Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Note from Esha on the Anniversay of her Release from the Prison

One year ago, on a day like today, after 28 days in solitary confinement, I got my freedom back. One year ago, in the other side of the world, in one of the most notorious prisons on earth, in the section 209 assigned to prisoners of conscious held by an order from Security Ministry, the guard opens the cell’s door, hands me a piece of paper to sign. Silva Harotonian an aid worker and Negin Sheikholeslami a Kurd activist, my cellmates, are more experienced than me. They have seen a lot of prisoners come and go. They tell me they are setting you free. I can’t believe it. I sign the paper with shaky hands. When the guard leaves I don’t know what to say. I can not share my happiness. We all have mixed feelings. They are happy for me but at the same time my freedom adds to their disappointments. I can not look in to their eyes. I am ashamed. It is like leaving your squad behind in the middle of the war, betraying them. In Farsi we call it “rafighe nime rah” a half way friend…. Later Negin was released but Silva is still in prison.

I change, wearing my own clothes and putting my All Stars shoes feels so good. I hug my cell mates and I say farewell. I say: “we will see each other sooner than you think”; at least that is what I want to believe. Another Bell rings, I put the blind fold on voluntary. My interrogator is waiting for me and for the first time I follow him eagerly. I don’t ask anything since I am afraid of hearing something that I don’t want to. Until the very last moment when I saw the happy faces of my family I didn’t believe that they would let me go. Tears of happiness roll down our faces and the warm embrace of my mom injects me with all the hope that I had lost in the past one month. I feel free not knowing that I still have a long way to go to freedom.

When I was released I was completely shocked by the extent of the support I received from everyone. A ray of hope, hope in people's will, reminding me that we can still make a difference. It is your support that brought me out of that abysmal well. In today’s world even though the technology has given us the chance to communicate worldwide, we still know so little about other people’s culture, history and the truth. We still see the differences more than similarities. We still think others are far enough that their lives have no impact on ours and vise versa. But with your support, you proved that we are all connected and we can make a difference even on someone’s life on the other side of the world. The more we realize this connection the better our world will become.

Thank you! Thanks to everyone who worked so hard on my behalf, many of whom I have never met, in particular thanks to my family and friends, Professor Wall, my comrades in One Million Signatures Campaign, my classmates at CSUN, and last but not least my dearest friend and supporter Hassan.

I Hope for the day that there are no longer any political prisoners anywhere in the world.

With love,


November 11, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Amnesty International USA- 2009 Southern Regional Conference Featuring Esha Momeni

A weekend of workshops and panels led by Human Rights experts and community advocates.

Support Esha and hear about her experience

When: Sunday, November 1st at 11 am.
Where: Holiday Inn Decatur Conference Plaza
130 Clairmont Avenue
Decatur, GA 30030
Find more information on the conference here

Monday, October 26, 2009

Esha Momeni: From CSUN to Iran and Back Again

CSUN- The Women's Research and Resource Center present a special event featuring Mass Communication graduate student Esha Momeni on Monday, Nov. 9, from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at the USU in the Northridge Center. Listen as Esha tells her story, discusses her research and answers your questions. For more information, call: (818) 677-2780.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Audio files of interviews with Esha

Daily News:

Listen to Esha talk about her experience in Iran and the original goals of her project before she was arrested. (Note: Audio is in .wma format and you must have Windows Media Player to listen)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

Friday, August 14, 2009

Interviews with Daily Sundial- Esha Momeni Returns to US

Friends, Family, Professors and Fellow Students Are Celebrating the Return of Esha Momeni to Los Angeles

After 10 months of travel ban, almost one month in Evin Prison, many false promises from the judicial system, several attempts to leave the country, many court hearings and continued harassing phone calls from the interrogators, Esha Momeni* was finally able to board the flight destined for Frankfurt and then Los Angeles on Tuesday August 11th. Her friends were notified early in the morning that she had been able to leave the country. Pleasantly surprised, thrilled and delighted friends and family rushed to LAX airport to greet Esha on her return home.

She is in good health and spirits and she was thankful to all of the wonderful people who followed her story, who made sure that the world did not forget her and to all who took action and demanded her release. She has many stories to share and we will continue to bring up-to-date information about Esha.

While Esha may be free, there are still countless other prisoners of conscience suffering in prison cells in Iran and we hope and continue our efforts so they can join Esha in freedom.

*: Esha Momeni was arrested on October 15th for an alleged illegal turn in Moddaress highway and taken to section 209 of Evin Prison, which is special section for those considered as treat against national security. Her lawyer, Mr. Dadkhah (who is now a detainee due to the post election arrests) was not allowed access to her during the interrogations. On November 10, after nearly a month in prison, Esha Momeni was released on $200,000 bail in the form of the deed to her parents' home. The California State University student was visiting Tehran to conduct an academic research on the women's rights movement in Iran.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The acceptance letter written by Esha Momeni for Kappa Tau Alpha Outstanding Service Award

The acceptance letter written by Esha Momeni and delivered at the May 1, 2009 award ceremony by her fiance, Hassan Hussein 

I first would like to thank the department of Journalism for the honor of receiving this award and to the entire CSUN community, students, staff, administration and alumni for your support while I was in prison and even now while I am banned from leaving the country and returning to Los Angeles and my studies at CSUN. 

I always thought being a woman growing up in a patriarchal society and fighting to erase its impact on my life would be the most difficult challenge of my life.  However, during the past few years, I realized that being a citizen of two countries in conflict, Iran and America, and struggling against the biases resulting from their politics would radically change my life and put me on a journey of self identity that I could never have imagined. 

In Iran I constantly had to struggle against being packaged as the Muslim Iranian woman that the regime wanted us to become, and in the United States I felt disabled as a woman by the stereotypes behind the terms Iranian and Muslim. I wanted to do something to break the chains of misrepresentation in both Iran and America that tie stereotypes and assumptions to being a Middle Eastern woman. 

At CSUN with the dedication and experience of my professors, a whole world of possibilities opened up for me. They gave me the chance to fulfill my dreams and serve both of my communities. Unfortunately, the Iranian government saw my American citizenship and my effort to break down entrenched stereotypes of Iranian women as a threat to national security. I was in Evin prison for 28 days,  25 of which was in solitary confinement. I had 19 interrogation sessions, sometimes starting from morning till night during which I was constantly trying to convince the interrogators of the truth, that I am a student working on my thesis and not part of a project to overthrow the government. Now I don't have permission to leave the country and the court decision is completely unpredictable as we saw in Roxana Saberi's case.  The experience left me devastated and feeling hopeless. 

However, when I was released I was completely shocked by the extent of the support I received from everyone. A ray of hope, hope in people's will, reminding me that we can still make a difference. It is your support that brought me out of that abysmal well. In today's world, no matter what our nationality, our lives are interwoven with each other. The more we realize this the better our world becomes. The blue American passport that I had, never really made me feel American.  But the love and support you have shown me makes me proud to identify myself as an American. 

Professor Wall and Professor Blumenkrantz I especially want to thank you for believing in me. With all of the concern and all the worries you had in my doing this project I thank you for not limiting me and my dreams. Rather you gave the best tools and the hope I would need to realize them. To CSUN Journalism Department faculty and students, I am so proud to be 
one of you. Anasa, John, Kara and the many others that I cannot thank individually now, being your classmate is such an honor. I am with you in spirit today and wish I could walk with you in our graduation ceremony, but my heart will be with you and I can't tell you how happy I am to be able to try with you to make this world a better place to live in.  Even though I am so disappointed to lose the footage for my project, I am sure we all have started a life time project together.