LONDON: A German woman fighting to free her 66-year-old mother from an Iranian prison has pleaded with Germany to “end the human rights abuse” and intervene in the case.
In an interview with the UK-based newspaper The Guardian, Mariam Claren said she feared for the health of her mother, Nahid Taghavi.
Their last communication included advice about wearing a sweater on holiday. However, following that conversation, Claren’s life was thrown into turmoil and she is now fighting to free her mother from Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, where an alarming number of dual-national citizens are detained.
Her case resembles many others who have faced the same treatment at the hands of Iranian authorities.
Taghavi, a German-Iranian dual national, was suddenly arrested at her Tehran apartment by police officers who claimed she was a “security threat.”
She has been denied contact with lawyers, diplomats and family members from inside the prison. The German foreign office said it has no consular access because of her dual national status, which is not recognized by Iran.
“Germany cannot ignore this human rights abuse and has to intervene,” Claren said. “I know sometimes they keep people in solitary confinement for two or eight months.
“Yes, all her friends agree one thing about her — that she is strong. But she is 66, and not a young girl.
“She has high blood pressure and I do not know if she can withstand torture. I am not even sure if she is alive now.
“I knew as soon I had discovered what had happened to her that I had to go public. Everything I am and can be, she taught me. So I will move heaven and earth to free her.”
Claren uses Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to post daily messages bringing attention to her mother’s case, and worries that seeking publicity is her only choice.
“My mother is fiercely intellectual, but she is political only in the sense that she believes in freedom of speech, women’s rights and human rights,” she said.
“But she is not into party politics, just interested as a citizen. I do not know what Iran wants in return for her release, but she is innocent,” she added.
Taghavi was born in Iran, but moved to Cologne in 1983 and became a German citizen in 2003. After becoming a widow and retiring several years later, she began to spend more time in Iran to be with friends and family, rotating her time between Tehran and Germany.
She was due to return to Germany in the early spring, but decided as a precaution to extend her stay in Iran as the coronavirus pandemic swept the region.
On Oct. 14, Claren sent her mother some photos on social media, but did not get a response.
“I thought she might have passed out or was resting in her apartment because she recently had a dental operation,” Claren said. “After two days I became really worried.”
She then asked family members in Tehran to visit her mother’s apartment.
“When they got there they could not believe what they saw. The whole apartment had been turned upside down, including the carpet ripped up. Her computer, her laptop and passport were all missing. Neighbors confirmed that she had been taken away.”
After realizing that her mother was being held in Evin prison, Claren made urgent enquiries. She was told that Taghavi was in solitary confinement and to await further information.
However, none of the family have heard anything since. “My relatives go to Evin several times a week and try to get information, but they receive nothing,” Claren said.
“Seven weeks later, we know nothing, and it is still going on.”