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Young Iranian woman fled to Germany in 2011 with her husband and daughter. In Teheran she used to work as a secretary in a doctor‘s office. After the election of 2009 politically active patients were treated in the doctor‘s office. These people came from prisons and had often been tortured there. The patients‘ data was saved on a laptop. Andisheh volunteered to take this laptop to her home for safekeeping, without informing her husband. In 2011, the family‘s house was searched and the family fled. Present in the courtroom is a judge, the plaintiff (Andisheh F.), her lawyer and an interpreter. Around noon the husband Mehran S. will be heard. It is being translated from Persian to German.

The former secretary was afraid of treating politically active patients after closing time. That‘s why she quit. Those patients had been tortured in jail.

Why had the former secretary quit her job?

Judge: Did you attend the protests after the election in Iran in 2009? Andisheh: Not regularly, I attended twice. Judge: You‘ve said that you are not a political person, but you attended rallies. Andisheh: I meant that I am not a member of any party or organization when I said that.

I made the offer myself to take the laptop home with me. On it were the treatment data of politically active patients. About 22 people.

Explain to me, why such a smart woman like you, with husband and child, puts herself in such a danger.

It could have happened to anyone, even my father. It was my duty to help those people. I wanted to do this for my country, for democracy. I have a „soft heart“. And my emotions won over my mind.

My husband did not know that the laptop with these data was at our home. I have not told him anything about it.

That‘s hard to believe though!

In the summer of 2011 one of our doctors got a threatening phone call. After that, we stopped treating politically active patients.

I thought nothing would happen to me. I‘m just a small secretary.

And you had no fear?

In Iran fear was our steady companion. It starts with how we dress. We grew up with fear.

I have a bad day today. As you say Bad Hair Day in English, but I‘m having a Bad Speech Day. I‘m having trouble expressing myself.

Your story is very vague in parts. There are many questions. And it is so odd that I can not imagine you made it up.

At 12:35, the husband appears.

I am not a member of any party. But I am not content with the situation in my country.

As the interpreter, I would like to remark that the Persian expression for “neighbor” doesn‘t have a gender. Your statement before the Federal Agency shows many inconsistencies. Were you warned by a male or female neighbor?

Do you think your wife did the right thing?

When I think about it now, I don‘t think so. We had to leave behind our whole lives in Iran and are now in this situation. Our life has been turned upside down. I am 40 years old now, what am I supposed to do here? What more should I say?

I believe you, but as a judge I have a problem to buy it. Help me out.

This is one of the most extraordinary stories I‘ve ever heard. Lots of it sounds illogical. That‘s why I believe it‘s not made up. Otherwise you‘d make up a more logical story.

We were never free in Iran. Since I‘m in Germany, I have started to understand how a free woman can think. That‘s why I understand why you don‘t understand. You grew up in different circumstances.

We do not have internet in our home for asylum seekers, otherwise we‘d find this information and bring it here.

You don‘t have to do this, that‘s my job.

We, as judges, always have very little time to get to know people. We have to look for an answer, an explanation. I have to believe your story, otherwise I can‘t grant you asylum. I find it hard to believe that your wife brought home the documents that endangered the whole family. She said she was just a small secretary, nothing would happen to her. How do you explain this? I researched on the internet, there‘s lots of information, even in English, about how the activists were tortured. Why then would someone keep that laptop? I want to schedule the date for the sentencing for next week. You can be sure that, whatever the outcome, this decision will not be easy for me.

06-03-2013, 12:00 Proclamation of the sentence The judge dictates the sentence in a Dictaphone. The case is dismissed. I am alone with her in the room. We talk. She informs me that she is now talking to me as a private person, not a judge. We talk about the plaintiff. The judge says that her story is very unusual. She liked the Iranian family, but her doubts remained and she could not believe or understand many things. Why did the young woman take home that laptop and thought nothing would happen to her? Because she was just a small secretary? But the doctors must have trusted her a lot. We talk about the woman‘s confidence. The position of women here and there is not the same. I say that I can understand very well why the young Iranian woman took the laptop home and repressed the fear. And a woman would of course take something precious and important home, that‘s the safest place for a woman. A man wouldn‘t keep something like that at home. „How can someone say they‘re not political, when they attend rallies and protests?“, the judge asks herself and me. A question that isn‘t a question for me. The definition of the political is different in authoritarian societies: obviously, politics concerns parties and government. It‘s about the form, not the content. Civil courage isn‘t politics. She looks at me, „You would buy her story?“ Yes. What is going to happen to the family now? They will not be deported back to Iran (otherwise, I would have acted differently), they won‘t get asylum but they will be tolerated. What‘s the difference? Will they be able to work here? No, not at all. 90% of Iranians come with a baptismal certificate. This family will probably do the same. If they can stay together. Many relationships break up. The pressure and the

stress of the first few years on the run, in an asylum-seeker‘s home, are too much. That means, the file could come back to you? Yes, that could happen. If I‘m still here. What does it feel like for you to make such a decision? The fates of these people depend on it. And only you, you alone, have to decide. That‘s not easy. Not at all. Not nice. But why do you come here? You were drawing, weren‘t you? That irritated me quite a bit, to be honest. This has never happened before. Do you study law? No, I‘m an artist. I want to know more, you learn a lot (during these hearings). Stories about the political situations in other countries, told from very personal perspectives. Yes, it‘s interesting. But you know what, I only deal with negative stories. That‘s not a nice view of the world. What are you going to do with the drawings? I don‘t know yet.

Refugees' Library Vol. 4 - Andisheh, Iran (english)  

Andisheh Ffled to Germany in 2011 with her husband and daughter. In Teheran she used to work as a secretary in a doctor's office. After the...