Why undertake a political sponsorship?
Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the Mullahs have ruled Iran. Though they once intended to bring justice, Iran now has one of the most scandalous human rights records in the world. This has strengthened dramatically since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad assumed power in 2004. While the international community was concerned about his anti-Western shock-rhetoric and the Iranian nuclear program, the regime’s internal opponents were arrested and killed. The brutal repression against the “Green Revolution” in 2009 was only one example.
Opponents as well as members of religious, ethnic or sexual minorities are at risk of torture, imprisonment, kidnapping and even stoning. The archaic legal system, based on Sharia, punishes "crimes" such as the denial of Islam, the consumption of alcohol, "hostility toward God" or "insulting the leader."
With over 350 executions worldwide, in 2010 only China had more state-sanctioned executions. The killings frequently occurred in marketplaces in order to amuse and intimidate the masses. Especially cruel is the execution of youths - prohibited under international law.
In December 2010, the German Parliament accepted a multi-partisan motion by the CDU/CSU, SPD, FDP and Bündnis 90/Die GRÜNEN (Resolution 17/401), which stated:
"In addition to the absent freedom of assembly, reduced freedom of opinion and continued repression of the press, there are also arbitrary arrests, disappearances of people, torture and unjust court proceedings. Women are massively discriminated against in society and law. In Iran only a strongly limited religious freedom exists, and the members of ethnic minorities are deprived of their constitutional rights."
Nevertheless, many still risk their lives to fight for freedom and human rights in Iran. Often, these individuals pay for their activities in underground parties, as independent journalists or as critical intellectuals with their freedom. According to the data of the International Society for Human Rights, thousands of innocent individuals are currently detained for political reasons.
Following the great success of the Cuba Sponsorship Program, the ISHR established at its 39th General Assembly on March 19, 2011 a political sponsorship program for detained civil rights activists in Iran. The acceptance of a political sponsorship by politicians provides the possibility to pay special attention to the fate of these prisoners and to raise public awareness. It also offers the prisoners themselves a certain measure of protection, because the Iranian regime closely observes which prisoners are well-known abroad.
How does one become a political sponsor, and what can one do?
The ISHR pairs each sponsor with a political prisoner. With the assumption of a sponsorship, the sponsor agrees that he will participate in the public relations of the ISHR in his capacity as a sponsor. Of course, the sponsor can also use the assumption of a sponsorship in his own press work. In exchange, the ISHR provides a photograph of the prisoner and a description of the case. The more publicity produced for the political prisoner, the better. Therefore, the ISHR offers the sponsors several opportunities to assist the Iranian dissidents. These include signature campaigns for their freedom and informational events in the sponsors’ constituencies. The ISHR would be happy to provide information about further possible actions.
Who has already participated in the ISHR’s political sponsorship program?
In the past sponsorship effort for detained dissidents in Cuba, 56 politicians from the ranks of the CDU/CSU, SPD, FDP and the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen participated. Among them is the former president of the European Parliament, Dr. Hans-Gert Pöttering; Saarland Minister-President Dr. Peter Müller; CDU General Secretary Hermann Gröhe; Green Party Leader Cem Özdemir; European Parliament members Daniel Cohn-Bendit (chairman of the Green Party faction), Elmar Brok, Michael Gahler and Peter Liese; German Parliament members Volker Beck, Angelika Graf, Katherina Reiche, Christoph Strässer, Florian Toncar and Arnold Vaatz; and State Representatives Wigbert Schwenke (chairman of the CDU Sachsen-Anhalt faction) and Dieter Dombrowski (General Secretary of CDU Brandenberg).
Who is the ISHR?
The ISHR is a human rights organization founded in 1972 in Frankfurt am Main, which is represented worldwide by 26 branches and four national groups. It supports individuals who non-violently risk their lives for the cause of human rights in their home countries or are persecuted for demanding their rights. The ISHR believes that - after the rights to life and personal security - civil rights like freedoms of opinion, assembly, religion and the press are the most important human rights. The foundation of the ISHR’s work is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations of December 10, 1948. To achieve its goals, the ISHR conducts campaigns, appeals, signature actions or informational events. Additionally, the ISHR provides humanitarian aid in the form of packages and relief shipments.