When your heart trembles for the rights of another human, that is when you begin to slip; that is when the interrogations begin. When your heart trembles for another prisoner, a woman, a child labourer, that is when you become the accused. When you find faith in people and believe in humanity and nothing else, that is when you commit your first crime.’
From a letter by Shiva Nazar Ahari to a fellow prisoner.
Shiva Nazar Ahari, journalist, human rights activist and blogger, is serving a four year prison sentence for her human rights reporting and peaceful activism. PEN International considers that she is detained solely for the peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party, and calls for her immediate and unconditional release.
Shiva Nazar Ahari, aged twenty-eight, is an award-winning human rights activist and a founding member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR). She was summoned to Tehran’s Evin prison on 8 September 2012 to serve out a four-year sentence for her alleged participation in political gatherings in 2009. The case dates back to 14 June 2009, when she was arrested following the disputed presidential election on charges of ‘moharebeh’ (‘waging war against God’), ‘spreading propaganda against the system’, and ‘gathering and colluding to commit a crime against national security’. She was released on bail on 13 October 2009, but re-arrested on 20 December 2009 and held in Evin prison until 12 September 2010, much of the time in solitary confinement in the Intelligence Ministry’s Ward 209. In a lower court hearing on 4 September 2010, she was sentenced to 74 lashes and six years in prison, later reduced to four years on appeal after she was acquitted of the charge of “gathering and colluding”. Since 2002, when she was just 18 years old, Shiva Nazar Ahari has been jailed several times by the Iranian government for her peaceful activism and reporting on human rights violations.
The Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR) was founded in 2005, and campaigns against a wide range of human rights violations in Iran, including those affecting women, children, prisoners, ethnic minority groups and workers. It has come under particular attack since the June 2009 election. Any collaboration with the CHRR is a considered a crime and while some members have fled the country in fear of their safety, at least eight members have been arbitrarily arrested since the end of November 2009.
Women journalists and activists are at the fore-front of the struggle for human rights in Iran. Many have been forced into exile, such as Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, founder of Defenders of Human Rights Centre, and Parvin Ardalan, editor and co-founder of the Campaign for One Million Signatures. Many more have been imprisoned in Iran in recent years, including lawyer and journalist Nasrin Sotoudeh, journalist Jila Baniya’ghoub, human rights advocate and journalist Nargess Mohammadi.
Please send appeals:
- Protesting the detention of human rights activist and writer Shiva Nazar Ahari solely for the peaceful exercise of her right to free expression;
- Calling for her immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party;
- Ensuring that she has full access to family visits and any necessary medical care whilst imprisoned.
Leader of the Islamic Republic
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – End of Shahid
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri
Islamic Republic of Iran.
His Excellency Dr Hassan Rouhani
Pasteur Square, Pasteur Street
Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: Via Foreign Ministry: +98 21 6 674 790
(mark: “Please forward to H.E. President Rouhani”)
Twitter: @HassanRouhani. Please use #Iran hashtag
If possible please send a copy of your appeal to the diplomatic representative for Iran in your country.
For further information please contact Cathy McCann at International PEN Writers in Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: firstname.lastname@example.org