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Celebrating Nowruz

    Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 10:33
    By Gloria Nafziger, Refugee, Migrants and Country Campaigner

    “Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand was in the bed to my right, Hossein Ronaghi Maleki was in the bed to my left; Saeed Malekpour became my friend and Abdolfattah Soltani taught me about human rights.”

    With these words, human rights lawyer and former prisoner in Iran, Mohammad Olyaeifard brought to life four of the people whose pictures stood on the Amnesty International Haft Seen table.

    Nowruz is a celebration of the coming of the spring and beginning of the New Year, in the Persian calendar. At the heart of the celebration is the Haft Seen table with seven items which represent love, rebirth, affluence, medicine, beauty, sunrise and patience. The Amnesty International Haft Seen table includes seven prisoners in Iran who remind us that while this is a time of celebration there are many prisoners who remain in a dark winter.

    Over 80 people joined Amnesty International in Toronto at Beit Zatoun to stand in solidarity with these prisoners.

    Hossain Ronaghi Makeki, Bahareh Hedayat, Saeed Malekpour, Zeynab Jalalian, Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand, Abdolfattah Soltani and Omid Kokabee will all receive or hear about messages of hope and comfort sent from Canada.  The Iranian authorities will receive pleas to set these prisoners free, and reminders that their actions cannot be hidden.

    There is cause for celebration. Two of last year’s Haft Seen cases, Hamid Ghassimi and Nasrin Sotoudeh, are released and reunited with their family.  Mohammad Olyaeifard told us that when he heard Amnesty International and other human rights groups were working on his case, it helped sustain his hope during the year he spent in Evin prison. He assured us our actions and messages of solidarity do make a difference.

    With patience and love, those struggling for justice look forward to the sunrise of another Nowruz when we can celebrate the good news of more releases.