January 27th 2021 | USCIRF

Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) condemns Iranian authorities’ mistreatment of religious prisoner of conscience Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee in the wake of her transfer to Amol Prison on January 24.

“USCIRF is appalled by Iran’s ceaseless persecution of Golrokh Iraee, a peaceful activist who has been isolated from her loved ones for months without cause,” said USCIRF Chair Gayle Manchin, who advocates for Iraee as part of the Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project. “In the coming months, the Biden administration must raise this egregious mistreatment in any engagement it has with Iranian leaders and stand up for all Iranians detained for peacefully exercising their freedom of religion or belief.”

Golrokh Iraee was jailed in October 2016 for an unpublished short story criticizing the religiously-grounded practice of stoning adulterous women. She was released from prison in April 2019 but rearrested in November 2019 on a new three-year and seven-month sentence for “insulting the Supreme Leader” and “propaganda against the state.” In December 2020, guards entered her cell in Qarchak Prison using stun guns and dragged Iraee out by her hair. She was then transferred to Ward 2A of Evin Prison, which is run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Intelligence unit. On January 24, 2021 she was moved back to Qarchak prison and transferred hours later to Amol Prison. She remains unable to make phone calls or contact her family and has also been denied visitation with her husband Arash Sadeghi, who is undergoing cancer treatment. Since the outbreak of protests in Iran in December 2017, the government has arrested several women activists and their family members for peacefully protesting the government’s imposition of its unique interpretation of Ja’afri Shi’a Islam on Iranian citizens.

“Iran’s leaders must be held accountable for their appalling mistreatment of citizens peacefully asserting their freedom of religion or belief,” said USCIRF Commissioner Gary Bauer. “The United States must continue to impose sanctions and visa bans on high-level Iranian officials responsible for this outrageous mistreatment.”

In its 2020 Annual report, USCIRF recommended Iran for designation as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) for engaging in or tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, as it has recommended every year since 2002. In August 2020, USCIRF released a factsheet on sanctioned religious freedom violators in Iran. In December 2020, the State Department redesignated Iran as a CPC.