Sunday, October 09, 2016

Homa Hoodfar shares her story after 112 days in an Iranian prison

Homa Hoodfar's recent trip to Iran did not go as expected.
"It ended up being a bigger trip than I planned," Hoodfar tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.
The anthropologist who studies the state of women in government was picked up by the Iran's Revolutionary Guard in June at her family's apartment in Tehran. 
Hoodfar was sent to Evin prison — the Iranian detention centre notorious for torture, mock executions and brutal interrogations.
"Iran was not even in a footnote in my book. But then they took that as a reason why I was there," Hoodfar tells Tremonti, saying the guards thought she was trying to meddle in an Iranian parliamentary election and bring her feminism into politics.  
"I didn't think they would imprison me," Hoodfar tells Tremonti.
Hoodfar spent 112 days in the detention centre. During that time interrogators threatened to keep her in prison for years and told her they would send her dead body back to Canada.
"I kept saying, well I had 65 years of [a] good life, I have achieved a lot of what I wanted. Most people don't even have that chance so it's okay if my life is going to be in prison."
Hoodfar tells Tremonti she was moved to different cells during her incarceration and approached her time in prison as field work.
"[It] was very difficult but after the first week, I thought... I'm an anthropologist and I'm here."
Hoodfar says she observed how she was interrogated but also interviewed the many inmates she met.

"I made mental notes and because I didn't have a pen and pencil initially, I wrote with the tail of my toothbrush on the marble stone," says Hoodfar, a process she says helped her cope with the situation.
"They had their purposes but then I thought I have my purpose which is doing anthropology of interrogation."
On Sept. 26, Hoodfar was released on what Iran calls "humanitarian grounds" and is now home in Montreal.
She says her notes are an important record of what has happened to her.
"Even on the 19-hour flight from Oman to Montreal, I had no sleep. I just kept writing and writing because I didn't want to forget."
Listen to the full conversation at the top of this web post.
This segment was produced by The Current's Lara O'Brien.

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