After years of protesting Iran’s human rights violations of political prisoners, Mansoureh Behkish is soon to become a political prisoner herself. Behkish has been summoned by the Iranian authorities to report to the Evin prison in Iran on 29 January 2013 to start a six-month sentence for her involvement with the nonviolent Mourning Mothers movement.
Mansoureh Behkish was galvanized into action following the Massacre of Political Prisoners in Iran in 1988 and the 2009 post-election violence that lead to the notorious killing of protester Neda Agha-Soltan. Ms. Behkish is among those left behind, those who have lost family members in these conflicts. Since 1981, Ms. Behkish has lost four brothers, a sister and a brother-in-law. In response, Ms. Behkish founded the Mourning Mothers movement – also referred to as the Mothers of Laleh Park – an alliance of Iranian mothers and other relatives of prisoners who have been executed or disappeared in Iran from the 1980’s onwards.
The Mourning Mothers’ actions are as simple as they are poignant. Every Saturday they gather in the Laleh Park near the place and time of the killing of Ms. Agha-Soltan and meet in silence for 1 hour. On one such Saturday 29 January 2010, Mansoureh Behkish and 33 other women were arrested for speaking out against these violations of human rights. On 29 January 2013, Behkish is expected to begin serving a six-month sentence in Evin prison, where she will join human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh among other women political prisoners.
Ebadi Urges Solidarity With Iran’s ‘Mourning Mothers’, Radio Free Europe, 20 July 2009.
‘Mourning Mothers Iran’ Stand with Activist Mothers Worldwide, WNN – Women’s News Network, 8 October 2009.
Mothers Arrested Before Opposition Rally in Iran, The New York Times, 6 December 2009.
Mourning Mothers spokesperson to serve six-month jail term, Reporters Without Borders, 17 January 2013.
Time is running out. Write to the Iranian Authorities: Refrain from detaining Ms. Mansoureh Behkish