As we approach the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the United States remains deeply concerned that the Iranian regime continues to jail upwards of 800 individuals on spurious charges related to the exercise of universal human rights.
Many of these individuals, such as Tahereh Riahi and Hengameh Shahidi were arrested and convicted for their exercise of their fundamental rights of freedom of expression, working to bring about positive change on issues of concern to all Iranians, including the government’s lack of transparency, mismanagement and waste of public funds and resources, foreign policy adventurism, and degradation of the environment which is the centuries-long pride of the Iranian people. Their fates are sadly unknown to us and the free world. Others, such as Afif Naeimi are jailed simply for their religious beliefs. Afif’s crime was being a practicing Baha’i. Others like human rights defenders Atena Daemi and Shahnaz Akmal are imprisoned for simply advocating fundamental freedoms.
The #Iran regime arrested lawyer and activist Nasrin Sotoudeh in 2010, sentenced her to a six-year prison term for her human rights work, and re-arrested her in June 2018 for representing women who protest against Iran's compulsory hijab requirement. #PrisonersofIran pic.twitter.com/g4kUCuRfCe— U.S. State Dept | Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor (@StateDRL) September 13, 2018
The #Iran regime has unjustly imprisoned lawyer, activist, and 2009 winner of the Nuremburg International Human Rights Award Abdolfattah Soltani since 2011, as part of a 13-year sentence. His crime? Providing legal services to human rights advocates. #PrisonersofIran pic.twitter.com/EGznfXdQsg— U.S. State Dept | Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor (@StateDRL) September 14, 2018
In 2016, the #Iran regime arrested Narges Mohammadi and sentenced her to a total of 16 years in prison for her public advocacy for women’s rights and human rights. This year, she won the Andrei Sakharov Prize for human rights from the American Physical Society. #PrisonersofIran pic.twitter.com/LqW1adgdbA— U.S. State Dept | Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor (@StateDRL) September 17, 2018
In June 2016, the #Iran regime unjustly sentenced Arash Sadeghi to 15 years in prison for his peaceful political activism. During his detention, Iranian authorities have reportedly denied him essential medical tests for possible bone cancer, threatening his life. #PrisonersofIran pic.twitter.com/QpPgguzWGx— U.S. State Dept | Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor (@StateDRL) September 18, 2018
Since October 2016, the #Iran regime has unjustly imprisoned author and human rights activist Golrokh Ebrahimi Irayee as part of a six-year prison sentence for the alleged crimes of “insulting the sacred” and “propaganda against the state.” #PrisonersofIran pic.twitter.com/OLi9wJamGp— U.S. State Dept | Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor (@StateDRL) September 19, 2018
Since November 2016, the #Iran regime has imprisoned Atena Daemi as part of a seven-year sentence for meeting with families of political prisoners, criticizing the regime on Facebook, and condemning Iran’s mass-execution of political prisoners in 1988. #PrisonersofIran pic.twitter.com/LFPGFHECUe— U.S. State Dept | Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor (@StateDRL) September 20, 2018
The #Iran regime has repeatedly detained journalist Hengameh Shahidi for speaking out against the judiciary's politically-motivated sentencing of journalists, activists, and dissidents. #PrisonersofIran pic.twitter.com/p7itDQ1zuJ— U.S. State Dept | Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor (@StateDRL) September 21, 2018
Sadly, these are the very people most countries would see as partners in helping a nation reach its full potential. By incarcerating them, the Iranian regime demonstrates its insecurities and further cements its pariah status among the nations of the world. We urge our partners and allies, and all nations, to publicly support the Iranian people and their demands for human rights and fundamental freedoms. As President Trump has said, the longest-suffering victims of Iran’s leaders are Iran’s own people.
We call on the Government of Iran to release those individuals it continues to unjustly detain at once.
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About the Author: Patrick Harvey currently serves as a Foreign Affairs Officer in Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the U.S. Department of State.
Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.