Twitter Campaign to Free Narges Mohammadi Draws More than 100,000 Iranians
Hashtag #FreeNarges Skyrockets in Iran despite Official Ban on Twitter
More than 100,000 Iranians took part in a Twitter campaign in solidarity with the imprisoned human rights defender Narges Mohammadi on July 11, 2016 to mark the fifteenth day of her hunger strike, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has learned. Three hours after the hashtag campaign #FreeNarges was launched it became the fifth highest trending topic on Twitter.
Using advanced keyword tracking tool, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has also learned that nearly 60 percent of the participants in the #FreeNarges campaign were located inside Iran—close to 55 percent of whom were women—even though Twitter is officially banned in the Islamic Republic. Iranians access the popular social media network through the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) and circumvention tools.
Three human rights-focused organizations played a major role in promoting the #FreeNarges campaign: Reporters Without Frontiers, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, and Amnesty International. A number of Iranian celebrities also joined the campaign, including actresses Mahnaz Afshar and Taraneh Alidoosti.
“My daughter says ‘Marges’ instead of ‘Narges.’ Every week her voice changes and becomes more beautiful,” tweeted actress Taraneh Alidousti. “If I were unable to hear her voice every day, I would die.”
دختر من به ”نرگس” میگه ”مَرگس”. صداش هر هفته عوض میشه و حرف زدنش قشنگتر.اگه نمیتونستم هر روز به حرفهاش گوش بدم، میمردم.#FreeNarges
— Taraneh Alidoosti (@t_alidoosti) July 11, 2016
“Only a mother understands…” tweeted actress Mahnaz Afshar
فقط یک مادر میفهمد …#FreeNarges
— Mahnaz Afshar (@AfsharMahnaz) July 11, 2016
Mohammadi, who was sentenced to serve 10 years of a 16-year prison sentence in May 2016 for her peaceful human rights activism, has been on hunger strike in Evin Prison since June 27, 2016 in a desperate bid to gain permission to speak to her two young children, who live in Paris, on the phone. She has heard their voice only once since her arrest in May 2015.
The prominent human rights activist was convicted on charges of “membership in the [now banned] Step by Step to Stop the Death Penalty” organization, “assembly and collusion against national security” and “propaganda against the state.”
Iran’s judiciary recently attempted to pressure Mohammadi to end her hunger strike after her ordeal drew international attention.
The #FreeNarges campaign marks the second time this year that the plight of political prisoners has become a trending topic on Twitter. The last time occurred in May 2016 in support of the imprisoned physicist Omid Kokabee, who was diagnosed with cancer a month earlier after years of being denied adequate medical care.