Blog for Esha

Please read this.

From Change for Equality:

The President of California State University has issued a Statement about the Arrest of Esha Momeni, a graduate student at CSUN Northridge and a member of the Campaign, who was arrested on October 15, 2008 while visiting family and conducting research for her thesis project, focused on women’s rights activists. The statement appears below: I am deeply concerned that one of our graduate students, Esha Momeni, has been arrested and detained by Iranian authorities while conducting research as part of her Master’s degree requirements in Mass Communications at California State University, Northridge. My understanding is that her thesis project focused on women’s issues in Iran.

Ms. Momeni is a U.S. citizen. She is a student invested in learning and understanding current conditions in the country of her family’s origin.

Anyone who values knowledge and the role of academic inquiry in shedding light on the human condition should be concerned. We are in support of the efforts of the U.S. government in their efforts to secure Ms. Momeni’s immediate release and are in the process of contacting the following individuals and organizations to obtain their assistance: Senator Diane Feinstein, Senator Barbara Boxer, Representative Brad Sherman, the Department of State, and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaee.

Jolene Koester, President

Change for Equality: October 21, 2008: Interviews with Esha Momeni’s Professors

The following are interviews conducted with Esha Momeni’s Professors about the nature of her research in Iran. The interviews were taken from the blog set up in support of Esha. Take a look at the blog For Esha.

Interview with David Blumen, Esha’s Visual Communications Professor

1- As Esha’s professor and adviser, How do you describe her? Would you please tell us what Esha’s project is focused on?

Esha is an exceptionally bright person, very creative and artistic. As a member of her thesis committee, I understood that she was mostly interested exploring issues related to women in Iran, with an emphasis on clearing up misconceptions the world might hold in this regard.

2- Are you surprised about her arrest? Do you see any reason why she should be in jail now?

Not just surprised, but shocked. I’m aware that such things happen in Iran, but I’m confident that they have nothing to fear from Esha’s research project. It is simply an academic exercise, not meant for publication outside of academic circles. I cannot image why she should be held in detention.

4- Does California State University, Northridge use the student’s projects for any other purposes other than for the purpose of completing a program of study?

Not at all. This is simply a student research project, a requirement toward earning her Master’s degree.

Interview with Dr. Melissa Wall, Chair of Esha’s Master’s Thesis Committee in Arts and Communication Department of CSUN

1- As Esha’s professor and adviser, How do you describe her? Would you please tell us what Esha’s project is focused on?

Esha is a wonderful young woman, very smart and very talented. I have learned a lot about Iranian culture from my discussions with her. She was concerned that Americans often misunderstand Iran and she wanted to help them see a fuller picture of her country. Her project is a video documentary about Iranian women.

2- Are you surprised about her arrest? Do you see any reason why she should be in jail now?

I am very surprised by her arrest. I am certain she was doing nothing wrong. I’m sure all my colleagues in world would be surprised to hear that a young communication and Art student has been arrested for no apparent reason.

4- Does California State University, Northridge use the student’s projects for any other purposes other than for the purpose of completing a program of study?

No, the university does not use student work. It is submitted to a three-person committee, which judges whether she should be awarded a master’s degree for the work. It’s the equivalent of taking an exam.

Thank you.

Esha Momeni, Member of the Campaign Arrested

Change for Equality: October 19, 2008: Esha Momeni, women’s rights advocate and a member of the Campaign from California was arrested on Wednesday October 15, 2008, while on a visit to Tehran. Momeni who is a photographer and graduate student was arrested in an unusual and illegal manner after being pulled over on Moddaress highway, by individuals who identified themselves as under cover traffic police on the pretense that she had unlawfully passed another vehicle while driving. Esha was arrested and taken to Section 209 of Evin Prison, managed by the Intelligence and Security Ministry.

Prior to her transfer to Evin, security officials searched her home and seized property, including her computer and films which were part of her thesis project. The security officials had an arrest warrant and court permission to search the home and seize property.

While Esha’s friends and colleagues were insistent about announcing the news of her arrest immediately, based on requests from her family this news was announced with delay. Security forces had promised Esha’s family that she would be released quickly if news of her arrest was not published.

Esha’s parents went to the Revolutionary Courts today, on the fifth day of her arrest, to follow up on the case of their daughter. Court officials told the Momeni family that they should not come to the courts again, and that their questions will not be answered until the investigation of Esha’s case comes to a close.

Esha Momeni is a graduate student at the School of Communications, Media and Arts at California State University, Northridge. Esha had come to Iran two months ago to visit with her family and to work on her Masters thesis project, focused on the Iranian women’s movement. To this end, she had conducted video interviews with members of the One Million Signatures Campaign in Tehran.

Women’s rights activists object to the unusual manner in which Esha was arrested, as well as the irresponsible treatment of her family members by security forces. Further they strongly object to the unjustified and unwarranted arrest of this women’s rights defender.

A weblog in support of Esha pressing for her release has been established, which includes interviews with her professors (copied below). The weblog as well as the site of the Campaign, Change for Equality, will continue to provide news on developments about Esha’s case. Take a look at the blog For Esha.

There is a petition for the release of Ms Momeni at For Esha that I hope you’ll take the time to sign.  Here it is, in case you don’t have time to check out the site.

Major h/t to matttbastard

Oh btw, on The One Million Signatures Campaign that Esah Momeni was involved in:

The One Million Signatures Campaign officially launched on August 27, 2006, aims to collect one million signatures in support of a petition addressed to the Iranian Parliament asking for the revision and reform of current laws which discriminate against women. One of the main aims of the Campaign is to educate citizens and particularly women about the negative impact of these discriminatory laws on the lives of women and society as a whole.

Read more about the Campaign here

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