By Allan Woods
Thu., Sept. 29, 2016
MONTREAL—Iranian-Canadian university professor Homa Hoodfar has returned to Montreal, bringing an end to her detention in a Tehran prison that sparked international condemnation.
“It’s is wonderful to be home and united with family and friends again. I’ve had a bitter seven months and the detention has really left me weak and tired,” Hoodfar, 65, told reporters at the Montreal airport Thursday morning.
The Concordia University anthropology and sociology professor had been detained since June 6 in Tehran’s Evin Prison, where political prisoners are normally held. She traveled to Iran in February to see family and do academic research but was arrested in March, just as she was set to return to Montreal. She was released on bail and then rearrested in early June.
It is not known what Hoodfar was suspected of having done, but her family has said they believe it was related to her research into feminism in Iran.
While she avoided answering any questions about the details or conditions of her captivity, Hoodfar said the hardest thing was being cut off from the world and from friends and family. She also suffered health problems related to a neurological disease that causes muscle weakness.
While she believed that people on the outside would be working for her release from custody, she did not know of the international campaigns by academics, human rights groups and governments to secure her release.
Even when she was told in the last few days to prepare for her release, she doubted it, she said.
“In Iran, nothing is complete until it is complete.”
“I didn’t feel I would be released until I was in the jet,”
She thanked the government of Oman in particular, saying that the country was “instrumental in my release.” She also thanked Iranian officials who “facilitated” her release, adding that the process was “more difficult than you can imagine.”
Draped elegantly in a peach-coloured pashmina, pearls and dark red lipstick, Hoodfar betrayed no hint of the psychological stress or physical ailments she has been coping with. She said she was sad to have missed the summer in Montreal — her favourite season — and was eager to soak in her home town before fall turns to winter.
“I miss the fact that this summer I didn’t have my geraniums.”
“It is wonderful to feel that you are in a place where you feel secure,” she said, adding that she has no plans to return to her native country.
“I think for a while I’m going to stay in Montreal.”
— With a file from Canadian Press