Must watch! "The people of Iran are our people, too". Press "CC" for translations. Gallows, posters of political prisoners, and flyers reach a wide audience at the 400-year-old Cartagena Clock Tower, most famous landmark in Colombia.
Make a sign, take a pic, share it, like these film artists. Fighters for freedom in Iran do a great service to the people of the world, bringing fresh winds of struggle, especially for liberation of women everywhere. WE MUST NOT SIT BY while they are hanged, shot, terrorized. These precious youth on the gallows or sentenced to death are OUR sons and brothers.
On December 31, 2022, @QuemarLaJaula, a group of revolutionaries and activists in Colombia dedicated to the struggle to free political prisoners in Iran, posted an inspiring video message.
Volunteers with the International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners NOW have translated the text, posted below.
“December 31, 2022
A New Year’s Message from the ¡Quemar la Jaula, Liberar a los Pájaros! campaign, for the life and liberty of the political prisoners in Iran:
The year 2022 comes to an end with a defiant uprising in Iran which, among different possibilities, includes the potential for positive radical changes. The women and youth have unleashed a rebellion against patriarchal oppression, repression by the Islamic theocracy, persecution of oppressed nationalities, xenophobia and other horrors. This massive wave of protests is not only just, it is profoundly inspiring.
All over the globe, fascist programs with theocratic inclinations are advancing, reaching alarming levels. The struggle against religious fundamentalism in Iran represents an important experience for the peoples of the world. But it is not only that the current uprising holds possibilities for a truly different and better world; also it needs much support from the whole world.
The regime labels the just rebellion “waging war against God.” Scores of people have been sentenced and are awaiting execution by hanging. The families of the accused are threatened, the trials are rushed, without legal defense, and the prisoners are forced to confess. In December, the young athlete and teacher Majidreza Rahnavard was hanged in public with the aim of terrorizing the people, but his message was: “I don’t want them to cry at my grave. Don’t read the Quran. Don’t pray. Just celebrate. Play joyful music.” The list of injustices is very long, these are not isolated cases.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is ruled by Sharia law, which imposes Islamic norms on other religions and on non-believers, particularly suppressing women. Being a theocracy, what the creed considers a “sin” is raised to the category of a crime. Since long before the current popular uprising, there has been a barrage of arrests, tortures and executions, [now] with more than 500 protestors killed and 20,000 arrested just since September. There is an imminent danger to the life and dignity of hundreds of political prisoners [jailed] since before the uprising: artists, writers, cinematographers, environmentalists, athletes, students, women who struggled against the forced hijab, Kurdish activists and representatives of religious minorities.
To carry out a cohesive campaign with the aim of liberating Iran’s political prisoners, the “Burn the Cage, Free the Birds” movement was formed in Europe @burnthecage, and also in Colombia @quemarlajaula.
The Iranian people have issued a call, not to the governments but rather to the peoples of the world, to take this struggle up as their own. An important goal for this New Year should be to answer the invitation of the Iranian masses and, overcoming narrow thinking, unite in an organized way with this campaign with all its challenges. We, the peoples of the world, have no borders.
There is much for you to do:
Sign the call (at www.freeiranspoliticalprisonersnow.org)
Join discussion groups to expose the crimes of the IRI
Express the beauty of this uprising with diverse types of art
Join the talks and discussions which are being organized, spread the campaign, open up spaces to exhibit the gallery and other activities
Promote on your social media the hashtags #QuemarLaJaula #StopExecutionsinIran
Everyone who stands for justice and longs for a truly better world should support this uprising and echo the just message which spreads around the world: Free Political Prisoners in Iran NOW!”
December 25, 2022. @QuemarLaJaula
December 20, 2022: A bold internationalist action by activists and revolutionaries of Quemar la Jaula / Liberar a los Pájaros (Burn the Cage, Free the Birds) was held at the Iranian Embassy in Bogotá, Colombia. Their banner in Spanish and Farsi read: Down with the Islamic Republic of Iran! Down with imperialism!
On display were large posters of executed prisoners Majidreza Mahnavard and Mohsen Shekari, of soccer player Ali Nasr-Azadani (sentenced to death) and rapper Toomaj Salehi (indicted), and names of other prisoners sentenced to or at risk of execution.
Protestors wore signs that read “Free All Political Prisoners in Iran NOW”, “Bury the forced hijab! Overthrow the Islamic Republic!” “The cry for REVOLUTION by Iranians is our cry!” “The people of Iran are our people!”
A giant photo of “Supreme Leader” Khamenei and illustrations of flags of the IRI, the US and Israel were set on fire. There was also red paint splashed on the Embassy steps and sidewalks symbolizing the blood on the regime’s hands.
The text in English below was translated by volunteers with IEC, so English speakers can appreciate, learn from and share this example of firmly relying on the people of the world, and not imperialist governments and organizations.
Emergency! The Islamic regime is executing political prisoners
Only by making ourselves felt all over the world canwe take the noose off from the neck of the Iranian youth and tear down the murdering gallows!
Action in defense of political prisoners in Iran
Tuesday, December 20, 2022
STOP THE EXECUTIONS! @quemarlajaula @IranPrisonEmerg
We demand of the Islamic Republic of Iran: FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS NOW!
We should not allow any opening for the dangerous bullshit that dominates in the “left” movement that the Islamic Republic is an anti-imperialist, anti-Yankee force. No! The Islamic Republic is a reactionary force and the Yankees are even worse. We choose another way and we struggle for it, together with our sisters and brothers in the streets and jails in Iran.
We must ACT now!
Imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism are two equally outmoded poles which reinforce each other. We cannot trust in one of them to liberate us from the other.
The rise of Islamic fundamentalist fascists in the Middle East and of Christian fascists in the US is related to the functioning of this system of capitalism-imperialism.
Down with the Islamic Republic of Iran!
The life and dignity of hundreds of political prisoners in Iran are in grave 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.” – Emergency Appeal, International Emergency Campaign (IEC) @IranPrisonEmerg
The letter from Colombia received by IEC in Spanish has been published in several languages and countries.
Once again, in December 2022 people in Colombia demonstrated to the world how to elevate the demand to Free Iran's Political Prisoners to a global demand. Tweets from @QuemarLaJaula show actions ranging from a protest at the Iranian embassy, to university murals and agitation and street theater in several cities.
Bogotá, Dec 20: "The Islamic Republic of Iran has blood on its hands. The struggle of the Iranian people is just! We the people of the world must act! Video: Protest today in front of the Iranian embassy in Bogotá."
Cali, Dec 18: "In the halls of the University Del Valle, murals have called attention to the emergency situation of our Iranian brothers, while inviting broadly to a talk to get more information".
Bucaramanga, Colombia, Dec 18: "Today, in the Univ. & downtown, activists for freedom for political prisoners in Iran carried out agitation against execution of prisoners, passing out flyers from the Campaign & Iranian revolutionaries".
Dec. 17: "In Medellín, Colombia, a performance called on people to act in support of the life and liberty of political prisoners in Iran and to publicize the emergency appeal of @IranPrisonEmerg."
Dec 17: "Today in Cali, Colombia. A performance with a gallows, & a pop-up speech giving context to this symbol of horror which many are facing in Iran today, including the soccer player Amir Nasr-Azadani."
IEC received the above-titled statement from Solidarity for Iran, in response to an October 2022 statement by 6,000 Iranian artists and cultural workers in support of students rising up in Iran. To read the whole statement, see list of signatories, and add your name, go here. Posted on Dec 6, the statement had received over 500 signatories within 48 hours, among them prominent artists and academics such as Roger Waters, Wilhem Dafoe, and Judith Butler.
"In unison and to support our Iranian colleagues; we, artists, writers, academics, and cultural practitioners from across the world, pledge to do our utmost to:
– boycott governmental institutions of the Islamic state of Iran and their covert affiliates, and prevent them from having any presence in international arenas of arts, culture, and education;
– stand against the regime apologists who misappropriate anti-imperialist discourses in the west or other parts of the world to deflect attention away from the well-documented state violence committed against the people;
– support our counterparts and collaborators who stand against the atrocities and abuses of human rights in Iran, using our intellectual and cultural leverage and capabilities;
– create networks of support for dissidents and those who are being targeted, face intimidation, or risk harm at the hands of the regime;
– raise awareness concerning the crimes against humanity committed by the Islamic regime in Iran."
The lights were dimmed. A circle of musicians was seated around a video screen, with audience members around them. Then the double bass player began, straddling her instrument as it lay flat on the floor. She played with two bows, coaxing out “murky” sounds as she put it, sounds one of the composers later said he had no idea the instrument could produce. The darkness underscored the seriousness, intensity, and drama of the music and the moment—here in the room, and far away in Iran.
It was her first time playing this way. “I was asked to be in a precarious, uncomfortable position, which was intentional, purposeful, and symbolic,” she said, “And I was happy to do it for a purpose.”
“For the People Of,” a concert in support of Iranian prisoners was held at the Manhattan School of Music on Friday, December 2. This “collaboration between Iranian composers both in and outside the country” was “dedicated to the people imprisoned in Iran, many of whom are artists and musicians, for protesting their government,” the musician organizers wrote.
Over a riveting two plus hours, the humanity and courageous struggle of the Iranian people and the brutality of Iran’s ruling regime was conveyed—better, driven home—through intense, cacophonous, haunting music, spoken word, short presentations, and video in English and Farsi. The 25 or so audience members, overwhelmingly students, had been met at the door by one of the musicians handing out the IEC’s Emergency Appeal, and its “Freedom for Toomaj!” palmcard. Around the room, sheets of paper with color drawings of women’s hair had been taped to the floor.
Four compositions—Zakhmeh (Wounds), The Time Has Come, Crackdown, and Our Song—each by a different composer, were the heart and driving force of the evening. Each was “influenced by improvisation, as a result of which the musicians express the experience of liberation in their performance,” the musician-organizers wrote.
The performers—men and women, from different parts of the U.S. and the world—included piano, double bass, steel string guitar, electric guitar, flute, alto sax, bass clarinet, percussion, violin, and voice. Other music students contributed set up, lighting, sound, and other elements.
Zakhmeh began quietly, with eerie, ethereal music from the double bass, with tension building as other instruments joined in. The Time Has Come had the feel of tensions building, “spreading the word and collecting forces,” as a friend put it, as music echoed and two singers circled the room whispering “Mahsa,” “Continue,” “Don’t be afraid.”
Crackdown opened with a furious, pounding piano and percussion blast—the pianist standing up and attacking its strings by hand. The intensity built as the other instruments mounted a gathering assault—“unmistakably street fighting music” a friend commented. One of the musicians explained afterward, that the “piano represents the tyrannical forces and everyone else represents protesters and in the end we all came together” to defeat the repressive forces. Our Song felt more accessible, hopeful, forward looking.
The audience was rapt throughout.
Afterward, the Iranian composer who opened the evening with a poem in Farsi and English about the bird, iconic in Iran, that symbolizes hope arising from all the pain and suffering people feel. “Every piece had this idea—out of the suffering this spirit rises, in the end this common voice comes from the bird. You go on a journey, an intense journey. The whole evening was very emotional—I felt like I was going to cry.”
The violin player showed me her “sheet music,” which was comprised of lines designating the rising and falling intensity for each instrument, i.e., the basic storyline. Within that framework, she explained, each musician contributed their individual interpretation. It was like a “call and response to other musicians in the room,” which demands very careful, attentive listening to the other musicians.
“In this performance we managed to encompass the full range of human emotions, from very intense to very reflective.” In Crackdown, “we were being individual protesters. I was trying to be a violently outspoken protester—you all make your choice. What character is missing in this mix and what should I add to it. It’s very emotional to put yourself in this role. It’s the closest thing I could do to acting. It was a very emotional experience to play the piece.”
She added, “For me, the immediacy of music and how it touches you is very different than reading something. Music has an immediate emotional impact. I was trying not to cry. The whole experience was very compelling. It’s hard to know how to help in a meaningful way, so I was happy I could be part of spreading news about it [the struggle in Iran], touching other people, and sharing stories. It means a lot to me.”
“This concert seeks to not only challenge the oppressive forces in power in Iran, but to also envision a better structure and society that values the emancipation and well-being of all people.”
“What is happening in Iran is that the people have had enough,” the main musician-organizer of the concert said. “There’s a structure in place over there and the people are simply saying they don’t accept it. What I’m trying to do with my music is basically questioning the structures and challenge the structures that are imposed on us. Those on top of the structure want us to conform, but we don’t have to; we don’t have to accept what we have; we can strive for something else. That’s what the people of Iran are doing and its very inspiring to me. And I think it translates into the arts. That’s what we need art for—to challenge ourselves and to challenge the structures we live under.”
“We plan on doing it again in other venues and making it bigger, making it a series. ‘For the People Of’ originally started with the Iranian people in mind. But I’m trying to see a bigger picture. What’s going on in Iran could potentially cause similar uprisings to happen in other countries. I think the whole world is watching. And it’s a really crucial moment over there. So ‘For the People Of’ is an invitation to the audience to fill in that blank. It’s for which people? The people of the world? The people of Iran? The people of the United States? The people of Haiti? Which people? It’s for all the people!”
The brutal death of Khodanour Lejei (or Lajai) at the hands of the Islamic Republic of Iran has touched a raw nerve across the globe. Below are the more accurate details of his death that our volunteers uncovered and is a correction of our earlier write up about him, as well as photos and videos of just a few of the different actions touched off by the news of his life and death.
Our previous coverage stated that Khodanour was “shackled to a pole, wounded, and allowed to bleed to death” for the crime of dancing. In fact, Khodanour was shot during the regime's massacre at a peaceful demonstration and prayers in Zahedan (in the oppressed minority province of Baluchistan and Sistan) on September 30, in which about 100 people were murdered in cold blood by snipers on rooftops. After the regime refused to allow the hospital to treat him, he bled out and died on October 2 – his 27th birthday. It was actually months earlier that he was wounded, tortured and shackled to a pole, a glass of water cruelly placed just out of his reach. The police spread the shackled photo of him with the intent to humiliate him and spread fear. Instead, images of him joyfully dancing, as well as that of him shackled, have inspired protests and artistic expressions worldwide, ranging from single individuals to choreographed installations.
This unity with a Baluchi protestor is especially crucial given that Baluchistan continues to be a target of vicious repression. As of Nov 28, 15 Baluchi prisoners were executed in just 15 days.
See videos of reenactment below, and photos on the right column.
On November 19, 2022, actions were held in many parts of the world in commemoration of "Bloody Aban", the massacre of at least 1,500 people in November 2019, drowning in blood the uprising against the huge increase in gas prices.
In San Francisco, California, @BayArea4Iran and IEC (@IranPrisonEmerg) participated in this large, solemn and angry manifestation. At the start of the march was a symbolic funeral with about a dozen people in black with blood tears painted on their faces, carrying representations of dead bodies.
Some initial sights and sounds of responses to the call from Toomaj's family for worldwide actions to demand his immediate release.
French language flyer distributed in France
5 Nov. "In Medellín, Colombia, after a conference on the uprisings in Iran, we join the call for the immediate release of the rapper #ToomajSalehi and that of all political prisoners in Iran."
5 Nov. Toronto, Canada, rally at Toronto Municipal Square in support of revolutionary artist Toomaj Salehi. Toomaj's cousin spoke: "Toomaj was born from a revolutionary family, his aunts were political prisoners, his uncles were political prisoners, and we were not less hit by the Islamic Republic." She called on people to the voice of Toomaj.
Breaking news Nov. 2, from Burn the Cage:
"Toomaj has been in the torture chamber for confession, the "Police Center for Moral Security and Public Places" on Rudaki Street, Isfahan. Apparently he has now been transferred to the prison and intelligence department. The regime's officials have not yet provided any information to the family. The family is still unable to contact Toomaj."
Nov. 1: Family and friends of Toomaj are asking all Iranians and freedom-loving people all over our planet to rise up to save the life of Toomaj from the murderous Islamic regime in Iran.
At midnight on Sunday October 30th, the Islamic regime kidnapped Toomaj [a revolutionary rapper singing and mobilizing people on the crimes of the Islamic regime against the women and the people of Iran] and put him under brutal torture. We're asking everyone to take action in saving the life of Toomaj, demanding his unconditional release.
At the same time, we're asking all freedom-loving people and defenders of human rights to join the joint struggle in freeing all Iranian political prisoners, supporting the student movement, the workers movement and Iran's "Woman Life Freedom" Revolution.
We're asking all freedom-loving people to support the "Freedom for Toomaj" demonstrations and joint actions!
Let's participate in an international protest against kidnapping of Toomaj Salehi and his release from the claws of Islamic Regime's executioners!
Freedom for Toomaj!
Be the voice of Iranian political prisoners and the uprising in the Iranian society!
Join us on a worldwide demonstration on Saturday November 05, 2022 all over the world and in all European cities!
Send us the events that you're planning to have in your cities to [FreeIransPoliticalPrisonersNow@gmail.com].
From the family and friends of Toomaj!
In early October, as the uprising in Iran began to rage, the Burn the Cage/Free the Birds campaign in Europe issued an urgent appeal—to globalize the struggle to free Iran’s political prisoners, in which they proclaimed: “People outside Iran, you have to become the Iranian people’s voice to the world.”
A resounding echo came from revolutionaries in Colombia—across continents, oceans and mountains! Women and men with Alborada Comunista, Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Group in Colombia, fanned out into barrios, universities, tourist and other popular areas of Bogotá, Cali, Bucaramanga, Barranquilla, Cartagena, and Medellín. For several weeks, people all over Colombia saw the faces and heard the stories of Iran’s political prisoners in beautifully painted portraits to join the fight for their freedom. Students watched and discussed the film NASRIN about the life and work of courageous defense lawyer and political prisoner Nasrin Sotoudeh. Literature tables carried tracts that ranged from flyers for the International Emergency Campaign to books on the New Communism developed by revolutionary leader Bob Avakian.
View compilation below.
Cartagena, 22 October:
Discussion in the library of a poor and working class community about support for the struggles of the masses in Iran and the struggle for the freedom of political prisoners. On Oct. 23, a day of flyering and agitation in Barrio San José.
Bogotá, 22 October. March in the Chapinero [tourist] district as part of the International Day of Action in support of the struggle of the people of Iran against the theocratic Islamic Republic and for the immediate release of political prisoners.
Bogotá, 21 October: Rally in front of the Iranian embassy in Colombia. Several dozen protesters chanted slogans in support of the Iranian people, against the theocratic regime, and against imperialism and Zionism.
Cali, 18 October. Mural in front of the University Hospital of Cali: Free the political prisoners from the dungeons of the Islamic Republic now!
Bogotá, 17 October: Monday, a holiday, more than a dozen protesters walked a few kilometers through downtown chanting slogans against the Islamic Republic and imperialism, and in support of the uprising in Iran and for the freedom of political prisoners...
Barranquilla, 14-15 October. In the central, well-attended Peace Square, for two days activists for the freedom of political prisoners in Iran interacted with hundreds of people, distributing thousands of flyers condemning the Islamic regime and imperialism.
Bogotá, 14 October. A discussion with students and the creation of a mural opposing the Islamic Republic and imperialism, changed the atmosphere in the Macarena area of the District University.
Medellín, 13 October. Exhibit for the life and freedom of political prisoners in Iran. The lives of political prisoners in Iran are in danger and immediate international action is urgently needed for their release!
Bucaramanga, 9 October. On Sundays, the Industrial University of Santander opens its doors to the public. There we installed a table of revolutionary literature, we exhibited posters against the Islamic Republic of Iran and imperialism, and for the liberation of women.
Cali, 8 October. Universidad del Valle, Engineering Dept. Mural opposes the "two outmodeds": "Down with the Islamic Republic of Iran! Down with imperialism!" based on a poster by Osyan.
Cali, 6 October. Universidad del Valle. Campaign "Burn the Cage!", "Free Iran's political prisoners NOW!" Invitations to the screening and discussion of the documentary "Nasrin".
October 22, 2022 witnessed an extraordinary outpouring of solidarity with the uprising in Iran sparked 5 weeks ago by the death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of "morality police". Tens of thousands of Iranians poured into the streets (80k just in Berlin), joined by (in a still small proportion), non-Iranians. The IEC and it supporters built for and joined protests in Germany, France, Toronto, San Francisco, New York, Washington DC, and Bogotá.
View some related social media posts below.
San Francisco, California, USA:
This statement is copied from JAKNA's Instagram. It has been translated to English by IEC volunteers.
We are a group of Afghan men and women from all over the world; From Kabul, Herat and Hazara, to Mashhad, Tehran, and Zahedan, from Pakistan, Istanbul, and Greece to all over Europe and America. In this campaign, we want to support the uprising of women and men in Iran against the mandatory hijab and against the criminal Islamic Republic of Iran. We consider ourselves as part of this uprising and our hearts are with the rebels of Iran and our voices are aligned with their voices....
(Signers by names order in Farsi)
Arzoo Arianpour (cinema artist and actress)
Artemis Akbari (activist of the LGBT movement)
National and Democratic Refugee Union in Austria
Women's Social Equality Association/Afghanistan
A group of women in Herat
A group of Afghan students in Iran
Nasser Chekauk (Jakna member)
Maryam Heydari (nurse)
Khaleda Khorsand (writer and women's rights activist)
Tahereh Sajjadi (human rights activist)
Zohra Sahar (civil activist)
Mina Sadat (social activist)
Elahe Sahel (journalist)
Ziagol Seljuqi (social activist)
Elahe Sahel (journalist)
Afghan LGBT Organization
Noor International Organization
Marjan Alipour (women's and student rights activist in Canada)
Jamila Azimi (defense lawyer)
Sabouri Azizi (activist for the rights of asylum seekers)
Farinoosh Alipour (women's rights activist)
Angela Ghayor (women's activist)
Nilofar Fahim (social activist)
Bakhtavar Nazari (women's activist)
Roya Mandegar civil activist
Shekib Mosadeg (artist and singer)
Zahra Mousavi (women's activist)
Marzieh Hashemi (women's activist from Berlin)
#Afghanistan_Iran #stop_the_killing_of_Hazaras #Mehsa_Amini#women_of_Afghanistan #Afghanistan #Hazara #Baluchistan #Kurdistan#stophazaragenocide
@shekibmosadeq @angela_ghayour @maosyangarim @bidarzani @cpimlm @artemis_akbary@arezoariapoor
We received this statement from Burn The Cage/Free The Birds movement in Europe. IEC volunteers take responsibility for the translation from Farsi into English.
To the rebel protesters in the streets:
The fiery cry of your heroic rebellion has shaken this rotten system [Islamic Republic] to the core and has warmed the hearts of millions around the world! Your sisters and brothers in all corners of the world are exhilarated and inspired by your bravery and dedication, and you have been a breath of fresh air in a world full of war, poverty, death, tyranny, and environmental destruction.
Our friends in Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Colombia, the United States, Spain, Chile and many other countries in the world have risen also in support of you rising up and raising the banner: “No!” “I am a human being!” They have responded with support, "Your pain is my pain." This is striking fear into the hearts of their ruling tyrants. Also, many of the world's intellectuals and artists have joined this glorious wave inspired by you and are supporting your cause.
Without a doubt you bring hope to the many people who are desperate in Iran, the Middle East and the whole world. You have given a fresh blood to the tired bodies and minds of the Iranian masses. You have given us a new hope and have shown that we don’t need to choose between bad and worse. There is a path of life, a way forward: to rise up against reactionary tyrants and oppressors.
The regime’s security forces are arresting more and more of innocent people. Prisoners’ families and lawyers are reporting horrendous and dangerous conditions inside the regime’s prisons. According to some reports, more than 3,000 people have been transferred to Evin and Fashafuyeh prisons. [Fashafuyeh = Greater Tehran Prison – ed.] Prisoners are under constant interrogation and most of the women prisoners have been transferred to Qarchak prison. One of the prisoners, Yalda Moayeri, said in an audio file, "Our lives are constantly in danger. More than 100 people have been jammed into a gymnasium, without ventilation or air conditioning. There are no proper bathrooms or showers and [the guards – ed.] constantly give people sedatives."
In a brief phone call from Qarchak prison, Maryam Karim Beigi told her mother that “we are held in very inhumane spaces, and constantly dehumanized and threatened” and “another Kahrizak may happen here.” [Kahrizak prison was infamous for torture and murder of protesters arrested in the 2009 “green movement” protests. – ed.]
People in the streets, and workers, students, teachers, university students, professors, artists and athletes:
Raise your voices to demand the immediate release of political prisoners. Do not leave the families of political prisoners stranded and alone. Go together with the prisoners’ families to the prison gates and make an uproar so that the regime's hands will be tied against further crimes.
People who are affluent:
Please lighten the load of political prisoners by raising funds for their families travel expenses from distant cities to visit them.
People outside Iran, you who have become the Iranian people’s voice to the world:
Demand the ”immediate release of political prisoners” in a storm of social media; celebrities and human rights activists, make this the main point in your interviews with international media. Use any tool that you can to help the families of political prisoners and the families of the victims of the Islamic Republic.
Families of the prisoners:
Send the message to our sisters and brothers inside the prisons, “You are not alone, we are with you!” There are now millions of people in this country and other countries of the world that support you and your cause.
It has been over 350 hours since the Islamic republic murdered our dear Mahsa. It is time to free all the political prisoners!
~Burn the Cage / Free the Birds Campaign
October 1, 2022
Revolutionary Afghan composer Shekib Mosadeq put together a montage of videos of the protests in Iran, with his song, Burn The Cage:
El IEC received this letter from the Burn the Cage spokesperson after they read this report from Colombia.
With great joy and full of hope we read the report regarding your support and promotion of the campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners at the International Poetry Festival in Medellín.
Friends and comrades, this is what we are all fighting for: A totally different world where people have come out of their small spheres and see the world as a whole, a world with internationalism coming first.
In your report you mentioned groups and political organizations that believe that the Iranian government is anti-imperialist and should be supported. Their attitude shows how short-sighted and tragic they are. We should ask them: how can you call yourselves progressive and support a regime that imprisons and murders the people of Iran, for 43 years?
Comrades, the people of Colombia are our people too, and we are your people. We have the same enemy and that is the worldwide capitalist system. The Iranian government and Colombian regime are not on our side, they and all other reactionaries are on their side. They may have contradictions with each other, but we cannot throw ourselves into their arms, we cannot be so gullible. We don't need them, but we need each other!
The Emergency Campaign to free political prisoners in Iran takes up internationalism and relies on people of the world, not the governments of the world. Your actions are an internationalist model for us and the world and each time we hear from you it is more inspirational than previous actions.
With the hopes of going beyond the world of oppression, exploitation, prison and prisoners!
Kave Milani, spokesman for Burn the Cage/Free the Birds, Europe
This statement was posted in Farsi on Facebook and website of CFPPI; the following is our unofficial translation.
More than 300 justice seeking family members of political prisoners and political and civil activists published a statement to commemorate the anniversary of the massacre of political prisoners in the "Summer of 1988," in Iran. In this statement, international authorities have been asked to recognize this massacre as a crime against humanity. The signatories of this statement have called for the formation of an independent criminal investigation commission to pursue this crime in the United Nations.
The list of signatures is regularly updated.
You can also support the wishes of the families and activists and join them with your signature at the given addresses.
Parisa Powende email@example.com
Shiva Mehboobi firstname.lastname@example.org
Thirty-four years ago, after ongoing protests and upheavals in Iran, authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran started a crackdown of arrests, imprisonment and executions of political prisoners in the 1980's. We once again endured the massacre of our loved ones in September of 1988.
Those massacred were freedom-loving, honorable and decent people who have been fighting in defense of freedom of expression, political and social freedoms and a better life who eventually sacrificed their lives for the rights of humane ideals.
In 1988 the IRI killed these freedom fighters. They buried them secretly at night in mass graves in places like Khavaran. This was a crime against humanity that will be remembered in our history.
The powers that be have tried to destroy this historical evidence, but they have not yet been able to eradicate the evidence of the massacre of our loved ones because there have been massive protests against these crimes.
During the past forty-three years, the killing of our loved ones has continued. The answer to the demands for people's rights has been imprisonment, torture, bullets or execution. Today, mothers and families of those who have lost their loved ones in 1999, 2009, 2017, 2018, and The Mothers of Aban/Nov 2019 have joined forces with families of the downed Ukrainian passengers flight of 2019. They stand together with the families of the 1980's. The movement for justice has become stronger than ever and is standing on the front lines of the fight against poverty and misery, lack of any rights for women and children and all those imprisoned and executed...
Today, this movement and the support it has gotten from different sections of the people has become much stronger. The September 1988 massacre has been recognized by individuals and dozens of institutions, human rights organizations and human rights defenders and various institutions such as the UN human rights rapporteur Javid Rahman. The government of Canada has now officially acknowledged the massacre as a crime against humanity.
Lately, the trial of Hamid Nouri, one of the perpetrators of this massacre, has been tried in Sweden. The Swedish court has issued the harshest punishment, life imprisonment. This is a great victory for the movement for justice and for the people of Iran.
Families, institutions and organizations defending human rights are calling for the establishment of an independent commission for criminal investigation to be formed to investigate and try the perpetrators and leaders of this crime and the death committee in 1988. Today, this demand has become a public demand.
While we are again asking the United Nations Human Rights Council to form an independent criminal investigation commission to deal with the crimes of the Summer 1988 Massacre, we ask all honorable, freedom-loving and philanthropic people to not stand aside, but to join us in demanding an independent investigation of these crimes.
Copy sent to the United Nations Human Rights Council
European personalities and governments
The IEC was emailed a detailed report from Colombia about the International Poetry Festival in Medellin. We are posting the translation and condensed version posted on revcom.us so as not to duplicate efforts. Those who publicly signed the Appeal at the Festival are entered into our full signers' list and include artists we listed in our August 8 Alert.
A LOS COMPAÑEROS EN COLOMBIA: ¡MUCHÍSIMAS GRACIAS Y UN FUERTE ABRAZO!
In late July, the 32nd International Poetry Festival of Medellín took place with scores of invitees from 24 countries. This internationally recognized Festival has been held since 1991, organized by the poetry magazine Prometeo and the World Poetry Movement. There were readings in different parts of Medellin and nearby cities to large audiences. The poets recited songs to nature and against its destruction by capitalism; for unity among the world’s people against femicide, colonialism and racism, performing in multiple languages enabling a rich exchange between artists and audience.
Our team of about ten (from Medellín and other parts of Colombia) spread out to events in different venues of the city. Inspired by the Appeal of the International Emergency Campaign (IEC), we aimed to publicize the situation of Iran’s political prisoners, the IEC and its Appeal. We urged artists to sign the Appeal and get it to others worldwide. We asked them to join in denouncing the repression, torture, imprisonment, and assassinations by the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), to join in condemning the threats and war moves of U.S. imperialism and its economic sanctions that add to terrible suffering of the Iranian masses. We distributed the Appeal in Spanish, English, Portuguese, and French; setting up a huge exhibition with “Burn the Cage, Free the Birds!” theme with a collection of 36 displays (see photos). We held a screening of the documentary Nasrin. We spoke about the IRI’s recent escalation of imprisonment, torture and execution of artists, poets, human rights defenders, feminists, activists, environmentalists, and many other people, highlighting the recent jailing of filmmakers Jafar Panahi, Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Al Ahmad.
From the start, we urged poets from Africa, Europe and Latin America to sign the Appeal and spread it. The response was generally very receptive. Many were unaware of the ongoing situation in Iran. Some people expressed surprise to encounter this campaign in Colombia and found it inspiring.
A young man from the Festival organizing team, upon hearing about the Appeal, asked with some sarcasm “What does that have to do with Colombia?” After explaining the situation in Iran, and its prisoners, we highlighted key points of the Appeal like “All those who stand for justice and yearn for a better world must rally to the cause of freeing Iran’s political prisoners NOW.” He then took us to the co-director of the Poetry Festival to tell her this was an important campaign and that they should know about it. The co-director then spoke to a Peruvian woman who said she would spread it among her friends, especially Iranians.
About 20 poets signed the Appeal, agreed to share it with others, and left their contact information. Kayo Chingonyi, a Zambian poet living in England, said that after signing it, he read the IEC webpage and then shared it with others, including his producer, an Iranian. In general, everyone expressed recognizing the serious situation in Iran, and among the majority, a willingness to listen with genuine receptivity.
In the closing days, we organized two graphic exhibitions with several portraits of Iran’s political prisoners and short write-ups of their cases, some poems by Iranian prisoners, the Appeal in Spanish and its English ad in The New York Review of Books. We also had a flyer of Bob Avakian’s quote on “the two outmodeds.” These were held at the University of Antioquia and the Casa Cultural La Pascasia, in downtown Medellín. A professor of “History of Art in Times of War” who taught at Arts Department of the University of Antioquia, stopped on her way to class to see the exhibition with some of her students. She said the exhibition grabbed her attention and invited us to speak in one of her classes.
On the other hand, besides some apathy related to the idea that “things are already changing here” with the “left” government, many people were curious about why people in Colombia were actively promoting a campaign for the political prisoners from another country. This enabled discussions of a very important aspect of this campaign: Internationalism. We explained this is not simply to express solidarity with those suffering repression in Iran, but to see their cause as our cause. Our starting point is not what “affects our country” or “our people” understood in a narrow nationalistic way. Our starting point must be humanity and the planet and the struggle to end oppression and exploitation in all parts of the world, not just in what is considered “my” country.
Most people did not ask these questions with bad intentions but with concern. However, among those who did ask questions with bad intentions, there were accusations such as “they do not care about the problems of Colombia.” In addition to defending Iran as part of a “bloc of anti-imperialist countries,” one Festival organizer approached those talking with the poets for “taking advantage of HIS space.” And a retired professor, a member of the university professors’ union, criticized our concern for the political prisoners in Iran and being against U.S. sanctions on Iran. He said you have to support the Islamic regime because it is a force “opposed to Yankee imperialism” and “we cannot forget that the main enemy is North American imperialism.” He also stated that, although he does not agree with the treatment of women in Iran but this as “part of their culture.” We confronted these wrong positions and after listening to our arguments, the professor-unionist decided to go and see the Exhibition.
Many of these collaborators have political affinity with the organizers of the Festival who are members of the old, non-revolutionary Colombian “communist” party (PCC). One of them argued that “the U.S. is the country promoting and financing the protests in Iran,” “Iran is part of an anti-imperialist bloc,” “I have not seen you defending the political prisoners of Colombia,” etc. to try to censor us. This same position is defended by almost all the reformist “left intellectuals,” including some directors of the Bogotá teachers’ union (ADE), who have openly declared the IRI anti-imperialist. In 2019, they even held a celebration of the founding of the IRI.
This festival was a real opportunity to struggle against the narrow sectarianism and evasion by some “left” intellectuals with petty attitudes. These forces criticize our support of “others” and want us to limit ourselves to the problems of “our” country (i.e. Colombia). This time, they ask “why only Iran?” Other times they ask “why only Palestine or Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Brazil?” Or they ask “why only women or LGBT?” Or “why only at festivals?” Or “why only at Universities?” Or “why only in neighborhoods?” and so on ad nauseam! It is necessary to carry out struggle to transform their way of thinking which takes individualism to another level. There have been some successes in this struggle.
The world cannot allow what the IRI has done since its founding in 1979, nor allow again the complete elimination of a generation of brave and powerful critical minds. The courage and sacrifice of the masses and of the voices of conscience must receive a response of frank global support in various social sectors. In this sense, it ` key that artists, lawyers, and journalists welcome the Appeal and urgently disseminate it in all possible ways and in all possible areas. As the Appeal puts it: The Lives of Iran’s Political Prisoners Hang in the Balance—We Must ACT Now!... tirelessly.
Now on newsstands! The IEC's Emergency Appeal appears in Ms. magazine's Summer edition, on pages 40 & 41. Get your copy NOW! and share it widely.
Imagine the misogynist IRI regime squirming when they see this in Ms. Magazine's 50th Anniversary edition, "Never Underestimate the Power of Women's Rage!"
Publishing the Emergency Appeal right now —with its powerful political content and world-renowned signers— is the best way to impact the international political terrain and build broad awareness and support for all of Iran’s political prisoners. Its stance of proceeding from the interests of humanity, not of those of any reactionary government, and stressing the “special responsibility” people in the U.S. have to oppose the IRI’s vile repression while also actively opposing “any war moves by the U.S. government that would bring even more unbearable suffering to the people of Iran” is even more important now given the current situation in Iran and the world...
We encourage people to get a copy to bring into your classrooms to share! Or ask your favorite bookstore to display the ad. Or bring it with you to show people at events, protests and speakouts! Many thanks to the dozens of donors, in the U.S., Europe, Canada, from the Iranian diaspora and elsewhere whose generosity made this possible!
During the time that ads to Free Iran's Political prisoners were running online in Ms, dozens of artists from Africa, Latin American and Europe signed the Emergency Appeal to Free Iran's Political Prisoners Now! Among the signers were Nimrod Bena, poet, writer, editor and philosopher from Chad, Kayo Chingonyi; Zambian writer, editor, broadcaster; Hilde Susan Jaegtnes, poet, fiction writer, screenwriter, actress and composer (Norway); Martín Barea Mattos, poet and director of the international poetry festival "Mundial Poético" in Montevideo, Uruguay; Oscar "Puky" Gutiérrez Peña, poet, cultural manager and editor (Bolivia); more than a dozen Colombian writers and artists including Luis Villa and Angela Briceño; and Chilean poets Eugenia Brito Astrosa and Amanda Durán.
We encourage people to get a copy to bring into your classrooms to share! Or ask your favorite bookstore to display the ad. Or bring it with you to show people at events, protests and speakouts!
The song by Shekib Mosadeq and Miles Solay "Inspired by the struggle to free all political prisoners in the Islamic Republic of Iran and in Afghanistan" will be performed live at a music festival in Berlin this weekend.
The IEC received a call for demonstration in September from UK-based CFPPI (Campaign to Free Political Prisoners in Iran).
The Iranian Writers’ Association published an important statement Monday, August 1, 2022 in the Farsi news site Akhbar Rooz. Below is IEC’s unofficial translation.
For more than forty years, the government has been violating the most basic rights of women and responding to their every protest and disobedience with humiliation and organized violence and filing cases. Women who have seen their lives from the most private to the most public areas dominated by the regime's misogynistic culture and laws, have taken steps and opened ways to break this space with their individual and collective efforts. But this constant struggle has not reduced the naked violence of the government against women.
On July 31, the government added another black page to its record, and as it has many other times, it turned to confession and manipulation of public opinion. When the detention of Sepideh Rashno, the poet and writer, had reached the 14th day, the news channels of the Islamic Republic of Iran aired the video of her forced confession. The method that has always been repeated with the intention of discrediting the protest and intimidating the protesters by the government: forcing the oppressed to sit in front of the camera and showing the suffocation by the ruler. Now, however, the widespread anger and reaction of the people showed that this tactic is more ineffective than before.
Earlier, a video was published on the internet that showed a "famous person" [IEC: well-known female IRI agent who bullies women for not properly covering their hair in public] on the bus being aggressive to a woman under the pretext of covering up, causing that women and other women on the bus to defend themselves in protest. While filming the protesting woman, she threatens to send the video to the "Army". Shortly after the wide distribution of this video on social networks, it was found out that the woman who protested was Sepideh Rashno, and she was arrested by the security officers and taken to an unknown place. At the same time, the media of the government also began to file and make accusations and attributed this protest, like countless other protests, to "external factors".
In recent months, many such news items have been published after crossing the censorship barrier: the news that reveals both the increasing pressure on women and their resistance. The government has revived its old tools, and its officers, called "Moral Security Police", are busy oppressing women even more and depriving them of their safety.
The basis of this repression has been prepared before; The government, which has realized that in the absence of women's organizations and institutions, it is easier to violate the rights of "Sepidehs" and marginalize their voices, has violated the right of women to organize for years and has narrowed the space for activists in this field by filing cases, arresting and jailing.
The Iranian Writers Association, while defending the right to choose clothing, once again declares its support for women's right to organize and considers these arrests and forced confessions to be a continuation of the organized repression of women. Unconditional freedom is the right of Sepideh Rashno and all political and ideological prisoners.
Iran Writers’ Association, August 1, 2022
Shouting "Terrorist Regime of Iran" in Norway on June 1, 2022, a woman protested the official meetings between Norway and Iran. Someone egged the motorcade of Iranian diplomats.
From Burn the Cage Instagram, unofficial translation:
"Today, Saturday, May 21, 2022, in coordination with political organizations and currents, we were present in the center of Cologne on the occasion of the death sentence [of Swedish-Iranian doctor Ahmadreza Djalali] and the unconditional defense of the immediate release of political prisoners. We have declared the only solution to end imprisonment, torture and execution to overthrow the Islamic Republic. At the end, we showed our protest symbol by raising photos, banners for the slaves and political prisoners from the Rhine flyover and with revolutionary songs. On the way, one of the protesters spoke to the people in a German-language loudspeaker about the crimes and actions of this fascist government of the Islamic Republic. The program lasted from 2 to 4 p.m.
"We also participated in the demonstration with the banner of the Committee for the Defense of the Immediate Release of Political Prisoners unconditionally, which was called by the Organizing Council for political prisoners and executions.
See below: videos
Volunteers put the demand "Free Iran's Political Prisoners" before many thousands the week of May 1, International Workers Day, 2022.
In Berlin, supporters carried the IEC banner in a march of 20,000, many of them radical German youth. People in the march took photos of its portraits of a number of the political prisoners in Iran—who were celebrated by the contingent as heroes of our times, frontline fighters for a better world.
In Stockholm, Sweden, in front of the trial of Hamid Nouri, where many Iranians gathered from around the world for the concluding arguments, demanding justice for their loved ones massacred in 1988, the IEC brought attention to the urgent current struggle to free all political prisoners in Iran today.
In San Francisco, California, at the rally before the labor rights rally on May 1, the IEC was invited to make a statement (download). Many people were moved by the internationalist stand, took photos with the IEC banner, and signed up on the spot.
Iran International video in Farsi shows banners, including International Emergency Campaign and Burn the Cage, outside the concluding days of the trial of Hamid Nouri in Stockholm, Sweden; news anchor discusses IEC banner and demands at Minute 1.
Even after arrests of teacher union leaders aimed at preventing May 1 protests, teachers in many cities in Iran rallied bravely, demanding living wages, labor rights and freedom for their imprisoned colleagues. Dozens were arrested. Video by @ICHRI.
Exciting reports received by the IEC show new joint efforts by supporters of our campaign and Burn the Cage/Free the Birds movement in Europe that reached thousands at International Women's Day (IWD) events 2022 amidst a tense world situation.
We bring you photos and a summary here.
The major news outlet IranWire covered the groups' action (link in Farsi) in Paris on its home page, quoting activists and the Emergency Appeal extensively.
In San Francisco, California, 15-20 people gathered in front of the U.S. Federal Building on January 22 to express their solidarity with Iran’s hunger strikers and to demand “the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners held by the Islamic Regime.” Video of march on IEC YouTube channel.
Video of march on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3LBKxgLxBQ&t=54s
On January 8 of this year Baktash Abtin died in an Iranian prison. Baktash was a poet and filmmaker widely respected in his country and beyond. He was jailed for speaking out for justice in his country, for the right to speak, for speaking the truth. His incarceration was unjust. His death, a result of criminal neglect by his jailers, was nothing less than murder.
Prisoners in response to this crime have begun a hunger strike. This statement expresses our support for these hunger strikers.
The government of Iran is guilty of grotesque injustices against workers, artists, writers, lawyers, democratic activists, socialists and others who protest or speak out and protest against their patriarchal and fascist like regime. It is therefore our responsibility as human rights advocates in this country to speak out and act in solidarity with this growing movement of protest among Iran’s courageous prisoners.
It is doubly important for us to do this since the United States government, represented by this building we stand next to, carried out crimes against the Iranian nation going back to the 1950s, and continues to do so with sanctions that cause great harm to the ordinary people of Iran. And this government does this not to defend democracy or people’s rights as they claim, but to help the U.S. maintain a grip on the Middle East, all the better to exploit the people there.
Furthermore, in our country we are witness to the great efforts from powerful interests to rile up the people with U.S.A. first chauvinism, whose most disgusting manifestation is MAGA, with which fascists in this country wish to harden the people here to accept any manner of brutality to, in their words, “make America great again”. This poisonous ideology represents the deadening of the spirits thus infected by it, and, as an outlook, if not challenged and defeated, will be a death sentence to humanity generally.
Therefore our solidarity is not only for the sake of our courageous sisters and brothers in Iran but for ourselves and for all our human kind trapped as we are at this time in an immoral and unjust social order.
None of us are free, until all of us are free.
Free Iran’s political prisoners now.
Yesterday evening a small crew of Revolution readers, including people originally from Iran and Pakistan, went to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, where an Iranian film festival is being held. The Festival is showing a number of Iranian films, covering various issues. All films are made in Iran, in the Farsi language, with English subtitles at the bottom of the screen. We carried fliers about the International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran's Political Prisoners for distribution to people at the site, as the primary objective.
However, we also carried palm cards of BA's latest major work, “Something Terrible Or Something Truly Emancipating:....", so we could give them out to people who seriously engaged us on the subject of real solution to ending all oppression. We also decided to see the film, "No Choice” at the Museum and try distributing more fliers, at the end of the film.
The film was really good. Great subject, good acting, well directed and produced. (More about the film at the end ).
The overall experience was mixed. Maybe it was not the best venue to achieve the results that we were hoping for, since we were not allowed in the area of the Museum where people who had come to see the movie were entering but only a general museum entrance, we ended up passing out fliers to all people who passed by us, only a few of whom were actually there for the Iranian festival.
But we did learn some things, which are important in their own right. We found that most people we came across had no idea about the situation in Iran, let alone the plight of political prisoners. But many people were curious to learn and took the fliers in that spirit. Some asked how they could help the International Campaign, for which we were happy to give out the flier " Five ways to help....".
I had the opportunity to engage a couple of people on the premises close to the entrance gate, before the Security Guard noticed my presence and asked me to leave. A young Iranian woman, a college student, who was probably waiting for someone to join her, took the flier, but said she had no idea about the prisoners' situation in Iran. She added, “I don't like the government of Iran", without further elaboration. A couple, in their 30s or so, took the Emergency Campaign flier. They said they had no idea about the prisoner situation but were curious to find out and asked how they could help. I gave them the flier with the " five ways to help" written. Another man, in his early fifties, took the flier and said he knew democracy had been hijacked in Iran after the ouster of Mossadegh, and installing of the Shah. He counter questioned me to ask what was happening in Iran and what needed to be done. At this point I engaged him a little on how this system had no solution to end humanity's suffering and gave him the palm card showing BA's latest work, " Something Terrible or Something Emancipating...." .
The movie, "No Choice" seems to have deeply impacted the people watching the movie (as it surely deeply moved me), the audience coming out of the hall were suddenly eagerly asking us for the fliers on Iranian prisoners. One middle aged Iranian man, while taking the fliers, said, "I really want to thank you for doing this ".
The Movie : ** NO CHOICE **
I thought the film was very powerful in showing the savage exploitation of women in the brutal and oppressive patriarchal theocratic system, especially for the poor and downtrodden, but really for all women, at all levels. I liked the subtle ways in which the movie was critical of the theocracy and its leadership. The film shows the helplessness of women who try to "claim" justice from the system, and are met with mountains of hurdles in their path at every step. The film shows that a woman lawyer, who picks up the courage to pursue the case of a homeless teenager, and with a lot of tenacity manages to cross a number of hurdles, becomes a threat to all those in the chain who have been responsible for the exploitation of this homeless teenage girl. The lawyer is followed, and literally murdered on the street.
From a sustainer of the Revolution Tour
Following are some notes about a recent exciting internationalist activity in the Colombian capital.
Last Thursday, January 6, shortly after noon, some three dozen protesters with an overflowing internationalist spirit gathered in front of the Iranian embassy in Bogotá to let the representatives of the reactionary Islamic Republic of Iran know that “The eyes of the world are on Iran,” especially with regard to the situation of the political prisoners that it has in its clutches.
Carrying posters with the images and a brief story of some of the fighters on the front and designs from the campaign with text in English or Spanish on the back, as well as a couple of banners with enlargements of the ad that appeared in the New York Review of Books, the protesters chanted insistently for several minutes: “The eyes of the world are on Iran...,” “We demand from the Islamic Republic of Iran: FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS NOW!,” “We demand from the U.S. government: NO THREATS OR WAR MOVES AGAINST IRAN, LIFT U.S. SANCTIONS!,” while a couple of protesters wrote one of these slogans on the pavement.
After dispersing in groups as they had arrived, the protesters regrouped about three kilometers to the south in the Plaza de Lourdes, a park in the Chapinero sector that is visited by mainly foreign tourists. For more than an hour, the protesters circulated around twelve blocks of the sector while each one read from the poster that they carried about the case of the corresponding prisoner. After every three readings, they would stop while a speaker read excerpts from the Emergency Appeal or from the IEC statement, “The eyes of the world are on Iran as JPCOA Talks Resume”, denouncing the nefarious “two historically outmoded strata” in Iran and the world.
During the whole route, several of the marchers interacted with pedestrians, street vendors and store employees, and on the whole were warmly welcomed, while in some cases they had to address questions about why the protesters were committed to a “far-off” or “other people’s” cause. It was a good opportunity to make clear how and why the freedom fighters in Iran are OUR people, and the cause of defending them (and their struggles) are OUR cause and should be embraced by many more people.
It was an afternoon full of internationalist fervor that was sparked the night before with a preparation session in which the participants in the internationalist action watched the documentary Nasrin, read various materials from the International Emergency Campaign, were infuriated by the murder of Heydar and worried about Baktash’s condition. Baktash’s death occurred only a few hours after this action. While his death was a hard blow to the participants who heard the news when they met to sum up the action, it also strengthened our sense of urgency to strengthen the Campaign more throughout Colombia.
Indeed, our eyes are on Iran and our hearts beat in unison with the hearts of the fighters in the Iranian prisons.
Twenty-three international human rights organizations have called on Iranian judicial authorities to release the activist Mehdi Mahmoudian and defense attorneys Arash Keykhosravi and Mostafa Nili.
These peaceful human rights defenders, who were arbitrarily arrested while trying to sue Iranian authorities for the government’s incompetent response to the COVID-19 pandemic, now face lengthy prison terms on fabricated charges.
Read the statement in English and Farsi, as well as the 23 organizations, on IranHumanRights.org.
On this Human Rights Day, we demand humanity and justice for our parents and for all those who are suffering wrongful imprisonment.
One only starts to miss a quiet, ordinary life when it has been taken away.
My name is Elika Ashoori and my father Anoosheh Ashoori – a gentle, family-oriented retired businessman — is a political hostage in the Islamic Republic of Iran. He was arrested in 2017 while visiting his sickly 86-year-old mother in Iran who needed nursing and care after surgery. He was held for months in solitary confinement with no access to independent legal counsel, and subsequently sentenced to 10 years in prison after a secret, sham trial.
My name is Mariam Claren and I have a similar story, with a different cast. My German-Iranian mother Nahid Taghavi — a retired architect and women’s rights activist — was arrested in 2020, held in prolonged solitary confinement, interrogated for over 1,000 hours with no legal counsel, and then sentenced to more than 10 years in prison.
It is safe to say that our lives were turned upside down from that point on. The notion that a government would take their elderly innocent citizens hostage for financial and political gain is not something that life prepares you for. We were thrown into the deep end of world politics, with very little or no knowledge of it. We had to learn to become proficient in campaigning, political activism and raising awareness in such a short space of time — all the while trying to deal with the emotional and psychological turmoil that this situation brings.
Our loved ones are being held in one of the world’s most notoriously horrendous prisons in their old age, and we cannot visit Iran to see or help them in any tangible way. We are completely at the mercy of governments to negotiate the safety and freedom of our loved ones, who are no more than chess pieces in a game much bigger than them.
Anoosheh and Nahid are both being held in Iran’s Evin prison, a ghastly place known for its continued practices of mass execution and physical and psychological torture.
Despite their British and German citizenship, they’ve been denied consular access. Iran has a long history of arresting their dual nationals and using them as bargaining chips. These individuals and their families are caught in the middle of a political game between governments in which humanity and justice do not seem to play a role. They are essentially collateral damage.
Anoosheh’s and Nahid’s cases are not the only ones – they are just the tip of the iceberg in a wave of unjust arrests in Iran. The Islamic Republic’s judicial “process” is no more about truth and justice than the medieval inquisitions of 12th-century Europe. Systematic human rights violations are commonplace. Lawyers, journalists and religious minorities of all backgrounds are arbitrarily arrested. “Propaganda against the state” is one of the most frequent charges in politically motivated imprisonments. When translated, it means: “Thinking is forbidden and speaking your thoughts is a crime.”
Western governments are turning a blind eye and putting their economic and political interests above these human rights violations.
Having to face the trauma of our parents’ arrest and horrific treatment has turned us — two ordinary women with a background in food and hospitality — into human rights activists. The experience has taught us that that speaking out against injustice and raising awareness of the horrors prevalent in Iran are the only ways to stand up to this cruelty. We have also learned that applying and maintaining pressure on our governments is key to keeping their cases alive and not allowing them for be forgotten and pushed aside.
Our parents’ arrest opened our eyes to the array of other unjust arrests that are currently happening in Iran. The prisoners have nicknamed the place ‘University of Evin’, seeing as most of those arrested are educated, enlightened individuals such as lawyers, poets, filmmakers, environmentalists, and human rights activists, who have dared to speak the truth, stand up to injustice or simply have an opinion that challenges the authority of those in charge. These people deserve awards, not prison bars – and we feel that it is now our duty to make sure that none of them is forgotten by offering them a constant show of solidarity.
If there’s one thing that we’ve learned in our long struggle, it is that the pressure on our government comes from the people. People who sign our petitions, complain and protest against this injustice, as well as the key role the media plays in covering our plight.
This is why we started working with human rights organizations such as Amnesty International to publicize Anoosheh and Nahid’s cases. We have strategized with various legal teams to fight for their release and joined forces with prominent voices of conscience such as the Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams, the women’s rights pioneer Gloria Steinem, the renowned author and playwright Ariel Dorfman, and over 3,000 signatories in an Emergency Appeal to free Iran’s political prisoners.
Our common struggle — two daughters fighting for the freedom of their loved ones — has brought us together. Through this path, we have formed a rare bond and an unexpected friendship, which gives us the strength to fight and allows us to open up to each other about something that is extremely difficult for anyone else not going through this ordeal to understand.
Today is the 10th of December, International Human Rights Day. The two of us alone will not be able to free our parents or make a big enough difference so we would live in a world where these violations cease to exist, but we are going to mark this day to help ensure that our loved ones and many hundreds more are not forgotten, and encourage everyone to speak out and fight with us. Change only happens when enough people join in standing up against social injustice. For Anoosheh, for Nahid, and for everyone else who is wrongly imprisoned in the Islamic Republic of Iran. #FreeThemAll!
“I was one of the people who shot at people. We killed them. Now, who wants to put us on trial? The other side set fire to the banks and we killed them. Who do you want to put on trial?”
This was the response of Hassan Norouzi, deputy speaker of the Islamic Republic of Iran's parliament and spokesperson for its Legal and Judiciary Committee, when asked by Iran Watch to comment on the Aban Tribunal underway in the UK. Before concluding the interview, he said the comment was a "joke", when it clearly was anything but.
Mothers of unarmed protestors killed by police in 2019 immediately and bravely responded with fury to Norouzi's flaunting:
Here are rough translations of their statements:
"With 20, 30 guards protecting you, you said you killed them, you shot them and no one can do anything. Yes, you just step out in the square/field, we will try you, we will indict you"
"If you dare, come out with bare hands, unarmed, you dare come out"
"We will try you, we will indict you, you just dare to step out unarmed"
"Do not come out with guns, ammo, electric shock and Taser, but like us, unarmed"
"We are not afraid of you, do not try to intimidate us"
"We are not afraid of you, we have no fear to be imprisoned"
All mothers together:"We have died with our children already. We have nothing to lose any more."
"We have already lost our dearest precious ones...we have no fear and nothing to lose. Our children went to the street unarmed, with no weapon at all, as we are here unarmed. Dare to come out."
During five days of public hearings from November 10-14, 2021, the Iran Atrocities Tribunal ("Aban Tribunal") recorded harrowing public testimony from 33 witnesses, including many inside Iran, documenting Iran's murderous repression of massive protests two years ago. The hearings focused important international media attention on the massacre of hundreds of unarmed protestors, obscured by the Islamic Republic of Iran's shutdown of the internet at that time.
“The Aban Tribunal has given public voice to scores of victims and witnesses who undertook grave risks to testify...” said executive director Hadi Ghaemi of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). “The victims and witnesses have done their part. Now the international community must follow up and act on this evidence.”
Organized by the London-based Justice for Iran, Oslo-based Iran Human Rights and Paris-based Together against the Death Penalty, the Tribunal will deliver a verdict in early 2022. Visit AbanTribunal.com for detailed resources, including documentation from Amnesty International, the UN Special Rapporteur, CHRI and other experts.
Here a just a few of the findings highlighted by a CHRI wrap-up:
On Monday, November 8, in the German city of Dusseldorf, "Burn the Cage / Free the Birds" joined with environmental activists, human rights activists and a others to shine a light on Iran's treatment of political prisoners, and to demand that they ALL be released immediately.
Despite the evening darkness, the bright posters in German and Farsi, and the spirited protest drew passers-by. Many joined the crowd holding posters. A number of people stepped to the open microphone, adding their voices to the Campaign's protest of the arrest, imprisonment, torture and execution of political, ideological and civil activists by the Islamic Republic of Iran, and to call for the prisoners to be released.
This week Amnesty International - UK issued two urgent statements:
Novemeber 3, 2021
Please tweet or write to your MP [Member of Parliament] asking them to take action for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori - British Nationals who have been arbitrarily detained in Iran.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, is on hunger strike outside the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. He is demanding urgent action from the government over his wife’s continued detention in Iran. To help ramp up the pressure on the government and to support Richard’s wellbeing, we’re asking MPs to go and visit him. Will you help by contacting your MP to visit Richard?
November 5, 2021
Iran: Unjust prison terms for detained dual nationals: Mehran Raoof & Nahid Taghavi
Activists German-Iranian Nahid Taghavi and British-Iranian Mehran Raoof have been arbitrarily detained in Tehran’s Evin prison since 16 October 2020, solely for peacefully exercising their human rights. In August 2021, a Revolutionary Court convicted them of national security related charges and sentenced them to 10 years and eight months in prison, following a grossly unfair trial. Nahid Taghavi is suffering chronic back pain and is denied surgery on her spine, which specialist doctors said she urgently requires. Both are prisoners of conscience and must be immediately and unconditionally released.
A "Burn the Cage, Free the Birds" activist wrote a report for Farsi speakers internationally on the "Heroism for These Times: Free Iran's Political Prisoners Now", program on September 25, 2021 at Revolution Books in New York. This report was posted in Farsi in the Oct 2021 Fire magazine, CPIMLM.org.
Read the report translated by IEC to English HERE and in the original Farsi گزارشی از برنامه ۲۵ سپتامبرِ کتابفروشی انقلاب در هارلم نیویورک HERE.
Watch the full program, watch clips to share, and read solidarity statements in English HERE.
In a September press release, PEN America announced as recipients of the 2021 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award, three imprisoned Iranian writers and free expression advocates who are centrally involved in the anti-censorship group Iranian Writers Association (IWA)—celebrated poet, screenwriter, and filmmaker Baktash Abtin; novelist and journalist Keyvan Bajan; and author, literary critic, and popular culture researcher Reza Khandan Mahabadi. The honorees are serving a collective 15.5 years in prison following a crackdown on members of the organization.
PEN's global advocacy campaign calling for the honorees’ freedom will be highlighted at 2021’s PEN America Literary Gala, October 5, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
In a letter signed by prominent writers and artists, including Ariel Dorfman, Margaret Atwood, Joyce Carol Oates, Khaled Hosseini, nobel laureates JM Coetzee and Orhan Pamuk, actors Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin, cartoonist Art Spiegelman and hundreds of others, PEN stands with Iran's imprisoned writers:
“We call on you, President Raisi, to end the unjust imprisonments of Baktash Abtin, Keyvan Bajan, and Reza Khandan Mahabadi, and to release all those jailed in Iran for exercising their freedom to write,”
It was with great shock and sadness that we in the International Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners learned that Mehri Jafari had been lost while descending the 24,400-foot Peak Pobeda in the Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan and is presumed to have died.
This is a terrible loss for the people, and we offer our deepest condolences to her family, friends, colleagues, and all who fight for a better world.
Mehri Jafari was a dual British-Iranian citizen living in London, an attorney, a poet, and a human rights activist – “championing the rights of #women, #children and #LGBTQ,” as she wrote on her Twitter page. I had the pleasure and good fortune of meeting and working with her by phone earlier this year. Already a member of the campaign supporting political prisoner Mehran Raouf, she quickly signed the Campaign’s Emergency Appeal and promoted it on social media. She was one of its earliest endorsers.
Mehri was a warm, helpful and engaged person, ready to do what she could for this vital cause, including press interviews and outreach to friends and colleagues. She had a deep understanding of the crucial importance of active, vocal support for political prisoners, telling Iran Wire (Feb 8, 2021), "When a social activist is in detention, the silence of the wider community provides the conditions for his or her repression, and he or she may be left at risk of harsh interrogation, forced confessions and torture." This was something we learned from and promoted.
Mehri was also committed to exposing and stopping the nightmare of honor-related crimes against women in Iran and the Iranian community, and worked closely with Kurdish, Afghan, and other activists.
Mehri was a highly accomplished mountaineer, and as an avid hiker I share her love of the mountains – the challenges they present and the awesome beauty and vistas they offer – and appreciate her seeing in climbing a way to break out of the suffocation of today’s world and struggle to ascend to something higher and better. Let us all remember Mehri, by dedicating ourselves to that daunting, but exhilarating climb to a brighter, liberating future.
Larry Everest, on behalf of the International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners
From August 11 to 13, the trial of Hamid Nouri began in Stockholm, Sweden, for his role in the massacre of as at least 5,000 political prisoners in 1988 when he was an assistant to a prosecutor at Iran’s Gohardasht Prison in Iran. The trial started just days after the inauguration of Ebrahim Raisi as president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Raisi was a member of the “death commission” in 1988, and this trial is implicitly about his role in those massacres.
Activists with Burn the Cage movement in Europe joined the protests in front of the Stockholm courthouse. They made a gigantic printout of the Emergency Appeal as published in the current Summer issue of the New York Review of Books. The Mothers of Khavaran, some of whom are family members of the victims of the 1988 massacre, brought posters of their lost loved ones to display in front of the courthouse.
August 5 (coinciding with Raisi's inauguration) that was called against the Islamic Republic shooting down of Ukrainian Airliner flight 752 in January 2020, Burn the Cage activists made a poster with the printout of the Emergency Appeal as published in the current Summer issue of The New York Review of Books. The poster said “1988 Massacre of Political Prisoners ordered by death commission that Ebrahim Raisi was key member of. We must not allow this to happen again!”
These are examples of what everyone can do in spreading the ad of the Emergency Appeal – taking it into protests and amplifying its impact at the grassroots. Send our campaign photos and reports of such actions in your area.
The upcoming trial of a former assistant prosecutor in Iran, Hamid Nouri, in a Swedish court on charges of committing war crimes and murder for the executions of thousands of prisoners in Iran during the 1980s, is a historic opportunity for Iranian families who have been seeking justice for more than 30 years, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) said today.
The determined pursuit of this case by the Swedish judicial authorities can open a new chapter in the Iranian people’s justice-seeking movement, and finally shed light on the extrajudicial massacre of some 5000 political prisoners by the Iranian authorities at that time.
“Putting one of the officials responsible for the mass killings of political prisoners in 1988 on trial in a foreign country is an extraordinary occasion for the international community to examine the crimes against humanity committed in Iran at that time,” said Hadi Ghaemi, CHRI’s executive director.
Witnesses Have Identified Nouri, Who Worked Closely with President Elect Ebrahim Raisi
The statement from Swedish public prosecutors Kristina Lindhoff Carleson and Martina Winslow, accusing Nouri of “intentionally killing, together with other perpetrators, a large number of prisoners who sympathized with various left-wing groups and who were regarded as apostates,” has been a source of encouragement for families who have been ignored or persecuted by the Iranian authorities for seeking justice.
CHRI considers Nouri’s trial an unprecedented opportunity to reveal long-hidden aspects of gross human rights violations that were committed by the Islamic Republic of Iran. The international community, and especially human rights organizations, should consider this a vital chance to access facts about the 1988 massacre.
Witnesses Have Identified Nouri, Who Worked Closely with President Elect Ebrahim Raisi
Nouri was arrested on November 9, 2019, as he arrived at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport to visit relatives, and was held on suspicion of committing mass murder in Iran. His detention order was extended for 20 months to give prosecutors time to build their case.
Witnesses have come forward to identify Nouri as an assistant prosecutor in Gohardasht Prison in Karaj, west of Tehran, during the mass execution of political prisoners in the summer of 1988.
According to Iraj Mesdaghi, a former political prisoner and eyewitness at Gohardasht, Nouri worked closely with current President Ebrahim Raisi and former Justice Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi. In 1988, Raisi and Pourmohammadi were members of a “death committee” that ordered the execution of the approximately 5000 political prisoners, all of whom had already been issued and were serving their prison sentences.
The committee, appointed by the founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, included Raisi, who was then deputy prosecutor of Tehran; Pourmohammadi, an Intelligence Ministry representative at the time; Morteza Eshraghi, Tehran Prosecutor at the time, and Hossein Ali Nayeri, then the religious judge at Evin Prison and now a high court judge.
Iranian authorities have remained largely silent on Nouri’s case ever since his arrest, and have not commented on his indictment.
The victims’ families, especially the group known as Mothers of Khavaran, have kept the memory of the tragedy alive with annual vigils at the Khavaran Cemetery in south Tehran, where many of the victims were buried in mass graves. Families have been harassed and persecuted by the Iranian authorities for trying to find information about their murdered relatives.
Rough translation of Kanun Hannover Facebook post.
The people of Susangard* demanded freedom for prisoners, shouting (in Arabic) "Free our prisoners."
People in the Alavi neighborhood of Ahwaz* declared solidarity with political prisoners with the slogan of "Eid Mubarak" and "Akhoy Balsjen" as they sent Eid greetings to the prisoners with this slogan.
#Water - like - Aban (referring to November 2019)
#Alshaab- Yorid-Esghat- Al Nizam
*Susangard and Ahwaz are towns in Khuzestan province.
“Good-hearted people are constantly being bombarded with so many requests to sign petitions about important issues, that it is natural that they should feel overwhelmed, asking themselves what good will it do, wondering how one signature can possibly make a difference.
If I have signed on to the Emergency Campaign to Free Political Prisoners in Iran, it is because I know that this initiative will effectively call attention to the situation of men and women in that country who, if enough pressure is brought to bear on its leaders, could tomorrow be liberated from terrible conditions and extraordinary injustice.
And even if those leaders do not listen, I am convinced – from personal experience – that the prisoners themselves are given strength to survive and persevere, they are listening. They know others, faraway, care what happens to them, and we should not let them down.”
According to the HRANA news agency, the news organ of the Iranian Association of Human Rights Activists, the time of the second session of the trial of Nahid Taghavi, Somayeh Kargar, Bahareh Soleimani, Nazanin Mohammadnejad, Mehran Raouf and Elham Samimi was set. This court session will be held on Sunday, June 14, 1400, [June 13, 2021] in Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, presided over by Judge Iman Afshari.
The first session of the court hearing their charges was held on May 28th. These citizens were arrested in October and December of last year by IRGC intelligence agents and transferred to the detention center of Ward 2A of Evin Prison.”
#Free Political Prisoners and Prisoners of Conscience
A Statement by Supporters of Iranian Political Prisoners in Europe
"Propaganda against the state". That's one of the most frequent charges in politically-motivated imprisonments in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Translated, it means: Thinking is forbidden and talking about your thoughts is a crime. According to the Islamic Republic, those who think differently and even worse, those who think in opposition to the Regime, are a threat to its "national security." Additionally, if these thoughts are not in accordance with Sharia law, the people holding those thoughts are doubly criminalized.
Iran’s Islamic Republic is a theocratic regime and the religious beliefs of the ruling elite are meticulously written into law. Moreover, interpretation of this law is itself a haphazard affair because there are several schools of interpretation of Sharia law and each has its own clerical authority and all of these sects have control of their own jurisdictions.
This situation makes even a pretense of the rule of law impossible, because the constitution and whatever rights which might be inscribed in that constitution are in a constant state of being interpreted and re-interpreted through the prism of Sharia law. So there is no rule of law. There is no due process. And the prisoner is presumed to be guilty, and on the basis of this presumption of guilt, the prisoner is arrested.
After the arrest, prisoners are completely at the mercy of the whims of their interrogators. The lack of Habeas Corpus means prisoners do not have the right to appear before a court immediately and do not have the right to a lawyer.
Interrogations begin with prisoners having no contact to the outside world. They are often accompanied by physical torture and always paired with the psychological “white torture” of isolation and sensory deprivation. In the case of women, it is accompanied by verbal and different degrees of physical sexual abuse.
This behavior is sanctioned by Sharia law as well, because according to Sharia law, a prisoner has the status of a slave who is to be used and abused.
Some prisoners are tortured by being held in solitary confinement for months and even years, blindfolded when they leave their cells, kept under 24-hour video surveillance, and subject to inhuman conditions such as sleeping on the hard stone floors of their cells without pillows. They are often denied access to medical care. All this is designed to destroy prisoners physically and mentally.
This whole process is meant to produce "evidence" in the form of wrenching "confessions" from prisoners. Even when enough real evidence of a prisoner’s thinking, writing, and activities are seized in raids to demonstrate their opposition to the regime, the torture keeps going. Why? Because the goal is to prove not only the prisoner’s guilt, but his or her "sinfulness.". This is related to Sharia law. Torturing the prisoner has two goals: one is to extract information and the other is to "break" the prisoner and, as the Sharia puts it, to bring them to do "tobeh,” to admit their regret for having violated the Sharia.
Once the interrogations are over and a dossier or a case file is created, the case is taken to the court. Until then, prisoners usually have no access to an independent lawyer. A few days - sometimes hours - before the trial, their lawyer is allowed to inspect the case files. These files may only be read in the courthouse and in the presence of security officers. In some cases, lawyers are not admitted to court at all, and trials even take place without the accused being present. Iran’s judicial processes are a sham because the judgments have been made by prosecutors and interrogators – Iran’s judges are not independent -- before the case even comes to court. And these can be extremely harsh judgments which often include cruel punishments like lashings or even execution.
The Iranian judicial system rejects and acts in opposition to the principle of “innocent until proven guilty.” In fact, there can be no just society without the rule of law; there can be no rule of law without due process of law; and there can be no due process of law without the presumption of innocence!
All of this points to the fact that these political prisoners should never have been arrested. They are heroes who have stood up for others. They should be celebrated, not behind bars.
Therefore, the only just remedy is:
Immediate and unconditional freedom for all political prisoners in Iran!
Center for Human Rights in Iran
UN Press Release
GENEVA (4 May 2021) – UN human rights experts* today expressed serious concern over the condition of imprisoned Iranian filmmaker and political activist Mohammad Nourizad and called for his immediate release. His health has reportedly deteriorated so severely that he risks serious complications and possible death if he remains in prison and does not receive appropriate medical care.
“We are seriously concerned at the mistreatment of Mohammad Nourizad and his continued imprisonment for expressing his opinion,” the experts said. “Furthermore, his continued detention despite medical professionals finding he cannot stay in prison given his serious health condition, and the resulting denial of adequate medical care, may amount to torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
“His case is emblematic of the situation many Iranian political activists face in detention. He must be immediately released.”
In February 2020, Nourizad received multiple sentences, including a seven-and-a-half-year prison term, after being convicted on charges relating to an open letter he and others signed calling for the Supreme Leader’s resignation and for constitutional changes.
While in detention, Nourizad has carried out hunger strikes and refused to take medications, most recently starting 10 March 2021, to protest against his imprisonment and his family’s mistreatment.
The Iranian Independent Workers Union strongly condemns the arrest and continuing arrest of Mehran Raouf in the cells of 2 A of the IRC and calls on the officials to end illegal holding this labour activist and release him immediately and unconditionally.
Independent Union of Iranian Workers - April 29, 1400
The situation of dual-nationals and foreign persons taken hostage and imprisoned by the Iranian government has not only remained unchanged, but in certain cases it has deteriorated, despite the new US administration’s approach to Iran and resumption of nuclear talks between the P5+1 and Iran in recent weeks.
Read full article on IranHumanRights.org.