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We received the following two letters from Burn the Cage/Free The Birds movement to the International Emergency Campaign. These are unofficial translations, edited slightly for clarity, of statements posted on burn_the_cage Instagram a few days after the sham verdicts issued by Branch 26 of Iran’s Islamic court to several other political defendants,

We want to share these with our readers now, and urge everyone to closely follow further developments in this high stakes case for the people.

Below, we are reprinting letters from Mohammad Hajinia and Nafiseh Malekijoo.  They are both defendants in the same Branch 26 court case as the others listed in their letters.  Both of them are not inside Iran at this time, but both were convicted and sentenced in absentia. Mohammad Hajinia is a student studying and living outside of Iran, and Malekijoo left Iran before the recent sentencing. The following are their statements:

"I, Mohammad Hajinia, is studying abroad. I recently woke up one morning and found out that I had been sentenced to eight years and eight months in prison by Branch 26 of the Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal of Tehran.  This sentence was issued along with [the sentences of] seven other political defendants named Nahid Taghavi, Mehran Raouf, Somayeh Kargar, Bahareh Soleimani, Nazanin Mohammadnejad, Elham Samimi and Nafiseh Malekijoo.

I was not in Iran at the time of the security forces' raid on the homes of the seven. I was not in Iran during their arrests, their solitary confinements and lengthy interrogations, and finally during their trial and sentencing. I was not even aware I was accused.

But before this, I had the good fortune to meet, talk, discuss and be friends with some of the defendants in this case. Our occasional interaction was an intellectual, friendly and fruitful one. We now know that they have been sentenced to prison and put in long solitary confinement because of their thoughts and opinions....The arrest and conviction of these people and all those who are in prison because of their thoughts and ideas is deeply reactionary and unjust and should be condemned.

According to the indictment, I was charged with "participating in the administration of the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) in order to disrupt security and propaganda activities against the holy system of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Without being present and without even having information about my indictment and the process of my case, I have been sentenced to eight years and eight months in prison. Such cases and empty verdicts are not new. They are repetitions of the "death commission" themes that are played daily. We are familiar with it, but we are not accustomed to it.  We will not get used to it. "                                                            

Mohammad Hajinia August 6, 2021

“I am Nafiseh Malekijoo. According to Branch 26 of the Islamic Revolutionary court, I was sentenced along with seven other political prisoners, Nahid Taghavi, Mehran Raouf, Somayeh Kargar, Bahareh Soleimani, Mohammad Hajinia, Nazianin Mohammadnejad and Elham Samimi. I was indicted in absentia.

On the evening of October 25, 2020…the security forces attacked my house with an insidious trick that surprised me.  Then they forced their way into the house and they beat me mercilessly.  They had come to inspect the house, and at first they were one man and one woman but their numbers gradually increased. I do not remember exactly how many there were. They were moving back and forth, curiously watching everything and my every move, sort of my life was under their magnifying glass….

They confiscated my handwritten notebooks, my communications tools, and my identification documents including my passport ... They came to inspect the house and said "You are just a defendant!"  But reality said it was my house, with its doors and walls that held my memories, my friends, my loved ones.

I was suddenly summoned for a night interrogation, in my own space….After the house was searched, the security forces told me to show up at a place that was not a judicial center, one of their "safe houses" a few days later.  But I did not go.  I was forced to exile myself [from Iran]. I lived in hiding for months and swallowed my fiery anger at our situation, alone.  I waited for a written summons, and my written summons was issued at a time when I had dared to bite the bullet and was ready to leave everything behind with all my regrets. I left….

I knew politically that I would make the news of this trial in absentia and declare the trials of all my co-defendants illegal and inhumane.  I was sentenced to a total of six years and nine months in prison "for membership in the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist, Leninist,Maoist) in order to disrupt security and propagate against the holy order of the Islamic Republic of Iran."  In addition, it goes without saying that the manner in which I was tried in absentia without access to an indictment, a lawyer, etc., shows the injustice and cruelty of the Iranian judicial system and the entire Islamic Republic.

The people involved in this [court] case have been sentenced to imprisonment with reactionary trials in unjust…terms.  I condemn the government from afar with my own voice.  

I have always stood with my co-defendants when they were in long-term solitary confinement, when they were being prosecuted, and when their temporary detention was illegally extended. Now that there is no need to explain it, I did not hesitate to sympathize with them.  I did not know all of them, but some of them have enriched my mind enough that for the rest of my life, I will not forget what the Islamic Republic did and is doing with "us."  And of course I will not forget the loud and pleasant voices we can have to raise up again and again.  Let's shout for liberation.

For the release of all political prisoners,

Nafiseh Malekijoo, August 10, 2021