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'No New Year Leave' For Iranian Political Prisoners

Iranian Lawyer Shadi Sadr says she knows what it's like to spend the holiday in jail.
Iranian Lawyer Shadi Sadr says she knows what it's like to spend the holiday in jail.
Iranian political prisoners will not be allowed the customary temporary leave to celebrate the upcoming new year, under a directive by the head of the judiciary, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Last year, many political prisoners including renowned political figures were granted temporary leave -- after posting bail of between 5 billion and 10 billion rials ($480,000-$960,000) -- for the Norouz celebrations.

But this year, several political prisoners who have been charged with "acting against national security" will not be allowed to spend Norouz, which falls on March 21, with their families.

That follows a resolution approved by judiciary head Ayotallah Sadegh Larijani.

In recent years, several political prisoners and their families have written to the authorities, protesting that prisoners' basic rights are being neglected.

Shadi Sadr, an Iranian lawyer and women's rights activist who now lives in exile in the United Kingdom, told RFE/RL the new restriction comes as several political prisoners in Iran have been denied a meeting with their families for several months.

"They are only allowed weekly meetings with their lawyer, and similarly several other basic rights including hygienic, cultural, and medical facilities have been ignored by the authorities on numerous occasions," she said.

"Among the basic rights of a political prisoner is the right to have meetings with their families every week. This may not be ignored unless suggested by the security council, who may not deny the prisoner more than three consecutive weekly meetings," she added.

Sadr herself experienced a new year in prison after she was detained at a women's protest in 2007.

"The prison was really deserted in the holidays; not even the interrogators were present, and I experienced how painful it is to be denied the permission to spend New Year's Eve with one's family instead of spending it in a prison," she said.

"The environment in these days puts an extra pressure on the prisoners because of their helplessness over not spending the New Year's Eve with their families," she added.