In this open letter to Hassan Rouhani, the mother of slain Iranian blogger Sattar Beheshti asks the Iranian president to bring Sattar's murderer to trial. In this exclusive Tavaana translation, Gohar Eshghi, whose son was tortured to death by Iran's cyberpolice in November 2012 because of a blog post critical of the Iranian government, describes how the Iranian judiciary has tried to bribe her to drop her case. (Photo source: Saham News)
Sattar Beheshti's Mother to Rouhani: "We Expect You to Keep Your Oath"
To Dr. Hassan Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran:
I would like to extend my greetings.
My letter is not going to be a long one. I’m most certain that you know who I am, and that you have heard my son’s name. I am Gohar Eshghi, mother of Seyyed Sattar Beheshti.
My son was not martyred under your administration, and I have no intention of accusing you of negligence. As you might already know, my son was killed after four days of severe torture in jail at the hands of officers from the FATA (Iranian Cyber Police). Five days after his death, when they finally turned his body over to us, the white sheet covering him was still stained with his innocent blood.
Each and every government official found a different way to deny my son’s martyrdom. The only person who followed up on the case was Ali Motahari, the respected member of parliament from Tehran.
It has been one year since this tragedy. We believed we would see my son’s murderer tried by the courts of the Islamic Republic and sentenced in accordance with the law. At first, 11 people were arrested for my son’s murder. Later on, however, each one of them went free in turn. Only one now remains in prison - my son’s murderer. He is the one who looked me in the eye and said: “When we tortured your son, he laughed at us.” He said that Sattar’s laughter drove him into a fit of rage. Sattar died under his torture. This man asked me for my forgiveness. He is none other than Akbar Taghizadeh, the FATA police officer now in prison.
The person responsible for investigating the case sent three “journalists” into our home. These so called journalists, pretending to act out of concern for us, tried to pressure our family into withdrawing our complaint and replacing our attorney. They proclaimed that Sattar had been in contact with anti-regime forces and had taken money from them. They did this to justify his torture and subsequent murder at the hands of the police. These same people tried to pressure us into settling the case for 200 million toman (under $70,000), money that would be given to us as payment for Sattar’s blood. We have strong evidence to prove that the judge himself, acting through these “journalists,” subjected us to heavy pressure in order to make us strike a bargain for my son’s blood. These same so called journalists went to Mr. Shariari, the investigator, a day after coming into our home; they are such close friends with him that they sat on his desk. Almighty God helps those who are being oppressed; He helped us see the true nature of those attempting to pressure us. This time, they had attempted to carry out their work in a different way. Instead of coming to us themselves, they dispatched others to our home in the guise of political and civil activists in order to push us into a settlement. Once we have had adequate time to identify these individuals, we will let the noble people of Iran know who they are.
I, like most of my fellow noble and free Iranians, am in dire financial straits, despite doing my best to appear otherwise. Sattar was the breadwinner in our home; with him gone, there is no food on our table. We live in Robat Karim, one of Tehran’s most impoverished neighborhoods. Some months ago, representatives from your presidential campaign came here and sought to elicit my public support for your candidacy. I, however, not being a politician and not knowing how to play political games, had to beg them off.
You can undoubtedly appreciate how much money 200 million toman is to a family like mine. As a mother, however, I cannot sell my son’s blood for the material wealth of this world. The God we both worship knows that I spend my days besides Sattar’s gravestone and hold his picture when I sleep at night. How can I strike a deal for the life of my beloved boy?
I submit this petition to you now because, on August 4, 2013 (13 Mordad 1392), you took the presidential oath and promised to devote yourself to the Iranian people and to our country. You swore to promote religion and morality and to support the growth of justice, individual freedom, and respect for individuals and their individual rights, as provided for in the [Iranian] Constitution. You declared yourself to be the protector and the guarantor of the rights of the Iranian citizen.
Since -- as you say -- you are a lawyer and not a soldier, we expect you to keep your oath, and to guarantee that the letter of the Constitution and the rights of the Iranian citizenry are respected.
What I ask of you is simple: put the words of the Constitution, and the oath you took to safeguard them, into action. Meet with the head of the Judiciary and bring my son’s murderer to trial without further delay.
I should take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the police and security officials who provided me with the necessary permissions to commemorate the first anniversary of my son’s martyrdom. I would like to make clear that this ceremony took place with the permission of the security forces, and free of any pressure from them.
I pray for your success in “serving the oppressed people of this country” and “protecting your sacred oath,” as you said in your speech.
My best regards,
Seyyed Sattar Beheshti’s mourning mother
Learn More about Sattar Beheshti:
If Sattar Beheshti Had Been Well-Known, Would He Still Be Alive? (only available in Persian)