Following reports this week that the prosecution is seeking a death sentence for Hossein Derakhshan, the “blogfather”, his friend Sandrine Murcia considers why he decided to return to Iran
“I’m so happy with my work. I learnt so much in the past year; it opened up for me so many new ways of thinking. I can’t wait to use all this in my writing.”
This is what a busy, excited Hossein Derakhshan told me in September 2008 about his MA in Media Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. During his time at SOAS, Hossein started to reconsider his role as a blogger, and began thinking about what to do next. Hossein loves blogging as much as he loves discussions and debates, but he could not see himself just blogging for the rest of his life. It had certainly been a valuable tool in engaging with others and sharing thoughts, but it was the purpose, not the act of blogging in itself, that most interested him.
Hossein was also eager to go back to Iran. He disliked being away from his family and from his native Tehran — the city he loves so much — and said he did not want to be “disconnected” from the real life of the Iranian people. He wanted to enjoy Nooroz (Iranian New Year) at home; he wanted to be in Tehran for the 30th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution; he wanted to be in Iran for the 2010 presidential elections.
So, as the end of his time at SOAS approached, Hossein decided to go back to Iran for a year or so. He knew he was going to be questioned by the police; he knew he would probably be arrested because of his writings and his trips to Israel. But he believed the period running up to the election would be a time of greater exchange and discussion across Iran. He thought that officials might be less inclined to treat him unfairly, and that if he were detained, he would at least have the opportunity to publicly explain himself, his writings and his actions.
Hossein Derakhshan returned to Tehran on 17 October 2008. Two weeks later, he was arrested at his parents’ house and has been detained in Evin prison ever since.
All his rationales about the trip were proved wrong. Not only was he arrested, he was then given no chance to explain himself. Hossein never thought he could be detained for so long.
Meanwhile, his family and friends were given strictly no news about his whereabouts and whether he was still alive. After two months in the dark, an official press communication in December 2008 confirmed Hossein’s arrest and detention in Evin prison. For another eight months, the Derakhshan family was denied further information. They were told in July 2009 that Hossein was finally out of solitary confinement awaiting trial. There were no indications about what charges he would face, and the family were not given any access to him.
Hossein was finally brought to court for trial earlier this year. After three sessions, which his family were not allowed to attend, Hossein is still waiting for the judgment to be passed.
Two years after his initial arrest, we are now waiting for the judge’s final verdict.
To support Hossein Derakhshan:
Sign the petition Release Hossein ‘Hoder’ Derakhshan from Evin Prison
Contact the Canadian Embassy in Iran via [email protected] to push for action
Join Free Hossein Derakhshan // Libérez Hossein Derakhshan on Facebook
For further information go to www.freetheblogfather.com