You Can Bring Hope to Prisoners in Iran for the Iranian New Year

March 14, 2013

Shiva Nazar Ahari, a prominent human rights activist who has been jailed by the Iranian government several times.
Shiva Nazar Ahari, a prominent human rights activist who has been jailed by the Iranian government several times.

Imagine—if you can—what it is like to be a political prisoner sitting in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. You are likely hungry as the food is practically inedible. You are likely sick as the filthy conditions breed illnesses and infections among the inmates. You are likely not receiving adequate health care. You are living in a constant state of fear and apprehension; if you are one of those lucky enough not to be tortured yourself, you have to listen to the cries of others being tormented. You have not received anything that remotely resembles justice. Worst of all, you believe that you have been forgotten.

But now imagine the consolation and hope that you can bring to these prisoners by remembering them at this time of year. Nowruz is the Iranian New Year festival and begins on the first day of spring. It is supposed to be a joyous occasion when family and friends gather and share traditions such as the Haft Sin table, which literally means the seven s’s. Seven items beginning with the Persian letter sin (equivalent to the English s) and which represent spring time are set out.

This is the fifth year that Amnesty International USA is doing a Nowruz Action so that those languishing in Iran’s prisons can also partake in the holiday. Please take time to send a Nowruz greeting to a prisoner in Iran or their family to let them know that they are not forgotten, and that people in other countries are thinking about them. It is such a small thing to do, but it will mean so much to our friends in Iran at this time. Please open the action, read about the cases, and then send greeting cards to the addresses provided.

You will also be sending a clear message to the Iranian authorities that the world is watching them. Believe it or not, the Iranian government cares very much what people around the world think of them.  After an international outcry over the death sentence handed down to Pastor Youcef Naderkhani, who was convicted of “apostasy” for having converted from Islam to Christianity, the authorities backed down, overturned his sentenced and released Pastor Naderkhani this past September. If the Iranian authorities didn’t care about their international image, we would not have been treated to the strange spectacle of Mohammad Javad Larijani (the head of Iran’s Human Rights Council) giving an impassioned but utterly disingenuous (and unconvincing!) response to the latest report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation in Iran in Geneva on March 12.

This year we remember: the seven leaders of Iran’s Baha’i community; student activists Majid Tavakkoli, and Zia Nabavi; Kurdish rights activist Zeynab Jalalian; human rights attorneys Nasrin Sotoudeh and Abdolfattah Soltani; and journalist and women’s rights activist Shiva Nazar Ahari. Please take the time to send them a card today. You will be making such a difference in their lives! Thank you.