All about my case and IWA
On December 5, 2022, I was arrested at home. Around 1pm the security agents broke down the door of the apartment and started searching the house without an arrest warrant. They seized a number of my personal belongings, including laptops, mobile phones, flash drives, personal notebooks, camera memory and some other items. Around evening, the search ended, and the agents of the Ministry of Intelligence transferred me to the ward 209 of Evin prison.
The next day, after 8 hours of interrogation, I was taken to the prosecutor’s office into arraignment. There, I was accused of conspiracy and collusion with the intention of acting against national security and propaganda against the regime. No explanation was given about the proof of these accusations.
During the interrogations, I learned that I was arrested because of being a member of the board of directors of the Iranian Writers Association (IWA) and the association’s statements in support of the protesters, especially women and the Kurdish people. Interrogators also pointed to some of my posts on personal pages written in previous years in support of protesters and detainees. Including a poem of mine that was published along with a picture of the girls of Enghelab Street (the Girls of Revolution Street) and it was considered as an example of opposition to the hijab.
I was in Evin prison for 31 days and after that I was released on bail on January 5, 2023. Six days later, I was informed that my case was sent to the 26th branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Court, and a day later, my court date was announced. I have to appear in court on February 19, 2023. As I prepare for the court, I think of the women who are still locked up in security detention centers. Brave women who are true reflection of the image of woman, life, freedom.
The court date of Roozbeh Sohani, poet and a member of the Board of Directors of the Writers’ Association of Iran (IWA), who was arrested at the same time as me and released on bail after 22 days, has not yet been determined.
Alireza Adineh, poet and a previous member of the Board of Directors of the Writers’ Association of Iran, who was arrested on December 26, 2022, and was released on bail after 27 days of detention, is also awaiting the announcement of a court date.
Reza Khandan (Mahabadi), writer, and Arash Ganji, translator, two former members of Board of Directors of IWA, are also in prison since September 2020 and November 2021, respectively. Keyvan Mohtadi, one of the members of IWA, has been sentenced to 5 years in prison after being detained for more than 8 months.
The Iranian Writers Association is the oldest union of Iranian writers, which has been fighting for the realization of freedom of expression and the abolition of censorship in Iran for more than 54 years.
Many members of this association have been threatened, arrested, imprisoned, and even killed. Mohammad Mokhtari, poet and writer, and Mohammad Jafar Pouyandeh, writer and translator, were killed in serial murders known as political chain murders of Iran in December 1998. Baktash Abtin, poet and a member of the board of directors of IWA, who has been in prison since September 2020, was killed in January 2022 due to contracting the corona virus and the deliberate lack of attention of the prison guards.
UN Ruling Demands Iran Release Persecuted Writers
PEN America Calls Ruling a “Vindication” Affirming that Writers’ Human Rights Were Violated
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
“As the anniversary of Baktash Abtin’s death approaches, we are encouraged and heartened by this robust ruling,” said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, PEN America’s director of Free Expression at Risk Programs. “These writers were arrested and imprisoned on indefensible and spurious charges, and then subject to mistreatment behind bars, because of their literary work, as well as their steadfast defense of free expression in Iran. This ruling is a vindication that their fundamental rights have been violated, and we call on the Iranian government to address the UN’s concerns and offer them immediate restitution and freedom. We also urge that authorities cease pre-emptively detaining other members of the IWA, and release those writers arrested in recent weeks.”
The Working Group investigates cases of arbitrary detention worldwide under five categories, and found the writers’ detention arbitrary on all grounds laid out in the petition. The UN ruling found their detention to violate both Iranian domestic and international law and called for their immediate release and an independent investigation into Abtin’s death. The decision found “a systemic failure to provide access to counsel during criminal proceedings in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” and reiterated the UN finding that Iran’s judiciary acts “as a repressive organ instead of an independent body.” The decision also raised concern about crimes against humanity, citing the “widespread or systemic arbitrary detention in the country.”
“This indisputable UN decision is an indictment of Iran’s weaponized legal system and a recognition of the inextinguishable voices of Iran’s literary tradition,” said Yonah Diamond, a human rights lawyer with the RWCHR. “As Iran increasingly sentences young artists and demonstrators behind closed doors to public hangings, the international community needs to impose real costs on the Iranian officials responsible.”
Earlier this month, the UN raised the alarm about Iranian artists facing execution, again urging Iran to abolish the death penalty. Dozens of Iranians face impending execution related to the protests, including artists such as Toomaj Salehi and Saman Yasin, for mere lyrics or social media posts criticizing the regime. Last week, Taraneh Alidoosti, one of Iran’s most influential, Oscar-winning actors and also a literary translator, was arrested for Instagram posts calling for solidarity and an international reaction to the public execution of protesters.
PEN America’s 2021 Freedom to Write Index, released in April 2022, shows that Iran jails the fourth highest number of writers and public intellectuals in the world. In 2022, arrests of writers and other artists have spiked dramatically. A number of other members of the IWA have also been detained in 2022 since this petition was filed, including labor activists, writers, and translators Keyvan Mohtadi and Anisha Asadollahi, detained in May (Asadollahi was released on bail in August while Mohtadi is currently awaiting a verdict); Atefeh Chaharmahalian, detained on October 3 and released on December 13; poet and translator Ali Asadollahi, detained since November 21; poet Alireza Adineh, arrested on November 30; and Aida Amidi and Roozbeh Sohani, arrested on December 5. More about PEN America’s advocacy work on Iran can be found here.