Mother Lotfi, Symbol of the Khavaran Mothers, died at the age of 89

Mother Lotfi died at the age of 89 on 10 Feb. 2019 after a long period of sickness.

Mother Forough Tajbakhsh (Mother Lotfi), the mother of late Anushirvan Lotfi, was among the pioneers of the Khavaran Mothers. Mother Lotfi was born on 25 March 1930 in Neishabour. At the age of sixteen, when she was studying in High School, she married her husband Nasrollah Lotfi in Mashhad. She came to Tehran accompanied by her husband and continued to study, until before she gave birth to her first child, in the field of Humanities up to the level of High School. She gave birth to four children named Anushirvan, Jamshid, Nader and Elham.

Anushirvan, the first-born child of Mother Lotfi, was a political prisoner in both the Shah’s and the Islamic regimes. Concurrent with the arrest of Anushirvan in 1350 (1971) and then in 1352 (1973), Mother Lotfi became acquainted with mothers and families of political prisoners and established close friendly relations with them. This friendship turned into an unbreakable tie – a tie that became even closer than family ties and no power could ever break it. This freedom-fighter, kind and devoted mother, along with other mothers and families of political prisoners, actively participated from the times of the Shah in all protests and sit-ins held by the families to protest against the injustices in Iran, especially for the improvement of conditions of political prisoners and to help the families of the prisoners. 

Mother Lotfi, along with other mothers, had a permanent and effective presence behind the doors of prisons during the hunger strikes staged by political prisoners from the late Esfand 1356 (March 1978) which protracted for 29 days. Mother Forough along with other mothers and fathers of political prisoners staged a sit-in in the fall of 1357 (1978) at the Justice Palace in Tehran for the freedom of their children. Ultimately Anushirvan and a number of other political prisoners were released from prisons in Deymah 1357 (Dec. – Jan. 1978-79) at the place of the sit-in at the Justice Palace in Tehran.  

With the mass political protests in Iran in 1978 and the fall of the Shah and release of political prisoners, a ray of hope shone in the heart of Motehr Lotfi, other mothers and families. Pity that this fleeting period of freedom did not last long and the Islamic Republic arrested tortured and killed many prisoners who were in prisons during the time of the Shah. The Islamic Republic arrested and tortured Anushirvan in Shahrivar 1362 (Aug. – Sep. 1983). Prison became familiar once again to Mother Lotfi. Anushirvan was one of the first prisoners whom the Islamic Republic executed in the summer of 1367 (1988). From that time onwards mother Lotfi along with many other mothers made unrelenting efforts to find out the place of burial of their loved ones. With the revelation of the place of collective burial of mass-murdered prisoners in the Khavaran Cemetery, Mother Forough together with a number of other mothers and members of families started seeking justice and the revelation of facts about the death of their loved ones.

Mother Forough was a passionate, brave and fearless woman and a patient and determined human being. She was always at the forefront of families’ struggles for seeking justice, holding Noruz ceremonies on the last Friday of the year and the anniversary of mass murders of Shahrivar (Aug.-Sep.) and resistance against the destruction of the Khavaran Cemetery. Mother Lotfi always played an effective role in maintaining cohesion and unity in the ranks of the Khavaran Mothers and their protests. For that reason she was always under pressure by the security and political police of the Islamic Republic and her home telephone line was always under surveillance.

Mother Lotfi intended to hold anniversary of the execution of her son on Friday 11 Tir 1389 (02 July 2010) but the Ministry of Information (Intelligence) forbids her from holding the ceremonies. Mother Lotfi cancels the ceremonies and holds the ceremony privately attended by only the members of her family. Government agents attack Mother Lotfi’s home at 11 o’clock at night. Although they do not enter the house, they force everyone to leave the house. Thus they disturb the private ceremony of Mother Lotfi. Mother Lotfi suffers a heart attack and is taken to hospital. The physical condition of Mother Lotfi deteriorates from that day onwards. Nevertheless, even in this condition, she continues her struggle to seek justice and frequents the Khavaran Cemetery until the last year before her death.

Mother Lotfi was among the mothers who supported the Iran Tribunal and was its patron. The movement seeking justice against the executions of political prisoners in the 1980s lost many justice-seeking mothers and fathers in the recent years. However, with the loss of Mother Lotfi, this movement lost one of its active and distinguished members.