Campaign

Update

April 17, 2022

Iranian Political Prisoner Narges Mohammadi in Extreme Danger - DON’T LET THIS FEARLESS RESISTER BE SILENCED

April 17, 2022

On April 12, Narges Mohammadi, the internationally renowned author, journalist, rights activist and political prisoner in Iran, was brutally rearrested at her home.  She had been out of prison on medical furlough following heart surgery for a blockage in an artery just two months earlier.  

She was taken to Evin prison to begin yet another prison sentence, this time for exposing torture of women in Qarchak Prison.  Narges also has several serious health problems beside heart disease, including a condition that can cause seizures.  

It has now been reported by HRANA News Agency, that “Narges Mohammadi, a human rights activist, and Alieh Motalebzadeh, a women's rights activist detained in Qarchak prison in Varamin, have been denied access to their medicines since Tuesday, April 14th… Ms. Mohammadi has been denied access to Plavix due to the presence of a stent in the main artery of her heart, as of Tuesday, April 14th, despite her doctor's insistence on regular use.”

This is especially outrageous and threatening in light of Amnesty International’s new report – “In death’s waiting room: Deaths in custody following deliberate denial of medical care in Iran’s prisons” -- documenting how Iran’s ailing prisoners, including many political prisoners, are left to die due to denial of medical care.1

On April 12, Narges Mohammadi, the internationally renowned author, journalist, rights activist and political prisoner in Iran, was brutally rearrested at her home.  She had been out of prison on medical furlough following heart surgery for a blockage in an artery just two months earlier.  

She was taken to Evin prison to begin yet another prison sentence, this time for exposing torture of women in Qarchak Prison.  Narges also has several serious health problems beside heart disease, including a condition that can cause seizures.  

It has now been reported by HRANA News Agency, that “Narges Mohammadi, a human rights activist, and Alieh Motalebzadeh, a women's rights activist detained in Qarchak prison in Varamin, have been denied access to their medicines since Tuesday, April 14th… Ms. Mohammadi has been denied access to Plavix due to the presence of a stent in the main artery of her heart, as of Tuesday, April 14th, despite her doctor's insistence on regular use.”

This is especially outrageous and threatening in light of Amnesty International’s new report – “In death’s waiting room: Deaths in custody following deliberate denial of medical care in Iran’s prisons” -- documenting how Iran’s ailing prisoners, including many political prisoners, are left to die due to denial of medical care.1

Left to right: Mohammadi, Rahmani. Photo by IranWire.com

In the week leading up to her recent arrest, Twitter trolls launched a wave of vitriolic personal attacks against her and her husband, Taghi Rahmani.  Rahmani currently lives in exile in Paris, France along with their two teenage children and is a signer of the International Emergency Campaign’s Appeal. This Twitter shit-storm followed the publication of an interview Narges did with the Washington Post where she expressed her opinion that that U.S. sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) had strengthened the regime but weakened the Iranian people economically.  

On March 16, before Narges was arrested, BBC Persian reported that it had received what was apparently a leaked top-secret memo from Iran’s Intelligence Ministry’s Director of Information and Legal Affairs to its judiciary about how to discredit dissenters and critics of the Islamic Republic. The excerpt published by BBC Persian contained specific suggestions about how to deal with Narges Mohammadi to ”…diminish her influence internationally and within Iran.”2

Her husband said that the threatening social media storm “only helps the reactionary IRI” and noted that Narges has “never resorted to personal attacks on anyone,” but always remained principled.

In the face of the poisonous atmosphere unleashed online, one which could further create conditions for vicious acts against her official and/or unofficial elements, our Campaign responded with the following message:

“The IEC stands in solidarity with Narges Mohammadi and demands the Islamic Republic of Iran stop its vicious persecution and imprisonment of this courageous political prisoner. We condemn the vile threats and attacks on Narges and her family by the IRI and their reactionary followers. Free Narges and All Iran’s Political Prisoners NOW!”

The IEC’s Emergency Appeal highlights Narges’ courageous resistance against the Islamic Republic’s sadistic treatment of its political prisoners: Importantly, this repression has been met with inspiring heroism. Many prisoners, their families, supporters and various Iranian organizations have been speaking out and demanding freedom for ALL Iran’s political prisoners—at great risk to their own safety… After being imprisoned for over five years [May 2015-October 2020], human rights defender Narges Mohammadi has again been imprisoned, sentenced to another eight years and 74 lashes.

When she was sentenced, Narges responded that she did not recognize the right of the regime’s enforcers to flog her and promised to rip the whip out of their hands if they tried to carry out this barbaric act against her. When she was told that there was a case against her “for starting a dance in Evin Prison after lights out”, her response was, “I’d keep doing this even if they considered it a crime.”  

Choosing a Life of Rebellion Against Oppression

“I have been on the same path since 1992. For me, struggle and resistance are defined as my course in life, and this is the course I have chosen.” – Narges speaking to IranWire in 2020.3

In 1992, when Narges was just 20 years old, she was arrested twice as a student activist.  Yet she finished her degree in physics and became a professional engineer.  In 1998, Narges was arrested and imprisoned for a year, charged with criticizing the IRI. She later became the spokesperson for the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC) headed by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi (a recent signer of the Emergency Appeal).

After being out of prison for a year, she was rearrested in November 2021 while attending a memorial service for people killed by Iranian police during the massive nationwide uprising of November 2019. In January 2022, after a sham trial lasting just five minutes, she was convicted on charges including “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security”and “disrupting public order.”  She was sentenced to eight years and two months in prison and 74 lashes. This sentence was in addition to the sentence imposed seven months earlier (in May 2021) of 30 months in prison, 80 lashes, and a fine for “spreading propaganda against the system.” In May 2021 she was also sentenced to internal exile, banning her from talking to the media, using social media, or participating in political groups.

Over the years, Narges Mohammadi has received numerous international human rights and press freedom awards for her fierce courage, determined activism, and steadfast refusal to be silenced.  In 2021, for example, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and won the Grand Reportage Competition at the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH) for her book on solitary confinement White Torture.  In 2016 she was given the “City of Paris Award” by the Mayor of Paris and Reporters Without Borders; and in 2015 she won the Galileo 2000 Foundation (Italy) Prize for contributing to peace.

The regime’s repeated, often brutal, arrests and overlapping sentences have not succeeded in silencing this fierce resister.  In at least one case she was released (sentence reduced to time served basically) due to an international outcry.

Narges Mohammadi’s bravery, her unyielding spirit in defending her own as well as other people’s humanity, is an expression of the hope for a better future.  But now she must be joined and defended– including demanding she immediately receive her medications and proper medical care -- as part of the overall fight to free all Iran’s imprisoned political dissidents.

The Emergency Appeal had warned without hyperbole that “The Lives of Iran’s Political Prisoners Hang in the Balance—We Must ACT Now.” It calls on “All those who stand for justice and yearn for a better world” to “rally to the cause of freeing Iran’s political prisoners NOW.”  Acting now means getting more people, including more prominent voices of conscience internationally, to sign and circulate this powerful Appeal and donate to its further publication.  

You can send messages of solidarity to Narges Mohammadi and Taghi Rahmani immediately: Mr. Taghi Rahmani, c/o Iran Team, Amnesty International, International Secretariat, 1 Easton Street, London WC1X 0DW, United Kingdom.

1 Iran: Ailing prisoners left to die amid crisis of impunity for fatal denial of medical care,” Amnesty International, April 12, 2022

2Narges Mohammadi: Activist Attacked by Twitter Trolls Over a Washington Post Interview,” IranWire.com, April 13, 2022

3IranWire Exclusive: Narges Mohammadi: ‘I Continue to Fight,’" IranWire.com, October 22, 2020

Related Resources:

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