Free All Political Prisoners in Iran NOW!

Free All Political Prisoners in Iran NOW!

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Emergency Campaign to Free Iran's Political Prisoners Now! started this petition to alert people of the US and the world about the dire threat to Iran's political prisoners

An Emergency Appeal:
The Lives of Iran’s Political Prisoners Hang in the Balance—We Must ACT Now
(Updated March 20, 2021)

A brutal campaign of arrests, torture and executions is now taking place in Iran. This is an emergency. The lives and dignity of hundreds of political prisoners are in imminent, mortal danger. 

All those who stand for justice and yearn for a better world must rally to the cause of freeing Iran’s political prisoners NOW.  

Beginning in October 2020, the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) launched a massive new wave of arbitrary arrests against labor, women's, and human rights activists; dissident intellectuals and artists; protesters and revolutionaries; and members of religious and oppressed minorities.

Many are now being tortured, held in solitary confinement, and denied legal rights, assistance or medical aid, as the IRI attempts to force "confessions,” conducts sham “trials,” and carries out brutal floggings.

Amnesty International (AI) warns of an “alarming rise in executions,” with 49 prisoners executed between December and February. This regime has a blood-stained record of attempting to violently crush any form of dissent or resistance — including sudden mass executions of political prisoners as happened in 1988.

We cannot allow this to happen again.

Importantly, this repression has been met with inspiring heroism. Many prisoners, their families, supporters and various Iranian organizations have been speaking out and demanding freedom for ALL Iran’s political prisoners—at great risk to their own safety.

The Iranian Writers Association (IWA) has denounced the execution of prisoners of conscience, even as it is under extreme repression. Several members are imprisoned, including Arash Ganji, sentenced to 11 years for translating a book on the Kurdish struggle in Syria. Journalist and Defenders of Human Rights Center member Narges Mohammadi was imprisoned for eight and a half years. She is calling for protest against the solitary confinement of the two brothers of Navid Afkari, the Iranian wrestling champion executed last year for being part of the 2018 mass rebellion. The brothers are sentenced to 54 and 27 years.

The documentary film Nasrin (about imprisoned attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh) is an example of this nightmare of detentions and this implacable spirit of resistance.

Iran’s political prisoners face a dire, life-threatening, immediate emergency. Here are just a few other examples:

A number of dual nationals from Europe, Australia and the U.S. are being held in the “political ward” of the notorious Evin prison in Tehran. Amnesty International (AI) recently sent out urgent action alerts on two of these prisoners:

  • Nahid Taghavi, rights activist, retired architect, and Iranian-German citizen, suffers from diabetes and hypertension. Her daughter Mariam Claren reports that her mother was kept in solitary confinement for 151 days, and was interrogated 80 different times for a total of 1,000 hours during her first 147 days of imprisonment.
    Mehran Raoof, a British-Iranian citizen and labor rights activist, is “being held in prolonged solitary confinement,” according to AI. Raoof has been denied access to his own lawyers in England, has no immediate family in Iran, and his safety has not been verified for five months.

Women prisoners are increasingly transferred to more remote prisons, limiting access by their family and lawyers. They include:

  • Sepideh Gholian, a freelance journalist arrested for reporting and allegedly taking part in labor strikes. In early March 2021, she was suddenly transferred in chains from Tehran's Evin Prison to Bushehr Prison in southern Iran, more than 373 miles from her parents.
  • Somayeh Kargar, a Kurdish activist and philosophy graduate of Tabriz University arbitrarily detained since October 16, was moved from Evin to the even filthier suburban prison of Quarchak outside Tehran. The regime is refusing to allow her to receive scheduled medical treatments in Paris which could save her from blindness.

All of Iran's political prisoners must be unconditionally and immediately released.

The governments of the U.S. and Iran act from their national interests. And, in this instance, we the people of the U.S. and Iran, along with the people of the world, have OUR shared interests, as part of getting to a better world: to unite to defend the political prisoners of Iran. In the U.S., we have a special responsibility to unite very broadly against this vile repression by the IRI, and to actively oppose any war moves by the U.S. government that would bring even more unbearable suffering to the people of Iran.

We demand of the Islamic Republic of Iran: FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS NOW


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Earlier Statement of Purpose
Since October 2020, a new wave of widespread crackdowns against political and social activists has been carried out by the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). The repression has grown broader and more horrific. Among those arrested and jailed are activists in the environmental, women’s, teachers’, students’ and labor movements. They are journalists, artists, lawyers, authors, and poets. They are members of national minorities such as Kurds, Baluchis, Arabs, and the Baháʼí religious community. They are liberals, radicals, and revolutionaries from different generations of political dissidents against the reactionary rule of the IRI.

Most of these prisoners are being held without any charges or trial. Many have no known charges, no access to lawyers and/or family members, or have not been identified—all these are violations of the basic legal and human rights of the accused. The alarming escalation of executions of political prisoners (e.g. blogger/journalist Rouhollah Zam on December 12) heightens the urgency of our campaign to free them NOW.

Beside long imprisonment, they face torture, sexual violence, flogging, mock and actual executions, and now torment and death by COVID-19 infection. Some of these political prisoners are in prolonged solitary confinement in Evin prison, a notorious torture and death chamber. Several have dual citizenship with Germany, Sweden, Britain, and France.

These recent raids coincided closely with the one-year anniversary of the November 2019 uprising that rocked Iran. The IRI fears the resistance forces inside Iran who were planning to hold commemorations of this rebellion. Set off by massive inflation, high unemployment, and a harsh economic slowdown brought on by cruel U.S. sanctions, mass protests engulfed 100-200 large and small cities across Iran in 2019. The Islamic regime responded not only with mass arrests but with water cannons, tear gas, live ammunition fired from rooftops, helicopters, and police forces on the ground—shooting some protesters at close range or as they were running away. Estimates are of hundreds killed (some were children), thousands wounded and arrested with reports of hospitals overflowing with the wounded. The IRI blacked out the internet to hide the true scale and scope of their murderous rampage on the uprising and its aftermath.

If the modern history of Iran has shown us anything, it is the irrepressible heroic spirit of generations of Iranian people against oppressive regimes. A people who resisted the CIA coup in 1953;who overthrew the U.S. puppet Shah Pahlavi’s blood-soaked rule by the revolution of 1979; who for the past 40+ years, rose up repeatedly against a theocracy that had taken power with the help of the Western powers, led by the U.S. The resistance continued even as the IRI massacred tens of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, and as generations of women have been imprisoned and tortured for refusing the forced hijab/veil and medieval Sharia law.

U.S. imperialists have NO right to speak when it comes to the suffering of the Iranian people. There have been many recent U.S. aggressions such as the new Biden administration refusing to lift sanctions; the U.S. (Trump) ordered murder of top IRI henchman General Soleimani in January 2020; and the suspicious murder of the top Iranian nuclear scientist in November 2020. Years of vicious U.S. sanctions battered the body and spirit of the 80+ million people in Iran—depriving them of food, medicine, books, fuel, and other daily necessities, but providing a club to the IRI to beat down any dissent as “support for U.S. imperialism.” These actions by the U.S. may also give more impetus to the IRI to further escalate repression against political prisoners in particular.

The U.S. and IRI regimes have their national interests but we and the people of these countries have OUR shared interests. It is in the interest of the people all over the world to unite and defend the political prisoners of Iran whose lives and dignity are in imminent mortal danger.

People in the U.S. have a special responsibility and opportunity to unite across all social and political movements or divides against this vile repression by the IRI, and to actively oppose any war moves by the U.S. government that would bring even more horrific suffering to the people of Iran.

We support protests in defense of the political prisoners inside and outside Iran, as well as protests against U.S. sanctions and war threats/moves against Iran.We are joining the urgent cries for justice and freedom by Iran’s political prisoners and their colleagues, family members, and supporters. We have begun a united worldwide movement in the fight to free them NOW, in our determination to prevent fresh atrocities and deaths.


This statement was initiated by Carol Downer and Dolly Veale (November 2020, updated February, 2021)

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