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Fariba Pajooh, still in jail

by SETAREH SABETY in Nice, France

03 Nov 2009 21:448 Comments
n699691131_1672750_1817577.jpg[ notebook ] A photo of this young and bright-eyed journalist first attracted me to Fariba Pajooh's case. She looked so young, almost school-girlish, and so lively that the thought of her imprisonment in the notorious 209 section of the Evin prison seemed even more incongruent than those of others. Fariba, a twenty-nine year old journalist who may have voted for Mir Hossein Mousavi, was arrested on August 22, the first day of Ramadan near Iftar time at her father's home.

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.

(my translation)

Copyright © 2009 Tehran Bureau

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8 Comments

"They are given many benefits and treated as heroes"?!

Ms. Sabety, I really wish you'd stop this, or at least spend some time with these war vets possibly in some clinics in Tehran or the provinces. I don't know if you are aware of how out of touch and condescending that sounds and you seem to love to repeat yourself.

Pedestrian / November 4, 2009 3:25 AM

Thank U again Ms.SABETY on FARIBA's behalf;
Hopefully she'll be soon released.
The leaders of this regime don't care about the war vets,nor the children of this so called "revolution",they only want to remain in place,but PAYAN-E SHAB-E SIAH SEPID AST !!!
Please keep it up for all of us.

mazandaran / November 4, 2009 4:15 PM

Dear Pedestrian,
I have spent much time with my cousin who is a war vet. and my brother who was a war correspondent at the Iran-Iraq war. I lived in Iran for four last years of khatami and am as aware of the plight of the people as anyone. What makes you presume otherwise? I am aware of the hardships and ongoing injuries that the veterans face. You quote me out of context almost like you wish to deliberately find fault in my article. The statement you quote reflects what the regime propagates re its esteem of war vets. surely my whole article in fact shows the way that the high esteem and good treatment of vets is a lie of the gov.; and I really do not see what you mean when you accuse me of condescension? It seems to me that your critique is completely personal, subjective and in fact condescending! Perhaps if you were not anonymous I would understand better where this comment of yours comes from!

Setareh Sabety / November 4, 2009 4:20 PM

"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."
that's your statement, I am not sure what is taken out of context.

We all have our opinion regarding the situation in Iran, but I would love to see ONE article where a statement like that is made, and backed by some statistics or data of one kind or the other. Yes, Mohsen Rezaie is rich. But so is McCain. What does that have to do with the hundreds of thousands of veterans? What are these "many benefits" they are given? And who are "they"?

Many of us have also spent a lot of time with war vets. I'm from Khuzestan and probably more than 60% of our neighbors and friends are war vets. I've also spent quite a bit of time with them, and in clinics in the province. And if by "personal" you mean "someone who is tired of reading Iranians in the diaspora continuously speak about 'those war vets who get all the treats'". Yes, then, it is very personal.

No, your article is not about "that the high esteem and good treatment of vets is a lie of the gov" but about the daughter of one of these veterans who happens to be on the side of the opposition and for whose release many of us are praying and hoping day and night.

Pedestrian / November 4, 2009 8:34 PM

Ms Sabety,Thank you for making us aware of the situation of Faribah Pajooh! May she be released
to her family soon!

Calypsolady / November 5, 2009 2:07 AM

Mr. Pedestrian,

Have you looked at the videos posted on Youtube about what is going on in the universities around the country? Most many of these students are the children of the same very families that fought the war.

If you are from Khusestan, please tell me, what exactly did the government do for the war torn areas in the last 30 years? The most beautiful parts of the country were left unbuilt and were only built by the locals.

We are currently fighting for the very being of existence. The right to a decent government that controls inflation, manages the country's oil revenues and has a productive workforce. This isn't an arguement of war veterans. It is the simple request of the citizens of this country. Now, someone had the guts to make a weblog and write their thoughts has been put into the jail and you are picking on Ms. Sabety for her telling a story. This story is not YOUR story about a woman that had the guts to write a weblog, but it is a story of HUNDREDS of innocent people that are in jail and their civil rights is being stepped on.

I have worked in Iran with many hospitals and know firsthand about the issues this government has faced about Drugs, HIV and many other diseases. It is sad to see rather than taking care of their own, while oil was at $150 they wasted it away and ruined the industries, increased the sanctions and now they want to create 36 million bank accounts to pay people welfare of $100+ a month to make them permenantly dependent on them. You must look at all the countries in the MENA region and compare our GDP growth, productivity and employment and see how terrible this government has acted. They have done NOTHING. NOt only for war veterans, but also for the remaining people that live there. Within the MENA region, we have the most educated, hardest working citizens and have a population ranked amongst the 5 largest in the region, yet there is nothing to show for thse amazing brains.

So, look at the YOUTUBE videos on this site for the University students and see how these students are revolting against their government because they want a better life. They put their lives each and every day on the line to express their feelings and are no different than our journalist in jail because the university system is built as such that if you express your opinion you are black listed from ever getting an education.

We MUST have demanded more many years ago. Welfare is not the answer. Unemployment is not the answer and if the government really cared about its own citizens they would have gotten off their high horse about Atomic b.s. and negotiated to lift the sanctions so the rest of these industries didn't get destroyed and that our children too would have a chance to live a better life in this beautiful country than what is currently being offered to us.

Lifer / November 7, 2009 10:22 AM

Dear Faribah
Be strong in the lord, he is with you to the end and he keeps you in his almighty hands. Governments comes and go like a cloud, they will pay for the crimes injecting to young leaders of future Iran. My heart goes with you and hurt to see you in pain. I pray for you and your family for stregth. I trust the lord use you to deliver the country from the hands of evil rullers. The one who created you is full of misterious power.
Just trust him with all your heart.
We all love you and you are in our haerts.

mory / November 11, 2009 3:05 AM

It is high time that the Iranian establishment seizes to over react. That behavior might not help the Nizam in the long run ; I fear!

I hope; by now things might have improved.

Naqi Akbar / December 24, 2010 12:08 PM