Families Urge Judiciary Chief to Include Jailed Conservationists In Mass Prisoner Release
56,000 Temporarily Freed from Iran’s Overcrowded Prisons Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
The families of eight conservationists imprisoned in Iran on trumped-up charges have called on Iranian Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi to release them on furlough along with the some 54,000 other prisoners who were released in March 2020 after rights organizations expressed serious concerns for their safety amid the country’s deadly COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
The families’ letter was published by the state-run Iranian Labor News Agency in Persian on March 4, 2020. Following are excerpts of the letter translated by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
Dear Dr. Seyed Ebrahim Raisi
Honorable Judiciary Chief
With Greetings and Respect,
We, the undersigned families of prisoners, thank your excellency for issuing decrees ordering measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease in prisons as well as granting furlough to prisoners and wish you further success and health. However, we are disappointed that granting furlough, the purpose of which is to protect prisoners’ physical and mental health, is based on “type of crime” and “duration of sentence,” making conditions difficult for prisoners excluded from the decrees, as well as their families.
You will acknowledge that the likelihood of prisoners getting sick from the spread of disease has no relation to the “type of crime” or “duration of sentence,” and setting such conditions for prisoners in national security cases with convictions of less than five years is too severe toward the rights of prisoners and their families as the coronavirus spreads.
Dear Dr. Raisi… We humbly ask your highness whether it is right and just for fraudsters to be released… and yet exclude our loved ones who have spent long periods in solitary confinement during this dangerous and disturbing time?!
… Our loved ones, whether they are considered guilty by the judicial system or innocent in the eyes of their families, are the children of this country who love this land. Out of respect for the tears of their anxious mothers and the years they spent in hot and cold weather for the glory of their country, we plead for your excellency’s special kindness as their lives are in the hands of your administrators…
Dear Dr. Raisi, the eyes of these dear mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers and spouses of these loved ones are hoping to see the light through the door that will open with your excellency’s order. Do not deny them furlough which is the least of actions you could take in these difficult times with the spread of this disease, an action that would ease the pain from two years of separation and anguish for these families and individuals. God willing, these anxious and worried mothers will not be disappointed. May God bless your longevity and health.
The families of Morad Tahbaz, Amirhossein Khaleghi, Taher Ghadirian, Sam Rajabi, Houman Jowkar, Abdolreza Kouhpayeh, Niloufar Bayani and Sepideh Kashani.