Iran’s Political Prisoners Now Have A Face

Activists in Iran have launched Unlock Iran, a social media-style digital campaign aimed at raising awareness about the hundreds of political prisoners who languish in Iranian jails.

Political Prisoners

There are currently 888 people (and counting) imprisoned in Iran for trying to exert their basic rights within the Islamic republic.

 Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC) started the campaign in an effort to put a human face on these people — journalists, bloggers, students, scientists and members of civil society — many of whom face the threat of execution.

The campaign comes just in time for the Iran Accountability Week May 08-15, 2014 in Canada during which MPs take up a political prisoner in Iran and advocate on his or her behalf.

President Hassan Rohani has the reputation of a reformer compared to the obstinate and belligerent former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He does seem like a more humane and sensible leader but is he really?

Iranian law criminalizes dissent and has no qualms in putting anyone practicing their right to freedom of expression behind bars if their stance goes against the state or religion. Unfortunately there are no accurate statistics on the number of political prisoners and other prisoners of conscience in Iran.

Executions are also an unfortunate norm in the country.

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center estimated that more than 402 individuals were executed in Iran between just January 1 and October 8, 2013.

According to the Human Rights Watch, the Iranian government’s level of cooperation with international rights institutions, particularly organs of the United Nations, has remained poor and some of the thousands of protesters, political opposition members, and activists unlawfully arrested following the 2009 election remain in prison.

These include opposition figures and former presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi. Authorities have held Mousav, Karroubi, and Mousavi’s wife Zahra Rahnavard under house arrest since February 2011 without any charge.

One account recently came from Gholamreza Khosravi Savadjani, who was among the hundreds of political prisoners that suffered torture and solitary confinement for years. He was sentenced to death on the charge of Moharebeh or a crime committed against Islam and the state.

He wrote from inside the Evin Prison in Iran on May 2, 2014,“Greetings to all friends and freedom lovers. Finally, after 15 days of suffering, torture and enduring hunger strike in solitary confinement, in an ignominious retreat the mullahs’ regime returned all the prisoners enchained in solitary confinement to Section 350 against the resistances of the prisoners and disclosures and attempts of the people of Iran and all over the world. “

 “No doubt, that this resistance and standing will mark the final victory of the Iranian people against the religious fascism ruling Iran.

“Now it is my duty as a child of the people of Iran who is prepared to pay any price to appreciate all your efforts, perseverance and resistance.  

“I salute your determination and perseverance”

Unlock Iran is a brilliant initiative that will hopefully bring some positive change.

As it is there have been thousands of visitors to the site since it was launched in March this year.

 “In terms of human rights initiatives, 40,000 in two months is a huge number for us so we were really excited by the reception,” says IHRDC Executive Director Gissou Nia.

We hope it works and things change for the better in Iran soon.

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