(RFE/RL) | April 14, 2010
By Golnaz Esfandiari

Iranian bloggers supporting the opposition movement have launched a new campaign aimed at publicizing the plight of the lesser-known prisoners who have been jailed in the postelection unrest.

Among the lesser-known prisoners are those citizens who were not politically active and are not affiliated with any political party or group. They’re ordinary people who took to the streets following last year’s disputed presidential vote to protest the reelection of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. Many of them were arrested and sentenced to prison. According to rights groups, between several hundred to 2,000 citizens were arrested in the postelection unrest and many remain in jail. While some of the prominent postelection prisoners, including those affiliated with reformist parties, have been released on bail or were allowed prison leave for the Iranian New year, the lesser known prisoners have not been given any leave and the reportedly face difficult conditions in jail.

The “Kaleme” website, which is close to opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi, has posted a statement written by bloggers to call on other bloggers to write about the “unknown prisoners” in order to “bring them out of their cold and bitter cells in jail.”

The statement calls on each blogger to write about at least one prisoner that is not known to the media and does not have any support.

“As members of the Green Movement, we have to show that we’re not only against the jailing of prominent people, but we’re against the jailing of anyone who has been arrested because of expressing himself,” the statement reads.

Some bloggers have already started blogging about the lesser-known prisoners, including blogger “Green Bell,” who has written about prisoner Amir Aslani, an owner of a software company who was allegedly detained in August and spent 135 days in solitary confinement. Aslani has reportedly been sentenced to 5 years in prison for security crimes, including taking part in “illegal” gatherings, and for attempting to disrupt the country’s electricity system.

Another blogger, “Fresh Air,” has provided information about Shahin Fazli, a student who has been in jail in Tabriz since last February. He has reportedly been accused of collaborating with opposition groups outside Iran and disrupting public order. He has reportedly rejected the charges.

The blogger (Sheida Jahanbin) told me that the campaign is aimed at easing some of the pressure on the prisoners who are lesser-known and preventing the Iranian establishment from charging them with “whatever crimes it wants and issuing inhuman sentences against them.”

Earlier this month, the “Irangreenvoice” opposition news website issued a list of some 20 “unknown prisoners” who are reportedly held in section 350 of Evin prison. They have reportedly been sentenced to prison terms ranging from six months to seven years. The website said that Iranian officials should know that the release of all political prisoners is a “national demand” and that opposition members will use every opportunity to call for their release.

A facebook page titled “Unknown prisoners” has also been created, where members post information about the prisoners. The page has about 2,000 members so far.

— Golnaz Esfandiari