The 13th of December, 2019
Dear Mr. Raisi,
May I draw your attention to the urgent case of Yasaman Aryani. She was arrested on the 10th of April 2019 after a peaceful protest during the international Women’s day (Amnesty, 2019a). She was taken to an unknown location and not allowed to contact her family until five days later (Amnesty, 2019b). In total she was held in solitary confinement for nine days. During those days the security forces threatened to arrest the rest of her family, if she did not come out in public and express remorse for her actions. In the end she was sentenced to 16 years in prison and is currently incarnated in the Evin Prison (Amnesty, 2019a). The Evin Prison is notorious for keeping prisoners in solitary confinement and denying them access to their lawyers (Hislop, 2019, october). So what did she do to get this cruel treatment? She took off her headscarf.
Aryani was detained for expressing her opinions, that the Iranian government should not be allowed to dictate what people wear. She expressed her believes in the most peaceful of ways, she took her scarf off and handed out flowers. By arresting her, the Iranian government has violated both articles 18 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN, 1948).
Article 19 states that every human has the right to express their opinions (UN, 1948). Aryani was doing that, by protesting against Iran forces women to cover their hair according to Islamic tradition. She was using that right to protest the violation of another Human Right, namely the right to freedom of religion, article 18. By arresting her, Iran has infringed on her right to opinion while she proteste the violation of religious freedom. Both religious freedom and freedom of speech encourage creativity, by stifling the rights you cripple people’s imagination. A country without creativity makes no forward steps, neither in society nor science.
Unlike silencing someone for expressing their beliefs, arresting a person is not a violation against Human Rights, but the way they are treated in arrest can be. According to the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights everyone is entitled to a fair trial (UN, 1948), the one Yasaman Aryani had was anything but that. Being threatened and having your family threatened is not something considered fair, rather it is inhuman. Using intimidation as a way to force a confession is nothing but disgraceful. Besides it is compromising the integrity of your Rule of Law, it undermines Iran’s place in world politics. No one wants to negotiate with a country that does not endorse the legal system, it makes you seem untrustworthy and trust is the first step for a successful partnership.
While I do understand that she broke one of your laws by removing her headscarf, the fact remains that you violate her Human Rights by making her wear one in the first place. In fact you violate the entire populations’ right to religious freedom with the Sharia laws (Globalis, 2016). They are the laws dictated by Islam, you are therefore forcing an entire population to abide by a religion that they have perhaps not chosen.
Yasaman Aryani was fortunate enough to be selected by Amnesty International’s write for right campaign. This means that she and Iran will get a lot of publicity in the following months. In Aryani’s case it is a good thing, for you Mr. Raisi, not so much. All of the negative attention can lead to a lot of stigmatization about Iran. I can already hear my classmates discussing Iran and Islam, and not in a good way. That is not how it should be, and hopefully you do not want it that way either. Iran has the potential to be a great country, you even signed the declaration in 1945, a whole year before Sweden did (UN, 1945). It is time to show everyone what a great country you can be, you just have to stop fearing changes.
In conclusion, Yasaman Aryani was wrongly arrested and given an unfairly long sentence. The treatment she received while arrested was barbaric. Making people follow a religion they do not want too is a violation against the Human Rights. I urge you to release Yasaman Aryani immediately and unconditionally. Until the day she is a free woman I will worry for her safety, and I will continue to advocate for her release. Yasaman and her family deserves to live in freedom, without the fear of being persecuted or harassed.
Here is a link for signing the petition for her release.
Amnesty. (2019a). 16-years prison term for speaking up for women’s rights. Retrieved 2019-11-12 from
Amnesty. (2019b). Iran: Release women’s rights defenders detained for peacefully protesting against forced veiling. Retrieved 2019-11-12 from
Globalis. (2016). Iran. Retrieved 2019-11-12 from
Hislop, M. (2019, October).Yasaman Aryani took off her headscarf & was sentenced to 16 years in prison. Women’s Agenda. Available at
UN. (1945). Growth in United Nations membership, 1945-present. Retrieved 2019-12-09 from
UN. (1948). Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Retrieved 2019-11-12 from