September 20, 2011

His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Shoahada Street
Islamic Republic of Iran
Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani
Head of the Judiciary
c/o Public relations Office
Number 4, 2 Azizi Street
Vali Asr Ave., above Pasteur Street intersection
Islamic Republic of Iran

Hojjatoleslam Sharifi
Head of East Azerbaijan Province Judiciary
Judiciary of East Azerbaijan
Central Complex
Beginning of Vali-Asr Hill
Tabriz, East Azerbaijan 5157733135
Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: 009841133201109

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,500 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our grave concern regarding the detention of journalist, poet, and activist Faranak Farid.

According to our information, Faranak Farid (pen name “Ipek”), editor-in-chief of the banned monthly Dilmaj, was arrested and reportedly beaten by plainclothes officers on September 3, 2011, in the city of Tabriz. Security officials later searched her home and seized her computer and personal documents. The arrest followed Farid’s participation in a peaceful protest against the environmental policies affecting Urmiah Lake in northwestern Iran, and there are indications that she may be targeted for her writing and advocacy of women’s rights. Farid is believed to be facing charges of “insulting the Supreme Leader,” “propaganda against the system,” and “acting against national security.”

Farid is now being held in the women’s section of Tabriz Central Prison, where she has reportedly suffered ill-treatment during her interrogation sessions. Requests for medical treatment have been denied. Although Farid’s sister was allowed to visit her for 45 minutes on September 12, 2011, she has been denied access to her lawyer.

Faranak Farid’s publications include the poetry collection Yuxuda Ayilmaq, published in 2009, and Jiziq, currently under publication. She is a founding member of the One Million Signature Campaign, also known as the Campaign for Equality, and has participated in numerous conferences and seminars both inside and outside Iran.

PEN American Center is seriously concerned for the welfare of Faranak Farid, who we believe has been detained solely for exercising her right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory. We therefore call for her immediate and unconditional release, and urge authorities to investigate all claims of assault and bring the responsible parties to justice. We also call on the authorities to allow Farid all necessary medical attention and access to full independent legal representation.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent matter.

Hannah Pakula
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Palestine Avenue
Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: Via Foreign Ministry: +98 21 6 674 790

His Excellency Mr. Mohammad Khazaee
Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the U.N.
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the U.N.
622 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Fax: (212) 867-7086

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