#Human Rights
Ahmed Shaheed, UN, UNHCHR, State Department, EU, Navi Pillay, Ban Ki-Moon, European Parliament

Fatemeh Rahnama, now age 50, was arrested on 29 July 2009. Branch 26 of Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced her to ten years in prison in exile on the charge of “relations with the Mujahedin-e Khalgh Organization” (MKO). On 6 October 2010, Rahnama was transferred from Evin Prison to Sepidar Prison in Ahvaz in order to begin her exile sentence.

Rahnama was also arrested during the 1980′s at the age of 19, and sentenced to 3.5 years in prison on the charge of supporting the MEK. She suffers from cancer. Her continued presence in prison despite her illness and unanswered questions about her case review and trial process remain points of criticism by human rights activists.

In a session of parliament, Elias Naderan, a conservative member of parliament and supporter of the Ahmadinejad regime referred to Fatemeh Rahnama as the “mistress” of Shapour Kazemi, who is the brother of Zahra Rahnavard. Zahra Rahnavard, wife of Mir Hossein Mousavi has been under house arrest along with her husband for over a year.

The allegation that Fatemeh Rahnama was the “mistress” of Shapour Kazemi was not only made by state run media, but it was published by the Islamic Revolution Documents Center. In their documents they made the written allegation that “on June 16, 2009, Mr. Shapour Kazemi, who has dual citizenship with the United Sates of America and is brother of Mrs. Zahra Kazemi, known as Rahnavard, wife of Mr. Mir Hossein Mousavi, was arrested along with his mistress Ms. Fatemeh Rahnama as they were creating disturbances in Vanak Square and burning motorcycles.”

Zahra Rahnama, sister of this prisoner has a different version of events.

“Mr. Shapour Kazemi and my sister were detained on the same day. After a few months behind bars, Mr Kazemi was exonerated and released, but my sister is still in prison. The state run media were very vulgar in their coverage of this news, and accused my sister of dishonorable actions. They claimed that my sister was detained while she was burning 7 motorcycles. But my sister’s neighbors are even witnesses to the fact that security agents went to her home at night and detained her. If Mr. Kazemi wanted to damage this regime, he had much better ways to do so than burning several motorcycles. What is interesting however is that Mr. Kazemi was exonerated of all charges while my sister has been held behind bars for the past 3 years. This is always how it is; the poor and innocent are targeted and sacrificed. My sister is a victim.”

In March 2012, Fatemeh is set to spend her third Norouz in prison without having been granted furlough. Her sister continues:

“My sister’s situation is the same as it has been and nothing has changed. My sister is being held in Sepidar Prison in Ahvaz. We recently made another official request for her release, and we asked for an answer to my sister’s written letter. But unfortunately so far they have refused to grant her freedom. When we asked the authorities why they are keeping my sister behind bars, they said it was because of her crimes. What those crimes are, we still do not comprehend but anyway they have refused to free her...

“So far [3.5 years] she has not been granted any furlough. Recently there was an announcement with the names of prisoners in Sepidar prison in Ahvaz who have been granted furlough and my sister’s name was not on that list. They said prisoners who have committed crimes against national security would not be on the list. Not only now during Norouz (Persian New Year), but even months ago when my sick mother ended up in a coma for 6 months before losing her life, my sister was not allowed out to see her mother or attend her funeral.”

She concludes, "This is an injustice that has been committed against my sister; they sentence her to 10 years in prison, they exile a 50 year old woman to a prison that is 1000 kilometers away from where she lives and force her to spend her time behind bars so far away. Her mother dies and they refuse to grant her furlough. There are so many other circumstances that have exasperated us. We are baffled at why things are as they are. It is very troubling that the judiciary in Iran behaves in this manner. I don’t know what else to do, every door we knock on is slammed in our faces. I just don’t understand why we are being so challenged considering my sister has no affiliations, she has not done anything nor committed any crime. In my sister’s court dossier, there is no evidence of any crime. For her to be imprisoned due to other issues is a very dismal reflection on the judiciary in Iran.”

Whereas, the case against Fatemeh Rahnama was riddled with irregularities and a complete failure to prove any actual crime;

And Whereas she has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and has furthermore been unjustly denied furlough and even more cruelly prevented from attending her mother's funeral;

Whereas, in light of the above, Fatemeh Rahnama must be recognized as a political prisoner and a victim of malicious and vindictive persecution at the hands of the Intelligence Ministry and Justice Ministry of the Islamic Republic of Iran;

Therefore, we the undersigned demand that the international community bring ALL possible pressure to bear upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to secure the immediate and conditional release of Fatemeh Rahnama, as well as the overturning or her sentence and the dismissal of all charges brought against her in this politically-motivated case.

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The Free Iranian Political Prisoner Fatemeh Rahnama petition to Ahmed Shaheed, UN, UNHCHR, State Department, EU, Navi Pillay, Ban Ki-Moon, European Parliament was written by John S. Burke and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.