“After the death row in Iran”, Now in Berlin

Pen Berlin Association’s Second Congress featured a discussion between Sareh and Shadi Amin at its second congress titled “With Our Heads Through the Walls.”

Once Sareh, an outspoken member of the LGBT+ community, secured her release on a $45,000 bail and arrived in Germany with her children, the Pen Berlin Association organised a conference on December 16, 2023. The event saw the participation of both Sarah and Shadi Amin, another prominent writer and advocate for LGBT+ rights.

Titled “After the Death Row in Iran,” the session was organised among others which discussed themes like “Combating Anti-Semitism and Racism in Immigrant Societies” and “Navigating the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”.

During the conference, Zahra Sedighi Hamedani(Sareh), aged 31, recounted her detainment by the Revolutionary Guards at the Urmia border in October 2021. Her speech powerfully explained how she was accused of “spreading corruption on Earth” through activities promoting homosexuality, connections with anti-government networks in the Islamic Republic, and advocating Christianity.

Despite enduring psychological torment in prison, Sareh persisted in her fight against the Islamic Republic and  vocally championed the Women’s Liberation Revolution even from within the confines of her cell. She passionately called for the unconditional release of fellow political prisoners like Tomaj Salehi and Saman Yasin. Expressing her family’s dire circumstances after her departure and the weighty bail, she once more pleaded for global support to safeguard her family.

Shadi Amin, the executive director of 6rang and a key figure in orchestrating the ‘FreeSareh’ campaign which significantly amplified Sareh’s voice in the global human rights sphere, also addressed the audience.

Shadi Amin spoke on the campaign’s collaborative strength. She credited the success of Sareh’s campaign to the concerted efforts of various organizations, such as Amnesty and the Pen Berlin Association, alongside global human rights bodies and the cooperation of nations like Germany and France.

Previously, the Pen Berlin Association had rallied global backing for the FreeSareh campaign, drawing support from over 150 influential international figures, including: Nobel laureate Annie Ernaux, journalist Caroline Emcke, historian Susan Striker, German parliament member Tessa Ganserer, and other prominent personalities. They all united in calling for the overturning of Sarah’s death sentence.

This triumph, achieved through collaboration with the global human rights community and proactive organizations advocating for sexual and gender minority rights, stands as a significant stride toward affirming the rights of Iran’s LGBT+ community.

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