Soheil Arabi, an Iranian jailed blogger must be released immediately

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By Hamed Sadra
Source: Campaign to Free Political Prisoners in Iran (CFPPI)
#FreeSoheil

Soheil is a jailed rights activist and a blogger who has been in prison in Iran since 2013. He has been physically and psychologically tortured solely for practising his freedom of speech through his blog and social media. Campaign to Free Political Prisoner in Iran (CFPPI) is inviting everyone to join us on 17th August 2019 to demand the release of Soheil and all political prisoners in Iran.

The organisation of the Atheist Republic, has organised an international day of protest on 17 August 2019 in different countries across the world inviting everyone to join them to demand Soheil’s release. They have also asked everyone to use the #FreeSoheil hashtag. Campaign to Free Political Prisoners in Iran (CFPPI) supports the Atheist Republic’s initiative and calls on all concerned individuals and organisations, who believe that freedom of speech is a fundamental right of every human being, to show their solidarity with Soheil. Soheil has continuously protested against oppression and dictatorship of the Islamic regime in Iran and has become the voice of resistance. Despite the torture and imprisonment, Soheil has never stopped speaking up against the tyranny of the Islamic regime in Iran. In one of his many letters from prison he wrote he is: “The voice of a generation that fights for freedom and is not scared of prison”. Let’s echo his voice and together demand the unconditional and immediate release of Soheil Arabi and all political prisoners in Iran.

How you can help?• Participate in the demonstrations or organise a protest in your city• Send a message to the Islamic regime in Iran via Twitter or email using the #FreeSoheil hashtag and demand the immediate and unconditional release of Soheil Arabi  

Send your message to:

Hassan Rouhani    Email: media@rouhani.ir            Twitter: @HassanRouhani

Ali Khamenei        Email: info_leader@leader.ir       Twitter: @khamenei_ir

Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations 

Email: iran@un.int

Background information:

Who is Soheil Arabi and why is he in prison?

This is the chronology of what has happened: • He was arrested without a warrant in 2013• He was tortured physically and psychologically in order to force him to ‘confess’. The torture still continues.  • He was not allowed to have an access to a lawyer or any legal advices. • He wasn’t allowed to contact his family when he was arrested.• He has been deprived of medical attention.• He was beaten up several times for defending his inmates • He was transferred and kept in Fashafouyeh prison and intentionally was held with dangerous prisoners who were serving their sentences for murder. • His family was harassed and put under pressure for speaking up.  Soheil’s mother has been detained since July 2019. See his mother’s message prior to her arrest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lI0CGTHePs&feature=youtu.be

Soheil Arabi is a jailed blogger who was born in1985 in Iran. Soheil was also a photographer and a Facebook activist. He was married and has a child whom he hasn’t seen for months. Soheil and his wife were arrested in November 2013 by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). His wife was released after a few hours but Soheil was kept in solitary confinement for two months. He was tortured, and deprived of accessing legal representatives and advice. He was also not allowed to have visit by his family. He was then transferred to ward 350 in the infamous Evin prison. 

Soheil went on several hunger strikes to protest against the prison condition and the ill treatment of himself and his inmates by the prison authorities. He is currently in Evin Prison in Iran being deprived of medical attention. His mother was recently arrested for speaking up against Soheil circumstances in prison.

Soheil has been charged with: “insulting the Prophet of Islam” in seven Facebook accounts allegedly belonging to Soheil. In March 2014, initially he was sentenced to three years in prison, a fine of 500,000 Tomans and 30 lashes on charges of “anti-government propaganda”, “insulting the government officials and the Supreme Leader”.  Soheil was retried in August 2014 and was sentenced to death sentence on the charge of “insulting the Prophet of Islam, the Shia Holy Imams and the Koran”. Soheil’s death sentence invoked an international outrage and as a result of the international pressure it was eventually dropped. In late September 2015, his case was reviewed in court and his death sentence was reduced to 7 years in prison,including reading 13 religious books, writing the summary of these books and studying theology for two years. He was also sentenced to writing quarterly reports to the court with the aim of proving his “repentance and renewed faith”. According to the sentence if Soheil fails to complete the above, the death sentence could be reinstated.

In January 2018, in order to put more pressure on Soheil, he was transferred to Fashafouyeh Prison (aka the Greater Tehran’s Penitentiary) while he was on hunger strike. He was severely beaten and all his personal belongings including his clothes were taken away.  One of the Fashafouyeh prison authorities told him: “this prison is hell, no one will hear your voice so there is no point to continue your hunger strike”. Soheil continued his hunger strike until he was transferred back to Evin Prison on 28 July. 

Fashafoyeh prison is designed for drug addicts and is located about 32 kilometres south of Tehran. There are several eyewitness testimonies which describe the horrendous condition of this prison. Prisoners are locked up in their cells without running water from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. There are no toilet facilities available. The toilet is a hole on the floor of a 2×2 foot area without light or running water, separated by a curtain from the ward’s beds. This has become common practice for the Islamic regime to transfer political prisoners to these kinds of prisons. The prisoners are technically not sentenced to death, but silently and slowly, are killed in prison by various methods such as untreated injuries caused by extended torture, or by being housed alongside very violent offenders.  Using this method, the Islamic regime is killing political prisoners without executing them and by doing that,it is lowering the execution rate in the country and avoiding international criticism. One of such cases was the case of Alireza Shir Mohammad Ali. Alireza was a rights activist who was managing a Telegram channel under the title of ’Atheists’. Alireza was kept with prisoners who were serving their murder sentences. He was stabbed 30 times by two such prisoners on June 10 2019 after leaving his solitary confinement. Please see the interview with Mrs. Mahnaz Sarabi. (Alireza’s mother) by CFPPI :http://cfppi.org/2019/06/25/an-interview-with-mrs-mahnaz-sarabi-alirezas-mother-by-cfppi/

Join us on 17th August 2019 to demand the release of Soheil and all political prisoners in Iran.

Campaign to Free Political Prisoners in Iran (CFPPI)

www.cfppi.org

For more information please contact:

Shiva Mahbobi, spokesperson

shiva.mahbobi@gmail.com        +44(0) 7572356661

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