'Postcards for Iran' campaign spotlight on human rights

New campaign has volunteers writing to Iranian officials on human rights.

postcards for iran 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
postcards for iran 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Mideast Youth organization is sending postcards to Iranian officials in an effort to challenge the country's recent claim that it is protecting its national security by arresting rights activists, outspoken critics and minorities. On Saturday night, the organization launched the "Postcards for Iran" campaign. The postcards are written by volunteers from all over the world, and urge the government officials to bring the human rights violations to an end. Esra'a al-Shafei, director and cofounder of Mideast Youth, explained, "We need to put the pressure on the government and remind the leaders that they can't get away with these acts against their own citizens." Established in May 2006, Mideast Youth is a nonprofit, Web-based group dedicated to bringing peace to the region through grassroots campaigns. Its first project involving Iran was dedicated to protecting the rights of persecuted Baha'i citizens. When the numbers of arrests being monitored began to rise, the group's project manager, Kawthar Muhaib, decided another campaign, targeting the officials more directly, was necessary. "We spent the last couple of months researching the number of abuses by the Iranian government toward its people, and realized that they were increasing dramatically," Muhaib said. Iran has been criticized by world leaders and human rights activists for repressing its citizens. On February 23, over 70 students at Teheran's Amir Kabir University were detained for attending a peaceful demonstration, and Amnesty International reported on March 18 that hundreds of students from schools all over the country had been arrested or banned from attending classes. Those targeted in the seemingly arbitrary arrests were students, members of Iran's religious and ethnic minority communities, trade unionists and women's rights activists. The "Postcards for Iran" project will also address these imprisoned victims, sending letters of support and recognition. "We will reach out to the victims of repression as well," Shafei told The Jerusalem Post. "The postcards will remind them that others stand with them in solidarity." Further, Mideast Youth claims, former detainees have testified that prisoners receiving mail got better treatment, as authorities were aware the world was monitoring their situation. As of Monday, the organization had received over 100 written submissions, which were then published, stamped and sent to either the prisoners or government officials. It expects to receive hundreds more in the upcoming weeks. "We do not expect a response to the postcards," Shafei said, "But at least the Iranian officials responsible for this repression of human rights will know that the world is watching."