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Dear friends, family, human rights activists, journalists, and every single individual who has helped me in my pursuit for my brother’s freedom:

The past seven years have been painful and traumatizing for Saeed, me and the rest of the family. We have endured much hardship, but your tremendous support has encouraged us to remain patient and steadfast in our pursuit of freedom. Thank you for helping raise awareness about my brother’s case and pushing for his release. In 2012, when Iran’s Supreme Court confirmed Saeed’s death sentence, your strong objections to the unlawful verdict moved world leaders to also support the case, which ultimately led Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to call off the execution order. But, our nightmare is not over yet, Saeed is still in prison and he’s sentenced to life. It is very hard to believe that Iranian authorities are refusing to release Saeed even though they have never possessed a single piece of evidence to convict him. We have written multiple letters to Iranian authorities requesting from them to review Saeed’s case and release him, but we have always been faced with silence. With every day that passes it becomes increasingly clear that Iranian authorities have no intention of releasing Saeed until his imprisonment becomes a liability for them. There are talks of the government of Canada looking to open diplomatic relations with the government of Iran, this would be the right time for Foreign Minister Stephane Dion and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to secure Saeed’s release from prison and safe return to Canada.

I need your help once again to shine a spotlight on Saeed’s case in order to get world leaders to take action for Saeed’s freedom. I hope you will continue to stand with me and help push for my brother’s release.

HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP:

If you’re a Canadian, please help me collect signatures for an official petition to the House of Commons that calls on the government of Canada to intervene on Saeed’s behalf to the government of Iran for the coordination of his immediate release. Please click here to download the petition. I need you to print it out and collect a minimum of 25 signatures from Canadian residents. Once you have at least 25 signatures, you will need to deliver the petition to your local Member of Parliament. If you need help finding your local MP, click here.

For everyone else, please sign a new petition I created for Saeed on Change.org and distribute widely. Canadians, please also sign the Change.org petition and share it.

If you would like to do more, please write a letter to Justin Trudeau or Stephane Dion and ask them to help secure Saeed’s release.

Contact information for Justin Trudeau:
Email: justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca
Mailing Address:
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
Fax: 613-941-6900

Contact information for Stephane Dion:
Email: stephane.dion@parl.gc.ca
Mailing Address:
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario Canada
K1A 0A6
Fax: 613-996-6562

Sincerely,

Maryam Malekpour

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saeedgift

I’m still waiting for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to respond to the joint letter that I sent him before the Christmas holidays. In the meantime, I have also written a letter to Canada’s Foreign Minister, Stephane Dion. Hoping the Trudeau government will issue a response soon.

To The Honourable Stéphane Dion,

My brother Saeed Malekpour, a Canadian resident, is imprisoned in Iran and his case requires your urgent attention. On behalf of the Malekpour family, I am requesting from the Canadian Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister to intervene on Saeed’s behalf to the government of Iran for the coordination of his immediate release.

We have been living a nightmare for the past seven years, since 2008 when IRGC agents kidnapped Saeed. To this day no evidence has ever been presented to prove the trumped up charges against him. He was held in prison for two years without charge then sentenced to death in a sham trial in 2010. The so called evidence the Judiciary used to convict him were hours of confessions my brother gave under extreme physical and psychological torture. In 2010 Saeed released a letter from prison stating on record that his confessions were false and detailed some of the tortures he has endured.

We are grateful for the help the Canadian government and human rights groups have given to Saeed in pushing for his release. Global attention on the case helped pressure Iranian authorities enough to quash Saeed’s death sentence in 2015. However, the five years he spent living with the fear of execution will likely stay with him, and so will the five years our family spent in a state of hell worrying for his life while trying to get the Iranian authorities to hear us out. Though we are no longer living in the shadow of death, we still need to get Saeed out of prison. We have taken every avenue possible to reach out to Iranian authorities, but to no avail.

There is no sign that they plan on releasing him any time soon. It is clear that to the Iranian authorities Saeed’s case was never about moderating “obscene” websites, my brother is a political hostage who will only be released with the right amount of diplomatic pressure. I ask you to ensure that human rights – especially the case of Saeed and other Canada-linked prisoners (like Mostafa Azizi) – is always placed at the forefront of any talks with the government of Iran. I have heard Canada is thinking of reopening diplomatic relations with the government of Iran, this would be the best time to call for Saeed’s release and safe return to Canada.

Saeed, a freelance web programmer, immigrated to Canada in 2004 and was awaiting Canadian citizenship when he returned to Iran in October 2008 to visit our fatally ill father. Shortly after his arrival, he was illegally nabbed by agents of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and brutally tortured. He was accused of moderating pornographic websites without any evidence presented to convict him. In an attempt to intimidate the family into silence, Iranian authorities issued multiple threats against us. It got so dangerous that I was forced to flee Iran. With the help of the Canadian government I was able to seek refuge in Canada. I am now safe in Canada and have started building a life while also advocating for my brother’s release.

It is very clear there is no legal justification for Saeed’s imprisonment. What he has gone through in Iran is a an insult to any Canadian’s sense of justice. Opening up relations with the government of Iran while Saeed remains in prison would place Canadian values at stake. Please do whatever you can to ensure Saeed’s release and safe return to Canada.

Sincerely,

Maryam Malekpour

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5DOWNLOAD THE PETITION

Dear friends and supporters in Canada,

I am requesting from ALL residents of Canada to help me collect signatures for an official petition calling on the government of Canada to intervene on Saeed’s behalf to the government of Iran for the coordination of his immediate release. Please click here to download the petition. I need you to print it out and collect a minimum of 25 signatures from Canadian residents. Once you have at least 25 signatures, you will need to deliver the petition to your local Member of Parliament. If you need help finding your local MP, click here.

Please help me bring Saeed back home to Canada. He is a political hostage who will only be released with the right amount of diplomatic pressure. I hope our collective effort will help highlight the petition in Canada’s House of Commons and allow me the chance to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or Foreign Minister Stephane Dion in person to discuss the details of my brother’s case.

Sincerely,

Maryam Malekpour

TEXT OF THE PETITION

We, the undersigned, the residents of Canada, draw the attention of the House to the following:

THAT Saeed Malekpour, a Permanent Resident of Canada, is unlawfully imprisoned in the Islamic Republic of Iran since October 2008.

THAT Saeed Malekpour, a Permanent Resident of Canada, immigrated to Canada in 2004 and was awaiting Canadian citizenship when he returned to Iran in October 2008 to visit his fatally ill father and was arrested by Iranian authorities on trumped up charges of moderating pornographic websites.

THAT Saeed Malekpour was forced to give televised confessions after enduring repeated torture by the Revolutionary Guard interrogators.

THAT Saeed Malekpour was sentenced to death twice by Tehran’s Revolutionary Court based solely on the confessions he gave under torture.

THAT the forced confessions are the sole evidence that has ever been presented in Iranian courts against Saeed Malekpour to justify the charges against him.

THAT Saeed Malekpour was held in Evin Prison for the first two years without charge.

THAT Saeed Malekpour has never been given adequate access to a lawyer or the right to view his case file.

THAT Saeed Malekpour has been physically and psychologically tortured throughout his imprisonment and also denied a fair trial.

THAT Saeed Malekpour lived with the fear of imminent execution for five years before his death sentence was commuted to life in prison.

THAT Saeed Malekpour has spent the majority of his imprisonment in a solitary confinement ward in Evin Prison that does not fall under prison jurisdiction and is in full control of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.Saeed Malekpour’s basic prisoner rights were completely violated in this ward.

THAT Iranian authorities continue to hold Saeed Malekpour in prison without any evidence against him other than forced confessions.

THAT Saeed Malekpour’s basic prisoner rights continue to be denied and violated.

THAT the imprisonment of Saeed Malekpour serves as an insult to any Canadian’s sense of justice.

THAT opening up relations with the government of Iran when no arrangements have been made for Saeed Malekpour’s release would place Canadian values at stake.

THAT human rights, namely the situation and wellbeing of Canada-linked prisoners like Saeed Malekpour and Mostafa Azizi, must be at the forefront of any talks between the government of Canada and the government of Iran.

THEREFORE, your petitioners call upon Parliament to urge the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister to intervene on Saeed Malekpour’s behalf and appeal to the government of Iran for his immediate release from prison.

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Joint letter by me and Parastoo Azizi, the daughter of jailed filmmaker Mostafa Azizi, to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

– Maryam Malekpour

November 10, 2015

Dear Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:

Congratulations on your election victory.

Our names are Maryam Malekpour and Parastoo Azizi, we are the family members of two Canadian residents who require your urgent attention.

Saeed Malekpour, a web developer, is being held captive in Tehran’s Evin Prison for seven years now. In court the authorities did not present any evidence to prove the outlandish charges against him, except for forced confessions which were extracted from him under torture. Saeed has been subjected to brutal physical torture and was forced to live in the shadow of death from 2008 until 2014 (when Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei commuted his death sentence to life in prison). There is no sign that the authorities are planning to release him any time soon, even though there is no logical reason why he continues to be in prison.

Mostafa Azizi, a writer and filmmaker, is also being held captive in Evin Prison. Mostafa is an active member of his community in Toronto and even opened and managed a hub of culture called “Farhang Khane” in North York. Iranian authorities have sentenced him to eight years in prison for his writings and nonviolent social media activities. He has spent time in solitary confinement and been subjected to interrogations which lasted at least one month. Mostafa is being punished for exercising his right to freedom of speech and expression.

What has happened to Saeed and Mostafa is unfair, they should be released from prison immediately and unconditionally.  Every minute they remain behind bars is torture for us; we feel helpless and imprisoned ourselves. We hope you will stand with us and defend the fundamental human rights of our family members, in order to help bring them back home to Canada where they can live a peaceful and safe life.

Sincerely,

Maryam Malekpour
Sister of Saeed Malekpour
Edmonton, Alberta

Parastoo Azizi
Daughter of Mostafa Azizi
Toronto, Ontario

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saeedgift

Saeed’s 40th birthday is on June 5th. One of his supporters has created the above art work. Saeed’s family thanks you for the lovely gift.

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saeedmalekpour1

By Paul Dewar
NATIONAL POST

Last June, people around the world wished Canadian permanent resident Saeed Malekpour a happy birthday. The hashtag #HBDSaeed went viral.

Saeed Malekpour is a software engineer — a techie. If he had been able to see the online wave of well-wishers, I am sure he would have been pleased. But Saeed doesn’t have access to basic rights, much less Twitter. For nearly seven years, Saeed has passed every birthday, and every other day, in a cell in Iran’s notorious Evin prison.

In 2008, Saeed was a permanent resident of Canada, with a home in Richmond Hill, Ont. He wrote a blog, and was preparing to begin graduate studies at the University of Victoria. But during a trip to Iran to visit his terminally ill father in 2008, Saeed was arrested. He was charged with blasphemy, and accused of developing software subsequently used by a pornographic network. According to a letter he was able to smuggle out of the prison, he was tortured physically and psychologically — whipped with cables, paralyzed with electrical shocks, and thrown for nearly a year in solitary confinement without medical attention. When Saeed’s abusers finally extracted a forced confession, he was sentenced to death.

After four years of heavy pressure from governments and civil society worldwide, Saeed’s sentence was commuted in 2012 to life imprisonment. This progress is proof of the real power of international opinion, even on an authoritarian regime like Iran’s. It is testimony to the importance of naming and shaming individuals and states that violate human rights, democratic freedoms, due process and the rule of law.

Yet this commutation is small consolation to Saeed’s sister Maryam, who now lives in Edmonton, and other members of his family. And it does nothing to remedy the greater problem of a continued pattern of horrific and unacceptable human rights abuses in Iran, and particularly in the Iranian prison and justice systems. Tragically, Saeed’s arrest, sham trial, and illegitimate conviction on charges of blasphemy are far from unique.

Freedom of religion and expression are not just essential elements of democracy: they are non-negotiable and non-partisan principles that Canadians support and expect their elected representatives to defend. The criminalization and punishment of expression contrary to certain religious interpretations is arbitrary and reprehensible. The imposition of the death penalty or life imprisonment in such cases is especially egregious and abhorrent.

In Saeed’s case, this already illegitimate law was stretched to preposterous limits. If pornography is a crime, Saeed did not commit it. He designed and developed software that was then sold on for further use — he did not determine and is not responsible for how that software was used. His conviction would be farcical, perhaps even laughable, were it not so appalling.

Yet if we are to hold Saeed responsible, it should be to thank him. Saeed’s work made it easier for everyday people in Iran and around the world to express and share their thoughts and beliefs quickly, creatively and effectively. He made the world a bit more free. In doing so, he ran up against those who seek to curtail that freedom, and to couple repressive practices with regressive policies.

President Rouhani has spoken of the need for “constructive engagement,” and the Iranian people have given him a clear mandate for reform. Yet his administration persists in violating and ignoring its own international legal and human rights obligations. So long as Iran prevents and prohibits the free exercise of free speech, its government cannot and will not be accepted or welcomed in the international community.

Two years ago, I was proud to receive unanimous support from all parties for my parliamentary motion marking the 25th anniversary of the 1988 massacre of thousands of political prisoners in Iran. This motion made Canada the first country in the world to officially recognize this mass atrocity for what it was: a crime against humanity. Just as we must remember the crimes of the past, we must speak out and stand up against the crimes of the present.

Saeed Malekpour moved to Canada because he loves this country and what it represents. All Canadians can be proud of what Saeed represents. We must not rest until he is home.

National Post

Paul Dewar is the NDP foreign affairs critic and MP for Ottawa Centre.

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00freecoder1

June 5th is Saeed’s 40th birthday. Though he’s no longer living with the imminent fear of execution, he is still sentenced to life in prison. A life sentence is a slow death sentence. June 5th will be Saeed’s seventh consecutive birthday in Tehran’s Evin Prison.

Send Saeed birthday greetings online. His family is collecting messages for him.

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