The Holiday Nowruz is a Special Time to Brighten the Lives of Prisoners of Conscience in Iran

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Behareh Hedayat © Amnesty International

When brothers Kamiar and Arash Alaei were finally granted a brief medical furlough, they rejoiced at the prospect of spending a little time with their families as a reprieve from their grim and unjust imprisonment in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison.

Internationally renowned experts on the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, the two physicians were targeted by the Iranian government for having participated in international conferences and workshops in the United States.  In the authorities’ twisted way of thinking, they were a  part of a U.S. plot to undermine the Iranian government.

When the two brothers arrived at their family home, they received an additional and very delightful surprise—they were greeted with hundreds of Nowruz (Iranian New Year) cards sent by Amnesty International Activists around the world in response to AIUSA’s now-annual Nowruz Action.

Kamiar and Arash have recounted how enormously moved they were to receive such an expression of support and to know that people around the world remembered them and were thinking of them. They said, “When we got the message about your campaign… it was like getting new blood that warmed our hearts and gave us energy to be strong, to tolerate the situation, and not to become broken.”

The Nowruz cards sent by activists not only boost the morale of human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience languishing in prison in Iran at a time when they should be out celebrating the Iranian New Year (which starts on the first day of Spring) with their families, they also send an important message to the authorities who note the outpouring of support. They know the world is watching them.

One indication of the success of the Nowruz action: four of the seven cases highlighted in the 2011 Action came to happy resolutions in the past year. The Alaei brothers are not free, as is human rights defender Emadeddin Baghi who was released after serving only the shorter of his two prison sentences (the longer one was set aside). Labor activist Mansour Ossanlu was finally granted a much-needed medical furlough after spending years in prison in poor health. Journalist Hengameh Shahidi was also granted a furlough; neither of them have been required to report back to prison.

The Iranian government clearly pays attention to the opinions of people of conscience around the world. In fact, the more public and vocal we are in protesting injustice, the more likely the government of Iran is to listen. Journalist Maziar Bahari recently underscored the importance of public and vocal campaigning; he should know—he was himself released from prison in 2009 after a sustained campaign on his behalf carried out by human rights and journalist organizations. Happily, he was released in time to be with his wife for the birth of their daughter.

So sending Nowruz cards is doubly effective. It will brighten the dark days for our brave Iranian friends in prison and will also send a clear message to the Iranian authorities. This year we remember the seven leaders of Iran’s Baha’i community; student activists Majid Tavakkoli, Behareh Hedayat and Zia Nabavi; Kurdish rights activist Zeynab Jalalian; human rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh; and ethnic Azeri rights activist Saeed Metinour. Please take the time to send them a Nowruz card today. You will be making such a difference in their lives! Thank you.

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24 thoughts on “The Holiday Nowruz is a Special Time to Brighten the Lives of Prisoners of Conscience in Iran

  1. Dear Elise Auerbach,
    At the time of Nowruz or not, is there anything that you & your chums at Amnesty International would ever not to consider the internal affairs of a country as not being of interest to your organization?
    By the way, a few weeks back, I read somewhere, stating that, there are around 8000 Palestinian prisoners, some of them even more than three decades, languishing inside prisons administered by those racist Zionists in the occupied Palestinian territories. Does that bare any reality to you? If so, how come, we never get any mentioning of them through the Amnesty International? Instead, we the public end-up being asked to "So sending Nowruz cards is doubly effective. It will brighten the dark days for our brave Iranian friends in prison and will also send a clear message to the Iranian authorities". If only those poor Iranians knew how lucky they are, having friends like you; they would never need enemies! Would they?

  2. Dear Elise Auerbach,
    At the time of Nowruz or not, is there anything that you & your chums at Amnesty International would ever not to consider the internal affairs of a country as not being of interest to your organization?
    By the way, a few weeks back, I read somewhere, stating that, there are around 8000 Palestinian prisoners, some of them even more than three decades, languishing inside prisons administered by those racist Zionists in the occupied Palestinian territories. Does that bare any reality to you? If so, how come, we never get any mentioning of them through the Amnesty International? Instead, we the public end-up being asked to “So sending Nowruz cards is doubly effective. It will brighten the dark days for our brave Iranian friends in prison and will also send a clear message to the Iranian authorities”. If only those poor Iranians knew how lucky they are, having friends like you; they would never need enemies! Would they?

  3. Mata,

    My name is Edie Garwood and I serve as the country specialist on Israel/OPT/PA for the U.S. section of Israel and wanted to point you towards some of the great work not just the organization is doing in regards to that area of the word, but that our members are doing.

    I'm not quite sure where you get your information on what Amnesty International has done or hasn't done on our concerns in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, but I would suggest you simply do a search on the term 'Israel' or 'Occupied Palestinian Territories' for this blog to see a string of blog posts on a variety of our concerns – including on Palestinian prisoners. You may also visit the main website at http://www.amnestyusa.org and visit the country pages on both Israel/OPT and the Palestinian Authority. You can also visit the main organization's website at http://www.amnesty.org.

    Off the top of my head I know yesterday we issued an Urgent Action on behalf of Ahmed Qatamesh, a Palestinian academic being held under administrative detention; we also just posted a blog post on the case of Khader Adnan that links to a web action; on March 2 we adopted Bassem Tamimi, an organizer of peaceful protests in the occupied West Bank as a Prisoner of Conscience; and on the same day issued an Urgent Action on behalf of Hana Shalabi, a Palestinian detainee on hunger strike; we also recently issued a joint statement with Human Rights Watch asking that the blanket, but arbitrary travel ban on human rights defender Shawan Jabarin be lifted – and all these actions were taken since the beginning of March. It is March 7th today.

    We often receive criticisms from individuals who see one post and then make these accusations of bias or callousness because of perceived non-action on our part, but let me assure you, where there are human rights violations, it "bares in our reality" very prominently.

    Please familiarize yourself with an issue before making wide, sweeping statements. I understand it is difficult to find information sometimes, but a simple search on this very website could have saved you the trouble of writing your inaccurate post. And please, sign up for those Urgent Actions and take part or look for a local community group near you to join. You'll find our groups work on a variety of issues, both domestic and international, and you'll learn a bit more about the organization and our mission.

    Thank you.

  4. Mata,

    My name is Edie Garwood and I serve as the country specialist on Israel/OPT/PA for the U.S. section of Israel and wanted to point you towards some of the great work not just the organization is doing in regards to that area of the word, but that our members are doing.

    I'm not quite sure where you get your information on what Amnesty International has done or hasn't done on our concerns in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, but I would suggest you simply do a search on the term 'Israel' or 'Occupied Palestinian Territories' for this blog to see a string of blog posts on a variety of our concerns – including on Palestinian prisoners. You may also visit the main website at http://www.amnestyusa.org and visit the country pages on both Israel/OPT and the Palestinian Authority. You can also visit the main organization's website at http://www.amnesty.org.

    Off the top of my head I know yesterday we issued an Urgent Action on behalf of Ahmed Qatamesh, a Palestinian academic being held under administrative detention; we also just posted a blog post on the case of Khader Adnan that links to a web action; on March 2 we adopted Bassem Tamimi, an organizer of peaceful protests in the occupied West Bank as a Prisoner of Conscience; and on the same day issued an Urgent Action on behalf of Hana Shalabi, a Palestinian detainee on hunger strike; we also recently issued a joint statement with Human Rights Watch asking that the blanket, but arbitrary travel ban on human rights defender Shawan Jabarin be lifted – and all these actions were taken since the beginning of March. It is March 7th today.

    We often receive criticisms from individuals who see one post and then make these accusations of bias or callousness because of perceived non-action on our part, but let me assure you, where there are human rights violations, it "bares in our reality" very prominently.

    Please familiarize yourself with an issue before making wide, sweeping statements. I understand it is difficult to find information sometimes, but a simple search on this very website could have saved you the trouble of writing your inaccurate post. And please, sign up for those Urgent Actions and take part or look for a local community group near you to join. You'll find our groups work on a variety of issues, both domestic and international, and you'll learn a bit more about the organization and our mission.

    Thank you.

  5. Mata,

    My name is Edie Garwood and I serve as the country specialist on Israel/OPT/PA for the U.S. section of Israel and wanted to point you towards some of the great work not just the organization is doing in regards to that area of the word, but that our members are doing.

    I’m not quite sure where you get your information on what Amnesty International has done or hasn’t done on our concerns in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, but I would suggest you simply do a search on the term ‘Israel’ or ‘Occupied Palestinian Territories’ for this blog to see a string of blog posts on a variety of our concerns – including on Palestinian prisoners. You may also visit the main website at http://www.amnestyusa.org and visit the country pages on both Israel/OPT and the Palestinian Authority. You can also visit the main organization’s website at http://www.amnesty.org.

    Off the top of my head I know yesterday we issued an Urgent Action on behalf of Ahmed Qatamesh, a Palestinian academic being held under administrative detention; we also just posted a blog post on the case of Khader Adnan that links to a web action; on March 2 we adopted Bassem Tamimi, an organizer of peaceful protests in the occupied West Bank as a Prisoner of Conscience; and on the same day issued an Urgent Action on behalf of Hana Shalabi, a Palestinian detainee on hunger strike; we also recently issued a joint statement with Human Rights Watch asking that the blanket, but arbitrary travel ban on human rights defender Shawan Jabarin be lifted – and all these actions were taken since the beginning of March. It is March 7th today.

    We often receive criticisms from individuals who see one post and then make these accusations of bias or callousness because of perceived non-action on our part, but let me assure you, where there are human rights violations, it “bares in our reality” very prominently.

    Please familiarize yourself with an issue before making wide, sweeping statements. I understand it is difficult to find information sometimes, but a simple search on this very website could have saved you the trouble of writing your inaccurate post. And please, sign up for those Urgent Actions and take part or look for a local community group near you to join. You’ll find our groups work on a variety of issues, both domestic and international, and you’ll learn a bit more about the organization and our mission.

    Thank you.

  6. Israel is not an occupier.No matter how much anyone wishes that & using the word Zionists is only a validation to justify of anti-semitism.This page is dedicated to the victims of the regime in Iran.If only Israel haters could understand & respect that.

  7. Israel is not an occupier.No matter how much anyone wishes that & using the word Zionists is only a validation to justify of anti-semitism.This page is dedicated to the victims of the regime in Iran.If only Israel haters could understand & respect that.

  8. Ce soir les Baha'is de Fribourg /Suisse/ sont réunis pour prier pour tous les amis baha'is persécutés en Iran. Vous êtes dans notre coeur et nos pensées.

  9. Ce soir les Baha’is de Fribourg /Suisse/ sont réunis pour prier pour tous les amis baha’is persécutés en Iran. Vous êtes dans notre coeur et nos pensées.

  10. Stay with hope and may this new beginning will bring some joy and radiance to the life of our beloved Heros of the faith.
    Happy naw ruZ
    Frm: suresh ,hebe,usha,lua,riban,Rajagderan,letchumi,Ramesh,geetha,Shimin,Yuvarajan,reesha, reenesh,reevesh,Amira,russhel,

  11. Stay with hope and may this new beginning will bring some joy and radiance to the life of our beloved Heros of the faith.
    Happy naw ruZ
    Frm: suresh ,hebe,usha,lua,riban,Rajagderan,letchumi,Ramesh,geetha,Shimin,Yuvarajan,reesha, reenesh,reevesh,Amira,russhel,

  12. Dear friends, I am sending you all my love and support and a big hug for everyone to celebrate Naw-Ruz. I keep you in my heart. You are my example. God bless you.

  13. Happy Naw Ruz!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wish there was more I could do for you. May God be with you always. love alan

  14. Dear friends, I am sending you all my love and support and a big hug for everyone to celebrate Naw-Ruz. I keep you in my heart. You are my example. God bless you.

  15. Happy Naw Ruz!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wish there was more I could do for you. May God be with you always. love alan

  16. I pray for all whose rights have been violated in Iran every day. You are always in my mind and my heart. I am certain that your sacrifices are not wasted a bit and has set into motion an energy towards justice, democracy and the annihilation of Ahriman.

    Iraj

  17. I pray for all whose rights have been violated in Iran every day. You are always in my mind and my heart. I am certain that your sacrifices are not wasted a bit and has set into motion an energy towards justice, democracy and the annihilation of Ahriman.

    Iraj