Below, the Alliance of Middle Eastern Socialists is providing short biographies of several of the most well-known feminist political prisoners, in order to heighten awareness of the important role of women in the current protest movement in Iran and to promote solidarity with Iranian feminist struggles, and the protest movement as a whole.

June 17, 2018

A wave of  protests and strikes have been spreading throughout Iran in opposition to the Islamic Republic since December  2017.  Participants include broad sectors of the Iranian working class,  women and men, mostly young.  Their protests have been preceded by and continue to involve protests and strikes by employed and unemployed workers,  students, teachers, healthcare workers, retirees, those who have lost their savings in failed financial institution,  political prisoners, and the families of political prisoners.   They include members of various oppressed national minorities such as Arabs, Kurds, Lurs and Azaris as well as persecuted religious minorities such as Baha’is  and Sufis.

Many courageous  women who took off their headscarves in public to  protest the compulsory hijab,  were beaten, arrested and temporarily released after posting heavy bails.   Among them, several are well-known cases such as Vida Movahed,  Narges Hosseini,  Maryam Shariatmadari, Shaprak Shajarizad.   They were charged with  “inciting corruption and promoting prostitution” and face  prison sentences.

These women have come to be known as “Girls of Revolution Avenue.”  They believe that wearing the hijab should be a matter of individual choice not imposed from above.  The Iranian regime’s own polls admit that a majority of the Iranian public agrees with them.

Over a hundred women and men attempted to come together to protest in front of the Ministry of Labor in Tehran on March 8, International Women’s Day, following a call by some women’s rights activists demanding an end to gender discrimination in the work place, family and society as a whole, and an end to the compulsory hijab.  Before they could even gather, they were attacked and beaten.  At least 84 people (59 women and 25 men) were arrested by the police.  Although most have been released on bail, they face court trials.

Nasrin Sotudeh,  a feminist,  leading human rights attorney and defender of many of the Girls of Revolution Avenue was arrested at her home on June 13, imprisoned,  and now faces  a five-year prison sentence.  Sotudeh’s husband, Reza Khandan, a writer and political activist was also arrested on June 16.   (see next page for further details on Nasrin Sotudeh).

Leila Hosseinzadeh,  an anthropology student,  labor and women’s rights activist,  who was  arrested after the December protests, along with other student activists,  faces a six-year prison sentence.  She and other student activists who also helped organize protests at Tehran University and  face prison sentences, have been charged with  “endangering national security.”

Below, the Alliance of Middle Eastern Socialists is providing short biographies of several of the most well-known feminist political prisoners, in order to heighten awareness of the important role of women in the current protest movement in Iran and to promote solidarity with Iranian feminist struggles, and the protest movement as a whole.

Narges Mohammadi, B.A. in applied physics,  is a  journalist, women’s rights and human rights activist,  and  deputy director  of  the Center for the Defenders of Human Rights in Iran, founded by Nobel Peace Laureate, Shirin Ebadi.  In 2009, after  mass protests to oppose the fraudulent election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, she was arrested on charges of  “assembly and collusion against national security,” and sentenced to 11 years in prison. By 2013,  after developing severe health problems, she was released after posting bail.  In 2015, she was rearrested on charges of sedition and for starting a campaign against the death penalty.   Her opposition to the execution of innocent Sunni political prisoners was used by the courts to accuse her of “supporting ISIS.”  In 2016, she received a 16-year prison sentence which she is now serving.  Mohammadi  who has often been barred from seeing or talking to her small children,  suffers from severe  health problems but continues to speak out.   In Dec. 2016,   after receiving the Weimar Human Rights Award, she wrote in her letter of appreciation from prison:  “as a woman who is suppressed,” I “would rather be a prisoner and away from  family and friends,  than someone who is granted formal freedom.”  She emphasized that war and sanctions which target ordinary Iranians threaten human rights.

Zeynab Jalalian is a  Kurdish political activist who was arrested and imprisoned in 2008 for her activities with the political wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.  She received a death sentence which was later commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole.  Since her arrest and imprisonment, she has suffered from systematic abuse, torture and solitary confinement for refusing to “confess” to armed actions attributed to her by the state.  She lost her sight due to deliberate lack of treatment by prison authorities and the state.

Nasrin Sotudeh is a prominent human-rights attorney who was arrested and imprisoned on June 13, 2018 and faces a five-year prison term.  Although the reason for her imprisonment has not been revealed by the state,  she has been arrested for taking on the legal cases of the  “Girls of Revolution Avenue”  and for opposing the Iranian judiciary’s latest decree that prevents political activists and dissidents from choosing their own attorney.   Sotudeh was imprisoned for three years between 2010 and 2013 for defending political activists and feminists from the 2009 Green movement and for defending abused women and children.   She has worked closely with Iranian Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi  and has received various international awards for her courageous work.

Golrokh Iraee, writer who has been in prison since October 2016, is serving a six-year prison sentence for writing an unpublished story against the barbaric practice of stoning.  She and her husband Arash Sadeghi who has been imprisoned since 2014,  have gone on long hunger strikes and have also suffered beatings and terrible conditions.   Iraee has continued to express her views through open letters smuggled from prison.  These letters have scathingly opposed the various factions of the Islamic Republic and have also expressed her solidarity with Kurdish woman political prisoner, Zeinab Jalalian.  In a recent statement, she wrote:  “ The vortex that we are immersed in has been brought about by our own imprudence. The only way to free ourselves from it is to open our eyes and review the history which we have not been determined to read.”

Atena Daemi  is a women’s rights and children’s rights activist who has been imprisoned since May 2015 and serving a seven-year prison sentence since November 2016 for charges such as distributing flyers against the death penalty,   meeting the families of political prisoners, criticizing the Islamic Republic of Iran on Facebook and condemning the 1988 mass executions of political prisoners in Iran.  She recently ended a 55-day hunger strike to protest the lengthening of her sentence, beatings and the terrible conditions under which she was being held.  Recently,  she courageously wrote an open letter to the Kurdish political prisoner, Ramin Hossin Panahi who faces an imminent death sentence and expressed her solidarity with him.

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If you or your organization would like to express your solidarity with the feminists featured in this brochure,  you can write about them on your blog or site,  or contact  the Alliance of Middle Eastern Socialists and ask for a socialist feminist speaker to speak at an event that you wish to sponsor.   The Alliance of Middle Eastern Socialists does not separate its opposition to U.S. imperialism and any other global or regional imperialist and authoritarian power in the Middle East from its support for the progressive and revolutionary  social justice struggles of Iranian women, workers, youth and oppressed minorities against their regime.   We also connect labor, social justice, feminist, anti-racist, and LGBT struggles in the countries where we live to similar causes in the Middle East.  For more information, go to and contact us at [email protected].  Also see:

Socialist feminist statement in solidarity with Iranian women’s struggles

Campaign in Solidarity with Middle Eastern Political Prisoners




Posted by 中文馬克思主義文庫 on Saturday, September 1, 2018