4th Feb 2023


A plea to the EU from inside Tehran's Evin jail

  • The notorious Evin 'house of detention' jail for political prisoners in Tehran (Photo: Wikimedia)
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On the International Day for Human Rights Defenders (9 December), the European Union should stand in solidarity with the people of Iran and take a firm stand against the government of the Islamic Republic.

With the assistance of Front Line Defenders, I am grateful that my husband Taghi Rahmani had the opportunity last week to share my message from inside Evin prison in Tehran, directly with the president of the European Parliament and MEPs.

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What the world is witnessing right now is the Iranian people declaring its desire to transition from the Islamic Republic regime, which — as I have stated many times — is a religious authoritarian and misogynist system that I fight.

First, I would like to emphasise that these words you're reading are coming from a human rights activist, and a woman who, from the moment she entered university 29 years ago, has been involved in student activism, women's rights, human rights, and civil society activism within 12 civil society organisations.

As a result of my peaceful civil activism, I have been arrested 13 times, undergone five trials, and been sentenced to 34 years of imprisonment and 154 lashes in total.

I am currently in prison and do not feel the slightest regret or doubt.

On the contrary, I continue my fight inside Iran with intense passion, hope, and vivacity, and I firmly believe that we will win. In transitioning from the Islamic Republic, we look to establish a system that will realise human dignity and human rights, and this will not be possible until the tyranny in this land ends. I trust that you also share the belief that to realise and consolidate democracy, civil society should take shape and human rights must be guaranteed.

The world cannot doubt that in their pursuit of democracy and a decent life, the people of Iran had recourse to every possible social, political, and civil means, way and movement and paid a heavy toll.

However, the Islamic Republic's government violently repressed and even killed activists and protesters in reaction to people's grievances.

Despite this violence being clearly documented, unfortunately, many governments around the world disregarded the people's rights and wishes, reducing human rights to a minor issue in their interactions with the Islamic Republic regime.

Nevertheless, international governments' sustained support in conformity with human rights law could and still can support and sustain the popular movement to defeat tyranny and establish freedom and democracy.

What you, the EU, can do

On this basis, here is how I think Europe can support us:

1. The essence and specificity of "system transition" is that it reflects the desire and will of the people of Iran, therefore, in making each and every decision, the approach should necessarily be one of maximum pressure on the government with a view to realising and strengthening civil society and guaranteeing human rights.

2. Iranian society needs independent civil human rights institutions, both in the transitional period when people bear heavy costs, and to establish a government based on democracy.

3. It will be crucial to release political prisoners and allow human rights defenders to carry out their peaceful activities.

4. Special support for women human rights defenders in Iran is required, both to realise their denied rights and to enable their pivotal role during the transition period and afterwards, with a view to establishing democracy and human rights.

In the end, with a heart full of hope, vitality, love of victory and confidence in the strong popular uprising and deep-rooted social movements in Iran, I request and expect support, cooperation, and solidarity from Europe's governments.

I hope that through the fight against tyranny and realization of democracy in Iran, one day we will unite together and stand hand in hand for world peace. That day will come.

As part of a Human Rights Defenders Initiative at the European Parliament, Frances Fitzgerald MEP (Ireland) and Dietmar Köster MEP (Germany) have committed to championing the case of Narges Mohammadi.

Author bio

Narges Mohammadi is the deputy director of Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC), currently imprisoned in Evin jail, Tehran.


The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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