Iran: Free Atena Daemi, Jailed for Opposing the Death Penalty
By Kaitlyn O’Shaughnessy, Women’s Human Rights Thematic Specialist
After a fifteen minute trial, Iranian authorities convicted activist Atena Daemi of “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security” in addition to other trumped-up charges. They sentenced her to seven years in prison. The evidence? Atena wrote facebook and twitter posts, handed out leaflets, and participated in peaceful demonstrations against the death penalty in Iran.
Now, Amnesty International USA is asking for your help writing letters to the Iranian authorities demanding Atena’s release.
Authorities arrested and blindfolded Atena outside her home, then transferred her to a prison where they held her in a bug-infested cell for 28 days without access to a toilet. During her detention, authorities secretly and unlawfully transferred Atena to a notorious prison, Shahr-e Rey prison (also known as Gharchak). This is a disused chicken farm that holds several hundred women convicted of violent offences in overcrowded and unhygienic conditions, without access to safe drinkable water, decent food, medicine and fresh air. Reports from the facility indicate high levels of assault towards inmates both by other inmates and prison staff, as well as rampant drug use and infectious diseases.
In May 2017, after conducting a hunger strike, Atena suffered a health crisis which resulted in her coughing up blood, vomiting, and experiencing severe kidney pain. She also required treatment for a gum condition. Amnesty International called on Iranian authorities to provide Atena with the necessary health care, but they refused to transfer Atena to hospital. Atena remains imprisoned in Iran.
Ever the fighter, and human rights activist, Atena, says:
These arrests, detentions, threats and intimidations are the sacrifices we need to make to gain our freedom and rights… we should never stop resisting or standing up against oppression. No victory comes easily, and no injustice lasts forever. — Atena Daemi
This is the last installment in a series of blogs written as Amnesty International USA’s contribution to the annual global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign. Each year the campaign extends from November 25 (International Day Against Violence Against Women) through December 10 (International Human Rights Day).