German-Iranian Human Rights Activist
Nahid Taghavi is a longtime human rights activist who resided in Germany but also had an apartment in Iran, according to Middle East Eye.
The authorities arrested Taghavi while she was visiting Tehran in October 2020. Satar Rahmani, a supporter of imprisoned British-Iranian hostage Mehran Raoof, said that both Taghavi and Raoof were arrested after going to secretly record meetings of activists at a Tehran coffee shop.
Treatment in Captivity
Amnesty International said in February 2021 that the regime was keeping Taghavi in “prolonged solitary confinement.” The National reported that she was being held at Tehran’s notoriously brutal Evin Prison and had been infected with COVID-19.
Taghavi’s daughter, Miriam Claren, said that the authorities only permitted Nahid’s brothers to visit her in April 2021, almost seven months after her arrest.
Taghavi reportedly suffers from high blood pressure, diabetes, and spinal and cervical disc problems. In June 2023, her fellow prisoner Narges Mohammadi claimed in an Instagram message that Taghavi’s life was “in danger.” Mohammadi added, “[Taghavi] can barely get out of her bed. She goes to the infirmary, receives strong painkiller injections and returns to her bed… The pain is so severe it can be seen on her face.” Mohammadi also said that Taghavi had been in solitary confinement for 220 days.
Claren wrote in October 2023: “My mother slept on a stone floor in a small cell, alone, without a bed, mattress or pillow for 194 days. She wore a blindfold for months, was monitored by cameras and had little access to fresh air. The food rations were deliberately kept small; she lost 14 kilograms during this time. Her health deteriorated rapidly, but they failed to break her spirit.”
Charges and Trial
My mother’s trials were a farce. The Iranian regime charged her with “participation in the leadership of an illegal group” and “propaganda activities against the state.” My mother’s reply in court: “If propaganda means talking about the disastrous women’s rights situation, the mismanagement, the poverty, the corruption and the destruction of the environment, then I am guilty.”
Taghavi was sentenced to more than ten years’ imprisonment by Branch 26 of Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Court, according to an August 4, 2021, tweet by her lawyer. The attorney, Mostafa Nili, said that she was sentenced to ten years for the crime of “participating in the management of an illegal group” and eight months “for propaganda activities against the regime.” Taghavi’s daughter, Miriam, confirmed the sentence.
Iran furloughed Taghavi in July 2022 so that she could get treatment for neck and back problems.
First Return to Prison
The authorities forced Taghavi to go back to prison on November 13, 2022, even though she reportedly did not complete her medical treatment.
Taghavi was again furloughed from prison in January 2024 and required to wear an ankle monitor. She was unable to get needed health care while on furlough because she had been restricted to going no further than 1,000 meters from her apartment. She also developed a “painful eye disease,” according to her daughter.
Second Return to Prison
Taghavi was compelled to return to prison on February 28, 2024.
A spokesperson for Germany’s foreign ministry stated in August 2021 that Germany could not provide Taghavi consular aid because she was on trial in her native country. Frank Schwabe, the German opposition Social Democratic Party’s human rights spokesman, criticized Taghavi’s conviction and sentencing, saying, “The charges are baseless and the verdict a farce.” A foreign ministry representative said in September 2023 that the German government has advocated continuously and at a high level for Ms Taghavi. We will continue to do so with undiminished effort. We are in close contact with Ms Taghavi’s family.”
Claren said in September 2023:
It’s horrible. We are fighting two governments: our own [the German government] and the Islamic Republic’s government… Hostage taking of foreign citizens is systematic in Iran and there’s a lack of pressure from the EU. They need a task force and a strategy. Silent diplomacy is not working… The IRGC kidnaps people, arms Hezbollah and Hamas, and gives drones to Russia to use in Ukraine. And [EU countries] are still talking about recognizing them as a terror organisation… [European governments] have no clue how to deal with Iran… I have had a lack of support from the German government. They are very, very silent. I think they think they are going to harm the situation if they speak out. I am like a stone in their shoe.”
Claren added that “[German] Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is ghosting me. I have asked for a meeting several times and have not yet met her.”
Claren wrote in October 2023:
Only in the German Foreign Office does the liberation of a German citizen appear not to be on the agenda. To date, there has not even been a public demand for my mother’s release. To date, there is no strategy for her safe return to Germany. To date, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has not met me, as the daughter of a German woman detained in Iran. Even when the Nobel Peace Prize winner and fellow inmate of my mother, Narges Mohammadi, wrote an open letter to the public in June, drawing attention to my mother’s catastrophic health condition, no measures were taken in Berlin. They haven’t been to this day.
The German government and companies have maintained close political and economic relations with the regime in Tehran for many years. Germany is Iran’s largest European trading partner. As far as leverage goes, there is certainly plenty.
Current policies and economic interests give the impression that this government, like previous ones, prefers a softer approach towards the Iranian regime. My mother, and ultimately the Iranian population pay the price.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock discussed the cases of Germans held hostage in Iran with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in December 2023.
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