Narges Mohammadi is an Iranian human rights activist who was sentenced to 6 years and then another 16 years in jail for her efforts in defending human rights, women’s rights and establishing an anti-death penalty movement in Iran. In her own words, she, along with hundreds of other political prisoners “are all charged due to our political and religious tendency and none of us are terrorists“.
Her biggest problem is that Tehran consistently and vigorously denies the fact that there are any political prisoners in Iran to begin with and that all of these prisoners are “terrorists” or “enemies of the state”, placing Mohammadi and her fellow inmates in a legal and political limbo. Furthermore, since Mohammadi’s case has generated global support, she has been targeted by the authorities to harsher treatment in the easiest way it can: Mohammadi is not allowed contact with her family and since being imprisoned in May 2015, she has spoken to her children, Kianna and Ali, aged 9 and living in Paris, only once in April 2016, and then, only for a few minutes. To make matters worse, her health is rapidly declining (she’s on 15 pills a day) and the fact that she has chosen to go on a hunger strike since June 27th as a means to force the regime to allow her family visits is weakening her even more.
Mohammadi’s call is a simple one: “I am asking for nothing other than being allowed to talk to my children on the phone. If this demand is too great, irrational, immoral, unlawful, or against national security, please let me know…Convince me, please. Clarify why a mother, declared a criminal by the state, must be denied hearing the voices of her children“.
Tehran’s response, as expected was as cruel and as callous as ever and it exemplifies the regime’s attitude to criticism of any kind: First, it was explained that allowing her contact with her children is a “security issue and the decision is up to security officials” and then, when she maintained her hunger strike, Abbas Hajiloo, the judicial representative stationed at Evin Prison “had a threatening conversation with her and told her she must stop the hunger strike because enemy media outlets are taking advantage of it (and that if she continued her hunger strike) she will not be allowed to talk to her children on the phone“.
A recent global campaign on Twitter to free Mohammadi was backed by over 200,000 people, of which 100,000 were Iranians. This is an incredible fact since Twitter is banned in Iran which means that the Iranians supporting her had to break the law in order to support her. The campaign was spearheaded by NGO’s such as Reporters Without Borders, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, and Amnesty International and was publicly supported by some Iranian celebrities who are risking their careers and their lives by supporting her.
Her mother has written an open letter to President Hassan Rouhani pleading with him as only a mother could to save her daughter’s life: “In this country”, she wrote, “being a mother is a crime”.
It is easy to sit back and do nothing, blaming the supreme power of the regime and its zero-tolerance regarding any criticism aimed at it and its revolutionary ideals but the truth of the matter is that international pressure does help. Atena Farghadani, the famed artists who was sentenced to 13 years in jail for drawing a caricature of Iranian MP’s as animals in an effort to fight a bill to outlaw birth-control in order to fulfil Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s demand for higher birth rates, was released after “only” 18 months in jail after a massive global campaign called for her release. It’s worth reading about her tribulations in her own words now that she is free in order to understand that massive global support can save Mohammadi just as it saved Farghadani.
Now it’s your turn: please add your voice to the call to #FreeNarges and make sure to support these sites:
https://twitter.com/UnitedForNarges, https://www.facebook.com/International-Campaign-for-Human-Rights-in-Iran-49929580840/?fref=nf, https://www.facebook.com/humanrightsiran/?fref=nf, https://www.facebook.com/StealthyFreedom/, https://www.facebook.com/nobelwomen/, https://www.facebook.com/Free-Narges-612133508960995/?fref=nf, https://www.facebook.com/lddhi.fidh/?fref=nf, http://www.pen-international.org/newsitems/iran-take-action-for-narges-mohammadi/ and others.
Thank you, on behalf of Narges and the hundreds of other political prisoners whose lives will continue to be destroyed without your help.