A Piece of BENEDICTUS Reflected in the News From Iran


Our production of Benedictus is particularly timely considering the news out of Tehran today. Consider this passage from the play, followed by this news clip from the New York Times.

Motahedeh:      (To the audience) For eighteen months I was in the Evin prison for political detainees in Tehran. I was interrogated and tortured every day. I saw thousands executed. When the prison became overcrowded I was sent to a jail in the south.

And from the New York Times:

Iranian Blogger Dies in Prison,
By Robert Mackey

Human rights groups and an American-financed radio station report that an Iranian blogger, Omidreza Mirsayafi, who had been sentenced to two years in prison for insulting the country’s leaders, died in Tehran’s Evin Prison on Wednesday.

According to Radio Farada, a Farsi-language station that is part of the American-government-financed network of radio stations Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Mr. Mirsayafi’s family is not certain that authorities told them the truth about how the blogger died:

Prison authorities have notified Mirsayafi’s family that he committed suicide on March 18 by overdosing on sedative tablets. But while Mirsayafi was known to have taken such medication to treat depression, his sister says he would not have possessed enough to kill himself.

Radio Farada adds that Mr. Mirsayafi’s lawyer, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, “claims that a doctor imprisoned at Evin named Hesem Firozi told him the death could be attributed entirely to the prison’s failure to provide Mirsayafi with proper medical assistance.” Mr. Dadkhah told the radio station that the imprisoned doctor told him that Mr. Mirsayafi, reportedly in his mid- to late 20s, had an irregular heartbeat, possibly as the result of taking an overdose, but that his life could been saved if the prison hospital had responded appropriately. According to Mr. Dadkhah’s account:

“The doctor told them how to treat him, asked them to send him to a city hospital. But they ignored the doctor and said [Mirsayafi] was faking his illness. The doctor said, ‘His heartbeat is 40 per minute, you can’t fake that.’ But they sent the doctor out of the room.”

%d bloggers like this: