Pro-Rouhani Political Prisoner Urged Iranians to Vote in 2016 Elections
“Now President Rouhani should carry out his promise of two years ago to free political prisoners.”
The mother of a young man believed to be the first political prisoner of the government of President Hassan Rouhani is calling for the release of all political prisoners, after her son urged support for the president from his prison cell.
“My son Ali and a number of other political prisoners issued a statement encouraging people to vote. He also insisted that his sister and I should vote. My son is a supporter of the government and the reformists. I’ve had no life in these past 13 months,” Shayesteh-ol-Sadat Shahidi, the mother of political prisoner Ali Shariati, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
“We voted. Ali voted for the state because he believes in this state and loves his country,” she said.
“We voted on Friday. Now President Rouhani should carry out his promise of two years ago to free political prisoners,” added Shahidi.
“I call on Rouhani and the Parliament to lay the grounds for the freedom of my son and other political prisoners and end the consternation of their families,” said Shahidi.
Ali Shariati played an active role in Rouhani’s 2013 presidential election campaign.
Candidates favorable to the moderate government of President Hassan Rouhani made major gains in the February 26, 2016 elections for Iran’s Parliament and the Assembly of Experts, the body of clerics charged with advising and choosing the country’s supreme leader.
Iranians are now urging Rouhani to follow through on his presidential campaign promises of improved civil and political rights and freeing political prisoners.
“I go the offices of the judge and the prosecutor almost every day,” Shahidi told the Campaign. “One day the judge’s secretary told me that the verdict had been issued and was sent to be typed. How long does it take to type a verdict? I also asked the judge and he said the ruling would only be sent to my son’s lawyer. But he hasn’t sent anything to the lawyer. He only told him that the verdict would be served to the prisoner. But nothing has been sent to him so far.”
Shahidi added that her son’s Appeals Court hearing occurred a month and a half ago (January 11, 2016) but no ruling has been issued yet.
Ali Shariati’s most recent arrest occurred on February 18, 2015 by the Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Organization, in connection with his postings on social media, including Telegram, that were critical of the government.
He was sentenced to 12 years and nine months in prison for “propaganda against the state,” “acting against national security,” “insulting the president,” and “having a satellite dish at home” following two court sessions (June 20, 2015 and August 31, 2015) presided by Judge Abolqasem Salavati in Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court.
Shariati is being held in Evin Prison’s Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Organization-controlled Ward 8.
He went on hunger strike along with cellmate Majid Azarpey on November 3, 2015 to protest their prosecution. The two prisoners ended their hunger strikes on November 25 when the prosecutor agreed to look into their demands.
“Ali has been in prison for a year without having a final verdict issued against him. When we requested his release on bail, they told us we should wait until the Appeals Court hearing,” Shahidi told the Campaign. “Now after the hearing they say he cannot go on furlough because the court has not ruled on his case.”
Shariati was first arrested on February 14, 2011, and held for one month in solitary confinement in Evin Prison before being released on bond. He was sentenced by Judge Yahta Pirabbasi to two years imprisonment and 74 lashes.
An Appeals Court reduced the sentence to one year in prison and Shariati served one year without receiving lashes.
He was arrested again on June 13, 2014, and released a week later. Since that time he has been frequently summoned to the Intelligence Ministry and interrogated.