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Thursday, October 4, 2018

A tribute to Golrokh Iraee

This article is adapted from my book, "Broken yet beautiful: Rising up from their ashes."  It is originally written by Mehnoush my dear Iranian friend living in Sweden. Golrokh is Mehnoush's hero, a courageous Iranian woman who refuses to be silent even while suffering in prison.

        The theme of our book is that beauty comes from brokenness. Women have suffered immensely for thousands of years and have been broken yet remained strong. From this brokenness has emerged a defiant spirit that has been rejuvenated, rising up from the ashes of suffering to confront the cancer eating away at their dignity and self-worth. One such survivor is a woman that I admire greatly for her courage and determination to not remain silent but to rise up against a dictatorship government. That survivor is Golrokh Iraee.

        Golrokh is a writer and a political activist serving a six-year sentence for charges related to an unpublished story she wrote criticizing the practice of stoning in Iran. Golrokh was arrested on September 6, 2014 along with her husband Arash Sadeghi, who also is a committed political activist.

        After their arrest, authorities violently ransacked the couple’s home without a search warrant. They confiscated personal possessions such as laptops, CDs, and papers. Among the papers was a notebook that Golrokh used as a personal diary. The diary contained a fictional handwritten story in which a female character watches the Stoning of Saraya M, a 2009 Persian-language film depicting the true story of a woman stoned to death for adultery in Iran.

        Golrokh was interrogated about the contents of the diary and her story. During her initial interrogation, she was repeatedly pressured to confess under the threat of execution. She was questioned in a room adjoining the location where her husband was detained and she could hear him being tortured through the walls. Golrokh was placed in solitary confinement for three days and endured twenty days without access to a family lawyer or court proceeding.

        Golrokh was convicted in May 2015. She was charged with “insulting Islamic sanctities” for the diary entry and spreading propaganda against the system for two separate Facebook posts as well as possession of alleged anti-government propaganda in her home. She was convicted in absentia and sentenced to six years in prison. Her husband Arash, on the other hand, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of spreading propaganda against the system for interviews he conducted about human rights issues and prison conditions. In addition to the charges he was also convicted of spreading lies in Cyberspace for Facebook posts about political prisoners and insulting the Supreme leader of the Islamic Republic
        Golrokh continues to speak out publicly to protest the Iranian government from her jail cell. She has written several open letters from prison, including one in which she refused to participate in the May 2017 presidential election, criticizing a staged tour of Evin prison for foreign ambassadors.

        In January 2018, Golrokh faced additional charges for allegedly insulting Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and reciting a political poem. She was subsequently beaten by prison guards and transferred to Shahr-e-Rey prison after she refused to go to court. In February 2018 she began a hunger strike which seriously impacted her health and in April she was transferred to the hospital in critical condition.

        Golrokh is a courageous Iranian woman who is standing up against the dictatorship government that has brought death and destruction to her Persian homeland. She symbolizes the freedom and courage of all Iranian women. She refuses to be silent!

*Update on Arash Sadeghi....

        Arash is suffering from bone cancer and the Iranian authorities are denying him adequate medical care. Please speak out and keep Arash in your thoughts and prayers!