Date: November 28, 2016
An open letter to the Heads of States and Governments of the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council
Re: International Campaign for the Immediate Release of Prisoners of Conscience on Hunger Strike in Iran
We request and urge you to support our humanitarian campaign for the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience detained and imprisoned in Iran, many of whom continue to be on hunger strikes. We appeal to all world leaders who value human rights and freedom to support this campaign, as innocent Iranians are faced with life-threatening health complications due to intolerable prison conditions and denial of basic health care and civil rights.
There are thousands of Iranian prisoners of conscience who are rotting away in the Islamic Republic’s jails, and the following are but a small example of those, whose lives are in imminent danger and require the international community’s immediate attention and intervention.
Arash Sadeghi, student and renowned human rights activist, has recently fallen into a coma following a month long hunger strike. He is currently breathing with the support of a ventilator, and is in urgent need of medical treatment outside of Evin prison. Arash is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence on trumped up charges which include spreading propaganda against the regime and insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic. He is well known for documenting the brutal human rights violations in prisons, and his peaceful activities against these abuses. He began his hunger strike in protest for the arrest of his wife, Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, who has been sentenced to six years in prison on charges that include insulting Islamic sanctities and spreading propaganda against the theocratic regime. These charges are based on her yet to be published accounts of the horrific practice of stoning. While Golrokh epitomises the fearlessness and courage of Iranian women, Arash has led by example and spoken openly against anti-Semitism in interviews and postings on social media. Arash has refused to end his hunger strike until his wife is freed.
Amir Amirgholi, a civil society activist, has been on a dry hunger strike since November 21, 2016 in protest for the lack of safety and individual sanctuary as well as being deprived from receiving medical treatment following the torture and beatings he has endured. Amir requires immediate medical attention outside of the prison. He was sentenced in early 2016 to 19 years and six months in prison following an hour-long trial on charges that stem from his peaceful activism. He is held in Evin prison in atrocious conditions, while awaiting the date of his appeal hearing.
Mehdi and Hossein Rajabian, filmmakers, began a joint hunger strike on October 28, 2016. The brothers, who began serving a three-year prison sentence in June 2016 for allegedly distributing underground music, are demanding medical furlough (temporary leave) and being returned to the same prison ward at Evin prison. They were convicted in 2015 after a kangaroo trial on charges that included insulting Islamic sanctities and illegal audio-visual activities. On 28 October, they each began a hunger strike for a second time to demand their immediate release. On November 13, Mehdi Rajabian was transferred to the hospital after his health seriously deteriorated as a result of the hunger strike. It is reported that the health conditions of both brothers have now considerably worsened. Hossein is currently suffering from a severe lung infection and is in need of urgent medical treatment. Mehdi is suffering from an illness similar to multiple sclerosis, is very weak, and is unable to walk.
Ali Sharati, a civil rights activist, began his hunger strike on October 31, 2016 when he began serving a five-year prison sentence for protesting against acid attacks on women. As of November 9 he has stopped taking liquids, and is severely dehydrated and weak. Ali is protesting against his forced return to prison to serve a sentence that has no legal basis. He is serving a five-year prison sentence after being convicted of gathering and colluding against national security. The conviction relates to his peaceful activities, including participating in a demonstration to condemn a series of acid attacks against women and attending gatherings in solidarity with political prisoners. He is experiencing breathing difficulties, rapid heartrate, severe drops in his blood pressure, kidney malfunction and slurred speech, and has lost consciousness several times.
Mohammad Ali Taheri, the founder of the banned Erfan-e Halgheh spiritual group, launched his 16th hunger strike on September 28, 2016 to demand an end to his illegal incarceration. Taheri’s five-year prison sentence for insulting the Islamic Republic by establishing a spiritual group, ended on February 7, 2016, but he has not been freed. The authorities have concealed his location from his family since late October, refused to provide his family with any information about his health or whereabouts, and have denied him access to his lawyer and family.
Three other prisoners of conscience – Morteza Moradpour, Vaheed Sayyadi and Rasoul Razavi – are also on hunger strike, demanding their freedom, and are suffering from declining health.
Once again, we appeal to your high office and the international community to support our campaign for the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience. It is with an emphasis on the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a non-violent solution for the future of Iran that we seek the moral support of the international community for the unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience.
I thank you sincerely for your support and attention to this urgent humanitarian matter.
(Signed) Reza Pahlavi
President of the National Council of Iran for Free Elections
This letter has been sent to the following recipients:
His Excellency Mr. Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
His Excellency, Francois Hollande,
President of the French Republic
His Excellency Mr. Vladimir Putin
President of the Russian Federation
The Right Honorable Theresa May MP
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
Ms. Asma Jahangir
UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran,
Mr. Seong-Phil Hong,
Chair-Rapporteur, The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
Mr Salil Shetty,
Secretary General of the Amnesty International,