Prisoner of conscience Maryam Akbari Monfared has been held in cruel and inhumane conditions in a distant prison in Semnan province far from her family since March 2021, in reprisal for her open letters condemning the Iranian authorities’ human rights violations and seeking truth and justice for her siblings who were forcibly disappeared and extrajudicially executed in secret in 1988. She has been unjustly jailed for nearly 12 years.
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Head of judiciary, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei
c/o Embassy of Iran to the European Union
Avenue Franklin Roosevelt No. 15,
1050 Bruxelles, Belgium
Dear Mr. Mohseni Ejei,
Prisoner of conscience Maryam Akbari Monfared has been unjustly jailed for nearly 12 years solely because of her association and correspondence with her relatives abroad, who are members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran. On March 10, 2021, she was suddenly transferred from Evin prison in Tehran to a distant prison in Semnan province 200km away from her family, in breach of both international and Iranian law requiring prisoners to be held, to the extent possible, in prisons close to their homes. Prosecution and prison officials have refused to provide any justification to her family or explain who ordered the transfer. To further punish Maryam Akbari Monfared, the authorities have denied her family visits since June 2021, and only allowed her to speak to her family on the phone for several minutes every day in the presence of an intelligence official.
Her transfer came after open letters from inside prison seeking truth and justice for the victims of the mass enforced disappearances and secret extrajudicial executions of 1988 who include her siblings. For years, ministry of intelligence officials have threatened to subject her to internal “exile” or to impose an additional prison term on her if she continues to speak out against the authorities’ crimes under international law and human rights violations as she recently did in an open letter in July 2021 addressing the unlawful killings of protesters in November 2019 and July 2021.
Conditions in Semnan prison are cruel and inhumane. Prisoners have reported that for the past several months, the flushing system of the toilets has not worked, resulting in filthy floors and foul odors and putting prisoners in danger of disease. They have also said that reduced access to shower facilities, inadequate provision of shampoo and sanitary products, and the use of shared slippers are leading to the spread of infections and lice infestation. Those infected are denied adequate medical treatment. The spread of Covid-19 also remains a serious concern as the authorities are failing to isolate new arrivals and provide prisoners with disinfectant products and masks.
I urge you to release Maryam Akbari Monfared immediately and unconditionally as her conviction is solely based on her peaceful correspondence with her family. Pending her release, I urge you to immediately end her punitive and unsafe placement in Semnan prison and ensure that she is granted regular access to her family. I further call on you to urgently address the concerns pertaining to hygiene and medical care in Semnan prison, ensuring that all prisoners are treated humanely, in accordance with international law and standards, including the Nelson Mandela Rules, and allow international monitors, including the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, to conduct independent, unannounced inspections of Semnan prison in line with international standards.