The search for the real Saideh Puraqayi begins with the Democratic Party of Iran. According to the Wikipedia article on it, it was founded in 2004 by a group of student and political activists. Its general secretary was Abbas Khorsandi, who was sentenced to eight years in prison in September 2007 and its spokesman was Qasem Shirzadian aka Kaveh Shirzad. One of the party activists was Sepideh Puraqayi, the sister of our Saideh Puraqayi. That’s right. Contrary to what the Green Wave for Freedom said in its communiques, Saideh had a brother and a sister born to a first wife of their father.
The Taraneh Mousavi rumor-mongers were faced with inventing a victim out of thin air. The Saideh Puraqayi rumor-mongers were faced with the more daunting task of reinventing a victim who already existed.
According to Kianush Sanjari’s Autumn in Evin, Sepideh had graduated with a degree in English. She had been arrested before in the course of the student demonstrations of 1999. (She was an active member of the United Student Front, as stated here.)
Aside from being a Democratic Party member, she was called in all the communiques pertaining to her arrest a human rights activists. More specifically, she was an active member of the Campaign to Gather a Million Signatures to eliminate all laws which discriminate against women, according to the website of the Kanun-e Zanan, or Women’s Association and that of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR).0
According to a report issued by CHRR’s Student Committee, on 18 Shahrivar 1386/September 9, 2007, Sepideh Puraqayi was arrested in a sweep which netted five other members of this party. She was imprisoned in Section 209 of Evin Prison. One of the issues in her arrest might have been a belief by the regime that she was working with Haleh Esfandiari, the Iranian-American academic who had been arrested by the Islamic Republic in December 30, 2006, according to Bulletin News as cited by the website Autumn in Evin.1
Sepideh’s mother (whose name is not given in any of these communiques) became a public figure in her defense.2 Her mother publicly reported that she had been arrested at three p.m. by Intelligence agents (of NAJA) and that they came back to take all her manuscripts, books, computers, CDs and floppy disks at eleven that night. This report was picked up by the Islamic-reformist website Advar News, hosted by the Committees to Strengthen Unity.3
After 111 days, she was released on bond, according to Rooz Online. Her friend, Kaveh Shirzad, and a number of his comrades were released in Bahman 29, 1386/February 18, 2008, and the leader, Abbas Khorsandi, had his sentence extended to 21 Farvardin 1387/April 9, 2008, according to an allied human rights website.
Payam-e Daneshju4 posted a statement on Shahrivar 16, 1388/September 7, 2009 that “According to Miss Sepideh Puraqayi, who was a political and social activist, particularly in matters of human rights …, her sister, daughter of Abbas (the late Abbas Puraqayi who had died a few years ago) was arrested in the course of recent events and nothing has been heard from her. A few days ago, Miss Sepideh learned that her sister had died under torture in prison. Solidarity5 extends its condolences over this heart-rending event to our dear comrade Miss Sepideh Puraqayi and her family.
Her death was reported on the CHRR website dated Shahrivar 13, 1388/Septmber 4, 2009. It is here that the CHRR and its allies answer the rumor-mongers. In a posting dated that same day, after talking about Saideh, the blogger writes,
As for Saideh, she was still a student and was killed around the age of seventeen, when she was considered a child. Their father died at the age of 52 of an illness just when Sepideh was in a Revolutionary Guard solitary confinement cell in Eshratabad. The father of Saideh and Sepideh had neither gone to the front nor was ever a soldier.
Saideh and her mother lived separately from Sepideh and her brother after her father died. It was perhaps for this reason that the government forces thought that Saideh was the only child and there would be no one to avenge her but her poor mother. This is accurate information and, if necessary, further information in documented form will be presented.
Now we pose our questions as follows so that he who cheated will be shamed:
- How and why was Saideh killed?
- Where has her body been buried?
- Who said that she was the only child and why was this lie concocted?
- Who printed and distributed the statement of her death? Why were there lies in it?
- Who was it who held the funeral services for her in the presence of government forces and what was Hashemi Samare’s6 role in this event or scenario? After all, there are reports about his intervention.
- Why did you make this a security issue and prevent anyone from approaching Saideh’s mother?
If your claim that the velayat-e faqih‘s system is clean of lies and tricks and rape is true, shed light on these questions for public opinion, although it has been years that you have had no value or credibility with public opinion and you say and do whatever you please. But know that the power of public opinion is much greater than the power of your prisons and weapons. Do not imagine that you imprison and kill and rape but not one will stand up to you. You are sorely mistaken. You will see how the people will judge you and what they will do. So await public opinion’s final judgment of your deeds. You must clarify for public opinion who planned such a scenario and who executed it. Is this not a great injustice to a poor mother and daughter for you to have distorted their identity so badly? We also have a question for the Reformists. How is it that you, who spread this report for the first time, have kept silent? Let it not be that you have coordinated yourselves in a three-member commission to keep your system from losing face. If you remain silent, we will not be the losers. You know that journalists will pursue the revelation of the truth.
I found an announcement about a seventeen year old girl who was cruelly killed and buried and for whom a fake funeral service was held, and who was called the daughter of a martyr. She is the daughter of Sepideh Puraqayi. Everyone knows Miss Sepideh Puraqayi. I have known her since 1378/1999. She was a civil-society and human rights activist who had landed in prison a number of times previous to this and been tortured. Her father died in 1380/2000 while Sepideh was in prison, and as far as I know was neither a soldier nor a martyr. It is astonishing that they have issued such a communique simply to preserve the velayat-e faqih. For example, what was the point of holding a funeral service for this poor girl with a large security aspect? These are bitter facts for which no clear explanation has been offered, and they must indeed be clarified. But I know my duty to my dear friend Miss Sepideh Puraqayi, and I offer my condolences to her dear family.
0 Peiman Aref, in his blog Tajaddodnameh, writes his recollection of having met Sepideh. He says that she was passionately loyal to the imprisoned leadership of the Iranian Democratic Front, which preceded the Democratic Party of Iran. When he quipped that it was nice to see that the leadership of this group had gotten past the stage of saying “Imam Khamenei”, she exploded in a rage at the Strengthening of Unity (see note 3) group that she needed a drink of water to calm herself down.
1 We were not able to find such an article in Bulletin News using its search engine. The author if this post says that this is impossible, that Sepideh had always been content to be an journalist working quietly in the background and never sought such celebrity.
2 See, for example, this post on the Women’s Association site, where she issues a public statement, one among many.
3 According to the the Wikipedia entry for this group, this group was formed by pro-Khomeini students across Iran in the first years of the revolution to combat the left and the liberals. It was independent of the Islamic Republican Party, whose ambitions to control campus politics it had to fight off. It was, however, actively supported by Ayatollah Khomeini himself. After the war years, it went through an evolution and became the backbone of Hojjatoleslam Sayyed Mohamad Khatami’s Second of Khordad movement which propelled the reformist cleric into office for two years. They were disillusioned with Khatami for not standing up for the reform program.
4According to its Wikipedia entry, it was launched in 1989 as the organ of the Union of Islamic Societies of Students and Graduates of the Universities and Centers of Higher Education. This latter was formed in 1984 by a rightist faction of Strengthening of Unity, a faction which supported Khamenei and Rafsanjani, with the general drift of the leadership to the right (as it jettisoned, for example, its alliance with the pro-Soviet Tudeh Party). It later swung to the left as it recoiled from Rafsanjani’s corruption. During the 1999 student rebellion, it tried to form a united organization of the student societies, leading to the aborted experiment of the United Student Front. It was led by Heshmatollah Tabarazdi, whom we will mention elsewhere in this posting.
5 Solidarity for Democracy and Human Rights in Iran. A regroupment of nationalist formations, including groups, such as that of Tabarazdi (see below) which had broken with Islamic reformism, such like the National Front, the Iran Party, the Democratic Party of Iran). It’s platform is:
- Protection of Iran’s territorial integrity and independence.
- Acceptance of the value of the UN Charter and the International Declaration of Human Rights
- The rule of law arising from the people’s free choice.
- Amending the Constitution and deleting articles which violate the nation’s sovereignty.
- Separation of religion and state.
- Support to democracy, human rights, and fundamental freedoms.
- Support to the equal rights of all Iranian ethnic groups.
- Support to equal rights for women and men.
- The elimination of any sexual, racial, ethnic, ideological, and religious discrimination.
- Protection of the Persian language, the ultimate source of historical and national culture, unity, and identity, with respect for and acceptance of other languages common in the land of Iran.
- The abolution of any violence and torture, both legal and arising from individual perpetrators.
- All-around economic and social development along with the spread of social justice and the elimination of all forms of exploitation.
It is associated with Heshmatollah Tabarzadi.
6 Mojtaba Samareh-Hashemi is a close adviser to Mahmud Ahmadinejad (and relative of), both when he was mayor of Tehran and when he was president. He was appointed to be the political councilor and electoral chief of staff for the Ministry of the Interior during the first Ahmadinejad administration. (Aftab.) Most, if not all government programs were decided on by him. He had a record of being close to Ayatollah Mesbahi-Yazdi, particularly when Ahmadinejad was mayor. (Az Darjeye Sefr Neveshtar) He is now Iran’s attorney general.
7Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, according to his Wikipedia entry, he went through an evolution as a zealous leader of Khomeini’s acolytes on the campuses to a secularist after the student uprising of 1999. An English-language mini-biography of his later evolution is provided in this petition.