SAN FRANCISCO, June 8, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- United 4 Iran and Amnesty International U.S.A. announce a San Francisco rally on Sunday, June 9, "Behind Bars: Rally for Freedom of Express in Iran" at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Speakers include:
- Sarah Shourd, an American who was arrested by Iranian forces while hiking near a border between Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan in July 2009. She was held in solitary confinement for over a year at Evin Prison, Tehran. Sarah is an international solidarity activist and writer.
- Nasim Sarabandi, a recent Iranian exile who has been arrested several times for student organizing, including her work, the One Million Signatures campaign, which aims to collect one million signatures to demand an end to discriminatory laws against women in Iran.
- Turaj Zaim, an Iranian-American activist-poet, will be symbolically released from an onstage jail cell by Shourd. Zaim staged a hunger strike at San Francisco city hall following the 2009 elections, which resulted in the release of his father, Kourosh Zaim (currently under house arrest), from Evin Prison in Iran.
- San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, an Iranian-American politician and strong supporter of the Iranian pro-democracy movement in the Bay Area.
Presidential elections will be held Friday, June 14 in Iran. The field of candidates has been whittled down from 700 to just eight men, all of whom are considered allies of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
"More than 500 prisoners of conscience remain behind bars in Iran," said Firuzeh Mahmoudi, director of United for Iran. "Recently, members of a candidate's team were arrested when they demonstrated in support of Mir Hossein Mousavi, who has been under house arrest for over two years, along with other reformist politicians. Iran is not fair or free – nor are its presidential elections."
The Iranian government has recently mounted a sophisticated effort to block Internet access inside the country to limit social media forums for political dissidence, understanding the vital role social media plays in organizing protests and disseminating information, as seen in Iran's 2009 "Green" uprising.
On Sunday at the San Francisco event, organizers will utilize social media to tweet and post photos, quotes and information on Twitter: @united4iran and United for Iran's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/United4IranFB. Hashtags: #iranbehindbars #iranelections.
Events are scheduled in other cities including Berlin, Washington D.C., and Vienna for the election's week of action. United for Iran, Amnesty USA, Amnesty International, The Solidarity Committee to Protect the Iranian People's Will, and other allies are urging the immediate release of all political prisoners in Iran.
For more information please visit http://www.united4iran.org or call (510) 435-4131.