By Dr Gill Gillespie from an article by Rahim Hamid published by DUSC:
It’s been confirmed that one Ahwazi female activist was executed in the Iranian regime’s infamous Sepidar Prison in the past month, while another Ahwazi woman, named as Makia Nissi, died there during the same period, with activists stating that her cause of death was likely the COVID-19. Nissi had been arrested in connection with her husband’s activism, as a way to force him to give himself up for arrest. Two weeks before Nissi’s death, according to the London-based Ahwazi news group Khakzadegan, another Ahwazi woman had been executed in the prison. The woman, who has so far not been identified, had reportedly been working as a traditional healer offering herbal remedies in exchange for payment. When one of the people who she had been treating subsequently died, she was charged with premeditated murder despite the lack of any evidence of this or any motive, activists reported.
The latest deaths come in the wake of the regime’s arrest of five female Ahwazi activists in recent weeks in connection with their human rights advocacy and work in documenting Ahwazis’ cultural heritage. Two teenage brothers of one of the detained activists (who is herself only aged 20) were arrested along with her when they tried to protect her from the brutality of the regime security officials carrying out the arrests.
The Khakzadegan social media account, run by a group of Ahwazi human rights activists based in London, reported that Nissi died on Monday, 14 December.
Sepideh Gholian, a prominent Iranian labour activist who was imprisoned for her reports on the Iranian regime’s violations of Ahwazi rights, mentioned Nissi in a series of recent Tweets recalling the horrific torture and relentless abuse of Ahwazis by Iranian regime personnel which she saw during her incarceration in Sepidar Prison; Gholian was imprisoned there after providing sympathetic coverage of protests by sugarcane workers in Ahwaz over their salaries being unpaid for six months.
Gholian, a long-time civil rights activist, wrote about the Ahwazi women in Sepidar being subjected to torture to force them into making false confessions or simply to terrorise them, and about the horrendous effect of this abuse on the women’s bodies, emphasising that they were dehumanised and tortured with inhuman cruelty due to their “Arab and female” identity”.
“One of the women who suffered through these tortures is named Makia Nissi”, Gholian wrote, adding, “Makia’s husband disappeared in October 2018 and has been missing since, and nobody has any knowledge of his whereabouts”.
Gholian said that the regime’s infamous intelligence ministry had informed Makia, a mother of three young children, and her family, most of whom had been detained solely to force her husband to give himself up, that none of them would be released until he handed himself in. Even if he did so, Gholian noted, this would automatically mean his death and would have been unlikely to secure the release of his wife or of any of her family members.
Gholian warned repeatedly that, as well as enduring unspeakably dire conditions, torture and abuse at the hand of the regime guards, Makia was desperately trying to make whatever money she could by selling goods inside the prison in order to provide food for her children, who were living in the care of her only remaining free family member, a sister who was struggling financially.
Gholian voiced outrage at the regime’s abuses of Makia Nissi, stating that the authorities’ negligence towards Nissi’s children, the imprisonment of her family members, and the physical and mental abuse, torture and months of solitary confinement she endured were all forms of torture.
In addition to dealing with all these traumatic events, Makia also reportedly suffered from Crohn’s disease, for which she should have received medicine and monthly blood transfusions; instead, the prison clinic issued her with generic painkillers which were woefully inadequate (this is the regime prisons’ standard response to every medical complaint, up to and including advanced cancer). Her already poor health was further aggravated by the dire, unsanitary and overcrowded conditions in the prison and by deliberate medical negligence, with warders reportedly placing her in quarantine only a short time before her death, despite other prisoners pleading for help for her when she complained of severe stomach ache, a high temperature, constant coughing and intense pain which reportedly drove her to scream in agony. Despite her obvious suffering, her cellmates reported, prison warders accused her of playing ill and showered her with abuse, refusing to provide any medical help and dumping her in an isolation cell where she died. To read more, please see the full article here
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