Published by Mediterranea's board | 05 / Jun / 2024

The legal persecution of Marjan and Maysoon must stop! Woman Life Freedom!

Italian state apparatuses collaborating with Iranian services to target activists?

The case of the two women, Marjan Jamali and Maysoon Majdi, arrested by the Italian authorities in December 2003 on false and flimsy charges of 'scafismo' (smuggling by sea) and still detained in Calabria, Italy, after more than five months, cannot be considered 'simple', cannot be 'simply' counted among the many that we know of and that represent an Italian disgrace, with hundreds of innocent people who, after risking their lives at sea, become scapegoats useful to the government's narrative of 'fighting the smugglers'.

Because these two women are being hunted by the Khomeinist regime in Iran, and in an attempt to escape its murderous fury, they have had to undertake a journey by land and sea that the democratic and civil authorities of our country continue to treat as 'illegal'. What is illegal and shameful here is the fact that people fleeing bloodthirsty regimes are forced to take dangerous journeys to save their lives and the lives of their children because they have no other option. Where are all the positions against Iran and its dictatorship of terror when it comes to listening to the cries for help of innocent people seeking asylum?

But there is more than hypocrisy here: Maysoon and Marjan were thrown into prison as soon as they arrived alive on our shores. With the help of false reconstructions, obtained from witnesses who had no idea what they were being asked to sign against Maysoon and Marjan, the apparatuses linked to the Italian Guardia di Finanza and its 'special departments' constructed the accusation that these two courageous women were 'smugglers' and threw them into cells in the prisons of Castrovillari and Reggio Calabria.

Months later, only Marjan is under house arrest, while Maysoon continues to be denied, and both are accused of crimes that they not only did not commit, but for which they would be severely punished. But what does it mean that they 'allegedly distributed water and food' to other migrants on board? What does it mean that they 'collaborated with the driver to prevent accidents'? What would be the guilt of two women fleeing the misogynist madness of a brutal dictatorship, trying to arrive alive with their companions in misfortune?

In reality, the way the investigation was conducted, the gross errors, starting with the lack of proper translators, the harsh treatment even of a mother, Marjan, who was separated from her eight-year-old son, gives us the legitimate doubt that there is something else behind this already shameful story. The unjustifiable persistence can only be explained by the probable international police relations, formally used to "fight crime and the trafficking of migrants", but in fact used to target two women, one of them a recognised activist, who opposed the regime. Is this not so? Let the Italian police and state apparatuses prove that they did not do this as a favour to their Iranian and Turkish counterparts. In fact, the persecution of Maysoon and Marjan is there for all to see. It is taking place in a country that should be protecting those fleeing dictatorships, not arresting them on ridiculous charges.

We join those who have tried in recent months, starting with the Calabrian human rights organisations, to draw attention to this incredible case. Fundamentalism, its logic of death, which is opposed by courageous women and men in countries such as Iran, which hanged hundreds of them last year alone, obviously has allies in our midst too. And those prosecutors who have imprisoned two innocent women and made them relive the nightmare from which they thought they had escaped, what do they have to say? Are they sleeping well? Are they at peace with their consciences?

The failure of current migration policies becomes more obvious and more heartbreaking with every shipwreck, with every person who dies of hunger or cold at a border, with every cry of pain or plea for help that goes unheard. No externalised border, no deportation, no deprivation of rights can stop people from continuing to move in order to secure a dignified life for themselves and their loved ones. Faced with these failures, our governments have found no better solution than to criminalise not only those who set out, but also anyone who helps, supports, intervenes in an attempt to save as many lives as possible. This is what happens to the so-called "captains", the men and women who are indiscriminately put in charge of the maritime migration routes. Men and women who are arrested on the basis of summary testimonies before they even set foot on the quay, seafarers who end up in prison on the presumption that they are "smugglers" just because they are sitting next to a motor.

It does not matter if this unfounded, terrifying accusation, which carries the threat of decades in prison, is made against innocent and blameless people. Little does it matter that these people are women fleeing regimes, such as the one in Iran, that question the very notions of self-determination and freedom of expression. Little does it matter if some of these women have found no other way to escape Iran than to board a makeshift boat. Little does it matter that these two women have fought for the civil rights that so many of our government representatives have taken sides with, cutting their hair or repeating for the camera the powerful battle cry of insurgent Iran: 'Woman, life, freedom'. Today, two of those women who fought for life and freedom in Iran are imprisoned in Italy, in Calabria, after risking their lives at sea, on unfounded and serious charges.

Marjan Jamali, who has been in prison in Reggio Calabria since 27 October last year, separated from her 8-year-old son with whom she managed to escape, was only placed under house arrest at the end of May, even though she is still accused of aiding and abetting illegal immigration, a charge based on the testimony of those who tried to rape her during the voyage.

For Maysoon Majdi, however, the situation is even harsher. Imprisoned in Castrovillari prison immediately after her arrival on the Calabrian coast on 31 December 2023, and on a long hunger strike, her imprisonment for the same charge of aiding and abetting illegal immigration has so far found no outlet, no decision, no solution. Let us, together with Calabrian civil society, launch an immediate mobilisation to get Maysoon out of prison NOW! We are tired of mourning deaths that could have been prevented in time! We demand Maysoon's immediate release!

We demand that the absurd charges of aiding and abetting illegal immigration against the captains be dropped!

Maysoon and Marjian free now!

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