My name is Mehdi Arabshahi. I am an Iranian student activist living in political exile. For years I was the president of Iran’s largest student organization, Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat, a group committed to advancing political and human rights reforms.
Multiple arrests and imprisonment because of my activism ultimately forced me to flee Iran in 2011, or face further mistreatment behind bars and even death.
There are more than 800 “prisoners of rights”—those jailed on account of their lifestyle, beliefs or profession—in Iran’s prisons today. I was one of them, and many of my friends are still locked up for nothing more than standing up for their beliefs and trying to bring political and human rights change to their country.
Although I am now living in exile, I am still pushing for human rights change in Iran. And this month, the global community has the opportunity to help the Iranian people.
This month, the Iranian government will be given the opportunity to respond to a UN report that details human rights abuses perpetrated by the Iranian government, including the arbitrary arrests and mistreatment of prisoners of rights. The Iranian government response will be given publicly, at a UN meeting that will be broadcast to the world.
In years past, Mohammad Javad Larijani, Head of the Human Rights Council of the Judiciary of the Islamic Republic of Iran, has used the time to deny that prisoners of rights exist, or that anyone in Iran is persecuted for their beliefs.
Instead of these denials, Larijani and other Iranian government officials should use the time to acknowledge that prisoners of rights are unjustly imprisoned and commit themselves to taking steps towards releasing them.
Statements from international human rights organizations helped get me the medical treatment I needed for my deteriorating health while I was behind bars. Your voice makes a difference.
Sign this petition to call on Iranian authorities Ayatollah Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran; Mohammad Javad Larijani, Head of the Human Rights Council of the Judiciary of the Islamic Republic of Iran; and Sadegh Larijani, Head of the Iranian Judiciary, to acknowledge human rights abuses against Iran’s more than 800 prisoners of rights.
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