Int'l outcry over imprisoned Iranian rights activist on hunger strike

Both Arash Sadeghi and his wife have been jailed by Islamic Republic.

January 1, 2017 01:35
2 minute read.
Demonstrators shout slogans in front of a poster depicting Iran's late leader Ayatollah Khomeini

Demonstrators shout slogans in front of a poster depicting Iran's late leader Ayatollah Khomeini during a rally in Tehran. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The 70-day hunger strike by Iranian civil rights activist Arash Sadeghi, on the verge of death at Evin Prison in Tehran for protesting his wife’s incarceration, sparked a social media and political protest against Iran’s regime over the weekend.

According to the NGO International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, the hashtag #SaveArash was for a time the highest trending topic on Twitter on Friday.

On Saturday, Sadeghi’s lawyer Amir Raeesian said that Sadeghi and his wife, Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, would be released on Sunday if the bail requirements are met, but did not state the duration of their temporary release.

Marietje Schaake, a member of the European Parliament from the Netherlands, tweeted on Saturday to “remember those unfree #ArashSadeghi” and added, “All political prisoners and others unjustly detained in #Iran should be freed.”

Volker Beck, a leading German Green Party MP and human rights activist, said on Saturday, “Iran is a despot” and mentioned that there is no human rights treatment in its correctional facility.

Beck said the “alleged liberalization has changed nothing in Iran’s prison system.

The German government will probably not prevent the German DAX [made up of 30 major German companies on the Frankfurt stock exchange] from engaging in business with this regime. One would wish for something more oriented toward human rights in 2017.”

Bärbel Kofler, from the German Commission for Human Rights, said on Wednesday, “Arash Sadeghi was convicted for his human rights engagement.”

His wife “was convicted because she spoke out peacefully against the inhumane practice of stoning,” Kofler said.

Sadeghi’s 15-year-prison sentence started last June. According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Iran’s judiciary convicted Sadeghi of “assembly and collusion against national security, propaganda against the state, spreading lies in cyberspace and insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic.”

Experts say Iran’s opaque judiciary system does not meet international norms for fairness.

Canadian Sen. Linda Frum, chairwoman of the Senate Conservative Caucus, issued a series of tweets on Friday drawing attention to Sadeghi’s plight, urging that he be saved.

Salma Ataullahjan, a Canadian senator who is the deputy chair of the Senate’s Committee on Human Rights, wrote, “We must always support brave individuals like Arash Sadeghi who are not afraid to speak out against injustice.” The former UK soccer star Gary Lineker, described Sadeghi as “beyond brave.”

His wife was arrested last October.

“Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee is the latest young writer and activist to be caught up in Iran’s relentless crackdown on artistic expression. Her imprisonment for peacefully voicing her opposition to stoning is a terrible injustice and an outrageous assault on freedom of expression. It is also a shocking and deeply disturbing display of support for the cruel and inhuman punishment of stoning,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, in October.

Mughrabi added, “The Iranian authorities must break this cycle of injustice and immediately and unconditionally release... Iraee. We also urge them to ensure that her conviction is quashed.”

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