6 February 2023
Haines announces political sponsorship of Iranian political prisoners
Independent Federal Member for Indi, Dr Helen Haines MP has announced that she is undertaking political sponsorship of three prisoners in Iran facing execution, in a bid to increase the pressure on the Iranian Government to save them from the death penalty.
Dr Haines has joined with Members of Parliament from across the world and across the political spectrum in Australia in taking part in political sponsorship of the prisoners.
The Iranian Embassy has been informed by letter of Dr Haines’ sponsorship of Kambiz Kharout, Arshia Takdastan and Mehdi Mohmmadifard.
Kambiz Kharout, 20, protested in Zahedan. He was arrested at his place of employment on 1 October 2022 and tortured to force self-incriminating confessions.
Arshia Takdastan, 18, was arrested in Noshahr on 24 September 2022 and forced to confess to leadership of protests.
Mehdi Mohmmadifard, 19, is a hairstylist and tattoo artist, his passion since he was a young teenager. He was violently arrested on 2 October 2022 and tortured to force self-incriminating confessions. He is currently held in the central prison in Noshahr and was sentenced to death in December 2022.
In the letter to the Iranian Embassy to Australia, Dr Haines urged the Iranian Government to immediately quash their convictions and death sentences, and requested their immediate release from prison.
“I abhor the cruel treatment by the Islamic Republic judiciary and security forces of young Iranians peacefully exercising their right to protest,” Dr Haines said.
“I urge the Iranian Government to place an official moratorium on executions with a view of abolishing the death penalty and releasing those detained.
“According to the statements of Amnesty International and other human rights organisations, due process has not been observed in the investigation and trials of these citizens.
“I am aware that trials have been conducted in secret, and forced confessions have been obtained using torture. Further, accused people have been denied access to a lawyer and the opportunity to a fair and unbiased hearing or a meaningful appeal process.”
Dr Haines said she was sponsoring the political prisoners in order to bring further attention to their plight and to build on the global movement dedicated to supporting the prisoners.
“This is a way that Members of Parliaments from across the world are showing the Iranian Government that the execution of prisoners, and imprisonment of thousands of people, who have done nothing more than protest for their rights and freedoms, is completely unacceptable.
“I hope that through this sponsorship, by adding my voice of support, I will assist in protecting the safety of these men in Iran.”