By Vida Mehrannia
By Vida Mehrannia
On March 8 Amnesty Internatonal members from Group 46 in Peterbourough hosted their annual fundraising and awareness dinner. This year their special guests were former Iranian-Canadian prisoner, Hamid Ghassemi Shall and his wife Antoella Mega. Amnesty International members across Canada campaigned for years for Hamid's release from prison and return to Canada. Hamid now campaigns for others, particularly Saeed Malekpour, a permanent resident of Canada now detained in Iran.
Read about Group 46's event and their work to support human rights.
Human Rights’ Groups Play Vital Role, Says Former Iranian Prisoner
Narges Mohammadi is a prominent human rights advocate in Iran campaigning for justice and gender equality, and against the death penalty. She has been targeted and imprisoned by Iranian authorities before for her peaceful activism and has spent the last decade in and out of prison. Narges has spent the last year in Iran's notorious Evin prison, and has been sentenced to 16 years in prison following an unfair trial for trumped up national-security related charges.
Her only 'crime' is standing up for human rights--including the rights of women and girls--amidst Iran's crackdown on women's rights and those who advocate for women's rights. Narges remains in prison because of peaceful human rights work. Iran needs to know that it is not acceptable to persecute peaceful activists. And Narges needs to know that the world is watching and advocating for her freedom.
By: Nazila Nik (Iran Coordination Team)
I remember growing up in Iran in the 80s: revolution and war, the dramatic shift of political and social landscape, uncertainty and a sense of suffocation. Among the enormous changes forced upon my generation, was a massive cultural purge that followed the 1979 revolution and affected the whole artistic sphere. Music that was deemed to be non-revolutionary or influenced by the west was banned. History has shown us, however, that music and art usually rebound when faced with censorship. People always come up with ingenious ways to overcome repression, and that is exactly what happened in Iran.
In Amnesty International’s Toronto office there is a bookcase full of 3 inch thick non-descript black binders. Each binder contains 100 Urgent Actions, case files for people around the world at risk of human rights violations – unfair detention or arrest, torture, disappearance, harassment and censorship. Around 350 cases come in every year. They get sent out to letter writers, form online actions, get turned into petitions, spread via social media and power campaigns.
By Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada English Branch. Originally published in the Globe and Mail.
When Dr. Homa Hoodfar was arrested in Iran 100 days ago, the circumstances and motivation behind her unfounded and illegal imprisonment were far from clear. While much of that uncertainty remains, what is clear is that she has endured more than three months of grave human rights violations. Her plight resonates with wider concerns Amnesty International has recently documented in Iran, including a broad crackdown against perceived feminists and routine attacks on prisoners’ health.
It all adds up a grim human rights reality for Dr. Hoodfar. One hundred days into her nightmare, efforts to secure her immediate and unconditional release must be escalated even further.
By Gloria Nafziger, Amnesty International Canada's Campaigner for Iran
Where would you spend a Sunday in July?
On Sunday July 17, the members of Amnesty International’s TriCities Group in Coquitlam BC chose to stand in solidarity with Iranian prisoner of conscience, Narges Mohammadi
Narges Mohammadi is a human rights defender who received a 16-year prison sentence after she was convicted, following an unfair trial in April 2016, of the charges of “founding an illegal group”, “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security”, and “spreading propaganda against the system”. She is already serving a six-year prison sentence from a previous case. Her convictions are based solely on her human rights work.
Narges is critically ill. She suffers from a pulmonary embolism (a blockage in the blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the lungs) and a neurological disorder that has resulted in her experiencing seizures and temporary partial paralysis. She needs ongoing specialized medical care, which she cannot receive in prison, as well as daily medication.
With a new trial set for July 12, Saman Naseem – who featured in Amnesty’s global letter-writing campaign Write for Rights in 2015, sends a message to his supporters.
Last year, hundreds of thousands of people around the world showered Iran’s authorities with appeals for a fair retrial for Saman Naseem. He had been sentenced to death for a crime committed when he was just 17 and scheduled for execution in February 2015. He was, however, spared execution after Amnesty launched a worldwide campaign on his behalf. Saman was granted a retrial, which is due to begin on July 12. In the days leading up to this, and with another possible death sentence looming, Saman wrote this message to everyone who has taken action to save his life.
Hello and greetings to you all,
To mark 1 June – International Children’s Day – Raha Bahreini from our Iran team describes how Amnesty has managed to raise awareness about the death penalty and save juvenile offenders from the gallows in Iran.
It starts with a panicked phone call.
Our contact tells us that a juvenile offender (a person aged below 18 at the time of their crime) has just been transferred to solitary confinement – the final step before execution.
This is often our first glimpse of this young person and the desperate situation they are in. Why? Because the families of those on death row often fear reprisals if they publicize the plight of their loved ones. They sometimes believe that international lobbying and public campaigning will only complicate the situation and hasten the execution. At times, the authorities themselves give families false assurances, claiming that if the family does not publicize the case, their loved ones might be spared.
The moment we are prompted to intervene is often the moment when the authorities’ promises are exposed as hollow and the young person is just days or hours away from execution.
On 1 August 2015 Mohammad Ali Taheri was sentenced to death in Iran for ‘spreading corruption on earth”
His family in Canada live in shock and fear that the life of their son and brother could be brutally taken from them for nothing more than the peaceful expression of his beliefs. The Taheri family in Canada have been cautious about making public statements. For years they have lived in the hope that Mohammad Ali Taheri would be set free from his nightmare of imprisonment, solitary confinement and interrogation. They don’t want to do anything to jeopardize his safety and well-being. Now a death sentence is threatening to take away their loved family member and they are beginning to speak publicly.
Narges Mohammadi has been in and out of prison for more than a decade for her support of human rights in Iran. Three months after her most recent imprisonment, she wrote this personal letter from jail on what it means to be apart from her children.
MY TWINS WERE BORN ON 28 NOVEMBER 2006
I was not allowed to hold my son Ali and my daughter Kiana when they were born because of my poor health. I was only able to see them through the door of the hospital room. It seems as if their fate was to be apart from me from birth. When I held them for the first time, all the scars from the caesarean, the difficulties I had breathing, the fear of death and all the pain were forgotten. I had become a mother.WHEN KIANA AND ALI WERE THREE YEARS AND SIX MONTHS OLD
By Elise Auerbach, AIUSA
As if it weren’t bad enough. Iranian women face persistent systemic discrimination in terms of family law. New legislation being considered by Iran’s parliament is intended to roll back many of the gains women have made in the past decades and consign them to being barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.
And on top of that, if they dare to protest about the inequities they suffer, they are sentenced to long prison terms, to be served in prisons where unsanitary conditions and medical neglect can quickly undermine their health.
By Jackie Hansen, Major Campaigns and Women's Rights Campaigner
Campaigning against laws in Iran which discriminate against women and girls has just gotten a whole lot harder for Bahareh Hedayat and other activists with the Campaign for Equality, as Iran moves to enact laws set to turn Iranian women and girls into baby-making machines. Bahareh is currently serving a 10-year sentence in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison for her peaceful activism in support of gender equality.