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From the International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners Now (IEC)

Iran’s Political Prisoners Remain Defiant by Modeling Leadership Under Dire Conditions

“Our Anger Is Greater Than Our Fear” editors’ note: We received the following from the International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners Now (IEC).

Taking tremendous risks, from inside the murderous dungeons of Iran, prisoners reportedly prevented the entry of ballot boxes into several prisons. 

In Ghezel (Qezel) Hesar Prison, political prisoners chanted, “Death to the Dictator!” on runoff election day, and in Evin Prison they chanted both “Death to the Dictator!” and “Woman, Life, Freedom!” after the televised debate.1 Political prisoners in Sheiban (Ahvaz Central) Prison in the Arab oppressed region of Khuzestan also publicly refused to vote.2 

The context for these actions was the special election to replace former president Raisi who died in a helicopter crash in May. On June 28 and July 5, the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) held two rounds of special elections so farcical the hashtag #ElectionCircus became a meme. All candidates had to be approved by the religious Guidance Council, and regardless of who won, the Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) is the final decision maker on all significant policy. Many activists, organizations and family members of those killed during the 2022-2023 Woman, Life, Freedom uprising called for boycotting the elections from different perspectives.3 Desperate to drum up even an appearance of lukewarm enthusiasm for the election and the regime’s political legitimacy, the IRI allowed a little-known “reformist” pro-regime candidate, Masoud Pezeshkian, to run and to score an “upset win” against a “hardliner,” in an election in which even the official count of 50% participation of eligible voters is much lower than average in Iran.

IG Iran political prisoners satirical election meme.


Instagram graphic posted one day before the “reformist” Pezeshkian won the presidency over the “extremist” Jalili. The scowling women in black chadors are hijab enforcers in front of the hated green morality police van into which they drag women and girls who do not comply fully with the compulsory Islamic dress code. Caption reads: “These are so many good options! It's so hard to choose between them that we may have to boycott them all.”     Graphic: @azadi.daily, @weareiranianstudents and others

Even prisoners were to be roped into the circus; since prison authorities have wide power over granting furloughs, medical treatment, etc., they can coerce prisoners to participate in the voting. This makes the courage of many prisoners refusing to vote, even chanting and blocking the entry of ballot boxes, stand out all the more.

Nine heroic women in Evin Prison sent out the following statement, posted on IG by @golrokh.iraee & @free.nahid.

We, the left-wing women imprisoned in Evin Prison, of course did not participate in the presidential elections and will not do so. Because: 

Such elections are a desperate attempt to save a failed regime that has long since lost its legitimacy. The candidates in this election, as in every other period, are symbols of the disintegration of this fascist regime. These elections, like any other election in capitalist systems, mean that people are only granted the “right to vote” when they are allowed to “choose” one of the oppressors to continue the established reactionary system for a few more years. We believe that liberation cannot be achieved through ballot boxes, but only through our own hands and through the conscious struggle against every form of oppression.

Signed: Anisha Asadollahi, Reyhaneh Ansari-Nejad, Hasti Amiri, Golrokh Iraee, Nasrin Khezri Javadi, Nahid Taghavi, Nahid Khodajoo, Farah Nasaji, Maryam Yahyavi

IEC graphic says "9 Political Prisoners: Liberation cannot be achieved through ballot boxes.


IEC graphic, background by @mahya.farmani   

At the same time, the “Tuesdays No to Executions” weekly prisoners’ hunger strike entered its 23rd week, now encompassing nine prisons in far-flung regions: Evin Prison (Women's Prison, Section 8, Section 6 and Section 4), Ghezel Hesar Prison (Unit 3 and Unit 4), Tabriz Prison (Women Prison), Karaj Central Prison, Khorramabad Prison, Khavi Remand Prison, Naqadeh Prison, Saqqez Prison and Mashhad Central Prison. The first Tuesday strike called by both political and non-political prisoners on death row in Ghezel Hesar was immediately joined by women political prisoners in Evin and has spread since.

In the video below, prisoners seize the chance to tell the outside world about their conditions in spite of severe repression. This takes place inside Ghezel Hesar close to Tehran; built in 1964 with a capacity for 5,000 prisoners, it is now one of most populous prisons in the Middle East, holding 20,000 to 30,000, with weekly executions, often after Tuesday prayers.

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Translation by IEC volunteers of post by human rights journalist Reza Akvanian: “A group of ‘general crimes’ prisoners who are incarcerated in unit one of hall seven of Ghezel Hesar Prison in Karaj, in a video recorded on Tuesday…[May 28], say that between 10 and 20 people are executed in this prison every week, and that the officials and agents of the prison treat them badly, with violence, insults and profanity.

Stepped-up Executions of Political Women: Singling Out Activist Sharifeh Mohammadi

Iran political prisoner Sharifeh Mohammadi, sentenced to death.


Sharifeh Mohammadi, image posted with text by IEC    Photo: @maosyngarim

Amid the above, on July 4, the court in the city of Rasht informed the husband of activist Sharifeh Mohammadi that she has been sentenced to death on spurious charges of “armed rebellion.” Their “proof” is that more than ten years ago she was a member of the Coordinating Committee for the Formation of Labor Unions, which the “intelligence” services of the regime now declares (contradicting all evidence) to be associated with the Komala Party, a banned political party of the Kurdish people, an oppressed nation in the Middle East. Sharifeh Mohammadi is Gilak, an oppressed nationality in northern Iran concentrated in Gilan province.4 

Sharifeh Mohammadi was violently arrested on December 5, 2023, and was held in solitary confinement in detention centers operated by “intelligence” services. By the time these services brought her to prison months later, she had been so badly tortured that the prison initially refused to book her. 

The women’s organization Osyan (Revolt)5 summarized the danger posed by this death sentence in this IG post (translation by IEC volunteers).

One day before the second round of elections, the Islamic Republic shamelessly sent a clear message to the society and its opponents: that executions, prisons and enmity against women will continue. The Islamic Republic has started a new process of executing political women.  Sharifeh Mohammadi is the fourth politically active woman who has been sentenced to death following the Jina uprising.6 

This is about normalizing the process of executing women political prisoners, which has not been so common or convenient for the government in the past. Before the Jina uprising, we rarely saw such brutal sentences against women… The acceleration of execution sentences and of accusations that could lead to execution for women fighters following the Jina uprising ... indicates a new level of the Islamic Republic’s hostility against minority nationalities, and especially against activist women accused of organizing. This also means that the red line of organizational activity for the Islamic Republic is becoming more intense, it is well aware of how fragile [their situation has become]. Also by looking at these sentences, one can see how much the regime links the issue of women’s oppression and the issue of national oppression in the Jina uprising… This cruel sentence is intended to sow fear in society… Indeed, now that its illegitimacy has been proven by the widespread boycott of elections, it is frightened, and more determined than ever to use repression to preserve its reign. We declare to the government that our anger is greater than our fear. Immediately overturn the sentence against Sharifeh Mohammadi and other political activists.

This outrageous and horrific sentence has sparked widespread outrage in Iran and in the Iranian diaspora. Burn The Cage posted this response from Farhad Meysami, a prominent civil activist, doctor and former political prisoner:

If this catastrophic approach to legal rationality prevails, and insists on approving the death sentence, I will forcibly sit in front of the Rasht Revolutionary Court on a food strike … demanding the reversal of the cruel verdict… If you don’t have a phone to hear the oppression and you insist on the execution of Sharifeh Mohammadi, dig two graves!

Spread the Model of Heroic Prisoners, Live Like Them! Free Them All!

Prisoners on hunger strike week after week—not mainly around their own conditions but to stop the execution of others… finding the collective means from behind bars to discuss and spread statements that help lead in the complex swirl of events… especially focusing on exposing the oppression of women, sexual abuse and torture… defending and supporting one another… Political prisoners in Iran in many ways stand as a model for how the people of the world and especially the millions behind bars, caught up in the “injustice system” and out on the hard streets with a police target on their backs, could be and should be uncompromising voices of resistance with potential to transform into conscious emancipators of humanity.

Help spread their voices, fan the debate and dialogue necessary to break this struggle out, and free them. And donate to the IEC to stand with them and help bring about that reality.


New York City protest for Iran political prisoners at the UN, June 20, 2024.


New York City, supporters of Revolution Books protest at UN in support of Iran political prisoners, June 20, 2024.


Outside Iran’s Mission to the UN in New York City, IEC and supporters of Revolution Books NYC marched and protested on June 20, 2024, Global Day in Support of Political Prisoners in Iran. Photos: Special to IEC

From the Emergency Appeal of the International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners Now:

The governments of the U.S. and Iran act from their national interests. And, in this instance, we the people of the U.S. and Iran, along with the people of the world, have OUR shared interests, as part of getting to a better world: to unite to defend the political prisoners of Iran. In the U.S., we have a special responsibility to unite very broadly against this vile repression by the IRI, and to actively oppose any war moves by the U.S. government that would bring even more unbearable suffering to the people of Iran.

We demand of the Islamic Republic of Iran: FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS NOW!




1. @Blackfish1 July 5, 2024, and @BurnTheCage, June 28, 2024. [back]

2. Political Prisoners in Ahvaz Central Prison Did Not Participate in the Elections” (in Farsi),, July 5, 2024. [back]

3. For example, 2023 Nobel laureate Narges Mohammadi wrote, “How can you, while holding a sword, gallows, weapons and prisons against the people with one hand, place a ballot box in front of the same people with the other hand, and deceitfully and falsely call them to the polls?” [back]

4. In Gilan province this year 10 women and one man were sentenced to a total of 60 years in prison just for organizing protests on the anniversary of the death of Mahsa Amini. “Iran Goes After Its Women Activists as World’s Attention Turns to Its Sham Election,” Center for Human Rights in Iran, June 25, 2024. [back]

5. Osyan/Revolt is a group of Iranian and Afghan women who are the voice of women’s rebellion to express the determination, and to serve the struggle against the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Taliban. [back]

6. The Jina Uprising refers to the massive uprising, sparked by women and supported by many men, against compulsory hijab (headscarf) and the oppression of women it represents and imposes. Also known as the Woman, Life, Freedom Uprising, it was set off by the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman “Mahsa” Jina Amini in the custody of “morality police” for “improper hijab” on September 16, 2022.  [back]

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