Prisoner XX represents the nine women who recently held a hunger strike in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. They stopped eating to protest having been beaten by guards, and subjected to humiliating and degrading body searches.
These nine women included Bahareh Hedayat, a student activist and a member of the One Million Signature Campaign. The Campaign is committed to ending discrimination against women in Iranian law. Bahareh is serving a 10-year prison sentence for “insulting the president” and “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security.”
Shiva Nazar Ahari, a journalist, human rights activist and a member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, was also on hunger strike. She is currently serving a four-year sentence for her peaceful human rights activities. Another prisoner is journalist Mahsa Amrabadi, jailed for two months after the disputed 2009 presidential election. She is currently serving a one-year prison sentence for “spreading propaganda against the system through interviews and reports”.
Their strike coincided with that of internationally renowned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who was refusing food to protest the way Iranian authorities have harassed her family; this included a travel ban on her 12-year-old daughter. Recently, prison authorities have not allowed Sotoudeh, 47, to have visits with her husband and children. Nasrin stopped eating on October 17. She finally broke her strike on December 4, after the authorities removed the ban on her daughter.
Sotoudeh, the winner of the European Parliament’s 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, is serving a six-year sentence on charges of acting against national security and spreading propaganda.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay earlier urged Iran to free Sotoudeh, whose health had reportedly been rapidly deteriorating. Last week, the United States also called on Iran to immediately release the 49-year-old Sotoudeh.
The plight of Nasrin and the other nine Iranian women hunger strikers draws attention to another prisoner of conscience, Narges Mohammadi. Narges is serving a six-year prison sentence that began in April 2012. In 2011, she was charged with “colluding to commit crimes against national security” and “spreading propaganda against the system,” charges connected to her work at the Centre for Human Rights Defenders in Tehran where she worked closely with Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi.
Narges is the focus of the Write for Rights campaign put on by Amnesty International this year from December 7 – 16. The campaign is calling for her immediate release and continued ability to access services. Furthermore, writers are being asked to call for an end to harassment and intimidation of ALL human rights defenders in Iran.
We stand in solidarity with Nasrin, Narges, the nine women hunger strikers and all women being held as political prisoners in Iran.
Watch the video from Write for Rights via Amnesty International Canada on prisoner of conscience Narges Mohammadi.
SIGN UP to Write for Rights on behalf of Narges Mohammadi
Iran attacking women, attempting to weaken feminist movement: Ebadi, Nobel Women’s Initiative, 23 Aug 2012.
Shirin Ebadi reports on human rights abuses in Iran, Nobel Women’s Initiative, 14 Sep 2012.
Iran: Political Prisoners Denied Visits, Care, Human Rights Watch, 31 October 2012.
Iran: Female detainees begin hunger strike after degrading treatment, Amnesty International, 01 November 2012.
If My Friend Dies, What Will Happen to Her Children?, The Huffington Post, 08 November 2012.
Iran: Nasrin Sotoudeh’s victorious hunger strike, the Daily Beast, 6 Dec 2012.
International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.