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More Than 60 Female Political Prisoners in Iran Call for the Release of Maryam Akbari-Monfared


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In a letter, over sixty female political detainees have united to demand the release of, Maryam Akbari-Monfared. Despite enduring a relentless fourteen-year imprisonment, Maryam continues to be detained, symbolizing the pervasive injustice and harsh repression inflicted by the clerical regime upon political prisoners, particularly those associated with the People’s Mojahedin Organization (PMOI/MEK).

Maryam Akbari Monfared is the mother of two daughters. Her younger daughter was only 4 years old when Maryam was detained. Four members of her family were executed for their support of the MEK. Maryam Akbari’s two brothers were executed in 1981 and 1984 on charges of being members of the MEK. Additionally, her younger brother and another sister, both members of the MEK, were executed in the 1988 massacre of political prisoners.

Maryam Akbari is one of the longest-held female political prisoners in Iran. She was arrested following the uprising in Tehran on December 27, 2009.

As Iranian families prepared themselves for the new year festivities, Nowruz, sixty-four of Maryam’s former cellmates have come forward with a collective statement. This group comprises women who have been released, alongside others who remain behind bars. Their letter reads in part:

“It has been 5,107 days since Maryam Akbari-Monfared has been imprisoned, without a single day of leave. She was arrested on midnight of December 31, 2009, and was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment. Her fourteenth year of imprisonment is underway, during which she was exiled to Semnan Prison on March 9, 2021, miles away from her family. Recently, she has been sentenced to an additional three years of imprisonment for her association with protesters through the publication of a statement.

She is one of the oldest female political prisoners in Iran and a survivor of a family marked by tragedy. Since childhood, she witnessed the imprisonment, torture, and execution of her family members. Her sister and three brothers either faced death sentences, were killed under torture, or were executed. She also witnessed the imprisonment and untimely death of her mother, enduring various pressures and restrictions throughout the years, including being deprived of even a single day of leave.

Some of us, the signatories of this letter, have been alongside her for years or months, witnessing only a small fraction of the suffering and oppression that Maryam and her family have endured for decades. Maryam is a mother of three who has been deprived of living with her children for many years, yet despite all this, she remains steadfast, refusing to succumb to the routine and erosion of prison life.

With her unique smile and enthusiasm, coupled with her unwavering courage and unyielding determination in the fight, as well as her unparalleled eagerness and thirst for life, learning, and education, she has become a symbol of resilience and steadfastness. She is a woman of strength and inspiration for us in our perseverance and continued struggle.

The unjust arrest and sentencing of Maryam Akbari-Monfared to 15 years of imprisonment, the denial of her right to leave prison and freedom, her exile to Semnan Prison, and now her renewed sentencing to three years of imprisonment are further evidence of the arbitrary injustice against the family of Maryam Akbari-Monfared, against women in Iran, and against the suppression of people’s demands, including demands for justice.

We, her former cellmates, irrespective of our beliefs and convictions, remember the prison spring with Maryam and her enthusiasm for Nowruz. But another Nowruz has passed, and she is still in prison. We recall her understanding of freedom and her right to enjoy it; we remember the injustice inflicted upon the women of this country and the pioneers of the struggle and resistance against it.

We, former cellmates, and the women activists who are signatories of this letter, demand the unconditional release of Maryam Akbari-Monfared and all political and ideological prisoners.”