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Happy Birthday, Bahareh Hedayat

Bahareh Hedayat, whose name means "spring" in Persian

Bahareh Hedayat, whose name means "spring" in Persian

Iranian student leader Bahareh Hedayat will celebrate her 30th birthday in jail today. It's also her wedding anniversary.

Hedayat, a senior member of Iran’s largest reformist student group and a women’s rights activist, was arrested in the crackdown that followed the disputed presidential vote in 2009. She was sentenced to 9 1/2 years in prison on security charges. Her sentence is one of the heaviest ever issued for a student activist.

A group of Iranian activists recently launched a campaign calling for Bahareh’s release in an effort to bring attention to her plight.

“In launching the Bahareh Campaign, it is our ardent hope to bring her plight to the attention of student associations, human rights organizations, and international decision makers. It is our belief that Bahareh Hedayat has become a prisoner because of her outspoken and fearless objections to the human rights conditions in Iran. As such we call for her immediate release.”

Campaign members have distributed a petition calling for her release and have also launched a Facebook page that has attracted almost 4,000 supporters so far. The page includes messages of support, videos, and photos posted by supporters.

Here is a video from an Amnesty International meeting in Dublin where activists sing "Happy Birthday" to Bahareh:

Some of Bahareh’s friends and colleagues have written articles about her and her achievements that have been posted on news websites.

Washington-based rights activist Parvaneh Vahidmanesh, who helped launch the campaign, acknowledged to "Persian Letters" that the campaign might not have a direct impact on Hedayat's situation in jail. Nevertheless, she said it gives hope to her family and friends and shows that she has not been forgotten.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.