PEN America has condemned what it says are “threats” made to the safety of Iranian writers and activists living in the United States, “apparently from individuals who are linked to or within the Iranian government”.
In a statement the renowned writers’ organization says one of its members, Masih Alinejad and others have received threats after their efforts to defend women’s rights in Iran.
Alinejad is a writer, journalist and a women’s rights activist who campaigns against compulsory hijab and other discriminatory laws.
“PEN America regards these threats against writers and activists living in the U.S. as a contemptible assault on freedom of expression and on these individuals’ right to live free from fear”, the statement says.
Recently, an Iranian cleric issued a video message implying that Alinejad should be killed for encouraging women in Iran to ride bikes. PEN denounces such messages and says Alinejad’s family in Iran has been targeted by the government.
Last September Iran arrested Alinejad’s brother and in October a coalition of human rights organizations condemned Tehran for intimidating activists. Paris-based reporters Without Borders issued a separate statement demanding the release of Alinejad’s brother.
The Islamic Republic does not tolerate dissidents or anyone who questions its laws or ideology.
“Masih and her fellow activists are astonishingly courageous in their determination to write and speak about women’s rights in Iran despite the ongoing threats they face—even in exile,” said Summer Lopez, PEN America’s senior director of free expression programs.