Stand with Iranian Activists!

Nasrin Sotoudeh

Nasrin Sotoudeh, 60, is a human rights lawyer in Iran. She has represented imprisoned Iranian opposition activists and politicians following the disputed June 2009 Iranian presidential elections and prisoners sentenced to death for crimes committed when they were minors. Her clients have included journalist Isa Saharkhiz, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, and Heshmat Tabarzadi. She has also represented women arrested for appearing in public without a hijab, which is a punishable offense in Iran.

Sotoudeh’s “first work in the field of women’s rights” was a diverse collection of interviews, reports, and articles for the journal Daricheh. The editor-in-chief of the publication rejected the collection, which “made Sotoudeh even more determined in her work for women’s rights”.

In 1995 at the age of 32 she took the Bar (Kanoon Vokala) exam, earned her lawyers credentials, and became one of the most active members of the law society. Sotoudeh’s work has included defending abused children and mothers and working to protect abused children from returning to their abusive fathers. She believes many abusers are ill or past victims of mistreatment and need professional care and medication. She hopes that the courts will better use child specialists and psychologists in verifying abuse cases to protect innocent children better.

Before her arrest, Sotoudeh represented activists and journalists such as Kourosh Zaim, Isa Saharkhiz, Heshmat Tabarzadi, Nahid Keshavarz, Parvin Ardalan, Omid Memarian, and Roya Tolouie, as well as child abuse and criminal cases. She worked closely with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi and her Defenders of Human Rights Center. Following Sotoudeh’s arrest, Ebadi called for her release and expressed concern regarding her health. In the statement, Ebadi said, “Ms. Sotoudeh is one of the last remaining courageous human rights lawyers who has accepted all risks for defending the victims of human rights violations in Iran”. Former Czech President Václav Havel and Zahra Rahnavard, the wife of opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi, also called for Sotoudeh’s release.

On 28 August 2010, Iranian authorities raided Sotoudeh’s office. At the time, Sotoudeh was representing Zahra Bahrami, a Dutch-Iranian dual citizen charged with security offenses; it was unclear whether the raid was related to Bahrami. On 4 September 2010, Iranian authorities arrested Sotoudeh on charges of spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security. The Washington Post described the arrest as “highlighting an intensifying crackdown on lawyers who defend influential opposition politicians, activists and journalists.”

On 9 January 2011, Iranian authorities sentenced Sotoudeh to 11 years in jail for “activities against national security” and “propaganda against the regime.” Additionally, she has been barred from practicing law and leaving the country for 20 years. In mid-September 2011, an appeals court reduced Nasrin Sotoudeh’s prison sentence to six years; her ban from working as a lawyer was reduced to ten years.

Sotoudeh was released on 18 September 2013 along with ten other political prisoners, including opposition leader Mohsen Aminzadeh, days before an address by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to the United Nations. No explanation was given for her early release.

Sotoudeh was arrested again in June 2018. According to her lawyer, she was charged with espionage, dissemination of propaganda and disparaging the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei. She was given a five-year imprisonment for “acting against national security”.

Sotoudeh was released on a five-day medical furlough on 21 July 2021. However, it has been since extended indefinitely.

Nasrin Sotoudeh was the subject of Nasrin, a 2020 documentary filmed in secret in Iran about Sotoudeh’s “ongoing battles for the rights of women, children and minorities.” In 2021, she was named as of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. She was released on a medical furlough in July 2021.

Jafar Panahi

Jafar Panahi, 63, is an Iranian film director, screenwriter, and film editor, commonly associated with the Iranian New Wave film movement. After several years of making short films and working as an assistant director for fellow Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, Panahi achieved international recognition with his feature film debut, The White Balloon (1995). The film won the Camera d’Or at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival, the first major award an Iranian film won at Cannes.

Panahi was quickly recognized as one of Iran’s most influential filmmakers. His films were often banned in Iran, but he continued to receive international acclaim from film theorists and critics and won numerous awards, including the Golden Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival for The Mirror (1997), the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for The Circle (2000), and the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for Offside (2006). His films are known for their humanistic perspective on life in Iran, often focusing on the hardships of children, the impoverished, and women. Hamid Dabashi has written, “Panahi does not do as he is told—in fact he has made a successful career in not doing as he is told.”

After several years of conflict with the Iranian government over the content of his films (including several short-term arrests), Panahi was arrested in March 2010 along with his wife, daughter, and 15 friends, and later charged with propaganda against the Iranian government. Despite support from filmmakers, film organizations, and human rights organizations around the world, in December 2010 Panahi was sentenced to six years in prison and a 20-year ban on directing any movies, writing screenplays, giving interviews with Iranian or foreign media, or leaving the country except for medical treatment or making the Hajj pilgrimage. While awaiting the result of an appeal he made This Is Not a Film (2011), a documentary feature in the form of a video diary. It was smuggled out of Iran on a flash drive hidden inside a cake and shown at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. In February 2013 the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival showed Closed Curtain (Parde) by Panahi and Kambuzia Partovi in competition; Panahi won the Silver Bear for Best Script. Panahi’s subsequent film Taxi also premiered in competition at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival in February 2015 and won the Golden Bear, the prize awarded for the best film in the festival. In 2018 he won the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Screenplay (tied) for 3 Faces; he was unable to leave Iran to attend the festival, so his daughter, Solmaz Panahi, read his statement and received the award on his behalf.

Narges Mohammadi

Narges Mohammadi, 51, is an Iranian human rights activist and the vice president of the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), headed by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi. In May 2016, she was sentenced in Tehran to 16 years’ imprisonment for establishing and running “a human rights movement that campaigns for the abolition of the death penalty”.

She went on to work as a journalist for several reformist newspapers, and published a book of political essays titled The reforms, the Strategy and the Tactics. In 2003, she joined the Defenders of Human Rights Center, headed by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi; she later became the organization’s vice president.

In 1999, she married fellow pro-reform journalist Taghi Rahmani, who not long after was arrested for the first time. Rahmani moved to France in 2012 after serving a total of 14 years of prison sentences, but Mohammadi remained to continue her human rights work. Mohammadi and Rahmani have twin children, Ali and Kiana.

Mohammadi was first arrested in 1998 for her criticisms of the Iranian government and spent a year in prison. In April 2010, she was summoned to the Islamic Revolutionary Court for her membership in the DHRC. She was briefly released on bail but re-arrested several days later and detained at Evin prison. Mohammadi’s health declined while in custody, and she developed an epilepsy-like disease causing her to periodically lose muscle control. After a month, she was released and allowed to go to the hospital.

In July 2011, Mohammadi was prosecuted again, and found guilty of “acting against the national security, membership of the DHRC and propaganda against the regime”. In September, she was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment. Mohammadi stated that she had learned of the verdict only through her lawyers and had been “given an unprecedented 23-page judgment issued by the court in which they repeatedly likened my human rights activities to attempts to topple the regime.” In March 2012, the sentence was upheld by an appeals court, though it was reduced to six years. On 26 April, she was arrested to begin her sentence. On July 31, 2012, Mohammadi was released from prison.


On May 5, 2015, Mohammadi was again arrested on the basis of new charges. Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced her to ten years’ imprisonment on the charge of “founding an illegal group” for Legam (the step by step to stop the death penalty campaign), five years for “assembly and collusion against national security,” a year for “propaganda against the system” for her interviews with international media and her March 2014 meeting with the EU’s then High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton. In January 2019, Mohammadi was reported to have begun a hunger strike, along with the detained British-Iranian citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, in Tehran’s Evin prison, to protest being denied access to medical care. In July 2020, she was showing symptoms of a COVID-19 infection, from which she appeared to have recovered by August. On 8 October 2020, Mohammadi was released from prison.

On 27 February 2021, she released a video via social media explaining that she had been summoned to court twice in December, for a case that had been opened against her while she was still in prison. Mohammadi stated that she was refusing to appear in court and would be disobeying any judgements made. In the video, she describes the sexual abuse and ill-treatment she herself and other women were subjected to in prisons and says authorities had still not responded to the complaint she had made in this regard on 24 December. The new case opened against her concerned the sit-in staged by female political prisoners at Evin Prison, in protest to the killing and arrests of protesters by security forces in November 2019.

In March 2021, Mohammadi penned the foreword to the Iran Human Rights Annual Report on the Death Penalty in Iran. In May, Branch 1188 of Criminal Court Two in Tehran sentenced Mohammadi to two-and-a-half years in prison, 80 lashes and two separate fines for charges including “spreading propaganda against the system.” Four months later, she received a summons to begin serving this sentence, but she did not respond since she considered the conviction unjust.

On 16 November 2021, Mohammadi was arbitrary arrested in Karaj, Alborz province, while attending a memorial for Ebrahim Ketabdar, who was killed by Iranian security forces during nationwide protests in November 2019.

In December 2022, during the protests triggered by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, Narges Mohammadi, in a report which was published by BBC, detailed the sexual and physical abuse of detained women. In January 2023, she gave a shocking report from prison which details the condition of the women in Evin Prison, including a list of 58 prisoners and the interrogation process and tortures they have gone through. 57 of these women have spent 8350 days in the solitary confinement in total. 56 of these women are sentenced to 3300 months in total.

In 2022, she was named in the BBC 100 Women list.

Ahmad Batebi

Ahmad Batebi, 46, is an Iranian activist who was designated a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. During his studies at the University of Tehran he gained international fame for his appearance on the July 17, 1999, cover of The Economist magazine, holding up a shirt splattered with the blood of a fellow protester.


The photo, which has been called “an icon for Iran’s student reform movement”,[citation needed] was taken during the Iranian Student Protests in July 1999 in Tehran. Following its publishing, Batebi was arrested, tried in closed-door proceedings, found guilty of “creating street unrest”, and sentenced to death.

This was reduced to 15 years after domestic and international outcry. Less well-known are persistent reports of torture and ill-treatment of Batebi in prison and his resulting poor physical and mental health. While temporarily released from prison to receive medical attention, Batebi was assisted by the KDPI, to flee Iran for Iraq. He finally entered the United States on June 24, 2008, on humanitarian parole. He was then granted asylum status by the United States government.

Saba Kord Afshari

She appeared without a head scarf, and talked about it on social media. She was arrested on 2 August 2018. In August 2018, she was sentenced to one year in prison on the charge of “disrupting the public order” at Branch 28 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court led by Judge Moghiseh. She was released on 14 February 2019 when Ali Khamenei pardoned a large number of prisoners. Following her release, Afshari, Maryam Akbari Monfared and Yasaman Aryani wrote a letter denouncing prison conditions in Iran.

On June 1, 2019, Ms. Kord Afshari was rearrested; her trial was held on August 19, 2019. Her mother Raheleh Ahmadi was also arrested.[3] On September 26, 2019, she was sentenced by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, presided over by Judge Iman Afshari. Her sentences included 15 years of imprisonment on the charge of “promoting corruption and prostitution through appearing without a headscarf in public” 1 year and 6 months in prison on the charge of “propaganda against the state” and 7 years and 6 months in prison on the charge of ” assembly and collusion with an intent to commit a crime against the national security”, which adds up to a total of 24 years in prison. In December 2019, the Tehran Court of Appeals reduced her sentence to 9 years, 7.5 of which are imposable by law. Her sentence was later reduced to 5 years.

In December 2020 she was transferred from Evin prison to Qarchak women’s prison. While there, she has suffered from several health conditions, such as chronic ulcers, and has had trouble receiving treatment for them. She has contracted COVID-19 at least once.

On February 8, 2023, after months of the Mahsa Amini protests, she was released from prison as part of a mass amnesty commemorating the Iranian Revolution.

The 118th Congress condemned the Iranian regime for its treatment of “Saba Kord Afshari, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison for posting videos to social media without a hijab and transferred into Ward 6 of the notorious Qarchak Women’s Prison.” The condemnation was bipartisan and almost universal.

In March 2023, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled that her detention was in violation of international law.

Jafar Azimzadeh

Jafar Azimzadeh, 57, is a prominent labor activist and the Chairman of the Free Workers Union of Iran. He has been detained three times and spent more than four years in prison for organizing unions and strikes, demanding unpaid wages, and speaking to foreign media.

Azimzadeh was first detained on May 1, 2009, and again on May 1, 2014, for protesting on International Worker’s Day. He was held for a few weeks both times. In March 2015, he was tried for “assembly and collusion against national security” and “propaganda against the state.” He was sentenced to five years. He was imprisoned from November 2015 until June 2016, when he was temporarily released on bail after a two-month hunger strike. In September 2016, Azimzadeh and a colleague were re-tried for the same charges; they were sentenced to an additional 11 years. He was ordered to return to prison in December 2016 and served six months; he was temporarily released when the court acquitted him of one charge in June 2017.

Azimzadeh in an interview with the Center for Human Rights in Iran in October 2016: “All the charges and accusations against me are for trade union activities, such as organizing unions, non-violent labor strikes, and interviews with the media to defend workers’ rights, myself included. I am a worker.”

In January 2018, Azimzadeh was ordered to serve the rest of his sentence. He was eligible for pardon in February 2020, but he was sentenced to another one year and one month for signing a statement that protested prison medical policy. He contracted coronavirus in August 2020 and was hospitalized. He was returned to a public ward in September 2020.

Atena Daemi

Atena Daemi, 35, is an Iranian civil rights activist, children’s rights activist, human rights activist and political prisoner in Iran. Daemi was last arrested in November 2016 and sentenced seven years prison sentence. Peaceful activities for which she was charged include distributing anti-death penalty leaflets and making posts on Facebook and Twitter criticising Iran’s execution record. Later, Daemi and her sisters were arrested and sentenced on charges of having “insulted officers on duty”. Subsequent appeals have overturned that conviction and reduced Daemi’s original sentence.

Daemi has been on hunger strike at Evin Prison (9 April 2017 – 1 June 2017, 55 days) and at Shahr-e Rey prison near Tehran (24 January 2018 – 15 February 2018, 22 days). She continues to protest against conditions and against the death penalty from within Evin prison. She is considered a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.

Daemi worked at the prestigious Revolution Sports Club in Tehran. She participated in protests appealing for an end to capital punishment, and attended rallies on behalf of children in Syria.

Atena Daemi was arrested on 21 October 2014; she was kept in solitary confinement, denied access to a lawyer, and repeatedly interrogated for 86 days. On 14 January 2015 she was transferred to the women’s wing of Evin prison. She was accused of “gathering and colluding against national security”, “spreading propaganda against the system”, “concealing evidence” and “insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Supreme Leader”.

Daemi was sentenced on 21 May 2015 by Judge Moghiseh of Revolutionary Court Branch 28, after a fifteen-minute trial. She received a sentence totaling fourteen years in prison, on several counts. The longest sentence was seven years for “assembly and collusion”. Her sentence relates to peaceful activism, including charges related to distributing anti-death penalty leaflets and posts on Facebook and Twitter criticising Iran’s execution record.[8] Her arrest and sentencing are seen as part of a wave of vague charges and harsh sentences being used against activists, authors, and artists by Iran’s judiciary.

Daemi’s case was appealed to Branch 36 of the Appeals Court. As of 13 January 2016 the appeal had not been processed and concerns about her health had not been addressed. Daemi was released on bail, after a payment of 5500 million rials, on 15 February 2016. An appeals court hearing was held in July 2016. The appeal was based on Article 134 of the New Islamic Penal Code, under which her sentence was reduced to the maximum length of the most serious charge, seven years.

Daemi was re-arrested at her parents home, in front of her sisters, on 26 November 2016 and returned to Evin Prison. She formally complained to the Office of the Prosecutor in Evin prison about the actions of the Revolutionary Guards who arrested her.

On 23 March 2017, Daemi and her sisters were charged and convicted with “insulting public officers on duty”. After a one-hour criminal court trial, they were sentenced to three months and one day. This term of imprisonment was added to Daemi’s sentence, but suspended for her sisters.

In April 2017, Daemi began a hunger strike to protest the additional charges. At a second appeals court hearing, she and her sisters were acquitted of the 2017 charges. Daemi ended her hunger strike on 1 June 2017, after 55 days.

In January 2022, Amnesty International announced that Daemi had been released, following five years of imprisonment.

Amir-Abbas Fakhravar

Amir-Abbas Fakhravar, 48, research fellow and visiting lecturer at the Center for the Study of Culture and Security at The Institute of World Politics, is an Iranian dissident. Fakhravar served as the Secretary General of the Confederation of Iranian Students and President of the “Iranian Freedom Institute” in Washington, D.C.

Currently, Fakhravar is the Senate Chairman of National Iranian Congress (NIC) an organization opposing the Islamic Republic regime in Iran.

An Amnesty International press release published in 2004, designates Fakhravar as a prisoner of conscience who was sentenced to eight years of imprisonment for defamation charges in November 2002, because of comments he made on Iranian authorities in his book, This Place is Not a Ditch. The statement further adds sometime between January and February 2004, he was held at Ward 325, where he was reportedly subject to solitary confinement and white torture, before being granted a 2-days furlough on or around 8 February 2004. According to the same release, he was moved to Qasr prison upon his return and on or around 21 March, he was given another leave lasting 19 days for the new year holidays, as part of an annual temporary release of prisoners.

On 17 July 2005, Eli Lake did an interview with Fakhravar while on temporary release to participate in his university exams, in which he said, “I forgot to report back to prison” and that he was going to ignore his arrest warrant. In October 2005, RFE/RL reported that Fakhravar has been on leave since June of the same year, and has told them about his decision to refuse to return to prison and his sister of being informed at the court that government forces are authorized to shoot him on sight.

Fakhravar took a commercial flight to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Upon his arrival in the USA, Fakhravar was invited as a guest of honor at an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) lunch, co-hosted by Richard Perle and Michael Ledeen; and was given office space by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). He called for unified opposition to the Iranian government, to bring regime change in Iran.


In 2013, he established a ‘National Iran Congress (NIC), and drafted a constitution modeled after the constitution of Western countries for future Iran.

On July 20, 2006, Fakhravar testified at U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs representing Independent student movement, where he called the Iranian reform movement a “dead end” and advocated regime change.

Sepideh Qolian

Sepideh Qoliyan, 29, is an Iranian Political activist, rusticated veterinary student and journalist from the city of Dezful.


On November 18, 2018, Sepideh Qoliyan, who had previously worked with several publications as a citizen journalist, was reporting on a labor protest organized by the Workers Union of Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Agro Industrial Company, when she was arrested by the Iranian security forces. Union spokesman Esmail Bakhshi and a dozen other trade unionists were also arrested during the protest. All of those arrested, except Qolian and Bakhshi, were released within days. Qolian and Bakhshi were held without charge or legal representation for 30 days and were eventually released on bail.


On November 29, 2018, while Qolian and Bakhshi were still detained, The Vahed Syndicate, a trade union representing over 17,000 transit workers, revealed in a statement that Esmail Bakhshi had been briefly hospitalized due to torture he had suffered while in government custody. Immediately upon release, Qolian confirmed that both she and Bakhshi had been subjected to torture by the security forces. Following their release on bail, Bakhshi and Qolian gave Amnesty International an account of the torture they suffered while in custody of police and ministry of intelligence officials in the cities of Shush and Ahvaz. They told Amnesty that they had been beaten, slammed against walls, shoved to the ground, humiliated with flogging, and threatened with sexual assault and murder. Qolian stated that during her daily interrogation sessions, which started around 10am and lasted until the early hours of the following morning, intelligence officials repeatedly subjected her to sexual insults such as “whore”, accused her of having sexual relationships with workers, and threatened to make sure that her family would receive information that would make them murder Sepideh for “honor”. This revelation led to immense public backlash, especially on Iranian social media. In response to public outrage various Iranian state organizations issued denials of Qolian’s accusations and characterized her and Bakhshi as instruments of foreign interest.


On January 19, 2019, the Iranian state television broadcast what it claimed to be a documentary showing that Qolian, Bakhshi, and other activists have connections to the Trump administration, communist groups and other Iranians in diaspora who pursue overthrowing of the Iranian regime. The broadcast, recorded during their detention, contained videos of a visibly distraught Qolian and Bakhshi confessing to their crimes against the state. Qolian responded on Twitter that this broadcast is by itself further proof of torture. Farzaneh Zilabi, Bakhshi’s attorney, described the broadcast of statements obtained from her client under duress as a violation of the law. “Broadcasting of this documentary is unjustifiable and unacceptable. Now that the confidential information in this fake case have been made public through a deceptive, selective and unfair documentary, Mr. Bakhshi demands a public and transparent trial.” According to Zilabi, the broadcast was a violation of Article 96 of Iran’s Criminal Procedures Regulations, which prohibits and criminalizes to reveal the identity and images of suspects before conviction.


Qolian and Bakhshi were arrested again on January 20, 2019. According to Amnesty International, the timing of their arrest strongly suggests it is an attempt to silence and punish them for speaking out about the abuse they suffered in custody. In a phone interview, Qolian’s father told a reporter: “At 7 in the morning, 12 male and 2 female officers violently raided my home, broke my son’s teeth, assaulted me and my wife, and told us they’d kill our daughter.”


Abolfazl Ghadyani, A dissident singled out Ali Khamenei as the main culprit behind all wrongdoings and injustices against Bakhshi and Qolian.


After 4 years and nearly 2 months, Qolian was released from Evin prison in Tehran on 15th March 2023. Footage of her chanting anti-Khamenei slogans immediately after her release in front of the prison went viral online. Qolian was arrested again just hours after that, alongside people who took the video of her chanting. In May 05, 2023, Mehdi Gholian, Sepideh’s brother, announced on his Instagram page that Sepideh was handed the two-year sentence and now faces another stint in prison before her life could return to normal after her previous incarceration.

In 2022 BBC included Sepideh Qolian in the list of 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world.

Farhad Meysami

Farhad Meysami, 54, is an Iranian physician, teacher and civil activist. He believes in non violence and civil disobedience. He was sentenced to five year sentence in August 2018 for crimes such as “spreading propaganda against the regime”. He was released in February 2023 after a four-month hunger strike that grew international attention.

Farhad Meysami graduated from Tehran University of Medical Sciences, and opted for a career in high school education. He later established a publishing company, Andisheh-Sazan, which grew in the late 1990s. Andisheh-Sazan was particularly known to high schoolers for its test preparation books published for the Iranian university entrance exam. At the peak of its growth, Meysami shut down the company and engaged in human rights activism in Iran. He was arrested on July 31, 2018, and went on a hunger strike on August 1, 2018.

Meysami was arrested at his personal library and transferred to ward 209 of Evin prison in Tehran. He went on a hunger strike on August 1, 2018 to protest against “unjustified accusations, the illegal procedure following his detention, and denial of his right to access an independent lawyer”. He was not able to publicly announce his hunger strike before the 19th day of his strike, as he was being held in solitary confinement until that day. The allegation brought against Meysami is acting against the national security, a rather common accusation against political and civil rights activists in Iran. Apparently, Meysami’s support for the “Girls of Enghelab Street”—a series of protests against compulsory hijab in Iran— is being used to corroborate the charges against him. To provide the material evidence for the accusation the security forces have confiscated pin-back buttons from his library in Tehran. The pin-back buttons have “I do not agree with compulsory hijab” marked on them in Persian.

Meysami was denied access to an independent lawyer. Arash Keikhosravi, an Iranian lawyer, was barred from registering as his lawyer due to the section 48 of the recently amended the Criminal Procedure Code. Many Iranian prisoners have been affected by Section 48, including the prominent lawyer and human rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh. Section 48 states that those accused of national-security crimes must choose their lawyer from a single list of 20 lawyers picked by the head of the judicial system of Iran. Human rights organizations have argued that it means there are only a few government picked lawyers who are allowed to represent political prisoners at court. This new policy gives further license to infringe on the rights of defendants.

Meysami went on a second hunger strike from October 2022 until his release on Feb 10, 2023 to protest the oppression of Mahsa Amini protesters and forced hijab in Iran. Images of his weak body went viral on social media in early February 2023, some even compared him with survivors of the Auschwitz. While judicial officials denied him being on hunger strike, his lawyer, Mohammad Moghimi, said his client’s life is in danger and he had lost 52 kg (115 lb). A few days layer, according to his lawyer, Meysami was asked for a bail to be released, which he denied; regardless, he was released on February 10, 2023.

In December 2018, Meysami was given a five year prison sentence, a one year restriction on his civil and political rights and a two year travel ban by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court, for charges of “spreading propaganda against the system” and “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security.” His sentence that was upheld on appeal in August 2019.

Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee

Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee or Golrokh Iraee, 43, is an Iranian writer, accountant, political prisoner and a human rights defender who advocates against the practice of stoning in Iran. As a religious prisoner of conscience she was represented by Vice Chair of the USCIRF Gayle Manchin.

In September 2014, the Iranian government searched the home of Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee and her husband Arash Sadeghi in Tehran. The guards took laptops, notebooks and CDs. They found an unpublished story Iraee wrote about stoning a woman. In the story, a young woman watches the movie, “The Stoning of Soraya M”, becomes angry, and burns a copy of the Koran.

After the story was found, Iraee and her husband Sadeghi were arrested by four men believed to be from the Revolutionary Guards. They took Sadeghi to Evin Prison, but they took Iraee to a secret place for three days. They did not allow her to see a lawyer or to talk to her family. Then they took her to Evin Prison. For 17 days, they questioned her for hours, blindfolded her, and threatened to kill her. While they interrogated Iraee, she had to listen to the guards kick and choke her husband in the next cell.

Iraee had two short hearings. Her first hearing was about her husband’s political activity. She was not permitted to speak. During the second hearing she was in the hospital after surgery, but the court would not look at her medical records. Her first lawyer was pressured to drop her case, and her second lawyer was prohibited from representing her.

In October 2016, Iranian officials called Ebrahimi Iraee on a friend’s telephone and told her to go to Evin Prison to start serving a six-year prison sentence. They did not have an arrest warrant, as the law requires. Iraee was convicted of “insulting Islamic sanctities” and “spreading propaganda against the system.”

She began serving her six-year sentence that month for “insulting the sacred” and “propaganda against the state,” after she wrote a story about stoning. Iraee was released from prison on January 3, 2017 after a 71-day hunger strike by her husband and a protest on Twitter that got international attention, but she was returned to prison January 22, after her husband stopped his hunger strike.

During the Mahsa Amini protests the Iranian government began the mass arrest of dissidents, including human rights defenders, students, lawyers, journalists and civil society activists. Iraee was also arrested by security forces in her house on September 26, 2022 and taken to an undisclosed location. During the arrest, security forces searched her house and confiscated some of her personal belongings. According to the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), security officers broke the door to Iraei’s house and entered her room during the arrest. The officers also kicked her in the stomach, which caused her to hit the cabinet in the room, and this caused severe damage to her back and stomach.

Taraneh Alidoosti

Taraneh Alidoosti, 39, ationally for her role in The Salesman (2016), which won the Best Foreign Language Film Award at the 89th Academy Awards. In a poll conducted among 130 film critics by Sanate Cinema magazine, she was voted the best Iranian movie actress of the decade. In 2012, a similar poll by the Film magazine also chose her as the best actress of the decade.

On 26 January 2017, Alidoosti announced she would be boycotting the 89th Academy Awards where The Salesman had been nominated for Best Foreign Language Film to protest against upcoming stringent visa travel restrictions that the Trump administration planned to impose on Iranians.

On 17 December 2022, Iranian authorities detained Alidoosti for making an Instagram post criticizing the execution of Mohsen Shekari, which is the first known execution carried out by the Islamic Republic of Iran as a direct result of the Mahsa Amini protests. The Instagram post reads, “Your silence means the support of the oppression and the oppressor. His name was Mohsen Shekari. Every international organization who is watching this bloodshed and not taking action is a disgrace to humanity.”

About 600 members of the international arts community from 30 different countries signed an open letter demanding Alidoosti’s release. Signatories include Olivia Colman, Jessica Chastain, Cillian Murphy, Kristen Stewart, Dame Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Isabelle Huppert, Juliette Binoche, Ken Loach, Alfonso Cuarón, Zahra Amir Ebrahimi, Golshifteh Farahani, Nazanin Boniadi, Penélope Cruz, Brian Eno, John Oliver, Mark Ruffalo, Ian McKellen,Lily James and Julie Christie.

On 4 January 2023, Alidoosti was released after posting bail.