GET ME OUT
Academic’s plea to PM from Iranian jail hell
A MELBOURNE academic jailed in Iran’s notorious Evin prison is launching a new hunger strike today as she pleads to be set free.
In letters smuggled from the jail where she has languished for 15 months, Kylie Moore-Gilbert begs Prime Minister Scott Morrison to do “whatever it takes” to get her out.
Dr Moore-Gilbert revealed her distress in the two letters, written in the Tehran prison and seen by the Herald Sun.
The political prisoner has pleaded with Mr Morrison for help as she faces Christmas behind bars.
“Please I beg of you to do whatever it takes to get me out,” she wrote. “I know that you are a religious man, and I ask that until that much longed for day of freedom arrives, you remember me and my family in your prayers.”
Dr Moore-Gilbert has been denied contact with her family for nine months except for a three-minute phone call to her father. The University of Melbourne Islamic studies expert was arrested when she checked in for a flight back to Australia after attending a conference in Iran in September last year.
An Iranians at the conference alerted Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to her presence.
The Herald Sun revealed on Sunday that Dr Moore-Gilbert lost an appeal against her 10-year sentence.
She has held five hunger strikes but a source said they were more concerned for her welfare this time as she planned to refuse food and water, which could lead to serious health problems within days.
Dr Moore-Gilbert, who graduated dux of All Saints College in Bathurst, NSW, in 2005, has spent much of her sentence in solitary confinement.
Her first of two letters was written in June but she was unable to get it out. The Cambridge University graduate and dual British citizen added a postscript this month.
“I have undertaken five hunger strikes as my only means to raise my voice, but to no avail. As predicted, I have now received a conviction of 10 years in prison, and my appeal court has failed,” she wrote.
“Over the past nine months I have been completely banned from any contact with my family, with the exception of a three-minute phone call (all with my father), which was only granted after I took desperate measures which put my own life at risk.
“I beg of you, Prime Minister Morrison, to take immediate action, as my physical and mental health continues to deteriorate with every additional day that I remain imprisoned.”
French researcher Fariba Adelkhah of the Sciences Po university in Paris, who is also in Evin prison, will join Dr Moore-Gilbert on the hunger strike, as will other female prisoners.
Iran has a pattern of taking academics and other foreign nationals to be used as bargaining chips as tough US sanctions hit the country.
West Australian couple Jolie King and Mark Firkin were arrested in Iran in August but released in October after talks with the
Foreign Affairs department.
A second letter, written by Dr Moore-Gilbert and Dr Adelkhah, gives details of today’s planned hunger strike, acknowledging “unjustly imprisoned” academics.
“We will commence a joint hunger strike in the name of academic freedom,” the pair wrote.
“We will strike on behalf of all academics and researchers across Iran and the Middle East, who like us have been unjustly imprisoned on trumped up charges and simply doing their job as researchers.”