PEN International 88th Congress: A Message of Solidarity with the Women and People of Iran

Dear friends
 I hope you all are well.
I thought maybe you are interested of reading my short article about what’s going on in Iran. Please don’t hesitate to share it with you friends. Specially your non_Iranian friends. Maybe it help them to have a better understanding and sympathy with Iran.
Thank you
All the best
Shokoofeh Azar

Below is a statement provided by Zoë Rodriguez (Chair, PEN International Women Writers Committee)

Mahsa (Zhina) Amini was a 22- year-old Kurdish Iranian woman whose death in custody following her arrest by  Iran’s “morality police” has sparked continuing mass protests across Iran. 
 
Mahsa was arrested on September 13 in Tehran for allegedly not following the country’s dress code for women. According to media reports, she was torturedwhile in custody, an allegation the police deny. She was taken to Kasra Hospital in Tehran where she remained in a coma until pronounced dead on September 16.
 
The Iranian authorities maintain that Mahsa suffered a heart attack, an account that is not accepted by her family.
 
When her body was taken to her hometown of Saqqez, people were waiting to support the family at the funeral. This gathering was the starting point for the mass protests across Iran. Protesters gathered in the streets carrying posters and shouting the slogans, “Woman, Life, Freedom”, and “Down with the Dictator!” 
 
The authorities have brutally cracked down on protests — unofficial reports claim many people have been killed or injured and thousands have been arrested. Last week, media reports raised concerns over widespread internet outages and restricted internet services which severely affected access to information regarding the government’s brutal response.
 
According to initial reports at least 13 were killed and many others were injured following Iranian missiles and drones’ attacks on the Kurdish region of northern Iraq on 28 September. Iranian authorities claim that the attacks targeted Kurdish groups behind the widespread protests that followed Mahsa’s death.
 
For the past four decades, Iran’s regime has maintained its grip on the country through mass killing, torture, imprisonments, censorship, and curtailing of essential freedoms. Political activists, writers, poets, artists, workers, teachers, and students have been arrested, tortured, and killed. 
 
We, the members of PEN International at the 88th Congress, together in Uppsala, Sweden, strongly condemn the brutal crackdown on freedom of expression in Iran. We stand in solidarity with the women and people of Iran in their fight for freedom, equality and justice and support their demands for a future without tyranny and dictatorship.
 
We call for an end to the crackdown on freedom of expression in Iran, and demand that Mahsa’s killers be brought to justice we also call for an immediate halt to military strikes.
 
We invite all members of PEN worldwide, to join in showing your support for the women and people of Iran. Please share this statement widely! Please post it on your websites, send it in your newsletters, and share widely on your social media, using the hash tags: #MahsaAmini and #WomenLifeFreedom. Sunday, 2 October, 2022, will be a global day of support and making our voices heard world ‘round: please use all means at your Centre’s disposal: send emails, post on social media using the above hashtags; offer a public program. And talk! Say her name! Tell her story! Mahsa (Zhina) Amini! Let us join in solidarity to support the women and people of Iran!
 
Statement provided by Zoë Rodriguez (Chair, PEN International Women Writers Committee)

 

*********

PEN Melbourne condemns the arrest of Baha’i writer and poet Mahvash Sabet and joins the call for her immediate and unconditional release by the Iranian authorities.

Iran: Authorities must release writer and poet Mahvash Sabet and end its crackdown on the Baha’i community in Iran

PEN International and PEN Centres strongly condemn the arrest of Baha’i writer and poet Mahvash Sabet by the Iranian authorities and call for her immediate and unconditional release. PEN International and PEN Centres raise serious concerns over Sabet’s health amid the continued prevalence of Covid-19 infections in prisons and deliberate medical negligence by the Iranian authorities.

On 31 July, Iranian authorities arrested Mahvash Sabet and two other members of the long-disbanded “Yaran-i-Iran” or “Friends of Iran,” Fariba Kamalabadi and Afif Naemi, who helped to administer Baha’i community’s affairs in Iran until 2008, over unfounded “spying” charges. The authorities have sent Sabet to Evin prison in Iran, where she was previously imprisoned.

According to media sources, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry alleged they were linked to the Baha’i centre in Israel and had collected and transferred information there. The Baha’i World Centre, the spiritual and administrative heart of the Bahá’í community, is located in the twin cities of ‘Akká and Haifa in Israel. The Baha’i presence has existed since before the founding of the state of Israel: nevertheless, the Iranian authorities have long used unfounded “spying” allegations against the Baha’i community in Iran.

Their arrests come amid a vicious crackdown on the Baha’i people in Iran, where authorities arrested several Baha’i activists, closed down dozens of Baha’i businesses, and demolished their houses.

Mahvash Sabet is a teacher and prominent poet who spent a decade in arbitrary imprisonment due to her religious beliefs. Sabet began her professional career as a teacher and worked as a principal at several schools. She also collaborated with the National Literacy Committee of Iran. Following the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Sabet was fired from her job and blocked from working in public education, like thousands of other Iranian Baha’i educators. She served for 15 years as director of the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education, which provides alternative higher education for Baha’i youth.

She began writing poetry in prison, and a collection of her prison poems was published in English translation in 2013. Sabet is an honorary member of Austrian PEN and Danish PEN, and was awarded the 2017 PEN Pinter Prize for an International Writer of Courage. PEN International has campaigned for her release and featured her case in PEN’s 2014 Day of the Imprisoned Writer campaign.

Signing PEN Centres:

Dansk PEN

English PEN

Irish PEN

PEN America

PEN Melbourne

PEN Norway

Swedish PEN

For more information, please contact Mina Thabet, MENA Regional Coordinator, at PEN International, Koops Mill Mews, Unit A, 162-164 Abbey St, London, SE1 2AN, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, email: Mina.Thabet@pen-international.org

From Mahvash Sabet’s Prison Poems

The Sparrow

One day, returning from the prison walk

I met a sparrow taking the air too, on my way.

It was pecking a piece of frozen bread,

a cold crumb lying between us in the snow.

‘You and I are both hungry prisoners,’ I said.

At that, it instantly let go of the crumb and flew away,

and I thought, ‘Are you less than the sparrow’?

‘Why don’t you drop the bread too, like this bird?

Why can’t you free yourself from crumbs – and words?”

Share this