Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, a young Iranian activist and writer was arrested on October 24th after the Islamic authorities violently raided her home and broke her front door.

According to Amnesty International and other news sources she has been transferred to the notorious Evin Prison to serve a six (6) year prison sentence on charges of “insulting Islamic sanctities.” Ms. Ebrahimi-Iraee’s husband Arash Sadeghi, a human rights activist and a political prisoner has started a hunger strike to protest her arrest.

Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee is one many female Iranian activists and writers how have been arrested recently on trumped up charges, subjected to unfair trials behind closed doors with no due process and imprisoned.

Canada must condemn Islamic Regime’s systematic arrest of peaceful political activists and writers and condemn these brutal human rights violations. It’s crucial for Canada not to turn a blind eye to the Islamic Regime’s brutality and arrest of innocent young people who carry out their activism in a peaceful matter, especially while considering renewing diplomatic relations with this Islamic dictatorship, and re-opening their embassy in Ottawa.

See Below Amnesty International Report on Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee

The Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release writer and human rights activist Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, following her arrest today, Amnesty International urged.

Despite the fact that no official summons has been issued, Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee’s home was raided this morning by officials, who violently broke through her front door before taking her to Evin Prison in Tehran. It appears that she has been taken to the women’s ward to begin serving her six-year sentence. She has been convicted of charges including “insulting Islamic sanctities,” for writing an unpublished story about the horrific practice of stoning in Iran. Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee’s husband, Arash Sadeghi, a human rights activist and prisoner of conscience, has since started a hunger strike in protest at her imprisonment.

“Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee is the latest young writer and activist to be caught up in Iran’s relentless crackdown on artistic expression. Her imprisonment for peacefully voicing her opposition to stoning is a terrible injustice and an outrageous assault on freedom of expression. It is also a shocking and deeply disturbing display of support for the cruel and inhuman punishment of stoning,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

“The Iranian authorities must break this cycle of injustice and immediately and unconditionally release Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee. We also urge them to ensure that her conviction is quashed.”

The unpublished fictional story, for which Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee has been convicted of “insulting Islamic sanctities”, describes the emotional reaction of a young woman who watches the film The Stoning of Soraya M - which tells the true story of a young woman stoned to death for adultery - and becomes so enraged that she burns a copy of the Qur’an.

The story was discovered by authorities when Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee was arrested together with her husband, Arash Sadeghi, who is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence in Evin Prison on charges including “spreading propaganda against the system”, “gathering and colluding against national security” and “insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic”, which stem from his peaceful human rights activities.

On 6 September 2014 both were arrested at Arash Sadeghi’s workplace in Tehran by men believed to be Revolutionary Guards. The men showed no arrest warrant, but took the couple back to their home, where they proceeded to search through their possessions and found the story which Golrokh Ebrahimi had written.

Arash Sadeghi was subsequently moved to Evin prison while Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee was transferred to a secret location. She was detained there for one night before also being transferred to Evin prison, where she was held for 20 days without access to her family, a lawyer or a court. Her first three days were spent in solitary confinement.

During her detention, Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee was subjected to extended interrogations, where she was blindfolded and warned she could face execution for “insulting Islam”. In the next cell she could hear her husband being threatened and verbally abused by his interrogators. Arash Sadeghi has since stated that he was punched in the head, kicked, slapped and choked while in custody.

Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee was tried and sentenced to six years imprisonment in two brief sessions by a Revolutionary Court in Tehran. She had no legal representation at the trial. The first lawyer she appointed was put under pressure by intelligence and security officials to withdraw from the case, and the second was barred from reading her court case and representing her. She was not given the chance to speak in her own defence, because the first session was focused on her husband’s activism. At the second session she was in hospital recovering from major surgery and could not be present; she provided the court with her medical records, but her request to adjourn the hearing was rejected.

Earlier this month Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee received a phone call from the Centre for the Implementation of Sentences ordering her to present herself to Evin Prison to begin serving her six-year prison sentence, and threatening that if she did not she would be picked up on the street or her house would be raided. However, she was never served with a formal summons.

“Golrokh Ebrahimi is being punished for the peaceful exercise of her human rights. But the crime at the root of this case is Iran’s ongoing retention of the horrific practice of stoning, which amounts to torture. Instead of doggedly intimidating and imprisoning critical voices, the authorities should abolish this cruel punishment once and for all,” said Magdalena Mughrabi.

“Unraveled: Obamacare, Religious Liberty, and Executive Power” is a comprehensive book on Obamacare with in-depth discussions about the issues that led some groups to support it while others vehemently opposed it.

The book is expertly divided into eight (8) sections making it easy to follow and comprehend. Given the limited knowledge I had about Obamacare prior to reading Josh Blackman’s book I found section I-IV most useful for my purposes, as these sections gave an excellent overview of both legal and political issues related to Obamacare.

The first section “The Promise of Obamacare” discusses the birth of the bill and the legal issues that plagued it almost immediately. Part II “Conscience and Contraception” is probably one of the most interesting chapters with a focus on the controversial issues of abortion, contraception and the initial rejection of Obamacare by pro-life democrats.

Part III “shutdowns discusses Obama’s difficulty with the implementation of Obamacare and the problems surround the HealthCare.gov. website, while Part IV focuses on the time period between October 1st 2013 and December 30ths 2013 with a deeper look at the technical difficulties surrounding HealthCare.gov including the fact that only six (6) people were able to register on the first day that the website was launched.

As a criminal defence lawyer and a human rights advocate for me the most fascinating aspect of “Unraveled” was the deliberation surrounding the freedom of religion debate including the case law that was reviewed in detail and helped shed light on the issue as a whole.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Obamacare, even those with very limited knowledge, as Josh Blackman has managed to write a book that is both detailed, comprehensive and at the same time easy to follow and understand.

I was provided with a copy of this book for the purpose of review.

“One Cowrie Shell” is a tale of growing up, love, loyalty and betrayal. It’s the story of a young African tribesman Jaiye, whose love for Kambi causes him to betray his tribe and make terrible decisions that have serious consequences for himself and those around him.

While the story is historic with a focus on slavery some of the themes in the book are just as relevant today as they were during the time of slavery. In “One Cowrie Shell” two African tribes the Youruba and Dahomey are constantly battling each other, capturing prisoners and selling the prisoners to slave traders in return for cowrie shell’s and tools. While both tribes keep on fighting neither one has any idea when and why the fighting started and why it continues.

Unfortunately this theme is still very much relevant in today’s world where we see sects within countries destroying each other without gaining anything from the destruction, and various countries especially in the Middle East and Africa waging war against each other while those who are responsible for creating and selling weaponry benefit and profit from the destruction.

While I really enjoyed the story and the different themes in this book I found the writing itself can be improved, as there was a lot of repetition throughout the entire book. The constant repetition gave the book a simplistic style making it more appropriate for a younger audience. I would love to see a more polished and well edited version of this book, as the story itself is captivating and well worth the read.

I was provided with a review copy of this book for review purposes.

I recently had the pleasure of writing an op-ed on Women's Human Rights and Pro-Democracy movement in Iran for the "American Military News" Please see the op-ed below with the original link on the American Military Website.

“Female Chess Players threaten boycott after being told to wear hijab at the World Championship in Iran.”, “Iranian women defy Supreme Leader’s Fatwa against bicycling.” These are the news stories we have become accustomed to reading about women in Iran, the attempts by the Islamic Regime to repress women’s rights, and the fight of brave Iranian women against the Islamic tyranny in Iran.

Living in secular democracies may sometimes cause us to take for granted some of our most basic rights including the right to choose one’s own clothing, the right to choose what subjects to study, the right to choose a career path, the right to choose when and where to travel and the right to choose our partners and the type of relationship we would like to have.

Unfortunately in many Islamic countries, including Iran, women don’t have any of these basic rights that we enjoy in secular and democratic countries.

As young women grow up in Iran they are told that they have to cover themselves and wear the “Islamic Hejab” which is prescribed by law. From the very beginning this very basic right to choose what to wear is taken away from young women and lack of compliance often leads to arrests, imprisonment, and flogging.

Young women are not allowed to wear makeup or nail polish. They are not allowed to travel without the permission of their male guardian. Women are not allowed to enter relationships outside of marriage. Any relationship outside of marriage will lead to arrests, lashing, and even stoning. The barbaric act of stoning is still carried out by the Islamic Regime in Iran. Same sex relationships are also outlawed and a woman that chooses to enter into a same sex relationship can be flogged or even stoned.

In November of 2012 the Islamic Regime passed a new law banning women from entering 77 different degree programs from English Literature to Biology to mining engineering. This was part of Islamic Regime’s efforts to push women back in to the home instead of allowing women to be productive members of society. Fortunately this plan was not successful, Iranian women continue to attend university in large numbers and work outside of the home regularly.

Family Law in Iran is also stacked against women due to the oppressive nature of Sharia Law. Under Sharia law men can legally have up to four (4) permanent, and many temporary, wives and men are generally awarded the custody of their children after divorce. In 2013 the Islamic Regime approved a new law which allows men to marry their step children who are 13 years or older, essentially legalizing pedophilia.

While things might appear bleak for women in Iran, there is a bright light: the strength and determination of Iranian women to tirelessly fight for their rights. While women face systematic and widespread persecution by the Islamic Regime, they still manage to be in the forefront of the pro-democracy and human rights movements in Iran. In 2015 as part of the “Stealthy Freedom Movement” Iranian women took to social media to post pictures of themselves without the mandatory hejab, creating a major uproar not only within social media but internationally.

Most recently after the Fatwa of Ali Khamenei banning Iranian women from riding bikes, women took to social media once again posting pictures of themselves writing their bikes, clearly and openly defying this oppressive fatwa.

One of the things that has been significantly lacking in the past 35 years is the lack of support from women in democratic countries for women in Iran, however that seems to be changing significantly as women worldwide start to realize that violations of the rights of women in one country can affect the rights of women worldwide.

The most recent example of this is female chess players being told they must compete at next year’s world championship (which is being hosted in Iran) wearing the hijab. World’s top female chess players have reacted with horror to being forced to wear the mandatory hijab and have threatened to boycott the tournament. With strong international pressure from women worldwide I am hopeful that the Islamic Regime will be forced to take a step back, and every step back for the Islamic Regime is a step forward for the Iranian Women and the women’s rights movement in Iran!

Sayeh Hassan is an Iranian Pro-Democracy activist. She is the author of the shiro-khorshid-forever blog (www.shiro-khorshid-forever.blogspot.com) which focuses on the pro-democracy movement and Regime Change in Iran.She regularly speaks at conferences, has appeared on television and radio programs and her writing has been published by publications such as National Post, Toronto Star & Ottawa Citizen. She can be contacted atsayehhassan30@gmail.com

;;