The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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University working with government officials to assist in imprisoned grad student’s release

The university is working with government officials to assist in the case of 28-year-old Esha Momeni, a CSUN grad student who was imprisoned last week in Iran while she was working on a documentary film for her thesis project.

Harry Hellenbrand, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, said in an e-mail statement to faculty that the university has ‘contacted the Iranian ambassador to the (United Nations) and offered to travel to New York to secure his intervention.’ CSUN officials have also contacted Congressman Brad Sherman, Sens. Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein for assistance, he said.

Campus President Jolene Koester also released a statement about Momeni on the CSUN website.

‘We are in support of the efforts of the U.S. government in their efforts to secure Ms. Momeni’s immediate release,’ said Koester.

Human rights organizations are also appealing to the Iranian government for the release of Momeni, who is currently being held in solitary confinement at Evin prison in Iran.

Amnesty International and World Organization Against Torture both issued appeals urging Iranian officials to release Momeni immediately.

Dr. Nayereh Tohidi, professor and chair of the Gender and Women’s Studies department, is also involved in the California chapter of the One Million Signatures campaign and had met with Momeni several times to advise her on her academic work.

Tohidi said she was told by Momeni’s family and friends that the student was given books to read while in jail, ‘which is a good sign,’ she said, because she is not in total confinement.

Momeni was arrested Oct. 15 by undercover police for allegedly passing a car illegally on the highway.’ She was subsequently taken to her home, where authorities searched the house and confiscated her property.

Momeni had been filming a documentary about the women’s rights movement and was recording interviews of volunteers with the One Million Signatures campaign, which seeks to change Iran’s constitution to state that men and women are equal.

Tohidi said she had tried to convince the student not to go to Iran because of the government, and Momeni assured her there was nothing to worry about.

Tohidi said politicizing Momeni’s case may hinder her release and that it is important to realize that the organization the student is involved with is one that is ‘homegrown (and) indigenous’hellip; it has nothing to do with (trying to force) Western policies’ on the Iranian government.

‘We need to’hellip; raise our voices in a way that can help, rather than harm’ Momeni’s situation, said Tohidi.

In a previous story, documentary filmmaker Anayansi Prado, a friend and mentor of Momeni, said the student was ‘being held in one of the most notorious prisons in the world.’ Prado had spoken with Momeni two days before her arrest.

‘She hasn’t been officially charged with anything yet, and the government’s not really giving any information,’ said Prado.

Momeni’s case is ‘fortunately’hellip; very simple and transparent; she has done nothing wrong, nothing illegal,’ she said.’ ‘Her project is mainly for her thesis, she has not signed any contract to make her film for propaganda’hellip; or commercial reasons,’ and her documentary only focuses on the women’s rights movement, Tohidi said.

Since One Million Signatures began two years ago, roughly 50 people involved in the campaign have been arrested, said Tohidi.’ Most of them have been released, but none of them were ever charged with any wrongdoing, she said.

Tohidi said she was ‘hopeful’ that Momeni would be released soon.

‘She has not been a part of any political parties, any clandestine movements,’ Tohidi said.’ ‘She has done nothing wrong.’

Information on how to contact Iranian officials for Momeni’s release can be found at:

Amnesty International:

World Organization Against Torture:’amp;lang=eng’amp;actualPageNumber=1’amp;articleId=8092’amp;itemAdmin=article

Facebook group:

Online petition:

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