Seven Iranians Jailed After the 2009 Protests Who Are Still in Jail
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As the protests spread across the Middle East, it's worth remembering the failed 2009 uprising in Iran. These opposition leaders are still in jail:
Zia Nabavi, a bright college student who co-founded the Committee to Defend the Right to Education (dedicated to restoring the rights of students who were prevented from finishing college because of their politics), was arrested immediately after the election protests in June of 2009. He was quickly convicted of conspiring against the government and landed a prison sentence of no less than 10 years.
Mohammad Ali Abtahi is a scholar, a pro-democracy activist, a former guest of The Daily Show, and a former vice president of Iran. He had substantial internet presence, running a blog about Iranian politics expressing views critical of the current regime. After the 2009 post-election protests, he was arrested and likely tortured to produce a video confession denouncing his views and the views of his fellow reformists. After a show trial, he was found guilty of conspiring against the government and sentenced to six years in prison, where he remains today.
Jila Baniyaghoub, is a champion of women’s rights and an award-winning journalist. In the wake of the 2009 election protests, Iranian police entered their home and arrested Baniyaghoub and her husband Bahman Ahmadi Amoui. She was charged with conspiring against the government and spreading propaganda through her journalism. After two months of detention, she was released, while her husband was convicted and began serving a five year sentence. Not long after though, a revolutionary court sentenced her to a year in prison and banned her from journalism for the next 30 years.
Mir Hossein Mousavi was the 79th (and last) Prime Minister of Iran (1981–89), the president of the Iranian Academy of Arts (until he was stripped of his position in 2009), and most notably the opposition presidential candidate who lost to incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 2009 elections (widely believed to have been fixed). In the protests that ensued after Ahmadinejad’s reelection, he was arrested and thrown in prison, then later placed under house arrest, where he remains to this day. After the pro-democracy protests in Iran this week, led by the disciples of his Green Movement, the pro-establishment Iranian Parliment literally chanted for him to be executed.
Behzad Nabavi is a prominent leftist politician who founded the reformist Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization. In the wake of the 2009 protests, he was arrested by plain clothes police officers and charged with conspiracy against the government. He was sentenced to six years in prison, and save for a 10-day release on bail (to the tune of $800,000), he remains there today.
Majid Tavakoli is a 24 year-old former student of Amirkabir University, who, after publicly criticizing the government following the 2009 election, was arrested and sentenced to eight years in prison. In May of 2010 he went on a hunger strike in protest that proved nearly fatal, resulting in permanent health problems. He remains in prison today, kept in solitary confinement.
Mahdieh Golroo was a student and member of the Committee to Defend the Right to Education and a vocal critic of the government. Not unsurprisingly, she was arrested and quickly convicted of spreading anti-government progaganda. She will be in prison until 2013.