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

Resistance Widens and Deepens as Iran’s Theocrats Execute More Political Prisoners 

Revcom.us editors’ note: We received the following from the International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners Now (IEC). 

On January 25, as we reported, the entire women’s ward of Evin Prison in Tehran went on a one-day hunger strike in response to the execution of two political prisoners. This was a spark which inspired many others in and outside of Iran’s prison and worldwide to join the symbolic strike. 

About the same time, some men on death row in Ghezel Hesar Prison1 announced they will be going on hunger strike every Tuesday for an end to the death penalty — not just in their own cases but for both political and non-political cases.2  In a widening dynamic, the Evin women’s ward announced that they will join the Ghezel Hesar hunger strikes every Tuesday. 

Then on January 29 in Ghezel Hesar Prison, the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) hanged four young ethnic Kurdish political prisoners. The vengeful regime refused to release their bodies to their families for mourning and burial, forbade local mosques to hold ceremonies, and interred them secretly “in an undisclosed location.” The IRI claims the men, accused of being members of the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan, had plotted to attack a military installation in mid-2022 in collaboration with Israel. They were forcibly disappeared for 19 months and tortured in solitary confinement, then sentenced in a grossly unfair trial without legal representation.

Iran prisoners hanged, January 2024.

 

Clockwise from top left: Mohsen Mazloum, Mohammad (Hajir) Faramarzi, Pejman Fatihi, Vafa Azarbar.    Photo: Social media

When news of the execution broke, outrage was widespread in the Kurdistan region. Strikes shut down many stores and bazaars in 15 cities in Kurdistan. The families of the men defiantly held mourning wakes even without the bodies, and hundreds of supporters joined them. Some political prisoners in Ghezel Hesar Prison chanted slogans against the regime and were attacked by dozens of anti-riot guards who injured five of them, among them an elderly prisoner who was knocked unconscious and hospitalized, and rebel rapper Saman Yasin, who was denied treatment.

Iranian diaspora organizations announced plans for protests in many countries. 

“No to execution means human life is valuable!” A collective statement by several organizations, including Osyan @maosyangarim, Youth in Exile @bahamad_fa/@bahamad_en, BurnTheCage @burnthecage, Afghanistan Women's Studies Academy @awsaacademy1, Baloch Women's Movement @balochwomenmovementt, Bread and Roses (Turkey) Bread and Roses (ekmekvegul.net), and others.

Iranian queer formations called on Iranians all over the world and LGBTQ+ activists to lead actions against the death penalty, noting that IRI’s laws call for the execution of queer people and for extramarital sexual relations.3

As we write, the town of Semirom in Iran’s central Isfahan province is carrying on a general strike against the imminent execution of two brothers charged with the death of a paramilitary (Basiji) during a protest in the “Woman, Life, Freedom” (Jina) uprising. Fazel and Mehran Bahramian were convicted after torture and sham trials. A third brother was murdered by police during the uprising. Iran’s regime is continuing to press ahead with the surge of executions in 2023, killing 70 in January 2024 alone.4 The ratcheting up of U.S. imperialist threats against Iran and its attacks on Iranian-related forces in the Middle East possibly presents the theocratic regime with new necessity and opportunity to clamp down on its home front to stabilize its legitimacy and rule.   

An analysis of the potential for a wider war in the Middle East is beyond the scope of this article and the IEC’s efforts. However, we want to continue to emphasize the stance from our Emergency Appeal of freeing Iran’s political prisoners that is in the interest of humanity: 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! We say to the U.S. government: No Threats or War Moves Against Iran, Lift U.S. Sanctions!

Support the Brave Resistance of Iran’s Political Dissidents 

“We urge you to champion the cause of all death row prisoners, irrespective of their charges, as we have all endured unfair trials. The authorities seek to rob us of our right to life. With your support, perhaps these executions can be halted. Be our voice, and the voice of our families, in any way possible. Death row prisoners extend beyond Ghezel Hesar to others throughout the country seeking your support…” This excerpt of the prisoners’ calls to all justice loving people everywhere to join in the fight for their lives and for the lives of all of Iran’s political prisoners. Their determined spirit to resist oppression and repression needs to spread much further than it is now. The statement signed by 11 groups in Europe should be broadly circulated and endorsed on every continent. As our Emergency Appeal made clear: “Lives are in the Balance, We Must Act Now.”

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FOOTNOTES:

1. Ghezel (Qezel) Hesar is the largest state prison in Iran, located in Karaj, about 12 miles from the capital Tehran. [back]

2. Excerpt of statement published on January 28, 2024:

We, a collective of prisoners facing death sentences, implore your assistance. Some of us are innocent, while others have erred due to misfortune and hardships. Regardless, we have all been denied a fair trial and legal representation. Though we regret our actions, committed during miserable periods in our lives, we do not deserve death, and we were not born as criminals… Starting this week, we will embark on a hunger strike every Tuesday, as it is often the last day our cellmates are alive before being transferred for execution…. On behalf of a group of death-row prisoners in Qezel Hesar Prison (our names withheld to avoid expedited execution).

[back]

3. Burn The Cage Instagram, January 31, 2024. [back]

4. “Iran Executes At Least 28 People In Ten Days As Executions Continue”, Iranintl.com, February 1, 2024. [back]

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