Free All Political Prisoners in Iran NOW!
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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.
FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS IN IRAN!
This statement was initiated by Carol Downer and Dolly Veale (November 2020, updated February, 2021)
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