Campaign

Update

March 11, 2022

URGENT! Sepideh Gholian Must Be Freed on Medical Release NOW!

Free ALL Iran’sPolitical Prisoners!

March 11, 2022
Tweet by the IEC

On March 10, Center for Human Rights in Iran issued an urgent press release about their letter calling on the UN to intervene for the immediate release of Sepideh Gholian “…before another prisoner of conscience is silenced forever in an Iranian prison.”

Their alert is not hyperbolic as it comes just two months after the regime’s cruel murder of Baktash Abtin by medical neglect.

On March 6, Sepideh’s family issued an urgent cry for help to get her released. The letter begins with these chilling words, “We want to explain the situation briefly and clearly: It is enough to say in one sentence that Sepideh Gholian's life is in imminent danger.”

They tell us she had contracted Covid and was in such weak physical condition due to “prison transfers, her hunger strikes, the constant pressure of the past few years, plus untreated chronic conditions – such that even a cold can overwhelm her” (i.e., kill her). READ the full text of their letter.

Tweet by the IEC

On March 10, Center for Human Rights in Iran issued an urgent press release about their letter calling on the UN to intervene for the immediate release of Sepideh Gholian “…before another prisoner of conscience is silenced forever in an Iranian prison.”

Their alert is not hyperbolic as it comes just two months after the regime’s cruel murder of Baktash Abtin by medical neglect.

On March 6, Sepideh’s family issued an urgent cry for help to get her released. The letter begins with these chilling words, “We want to explain the situation briefly and clearly: It is enough to say in one sentence that Sepideh Gholian's life is in imminent danger.”

They tell us she had contracted Covid and was in such weak physical condition due to “prison transfers, her hunger strikes, the constant pressure of the past few years, plus untreated chronic conditions – such that even a cold can overwhelm her” (i.e., kill her). READ the full text of their letter.

Sepideh is but 27 years old! Under the fascist theocracy of Iran, women are forcibly veiled, often covered in black cloth from head to toe, and showing a patch of hair is considered the supposed crime of “tempting men.” Yet Sepideh smiles proudly from under her blue, red, green, blond or sometimes multi colored hair. She is nicknamed “Goli” (Farsi for rosy) for her preference of flowery-print clothing. Her name in English means Dawn.

Sepideh has continued to use her sharp pen and even sharper voice to expose the criminality of Iran’s theocratic regime. She advocates for freedom for all Iran’s political prisoners, and speaks forcefully against the medieval savage oppression of women, labor activists and minorities, including the repression of Sunni Arabs (Iran’s theocracy is Shite Muslim).

Gholian was first arrested in November 2018 when she was 23 years old and was reporting on workers’ struggle at a Khuzestan sugarcane factory. She was sentenced to 19 and a half years, which was later reduced to five years. She was tortured for 30 days. While imprisoned in several prisons, she was tortured and beaten to force a confession to the point that her body was “covered with bruises,” she said. Yet she continued to speak and write, such as the audio report she released from Gharchak prison in late 2019 (see IranWire, September 23, 2019), in which she reported:

…after days of back to back interrogations…[t]hey left me in the interrogation room for 16 hours where I could hear the sounds of them torturing a human being they called “Esmail” from the next room. The interrogator was beating him non-stop and told him “Esmail! Confess!”…All those beatings and harassment was because I was a woman. It was because I climbed the [wall of the] governor's office to film the anti-riot police, whose presence was denied by reporters associated with the regime….I cannot stop hearing the sound of torture…women are arrested and sent to Gharchak Prison for eating ice cream on the charge of “spreading corruption and prostitution through eating ice cream on the street!”...they arrest women on the street and charge them with “prostitution through walking or standing in walkways at unusual times!”…because of their hair color or how they are dressed….Listen to my voice….This voice is the voice of somebody who has been sentenced to 19 years and six months [in prison] and who now is not about freedom and equality for herself….She demands an end to the dark days and nights…[emphasis ours]

Sepideh Gholian has written a 19-part prison memoir “Tilapia Sucks the Blood of Hur al-Azim” which some have called “a damning indictment” of Iran’s regime but also “a call to arms.” On September 9, 2021, after being released for medical leave, she sent out a series of vivid tweets that exposed the sexual attacks on women prisoners, tweets for which she faced new charges. She wrote, “The Islamic Republic has proved once again that its response to the truth is repression and revenge.” She produced several YouTube videos in Farsi that have been viewed tens of thousands of times in Iran and internationally, such as this one in September 2021.

Sepideh celebrating after her temporarily release from prison last year; social media post

What is being done to OUR youth, OUR future, our Dawn?

On October 11, 2021, Sepideh was brutally (re)arrested by 30 plainclothes thugs ofIran’s Islamic regime while she was out on medical leave from prison and at her sister’s home. She was taken to and held in Tehran’s Evin prison where she had previously been threatened with being raped and murdered.

 Before her arrest that day, she concluded a series of tweets, writing, “I wonder what they’ve done to my youth. But the struggle continues. The streets of Khuzestan and Mahshahr, the killing of 1,500 people in November 2019, and 43 years of secret executions show that the struggle continues, no matter how much they suffocate and kill.”

The struggle continues, but it needs to be fought with an aim to win. Read her story and mobilize others to sign our Campaign’s Emergency Appeal, in which her case is highlighted. Join with journalists, human and women’s rights organizations, academics, and ordinary people on the streets to demand – with greater intensity – her immediate medical release. Find ways to make her known on your campus, on social media, among your social circle, and in social justice organizations as a real life people’s journalist, an unapologetic voice of the voiceless.

Courageous voices of youth such as Sepideh Gholian must not be “forever silenced” by the Islamic theocrats. A particular challenge now is to take the campaign to THIS generation as part of the fight to free ALL Iran’s political prisoners, including making Sepideh Gholian known on the campuses and among the youth. The challenge should be to say her name AND to emulate her example of impeccable, enduring courage.

SOURCES

Pleas to UN to Demand Freedom for Gravely Ill Sepideh Qoliyan, Center for Human Rights in Iran, March 10, 2022

UN Urged to Intervene Amid Fears Sepideh Gholian Could be “Silenced Forever,” IranWire.com, March 10, 2022

Burn the Cage/Free the Birds movement in Europe on Instagram and Facebook; International Emergency Campaign

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