Khabarnegaran.info-Niki Azad: Local journalist Mahdieh Amiri speaks of the hardships of practicing journalism in the southern Iranian province of Bushehr. Amiri has been working as a journalist in Bushehr for years. Since 2007, she has been the editor-in-chief of a few local websites, biweekly and quarterly magazines. She is now the editor-in-chief of hamooniran.com website and Ava-ye Dashtestan biweekly.
The Heart Breaking Story of Mohammad Davari, Incarcerated Journalist, Teacher & Editor of Saham News6 July 2011
Khabarnegaran.info -Niki Azad- He is both ajournalist and a teacher. Though his name appears under every statement published from Evin and he has always participated in every hunger strike, protesting the existing conditions, very few people recognized his name and he is seldom written about. His name is Mohammad Davari, incarcerated political prisoner and former editor of Saham News, currently behind bars at Evin’s Ward 350.
On rare occasion we have read about his mother’s anguish as a result of having no news of her son and being so far from him through online media outlets. She is the only person who occasionally speaks of her son’s loneliness and isolation.
His cell mates who have been grated furlough describe Mohammad Davari as a loveable, but quiet and withdrawn man. Mohammad Davari is only one of the incarcerated journalists that to date has been deprived of furlough from prison. As a result of his family living in a province outside of Tehran, Davari has also been denied regular visitation with his family.
Davari’s mother explains how they have incarcerated her family’s main bread earner. Mohammad does not have a father and he is the apple of his mother’s eyes. He has always shared the wages he earned as a teacher with his mother. He always remembered his mother and not a day went by without him asking about her well being.
Impatient as a result of her son’s incarceration, Mohammad’s mother spends her days sending letters to people, complaining and reminiscing about her son, her only hope, her only means for financial support. She writes about how her son was taken away and incarcerated months ago. She writes about how his wages as a teacher were discontinued. She writes about how helpless she is that her meager income is not sufficient enough for her to afford visiting her son on a regular basis.
Mohammad Davari was the journalist in charge of Saham News’ Website, the online media outlet belonging to Mehdi Karroubi one of the reformist candidates during the 2009 presidential campaign. Davari was also responsible for recording the documents regarding the tortures that took place at Kahrizah prison. It was these documents that led to him being sentenced to 6 years in prison and enduring months of solitary confinement. Mohammad Davari was arrested on September 8th, 2009 at the offices of the National Trust Party [Etemad-e-Melli].
In a letter addressed to Tehran’s Prosecutor, Mehdi Karroubi who was aware of how even months after his arrest, this incarcerated journalist was being pressured into succumbing into televised false confessions against him, assumed full responsibility for all the films and documents regarding the tortures that had taken place at Kahrizak prison. Karroubi reiterated that Davari merely acted as camera man and played no other role in this matter, though his letter had no effect on Davari’s eventual fate.
While behind bars, Mohammad tells his cellmates that he worries about his old and ailing mother; a mother who is now alone and isolated. He explains how visitation days have become some of the most unbearable days of his life, for he incessantly worries that something may have happened to them on the way to and from prison; his ears pierced to the radio while he intently listens to reports regarding road conditions. He explains to his cellmates how he was filled with hope when he was able to hold his sister and mother in his arms on one of the rare occasions they were able to visit with him at Evin. Although he misses them dearly, he has asked his family to stop visiting him, at least while all telephones remain disconnected at Evin’s ward 350 - for as much as he enjoys their presence, his is unable to bear the worry that something may happen to them on their long journey to and from prison. Each time they travel to see him, he worries for days, wondering and not knowing if they have arrived back home safe and sound.....
It was after one of these visits that he wrote a letter to his mother stating: "Holding you and my beloved sister in my arms during a face to face visit in prison filled me with love last week and although my sister broke down in tears and and you and I found our hearts beating at the sight of her distress, honest tears rolling down our faces, I am nevertheless grateful that my dry eyes became wet at the site of her sincere demonstration of love. My patient mother, I am at a loss for words and ashamed to see you endure the hardship of thousands of kilometers of travel , just to come and see me. Given your old age and your physical ailments, these additional difficulties are yet another example of the unforgivable injustices you have had to bear. Last week the visitation room was filled with the motherly and sisterly love of so many family members of political prisoners. The smell of love had transformed the unbearable prison environment into the fresh air of spring, obliterating the black and cold winter. Mother did you notice how loving everyone was towards each other on that day? Did you notice how united they are and how certain of their convictions that prison is a place of shame and remorse and not an excuse for feeling proud and being forced to develop strength? This is the secret these prisoners live with, that in their effort to reveal the truth they find themselves trapped in darkness; it is this reality that gives their life an entirely different meaning ..."
Mohammad Davari’s mother explains how she is unsure of what to do now that they have discontinued his wages as a teacher. How is she to visit her son? She explains how all the letters she has written to a variety of government officials have been in vain. Her son has been injured and tortured in prison and her family finds itself in an unbearable predicament.
Davari’s mother explains that her son a journalist and a teacher did not deserve such injustice; he did not deserve not to be allowed to leave the prison walls and barbed wire for even one day of fresh air. Tears roll down her face as she describes her son’s innocence. She is no longer able to travel to Tehran on her own to see her son. She regretfully describes how she yearns to at least hear his voice on the phone, but alas she no longer recalls the last time she was allowed to hear his voice by phone.
Tears rolling down her face she explains: "I don’t have a man in my life to follow up on Mohammad’s case. I just sit and pray to God all day long..." Mohammad Davari’s mother speaks of how she longs to have a face to face visitation with her son, but these days it looks as though without a letter of authorization she can no longer visit with her son. If only she could hold her son in her arms one last time....
This is the one and only wish of the mother of incarcerated journalist and teacher Mohammad Davari....
translated by by Banooye Sabz
Khabarnegaran.info-Niki Azad: How is life for Iranian journalists after prison? Does their attitude toward their journalism – the profession that put them in jail – change? Are they more conservative than before? Or bolder?
Khabarnegaran – Niki Azad: He has been put in jail three times for his journalist writing, though he says that jail has not made him feel disappointed with the profession of journalism.