English PEN highlights the plight of imprisoned poet and teacher Mahvash Sabet at the London Book Fair.
So there I stood on the summit of the loftiest peak:
a simple woman, glowing with love again,
ready to salute the world once more.
From Mahvash Sabet’s ‘Hello Again’. Adapted from the Persian by Bahiyyih Nakhjavani, based on translations by Violette and Ali Nakhjavani.
Every year, English PEN hosts a range of exciting authors at the English PEN Literary Salon in partnership with the London Book Fair. However, we also use the fair as an opportunity to highlight the cases and writings of colleagues around the world who are not in a position to attend the fair.
Poet Mahvash Sabet is one such writer. Mahvash is one of seven Baha’i leaders currently serving 20-year prison sentences in Evin prison, Tehran for their faith and activities. She began writing poetry after her arrest in 2008, and her collection Prison Poems was published in English in 2013.
At this year’s fair we shared copies of Mahvash’s poem ‘Hello Again’ with visitors, inviting them to take a few moments to send her a message of support. We then shared these messages with her family who have in turn passed them on to Mahvash:
Thanks so much for this incredible act of kindness. I just sent your entire email containing the heartwarming messages of the book fair participants to Mahvash’s brother who will be visiting her at the Evin prison on Sunday.
I am sure Mahvash will be touched by the generous spirit of those wonderful people who took the time to express their sentiments to her. These are obviously difficult times for her and it is these great acts of kindness by you and others throughout the world that make her lonely days and nights more tolerable.
Thank you again for all that you do for Mahvash and for others throughout the world.
English PEN will be campaigning for Mahvash’s release throughout 2016. She was among the international writers to be featured at the inaugural English PEN Modern Literature Festival paired with the writer Emily Critchley. She will also be among the poets highlighted as part of our Poetry as Protest initiative at Ledbury Poetry Festival: poets including Isobel Dixon, Sarah Howe, Hannah Lowe, Sarah Roby, Gerda Stevenson and Jane Weir will all read from her poetry during their own events.
- Read and share details of Mahvash Sabet’s case and her writing with friends and colleagues and on social media (@englishpen #MahvashSabet);
- Send messages of support, letters, and books to Mahvash Sabet in prison. For more details, please email email@example.com;
- Send letters of appeal calling for her release immediate and unconditional release – details below.
- Calling on the Iranian authorities to release Mahvash Sabet and all other writers currently imprisoned in Iran solely for exercising their right to legitimate freedom of expression;
- Urging that further measures be taken to fully enshrine the right to freedom of expression and freedom of religion in law and practice in Iran as provided for under Articles 18 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Iran is a state party.
Leader of the Islamic Republic
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Shoahada Street, Qom, Islamic Republic of Iran
Salutation: Your Excellency
President Hassan Rouhani
Office of the Presidency
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Salutation: Your Excellency
And copies to:
Secretary General, High Council for Human Rights
Mohammed Javad Larijani c/o Office of the Head of the Judiciary
Pasteur St, Vali Asr Ave
South of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran,
Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Subject line: FAO Mohammad Javad Larijani)
It is also recommended that you send a copy of your appeals via the diplomatic representative for Iran in your country. Contact details for embassies can be found here.