Golrokh Iraee, writer has been in prison since October 2016 with the exception of a brief few months.  She first served  a four-year prison sentence for writing an unpublished story against the barbaric practice of stoning.  She and her husband Arash Sadeghi who has been imprisoned since 2014,  have gone on long hunger strikes and have also suffered beatings and terrible conditions.  In November 2019, a few months after finishing her sentence and being released on bail,  she received another two year sentence on new charges of sedition and  was sent to the notorious Gharachak-Varamin Women’s Prison in the outskirts of Tehran.  During all these years in prison,  Iraee has continued to express her views through open letters smuggled out for publication.  These letters have scathingly opposed the Islamic Republic and have also expressed her solidarity with Kurdish woman political prisoner, Zeinab Jalalian as well as other oppressed minorities and workers including prison workers.  In a recent statement, she wrote:   

“The vortex that we are immersed in has been brought about by our own imprudence. The only way to free ourselves from it is to open our eyes and review the history which we have not been determined to read.”

(Golrokh Iraee)

She has developed bonecancer as  a result of her prison experience.   Despite all that she has suffered, including beatings and hunger strikes,  and bone cancer,   she continues to write open letter from prison:

This is what she wrote on May 8 in defense of Kurdish women political prisoner,  Zeynab Jalalian:

“Zeynab Jalalian is not only a person or a prisoner, but is “the lost meaning of real struggle” in the current banal political atmosphere of Iran.  She is a teacher of the alphabet of “freedom struggle” and the embodiment of resistance, who has been forgotten by both friends and enemies.  May the memory of #Farzad Kamangar (beloved Kurdish school teacher)  last forever, as we are in the 10th year of his execution. May the path of the freedom fighters continue, who were never deceived by the promise of name and power. Although they have risked their lives, or subjected their bodies to torture and persecution, they have never given up the struggle in exchange for personal interests or greed.”

(Golrokh Iraee)

Narges Mohammadi, B.A. in applied physics,  is a  journalist, women’s rights and human rights activist,  and  deputy director  of  the Center for the Defenders of Human Rights in Iran, founded by Nobel Peace Laureate, Shirin Ebadi.  In 2009, after  mass protests to oppose the fraudulent election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, she was arrested on charges of  “assembly and collusion against national security,” and sentenced to 11 years in prison. By 2013,  after developing severe health problems, she was released after posting bail.  In 2015, she was rearrested on charges of sedition and for starting a campaign against the death penalty.   Her opposition to the execution of innocent Sunni political prisoners was used by the courts to accuse her of “supporting ISIS.”  In 2016, she received a 16-year prison sentence which she is now serving.  She continues to face severe health problems which now includes contracting COVID-19.   She has been denied the right to a conversation with her young children for the past year.   Last December after joining a sit in of women prisoners at the Evin prison in Tehran in honor of those protesters killed during the November 2019 uprising,  she was severely beaten by prison authorities and forcibly transferred to the Zanjan prison as a punishment. Afterward,  in an open letter from prison she wrote:  

“The Islamic Republic has taken away and pillaged everything I had.  But my heart will not be taken away by power-hungry and oppressive men.  My heart will continue to beat with the screams of mothers who have lost their loved ones,  men who demand freedom,  youth who still have passion.  They will strengthen my outcry.”

(Zamaneh, Dec. 26, 2019)