bail amount of approximately $6 thousand USD. Albeit, she was thrown into solitary confinement and was not set to be released until I was turned in. They held her captive for fourteen days. [The illegal processes] made me decide to leave the place I belong to and begin the difficult [journey] to another country.

VOA: Your wife is free right now?

Mostafaei: Yes.

VOA: What type of pressures were you under?

Mostafaei: I didn’t experience real severe pressures in Iran. Yes, I was arrested, banned from leaving the country, summoned, and interrogated, but none of these were reasons for me to tire. There was no other country that I wanted to go to and I had opportunities to make money, but as a lawyer, the judicial system in our country is unbearable. It is hard to work in a place where the judges, interrogators, and assistants abuse their power and impose their personal agendas on the cases, especially the amnesty cases that include innocent people either imprisoned or who face execution. Our judicial system is unjust. The ones in power and who call the shots should be less concerned about themselves and think more of the rights of humans.

VOA: Mr. Mostafaei, you are the lawyer for Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the woman who was sentenced to stoning. You are also the lawyer for  journalist Hengameh Shahidi and a number of child execution cases. Now that you are away, who will be taking care of these cases and what does this mean for these cases?

Mostafaei: Fortunately, I have wonderful colleagues. They have established a campaign to take over my cases and work on them. But, unfortunately, I heard that security forces invaded my office today, even though no one was inside. I believe they took some of my stuff, including documents. They also sealed my office door shut. This act surprises me. Why are my files made inaccessible to other [lawyers] who are able to take over and care for the cases?

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