Iranian activists have issued a statement urging the government to release political prisoners for Norooz, the Iranian New Year.
Zamaneh reports that 440 Iranian civic and political activists of various stripes have signed a statement demanding that the government allow political prisoners to spend the New Year with their families.
Iranians celebrate the New Year on the first day of spring in March.
Some of the signatories to the statement are the clients of lawyers who have been imprisoned for their political views, and as the statement indicates, “the reward of human rights defenders has unfortunately been heavier sentences and greater limitations.”
The statement condemns the harsh sentences handed to Nasrin Sotoudeh, Nargess Mohammadi and Abdolfattah Soltani, members of the Human Rights Defenders Centre, and it denounces the arrest of journalists, political activists and all prisoners of conscience.
In the past year, members of the Human Rights Defenders Centre of Iran, an NGO offering pro bono legal services to resolve human rights cases, have received harsh prison sentences and been barred from continuing their activism.
According to custom, political prisoners are often given a furlough during Norooz to spend the New Year with their families. In recent years, the Islamic Republic has been less willing to observe this custom, and many political prisoners are even denied visits from their families.