Hossein Ronaghi: Imprisonment is not the answer.

Many of you participated in the Tweet Storm on Monday in support of Hossein Ronaghi Maleki. Thank you very much for that. I am certain it was good for him to see how many take an interest in his case and support him. The memory of this love is hopefully something which will give him strength back in prison.

Here are links to the updated Amnesty Urgent Action and Pen International Action. Here is a link to the Amnesty Urgent Action in German (via Amnesty Deutschland). Please follow the links and write to Iran and ask them to release him and quash the unjust sentence. Please also continue to tweet about him and raise awareness on other social media about him.

He returns to prison today. I am sure many of you are interested in his thoughts before he left to present himself to the prosecutor to be arrested, therefore I reblog his last post on Facebook (in an English translation via Laleh’s blog):

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Oh January 19, 2016 Hossein Ronaghi presented himself at the Tehran Prosecutor’s Office per orders of the IRGC Intelligence Unit to be taken back into custody.
Before leaving he posted on his Facebook page:

I believe that the answer to any opinion is never imprisonment.

This is why I am returning to prison:

My not returning will result in confiscation of the collateral set for my bail, which is morally wrong and unprincipled. Seizing the collateral would be legal only if I was not reachable or my whereabouts were unknown in case of need for arrest. Despite the fact that I provided my address to judicial authorities for my arrest at their will, this did not happen and ultimately I was told per orders of the IRGC Intelligence unit I was to return to prison.

Also as my mother says, “This is our homeland and we are not the ones…

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Tweet Storm for Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki

One of the people I have been supporting for some time is the Iranian blogger Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki. In this post, I give you some information about him and – more important – invite you to join a Tweet Storm for him on Monday, 18 January 2016.

Please join and share the post. We want as many participants as possible. Please read the post and continue to support him even when the Tweet Storm is over.

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1. Who is Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki?

Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki is a 30 year old blogger from Iran. He was arrested in December 2009, because he had protested earlier in 2009 against the results of the Iranian presidential elections. In addition he was a member of Proxy Iran, a Committee against Censorship.

He and his brother were arrested, they were kept in solitary confinement and both were mistreated and tortured. His brother Hassan was not involved in any protests or political activity, but was only targeted to put pressure on Hossein.

Hossein was sentenced to 15 years in prison. The charges were:

  • Membership in the Committee against Censorship in Iran (10 years)
  • Insulting President Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader (4 years)
  • Propaganda against the regime  (1 year)

Hossein is prosecuted because he defended freedom of speech. He is a prisoner of conscience. Amnesty International reports that in June 2015 his sentence was reduced to 13 years.

Hossein developed problems with his kidneys. These were a result of the torture he had to endure during interrogations added to long periods in solitary confinement. Because he did not get proper medical care, his condition became worse and he lost a kidney. His health condition is still critical and he cannot get proper medical treatment in prison.

2. Why shall I participate in the Tweet Storm?

On 17 June 2015 Hossain Ronaghi-Maleki was given furlough on medical grounds. Initially the furlough was only given for one week, but then extended. He and his family had to endure constant pressure and harassment during the furlough, because the authorities asked him to return to prison.

On Monday 11 January 2016 he was ordered back to prison. There are serious concerns that his health will  deteriorate further, if he returns to prison. The Medical Examiner has found him unfit to serve his sentence because he has multiple medical problems.

3. When does the Tweet Storm take place?

The Tweet Storm is effectively a Twitter Day and it takes place on Monday 18 January 2016.

You can start sending tweets after midnight in your time zone and tweet during the whole Monday until midnight. Tweet as much as you can, if many people from different time zones take part, we have hopefully tweets during the whole of Monday.

Please join, even if you have only time for a few tweets at a specific time. It is a team effort and we all work together.

4. What shall I tweet?

  • Send tweets to @HosseinRonaghi with words of support. You can tweet that you stand with him and that you will campaign for him until he is released and similar messages.
  • Send tweets to Iran, in particular to Hassan Rouhani, the President of Iran [@HassanRouhani (English account) or @Rouhani_ir (Persian account)] and to Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader @Khamenei_ir and ask them to reverse their decision and to quash the judgement against Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki.
  • You can also tweet to politicians in Europe and the US, e.g. Federica Mogherini (@FedericaMog) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of your country. Feel free to tweet in your own language.
  • Send tweets to raise your followers’ awareness for Hossein Ronaghi Maleki. You can also send tweets to journalists and newspapers and ask them to report about him.

5. Is there a special hashtag?

Please use for all your tweets (irrespective of the language in which you tweet)  the special hashtag #NoJail4Hossein. If everyone does, it is easy to find and retweet the tweets of others.

6. Suggested tweets

You can write your own tweets, but if you need some inspiration here are some suggested tweets:

  • #NoJail4Hossein. We ask #Iran to release @HosseinRonaghi immediately. He is a prisoner of conscience and not a criminal.#FreeHosseinRonaghi
  • .@Khamenei_ir quash the unfair sentence against @HosseinRonaghi and don’t send him back to prison. #NoJail4Hossein #FreeHosseinRonaghi #Iran
  • .@HassanRouhani Do everything to impede that @HosseinRonaghi is sent back to jail. He needs medical care outside of jail. #NoJail4Hossein
  • Please @FedericaMog intercede for @HosseinRonaghi #Iran. His health will be at serious risk, if he has to return to prison. #NoJail4Hossein
  • Please @guardian write about @HosseinRonaghi #Iran. His life is at risk, if he has to return to jail. He needs medical care #NoJail4Hossein
  • Please be assured @HosseinRonaghi that we stand with you and will campaign for you until you are free at last. #NoJail4Hossein #Iran
  • We will keep shouting: #NoJail4Hossein #FreeHosseinRonaghi until #Iran finally releases @HosseinRonaghi unconditionally
  • We will not be silent or turn away, but continue to demand #NoJail4Hossein #FreeHosseinRonaghi as long as it takes. @HosseinRonaghi

7. Where can I find more information about Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki?

If you want to know more about Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki there are some useful websites:

a) The website “Journalism is not a crime” has a good summary article about him with links to current articles and an Amnesty Urgent Action.

b) Laleh writes a blog about human rights in Iran. She writes often about Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki. It is also worth following her blog.

c) Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki has also a blog. Most of his posts are in Persian, but some have an English translation.

d) Here is a link to a letter in which Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki describes the actions towards his family and him during the first 24 hours of his detainment in 2009.

e) Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki’s father spoke with IranWire in March 2015. Here you can find the article “I will set myself on fire.”

8.  Can I do anything after 18 January?

Please do not stop supporting Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki when the Tweet Storm on 18 January 2016 is over.

Amnesty International will hopefully update their urgent action for him. If they do, you will find a link here once the updated action is online. PEN International has also actions for him on their website: here a link to the English action and here a link to the German action. Write to Iran on his behalf.

As always, if you are on Twitter or in other Social Media, please continue to raise his case and make other people aware of it. If you like the suggested tweets, just continue to use them.

Show your support and show Iran that we will not forget Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki and will campaign for him until he is free.

9. Addendum (23 January)

In the meantime Amnesty International has updated their urgent action for Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki and also Pen International had done so.

Here are the links:

Please follow the links and speak up for Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki.

2015 in review: Human rights and Social Media

I thought it would be a good opportunity to write about 2015 in review from my personal perspective and say thank you to everyone who read and shared my blog posts. WordPress.com sent me some interesting statistics and I want to share with you some personal thoughts about 2015 and my plans for 2016.

2015 was an exciting year for me and I would like to start with saying thank you:

  • Thank you to everyone who followed me on Twitter and even retweeted and liked my tweets.
  • Thank you to everyone who shared and signed petitions about people and topics which are important to me.
  • Thank you to everyone who read my blog or at least visited my blog. Thank you for sharing my blog posts and thank you for your comments and for even following my blog.

One year ago, I had not heard the name Raif Badawi. I did not know anything about the human rights situation in Bahrain and to be honest, I did not know  a lot about Bahrain at all. I had only a very vague knowledge about Saudi Arabia and Iran. I was certainly interested in human rights, but I did not do anything to raise awareness for specific cases and – I did not use social media at all.

If you had told me that a year later I would use Twitter regularly and I write a blog, I probably would have just laughed about this idea.

I started using Twitter in February 2015 and I started writing my blog in June 2015. I wrote about my reasons why I started to use Twitter and why I like it so much in my post “Twitter is great”. Just have a look at this post, in case you have not yet read it. I started writing a blog, because I wanted to have a “little bit” more space than just 140 characters and I am sorry that most of my blog posts are quite long.

During the last year I wrote eight blog posts: four of them are about human rights, three about classical music and one is a general introduction. The three most popular posts were:

  1. A Story in Tweets
  2. Twitter is great!
  3. Why I do care about Raif Badawi

It is really fascinating to see how many people visited my blog over the last year. It was visited by 698 people and it was viewed 2,450 times. WordPress tells me the following:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,400 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 40 trips to carry that many people.

Most people found my posts via Twitter, but also via Facebook, because some of you were kind enough to share my posts on Facebook.

I find it really exciting that these 698 people / 2,450 views for my blog come from 60 different countries. Most views came from the United Kingdom (677 views). The United States are not far behind (608 view), followed by Bahrain (250 views) and France (220 views).

I do not want to bore you with more details about the last year. If you really want to know more then click here to see the complete report.

However, I would like to share with you some of my ideas for 2016:

  1. I will certainly continue to write about Raif Badawi. His wife published a book about him in German (“Freiheit für Raif Badawi, die  Liebe meines Lebens” – Freedom for Raif Badawi the love of my life). I would like to write about this book and also about the publication of his own essays.
  2. There will also be more about Bahrain. 2016 is the fifth anniversary of the Bahrain Uprising and the arrest of the members of Bahrain 13. I would like to write about them. In particular I would love to write about Mohammed Hassan Jawad, also known as Parweez. He belongs to Bahrain 13 and is Hussain Jawad‘s father.
  3. I love poetry and I heard last year about a number of poets who are in prison because of their poems. These poets include Mohammed al-Ajami a poet from Qatar, Ashraf Fayadh, a Palestinian poet who lives in Saudi Arabia and Fatemeh Ekhtesari and Mehdi Mousavi who are two Iranian poets. I would like to write about these poets, but I am also interested in the relationship of poetry and politics in a more general sense and would like to write a post about this topic.
  4. There will be more about classical music, in particular about concerts and operas which I visit and about the programme in concerts by Highgate Choral Society.
  5. I also want to write about art and exhibitions. I saw during a visit in Rome and Sicily in October a number of paintings by Caravaggio which I find fascinating and which would be worth a blog post.

These are only some ideas and I hope there will be much more. If you find any of the ideas interesting than please keep an eye on my blog or decide to follow my blog. You only need an e-mail address to do so and you will receive an e-mail whenever I publish a new post.

I want to close with wishing everyone a Happy New Year. Let us hope that it is a year which brings more justice, freedom and peace to everyone.