Event Reports, Free Political Prisoners, Human Rights, Not One More Execution

MFI Event Report: 17 April Action Unifies Demands to Free Political Prisoners and End Executions in Iran

Washington DC community joins across political lines to oppose the crimes of the Islamic Republic.

On Sunday, April 17, 2011, the Washington DC community held a fantastic event at DuPont Circle to demand the immediate and unconditional release of Shirko Moarefi and all political prisoners in Iran, and to demand an immediate halt to executions in Iran. Notably, the Islamic Republic has accelerated not only its secret mass executions inside their prisons, but has also increased the number of public executions it performs, whether it be in central city squares or on public beaches.

The demonstration on Sunday was exceptional in that, for the first time, we were all out together across the different political groups (various leftists, MKO, communist, green, nationalists of various stripes, unaffiliated), and we announced our presence, our activism, and our willingness to join together to demand an immediate end to political imprisonment and execution in Iran.

Because this was the first time that all of these various groups have come together to make their political demands with one voice, many of us were gratified by the fact that our community has demonstrated our ability to unify against the crimes of the Islamic Republic regime in Iran. It is in our unified opposition to the regime that we, inside and outside Iran, can generate the necessary strength to help bring about the end of this criminal, barbaric dictatorship.

The action of 17 April 2011 was organized by Mission Free Iran with the indispensable assistance of friends in the Washington community; we are, as ever, grateful for their generosity and the hard work they exerted to make this such a successful event.

Speakers at the action included Shirin Nariman, human rights activist, who served as the MC and spoke about the condemnable attacks on those living in Camp Ashraf, as well as the need for all of us to come together across political divisions and work to bring an end to the Islamic Republic regime. Harish Rahimi from the Campaign for the Defense of Political Prisoners in Iran, Rebour Salemi from the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, and journalist and writer Jalil Azadikhah all spoke out against the crimes of the Islamic Republic.

Mehdi Amini of the Solidarity Committee to Protect Iranian People’s Will spoke about the fundamental injustices of the legal system in Iran:

“Dear friends: We are gathered here today to demand that the Islamic Republic of Iran stop its execution binge and release all the political prisoners immediately. Iran has executed 67 people as of February 1, 2011. At the current rate of around two executions a day, Iran is set to far exceed the 179 reportedly executed in 2010… Just yesterday alone 3 people were hung in public in Shiraz.

We do not know exactly how many are sentenced to death as we stand here today. But one that we know is a Kurdish activist named Shirko Moarefi, who is rumored to be executed on May 1st. In a recently released letter by him from Saghez Prison in Kurdistan, he thanked all the groups, civil society institutions, human rights groups and freedom seekers for their efforts to save his life.

– In the legal system of the Islamic Republic of Iran: All are guilty until they prove their innocence.
– In the legal system of the Islamic Republic of Iran: You could go to prison if you are a lawyer doing your work.
– In the legal system of the Islamic Republic of Iran: The regime acts as the judge, the jury and the executioner.
– In the legal system of the Islamic Republic of Iran: The lawyers are behind bar while those who commit crime are free.
– In the legal system of the Islamic Republic of Iran: If you are executed, your family hears nothing about it.
– In the legal system of the Islamic Republic of Iran: Families are sent to prison for morning a loss of a loved one.
– In the legal system of the Islamic Republic of Iran: The supreme leader considers rape and torture in prison and attack on dormitory of students a crime, yet those responsible for these crimes are appointed to new positions.

The Solidarity Committee to Protect the Iranian People’s Will opposes this legal system and believes that everyone has a right for fair trial with legal help and an open trial. We stand with those who oppose death penalty and we demand the immediate release of all political prisoners. Let us join now to see no more executions and abolishment of death penalty from the criminal system in Iran. Let us join now to demand the release of all political prisoners in Iran.”

Other speakers included Karim Abdian of the Congress of Iranian Federalists, who framed his discussion about the crimes of political imprisonment and execution with accounts of the recent protests in Ahwaz, and the Islamic Republic’s attacks against and killings of the protesters. These protests are under-reported in both journalistic and activist circles, a result of historical efforts to suppress ethnic minorities in Iran. He emphasized the fact that we must all recognize our common humanity and stand together to oppose this regime. To illustrate one of the effects of the divisive, racist policies of the Islamic Republic, specifically the Islamic Republic’s efforts to eliminate the use of the mother tongue among ethnic minorities in Iran, he shared a moving story about the time his father attempted to visit him in prison after he had been in solitary confinement for several years. When his father was finally able to enter the prison to see him, they began to speak to each other in Arabic. Their conversation was immediately halted because the prison authorities insisted that they speak in Farsi. He told the authorities that his father could only speak Arabic, that there was no way to communicate in Farsi. The prison authorities then, without a shred of humanity, canceled the much longed-for visit between father and son.

Journalist Rahim Rashidi also spoke; his statement can be viewed here in Farsi:

Saeed Salehinia from the Worker-communist Party of Iran gave the following statement (English followed by Farsi):

“Dear friends: I am Saeed Salehinia, a member of the Worker-communist Party of Iran and activist for freedom and equality. I am so happy to see you all, standing together to expose barbarity of Islamic Regime and oppose execution, which is really the intentional act of killing by states which should be prohibited all over the world.

This movement against state execution started more than 20 years ago by Mansour Hekmat, the founder of the Worker-communist party of Iran, and I am so happy that today, many representatives of different factions of opposition have the same opinion and use the same statements that Mansour Hekmat once used to condemn state execution. Capital punishment, no matter whether criminal or political should be prohibited. It is barbaric and inhumane.

The other point I want to make is about the ways we can finally unite. Nationalism, ideologic stands, religion… these things cannot be used to unite us. These are fake identities which separate us from each other and the people around the world. To unite, we need to use a common identity which is the human identity. All of us are human beings, all of us understand the need for freedom, justice, equality. Borders, nationalities, races, religions can not be used to identify us. These are traditional tools used to separate us!

Again I am thankful to you all for participating in this event. Let’s work together to finish the barbarities of the Islamic regime!”

دوستان عزيز
من سعيد صالحي نيا هستم از اعضا و فعالين حزب کمونيست کارگري ايران
خوشحالم امروز اينجا هستيم و با وجود اينکه نظرگاههاي فکري و سياسي متفاوت داريم توانستيم کنار هم درکمپين جهاني مبارزه با اعدام شرکت کنيم
سنت مخالفت سياسي با اعدام و منظورم همه اشکال اعدام چه سياسي و چه غير سياسي به جهت تاريخي برمي گردد به جنبش کمونيزم کارگري. بيش از بيست سال پيش منصور حکمت پايه گذار جنبش سياسي بر عليه اعدام اعلام کرد که اعدام بعنوان قتل عمد دولتي بايد برچيده شود و خوشحالم امروز مي بينم همين گفته از زبان بسياري شما دارد تکرار مي شود.
دوستان خواستم تاکييد کنم که امر اتحاد بين ما و جامعه ايران بر عليه کليت رژيم اسلامي نمي تواند بر اساس اعلام هويتهاي ملي و مذهبي و ايدئولوژيک پيش برود
هر قدر نيروهاي مخالف رژيم بخواهند بر هويتهاي ملي و ناسيوناليستي و قومي و ايدئولوژيک خودشان پافشاري کنند هم از هم دور مي شوند و هم مردم دنيا بهشان نزديکي احساس نمي کنند
امروز در ايران قربان زندان و شکنجه و اعدام از هر مليتي هستند از کرد و لر و ترک و فارس و عرب همه درگير مبارزه بر عليه رژيم براي آزادي و برابري هستند
اگر چند نفر از دوستان اينجا از اعدام مردم کرد صحبت کردند همين چند روز پيش هم رژيم اسلامي در شيراز 3 جوان را در خيابان اعدام کرد که ما عکسش را اينجا داريم و خبرها هست که صد نفر را قرار دارند در اصفهان اعدام کنند
قربانيان رژيم همه هويت انساني دارند و چيزي فراي مليت و قوم و مذهب و ايدئولوژيها بايد ما را با هم پيوند دهد
اميدوارم اين هويت مشترک که هويت انساني است بتواند ما را در کنار هم قرار دهد و عامل پيروزي نهائي مردم ما بر عليه کليت رژيم اسلامي باشد
تشکر از همه شما

Soheila Nikpour and Ramin Haghjoo, representatives of the Iranian Refugee Amnesty Network as well as advocates for LGBT (lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender) rights, reminded people that contrary to Ahmadinejad’s false statements at Columbia University, Iranian LGBT do exist, inside and outside of Iran, and that LGBT Iranians have been killed and imprisoned by the Islamic Republic. The Iranian LGBT have always been here fighting for a new, free Iran that they will help to build, and in which they will be visible and active political and social participants.

The day’s closing statement was given Mission Free Iran. It was written by Ahmad Fatemi and delivered by Maria Rohaly:

“Many of us here have fought against the barbarity of the Islamic regime all our lives. Many of you have been out in protest, challenging these savages inside Iran as well as outside, where you could – using the liberties granted thanks to the sacrifices made by people like you – be heard and seen chanting, demanding, exposing the barbarity of the Islamic regime, protesting the killings of our brothers and sisters in the gallows of that regime and not only that: often even protesting the silence of the international community.

We are still out here in this familiar spot protesting, and the Islamic regime still arresting, torturing, imprisoning and executing our brothers and sisters. But is today like yesterday, and yesterday like any other day in the past 32 years? …are we still seeing the executioners, and the same familiar noose, and the bodies of our beloved dancing in the wind, today like yesterday, like every day of the past 32 years?

There are those who would like to believe so, or make others believe so! After all, the regime is still killing… But nothing could be as wrong as such a statement. Nothing is like yesterday.

It is true that we are still protesting, and the murderers of Ayatollah still killing, but the whole world around us, around the murderers of our people, is totally a new world, nothing like the world as we knew it 2 years ago when we went out to protest against these murderers in the post-election events. When we said “Not One More Execution,” when we struggled to convince the international community that choosing the Islamic regime for the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women is a crime against women in Iran, and is a humiliation to women all over the world, when we campaigned against Islamic regime in the International Labor Organization – a regime that cuts Osanlou’s tongue and executes him through medical neglect – our demands often seemed to fall on deaf ears.

But today, the dictators of the world are falling one after the other. And each one falling brings the inevitable free fall of the Islamic regime closer. Those, who for 32 years kept their silence and allowed the atrocities continue are forced to change their politics under the pressure of the people’s revolutions. They see that not even the Syrian dictatorship, the Islamic Republic’s closest ally and only lifeline in the Middle East, an entity that could massacre a whole town in a day only to show the people and the world that they COULD and no one could stop them – they too are now bending under the force of the streets.

Listen! You hear the sound of back bone of the dictators cracking all over the ME, and sending the shock waves of the revolution to the rest of the world.

It is evident that the Islamic regime is also losing control: civil disobedience of millions of people all over the country, labour strikes spreading all over the country – only in Khuzestan 8 petrochemical compounds are on strike, which has entered its 9th day, and today their families have gone to join them in protest too! People are sending their gas bills to Khomeini’s grave in Behesht-e Zahra to be paid by him. These are millions challenging the entirety of the Islamic Republic regime, a regime which has never had any answer to any of the social and economic problems, and is becoming ever more isolated in the international arena…..

Today, no one has any doubt that the time has come for our people to topple these gangs of murderers, and with them put an end to political Islam and the terror it spreads all over the world. Iranian people, as they have for the past 32 years promised to humanity, will do the civilised world this service. And evidently, even the international community is about to wake up and break their 32 years of deafening silence. They are putting restrictions on the butchers and murderers, and we welcome this very first step.

These murderers have no other means of countering the rising waves of revolution. Executions are still the only measure, and even here, as we have shown them before, we can stop them from killing our brothers and sisters. We have gathered here today to do just this. We – all of us who have come together today – can and must do this… we need to join hands to unite to put an end to executions all together and at the same time free all political prisoners. We must join hands not only to do this but to rid ourselves, and the whole world, from this shame of humanity, the Islamic regime.

That beautiful day is getting very close now…”

Mission Free Iran thanks everyone who came out for this precedent-setting, unified action to demand the release of Shirko Moarefi and all political prisoners in Iran, to join together and work to bring an end to execution in Iran.

At the action of 17 April 2011 in DuPont Circle, Washington DC, we also focused on outreach to the public, which included handing out the below flyer that tells the story of Shirko Moarefi and includes a letter-writing action. You can print the flyer via Scribd, below, or download, save & print the pdf file.

View this document on Scribd

NOT ONE MORE EXECUTION!

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