Emergency Campaign to Free Iran's Political Prisoners

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Contact us at FreeIransPoliticalPrisonersNOW@gmail.com

The Emergency Appeal (below) was first issued by the IEC in March 2021. It was published as a full page ad in The New York Review of Books summer 2021 issue.  It was also published as a two-page spread in the summer 2022 issue of Ms. magazine. We think the core content of the Appeal as well as its important demands continue to be as relevant as when we first issued it. Also the breadth and prominence of its list of global signers remain most unique and impactful.

The Lives of Iran’s Political Prisoners Hang in the Balance—We Must ACT Now

An Emergency Appeal


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 has condemned Iran, which executed 246 people in 2020 and perhaps more in 2021, for using the death penalty as “a weapon of political repression.” 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.

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 has denounced the execution of prisoners of conscience, even as it is under extreme repression. After being imprisoned for over five years, human rights defender Narges Mohammadi has again been imprisoned, sentenced to another eight years and 74 lashes. The persecution of attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh (subject of documentary film NASRIN) and other defiant defense lawyers is an example of this nightmare of detentions and this implacable spirit of resistance.

Iran’s political prisoners face a dire and life-threatening emergency

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. For example, Nahid Taghavi, an Iranian-German citizen, was kept in solitary confinement for 194 days, and interrogated 80 different times. Mehran Raoof, a British-Iranian citizen and labor rights activist, was held in solitary confinement for eight months which is broadly understood as torture.

Women prisoners, such as Sepideh Gholian and others, are increasingly transferred to more remote prisons, limiting access by their families and lawyers. Many members of the Bah’ai faith and the Kurdish and Baluch peoples are being targeted.

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!


Write to the International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners at FreeIransPoliticalPrisonersNOW@gmail.com.

Download 2-sided pdf to print

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


Join the over 5,000 people who have signed the Emergency Appeal or an earlier Statement.
A partial list*:
  • Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus MIT; Professor, Univ. of Arizona
  • Ariel Dorfman, Author, Death and the Maiden
  • Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize 2003
  • Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize 1997 for her work to ban landmines
  • Gloria Steinem, Writer, feminist activist
  • Cornel West, Scholar-activist, Union Theological Seminary
  • Daniel Ellsberg (dec.), Author, Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers
  • Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Professor, Citizen Ambassador Free Rohingya Coalition
  • Judith Butler, Professor, author, University of California, Berkeley
  • Kia Corthron, Playwright, Novelist
  • Jeff Kaufman, Director, producer, writer of NASRIN documentary
  • Marcia Ross, Producer, NASRIN documentary
  • Naomi Wallace, MacArthur Fellow, Obie award-winning playwright
  • Jean Ziegler, Sociologist, writer, Switzerland
  • William Bourdon, Lawyer, Paris
  • Dr. Saroj Giri, University of Delhi, India
  • Dieter Karg, Spokesman, Iran Coordination Group of Amnesty International Germany
  • Mariam Claren, Daughter of political prisoner Nahid Taghavi, campaigner to #FreeNahid
  • Raymond Lotta, Revolution Books NYC; revcom.us
  • Mansoureh Behkish, Mothers of Khavaran
  • 30 former political prisoners of Iran

John Buehrens, Past President, Unitarian Universalist Association  •  David Hartsough, Quaker Peace Activist; co-founder, World Beyond War, Nonviolent Peaceforce  •  Elika Ashoori, Daughter of former political prisoner Anoosheh Ashoori •  Kylie Moore-Gilbert, British-Australian academic, former political prisoner in Iran  •  Satar Rahmani, Former teacher union activist in Iran; spokesperson for Mehran Raoof  • Carol Downer, Women’s reproductive rights advocate; co-initiator of IEC  • Dolly Veale, Co-initiator and spokesperson of IEC; revcom.us contributor  •  Kit Kittredge, Steering Committee Women’s Boat to Gaza  •  Kave Milani, Spokesman, Burn TheCage/Free The Birds, Europe  •  Shekib Mosadeq, Revolutionary Afghan artist, activist  •  Farhang Ghassemi, Président de la commission des droits humains de la Fédération d’Européens des Écoles  •  Taghi Rahmani, Activist, journalist and writer •  Drucilla Cornell, Professor Emerita, Rutgers Univ.; founder and director, uBuntu Project, SouthAfrica  • Taraneh Roosta, Women’s rights activist  •  Gordon Rogdoff, Theater director, professor, Yale School of Drama  •  Joshua Frank, CounterPunch  •  Greg Ó Ceallaig, Barrister  •  Shahrzad Mojab, Professor, Univ. of Toronto •  Robert Bossie, Priests of the Sacred Heart  •  Rev. Dr. Robert Brashear, Pastor Emeritus West Park Church, NYC  •  Peter Phillips, Former Director, Project Censored; former President, Media Freedom Foundation  •  David Palumbo-Liu, Professor, Stanford Univ. •  John Hutnyk, Researcher, Ton Duc Thang Univ., Vietnam  •  Hamit Bozarslan, Historian, social scientist  •  Liz Bernstein, Activist, Canada  •  Peter Tatchell, Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation  •  Aida Ghajar, Journalist  •  Gün Zileli, Author  •  Jill Godmilow, Filmmaker, retired professor, Univ. of Notre Dame  •  Rev. Glen Thamert  •  Ferhat Tunc, Artist  •  Cecile Pineda, Novelist  •  Ron Jacobs, Writer  •  Arlene Rakoncay  •  Larry Everest, IEC spokesperson; contributor, revcom.us  •  Nicholas Mottern, Coordinator, Knowdrones.com  •  Azam Niroomand-Rad, Professor Emerita, Georgetown Univ.

* Institutions for identification purposes only

Full list of signers