Freemuse and Center for Human Rights in Iran Call on Iran to Free Writer Arash Ganji, Stop Prosecuting Free Speech
Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Iran sentenced writer, translator, and the secretary of the board of directors of the Iranian Writers’ Association, Arash Ganji, to 11 years in prison. Ganji was convicted of conspiracy, membership of an illegal organization and propaganda after he translated a book about a Kurdish-led uprising in Syria from English to Farsi.
“Convicting Arash Ganji for translating a book from English to Farsi violates his right to freedom of expression protected by international human rights law,” said Dr. Srirak Plipat, Freemuse Executive Director. “All people are entitled to express themselves culturally and artistically while employing various artforms. We urge the Iranian authorities to drop all charges against Arash Ganji and to respect the human right of artists and all individuals to express themselves freely.”
“Iranian authorities have been prosecuting writers since before the 1979 revolution in a bid to muzzle peaceful criticism of the state,” said Jasmin Ramsey, communications director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). “Yet all they’ve succeeded in doing is revealing their petty fears of the power of the pen. The judiciary should release Arash Ganji and stop trying to criminalize freedom of speech and expression.”
According to Iran Wire, the Writers’ Association announced on 30 December that Ganji has been sentenced to five years in prison for conspiracy, five years in prison for membership of an illegal organization, and one year in prison for propaganda.
Ganji’s conviction relates to the book, A Small Key Can Open A Large Door: The Rojava Revolution, published in 2017 on the Kurdish-led uprising in Syria.
The writer was initially arrested on December 22, 2019, and held at Tehran’s Evin prison until his release on January 19, 2020, on bail of 450 million Iranian tomans.
Ganji was detained again on June 14, 2020, while he attended the first court hearing. He was released six days later after paying an increased bail of 3 billion Iranian tomans.
In its State of Artistic Freedom 2020 report, Freemuse listed Iran as one of the 13 countries of concern in 2019, with at least 11 artists either prosecuted or sentenced to prison for expressing opinions out of line with the principles of the Islamic Republic.
Freemuse and the Center for Human Rights in Iran call on the Iranian government to immediately drop all charges against Arash Ganji and respect the internationally recognized human right of freedom of expression.