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Disparate Outcomes for Iranian Political Prisoners

The two have fled across the border to Iraq, with the intention of ultimately emigrating to Sweden. In so doing, they will join the large population of ethnic Iranians living in exile across the globe as a result of their having been targeted as threats to the regime and more specifically to its dominance over the country’s culture and ideology.

Of course, the prospects for such relocation have not prevented Iran from accruing a substantial population of political prisoners as well, especially in light of the judiciary’s tendency to ban activists and dissidents from traveling abroad. The incentives to defy such bans are particularly strong in the face of harsh sentences like those facing Ekhtesari and Mousavi, but may be comparatively less compelling for political prisoners like Reyhaneh Tabatabaei, although the reasons for their arrests are no less arbitrary.

Tabatabaei voluntarily responded to a summons from the Iranian judiciary in order to begin her one year sentence for “spreading propaganda against the regime” through her activities as a journalist, according to another report. In addition to serving jail time, she is banned from writing for any newspaper or website and from joining political parties, for a period of two years.

One might say that compared to Ekhtesari and Mousavi, Tabatabaei is fortunate to have received a sentence of only one year. But one might also argue that all were fortunate simply to know the official parameters of their detention. 

Other reports published this week details the 48-hour detention of poet Hila Sedighi following her return from a trip to the United Arab Emirates. She claims that during that time she was watched as if she was a murderer, and was held in an overcrowded jail with violent offenders. Yet the persons who arrested her seemed to have no knowledge of the specific charges against her.

The same political prisoners are frequently re-arrested or returned to prison in Iran, and the aforementioned individuals are examples of this.


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