Fariba Pajooh, still in jail
by SETAREH SABETY in Nice, France
03 Nov 2009 21:44
According to her father, Reza Pajooh, a former officer in the Air Force, she spent the entire month of Ramadan in solitary confinement. She was then placed in a cell with recently released journalist Hengameh Shahidi, who is also an adviser to Karoubi and a women's rights activist. The two, the only women journalists in jail, started a hunger strike that ended with Hengameh's release after a bout at the Evin infirmary for severe cold symptoms. Apparently Fariba Pajooh's hunger strike ended yesterday due a terrible cold similar to Shahidi's. Her parents, who had only heard rumors of her hunger strike, were allowed to pay her a visit at Evin. According to their account, her mental and physical state was very troubling. They had previously declared that she had been subjected to severe mental and physical pressure to make confessions.
Her father claims that on the occasion of his previous visit to see his daughter in jail she had been so angry that she made a scene yelling about the way her prison guard and interrogators were treating her. She had submitted to a very 'vulgar' body search that had apparently traumatized her and complained of her interrogators accusing her of moral misconduct and leading an immoral personal life, an accusation that is routinely made towards female political prisoners. She has thus far been denied access to her lawyer.
Fariba Pajooh is a child of the Islamic Revolution. She was born a year after the Revolution to a mother who is a medical doctor and an Air Force officer father who served sixty-eight months at the Iran-Iraq front and sustained lasting injuries. He describes how she did not recognize him as a child when he came home from the front because he had been gone for so long she had taken to calling her grandfather 'dad' instead. The veterans of the bloody war in which multitudes died and not an inch was gained by either side, are celebrated and venerated in the Islamic Republic. They are given many benefits and treated as heroes. Her father's outrage is compounded by the fact that he never thought that this kind of treatment could be meted out to the innocent daughter of an officer and war veteran. Fariba's only apparent crime was to support a carefully vetted reformist candidate. The Islamic Republic is indeed devouring her own children.
Fariba attended Azad University in Tehran where she received a bachelors in Communications. She also has a degree in Architecture from Soureh University. She started a career in journalism covering national politics and foreign policy for major Iranian news agencies and newspapers in 1999, including dailies such as Shargh, Etemad Melli, Ham Mihan, Iran, Aftab Yazd, Sedaye Edalat; Shahr news agency, the Iranian Labor News Agency, the Iranian Student News Agency; and Gozaresh, a monthly magazine.
According to a colleague who worked with her extensively, Fariba lived for her work and loved journalism. She was a dedicated reporter whose articles and writings were thoroughly researched and well-balanced. Fariba was a journalist who sought objectivity in her work. She always made sure that her credentials with the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance were in order. At all times she used her own name on all her work and never published anonymously.
Fariba was outgoing, cheerful and loved to travel. She went out of her way to help other journalists. She deeply cared about the plight of the underprivileged and never reported a story without canvassing the whole city -- rich and poor -- whether in Tehran or a far flung province.
Her Father said in an interview with Roozonline, a reformist's site, that he was very worried about the psychological well being of her daughter who had been hospitalized a year ago for severe depression.
Fariba's father cannot understand how the regime that he served so faithfully on the forbidding frontlines of the Iran-Iraq war could consider a "twenty something girl a threat to the national security of the nation?"
She reveals her sensitive side in her blog, After the Rain, "I am a journalist and I am restless; writing calms me."
The last entries, written just before her arrest on August 22, attest to her love of Iran and her love of writing. She writes that her "pen is the enemy of ignorance." She mourns the closing of the Journalist Union this summer, considers it the loss of her 'home'. Her very last entry is a nationalistic poem that she penned, "My Green Homeland."
Your name eternal, o native soil
The dawn of hope, o native soil
Shine in the sky like eternal love
My native land, my very being
My delight and my drunken joy
Shine in the sky like eternal love
Hear the burning in my words
I, who sings your song,
My entire body and soul
My homeland, my homeland, my home.
Copyright © 2009 Tehran Bureau