Maryam Akbari Monfared is a political prisoner in Iran serving a 15 year sentence and is now taking the state judiciary to court for the unlawful execution of four of her siblings and the imprisonment of her mother, all of whom were political prisoners in the 1980s in Iran.
Akbari Monfared, a mother of three, has another brother alive and he is also a political prisoner currently serving a 17-year sentence in Iran.
Akbari Monfared was arrested after the disputed presidential election in Iran in 2009 and charged with “moharebeh” or enmity against God. This is a charge that the state judiciary intended for those who have taken up arms against the state even though Monfared had only taken part in peaceful protests and acting as a citizen reporter for the diaspora media outside of Iran.
When the authorities raided Maryam Akbari Monfared apartment and arrested her in 2009, memories of the 1980s Iran came rushing back: when four of her siblings were executed one after the other, her mother was arrested and even mourning for her loved ones was a crime with authorities arresting family members gathering for mourning.
Now serving the 8th year of her 15 year sentence, she has filed a complaint against the Islamic Republic Judiciary from inside the prison and demands to know more about the process of indictment and the charges that were brought against her late siblings that lead to their execution: three brothers and a sister.
In a statement she writes: “Many of those executed in 1980s in Iran, including my brothers and sister, where serving sentences or had served their full sentence. They were retried in courts lasting a few minutes, which did not follow the requirements of due process. Most of them were arrested for taking parts in protests, disseminating press or owning dissident publications.”
Akbari Monfared asks: “on what charges did the judiciary execute four of my family members in the 1980s?”
The state never provided her family with the bodies of her sibling and she is also demanding to know the location of the burial sites of two of her siblings – who are buried in mass grave sites.
Such legal initiative to challenge state impunity is unprecedented from inside Iran – although similar initiatives have been ongoing from outside the country.
Akbari Monfared in her statement explains that she has learned that in order to be able to challenge state impunity and demand responsibility for the killings of her siblings with international courts, she has to first file a complaint with the Islamic Republic Judiciary.
Maryam Akbari Monfared when arrested in 2009 received a much harsher treatment because of her family history of involvement and support for People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MKO). In her previous statements she has attested that both her brother and Maryam herself were subject to torture and degrading treatment. She therefore, anticipates that she will be under more pressure for the current initiative to take the state to court.
Akbari Monfared write: “We are under pressure as families of the victims 1980s executions of political prisoners in Iran. And now that I am writing this letter, I do not know what fate awaits me. But I am doing so with the knowledge of all possible consequences.”
In her complaint against the Iranian judiciary she introduces herself as a family member of the victims and the survivors of 1980s mass executions in Iran. She demands prosecution of those responsible for the executions, a list of the names of those buried in mass graves and public presentation of the indictment files of the political prisoners executed in 1980s in Iran.