To highlight International Human Rights Day in December, the United States government launched the #FreeToBeHome campaign highlighting the stories of families and their loved ones who face politically motivated imprisonment for their beliefs and speech.
This campaign, sponsored by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, is profiling through the holiday season the cases of 10 prisoners unjustly held around the world and the families they leave behind.
Political prisoners do not serve their sentences alone. Their absence is felt profoundly by family and friends, who too must serve out these punishments. They are sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and entire communities.
The stories of these individuals highlight the broader struggle faced by so many families of political prisoners.
Narges Mohammadi is one of the prisoners featured in the campaign. Ms. Mohammadi is a lawyer, human rights defender, and mother of two young children. She is currently serving a sixteen-year prison sentence for her peaceful activism, including her opposition to the death penalty.
Ms. Mohammadi was previously a spokesman for Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi’s now banned Center for Human Rights Defenders; she was an advocate for women’s rights and for religious and ethnic minorities and political prisoners. When an appeals court in September upheld her outrageous 16- year sentence, international rights monitors denounced it: Human Rights Watch said the verdict was another example in Iran “of the judiciary crushing dissent;” Amnesty International called it “yet another cruel and devastating blow to human rights in Iran, which demonstrates the authorities’ utter contempt for justice.”
Narges Mohammadi is currently being held in notorious Evin prison. She has a history of seizures and loss of vision and requires specialized medical care which has been denied her by the authorities.
Her two young twin children have been awaiting her return. Her husband Taghi Rahmani has noted that every time Narges Mohammadi returned home, “She filled the house with glowing and radiant cheerfulness … Everyone in the family now misses this light and warmth in their lives.”
The United States calls on the Government of Iran to release Narges Mohammadi immediately and reunite her with her family. Like all political prisoners around the world, Narges Mohammadi, as Ambassador Power said, “should be free to believe…should be free to be loved…should be free to be home.”