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Statement by the American Pen Association in protest of Arash Ganji’s conviction

Rissmaan – Friday, October 29, 2021; The American Pen Association issued a statement condemning the summoning of Arash Ganji, translator, and secretary of the board of directors of the Writers’ Association of Iran, to serve an 11-year prison sentence and calling for his prison sentence to be overturned. The full text of this statement is as follows; “Summoning Arash Ganji to serve his prison sentence is the latest attack by the Iranian government on freedom of expression The American Pen Association announced today that Arash Ganji, an Iranian writer, and translator, has been summoned to prison for 11 years; An example of this is the translation of a book about the Kurdish uprising in northern Syria, which was approved by the Court of Appeals in February 2021. This is the latest case of persistent violations of freedom of expression and human rights in Iran. “Arash Ganji was summoned on the basis of an unjust sentence that is a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression and the exchange of ideas and information,” said Karin Deutsch Karlkar, director of the American Pen Association’s “Endangered Freedom of Expression” program. From the very beginning of Ganji’s interrogation, the Iranian government violated his rights with the baseless claim that the translation of the above book was a threat to the country’s security. Ganji’s disproportionately harsh sentence and imminent imprisonment are part of a broader program of government persecution of writers in Iran, and this continued repression of the literary community is the latest example of the Iranian government’s blatant outspokenness on the issue of justice. In addition, Ganji is in a critical condition that is likely to escalate dangerously in prison. “We strongly condemn the Iranian government’s decision to detain Ganji and call for the repeal of this ridiculous sentence, which turns the translation of the book into a criminal act.” Ganji, a current member of the board of directors and former secretary of the Writers’ Association of Iran, was first interviewed in December 2019 for the translation of the book “The Small Key to the Big Gate: The Rojava Revolution”, which was published in Iran in 2017. Ministry of Intelligence agents was arrested. This book is a collection of articles by various authors about the Syrian Kurds in the country’s civil war. After his arrest, he was transferred to solitary confinement in Evin Prison in Tehran, where he was interrogated. During his detention in this cell, he was denied access to his family and a lawyer. Ganji’s sentence, upheld by an appeals court in February 2021, is 11 years in prison, five years on charges of “conspiracy to act against national security,” five years on charges of “membership and cooperation with an opposition group.” The regime “and one year on charges of” propaganda against the regime. ” According to the usual judicial procedure in Iran, he has to serve the maximum sentence of these three sentences, which is five years. According to a statement from the Writers’ Association of Iran and other sources, Ganji was summoned on October 16, 2021, to serve his sentence. He needs medical attention due to a heart condition and severe vision problems, and this problem may be dangerously exacerbated by poor prison conditions and the constant threat of the Covid 19 epidemic, as solitary confinement and previous interrogations have reportedly been unhealthy. In recent years, the situation of freedom of expression and adherence to human rights in Iran has deteriorated further following the continued repression of writers through measures such as prosecution, harassment, and even planned killings to stifle critical voices. According to the American Pen Association for Freedom of Writing Index 2020, Iran ranks fourth in the world in the number of imprisoned writers and intellectuals. Ganji is one of the secretaries of the Writers’ Association of Iran. Some of them, including prominent writers and winners of the American Pen Association Award for Freedom to Write, Baktash Abtin, Keyvan Bajan, and Reza Khandan (Mahabadi) for defending free speech, strengthening writers’ solidarity, and opposing censorship. They are currently serving a total of 15 years and six months in prison on false charges of “acting against national security” and “propaganda against the regime.”    more than a year of which has been spent behind bars. The Iranian government also last month summoned Narges Mohammadi, a journalist and anti-death activist who was released from prison last year, on new baseless charges. The American Pen Association also demands the complete acquittal and release of Nasrin Sotoudeh, who is currently serving a long sentence on trumped-up charges in an Iranian prison. American Pen Association October 19, 2021



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