(WASHINGTON)– PEN America today welcomes a Congressional resolution bringing attention to the plight of Iranians marking the anniversary of the Iranian protests sparked by the death one year ago of Mahsa (Jina) Amini.

In its 2022 Freedom to Write Index, PEN America found that Iran was the largest jailer of women writers in the world.

“In the year since Mahsa (Jina) Amini’s death, Iranian women in particular have continued to bravely use their voices to speak out against the abuses of the Iranian government. Women like Narges Mohammadi and Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee have continued their advocacy even while behind bars. The quest for human rights and free expression by these two imprisoned women and from protestors is deeply inspiring. We are grateful for Congresswoman Mace and Congresswoman Jackson Lee’s leadership in recognizing the courage of these women and working to secure their release,” said Laura Schroeder, senior manager of legislative affairs at PEN America.

Amini,  a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, died while in police custody following her arrest by Iran’s morality police for alleged improper wearing of the hijab.

On the anniversary of her death, PEN America called upon the Iranian government to cease its continued persecution of dissident voices and to release artists, writers, and creatives sentenced to prison for expressing their opinions through their creative work.

Amini’s death sparked massive protests across Iran, with citizens calling for a repeal of the hijab law and demands for basic human rights. International awareness grew as people around the world started posting videos and photos of themselves on social media cutting off locks of hair in a show of solidarity with Iranian women and in honor of Amini.

The force of the protests presented one of the most significant challenges to the government since the 1979 revolution. As a result, thousands of Iranians were arrested during and after the demonstrations, including cultural figures targeted for discussing, making, or supporting art about Amini’s death and its aftermath.

The Congressional resolution states:

Whereas, on September 16, 2022, 22-year-old Mahsa (Jina) Amini died in police custody after being detained by Iran’s morality police for allegedly wearing her hijab too loosely;

Whereas Ms. Amini’s death sparked widespread protests across Iran and around the world against the mandatory wearing of the hijab and the repression of women’s rights more broadly under Iran’s clerical rule;

Whereas women have been at the forefront of the 2022 protest movement in the wake of Mahsa Amini’s death, and authorities have been particularly keen to silence prominent female voices of conscience, including human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who was threatened with being returned to jail after speaking to and writing for inter-national media outlets;

Whereas Iran is now the top jailer of women writers globally, according to PEN America’s Freedom to Write Index, and in 2022, 16 out of 42 female writers jailed globally were held in Iran;

Whereas women who have spoken out in support of the protests from jail have continued to face harassment, and in some cases, additional charges, including activist and writer Narges Mohammadi and poet and activist Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee;

Whereas the protest movement reflects the desires of millions of Iranians, especially women and youth, for greater freedom and gender equality; and

Whereas over 500 protesters have been killed and over 19,000 arrested by security forces in violent crackdowns on demonstrations over the past year, according to human rights groups:

Now, therefore, be it resolved, that the House of Representatives commemorates Mahsa Amini and the countless protesters killed or detained since September  2022; affirms its support for the rights of women and all people in Iran to freedom of expression, assembly, and access to information both online and offline; calls on the Government of Iran to end its violence and repression against peaceful protesters; urges the unconditional release of all those detained for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in connection with the protests; and reaffirms the necessity of holding accountable those responsible for human rights violations related to the protests.

More about PEN America’s work on Iran can be found here.

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. To learn more visit PEN.org

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057