Awarding PEN America’s Award to Sattar Beheshti


Vasyl Stus Freedom-to-Write Award was awarded by PEN America to Sattar Beheshti, an Iranian blogger who three years ago was killed under torture by security police of the Islamic Republic.

This award, which is given annually to writers who are harassed and persecuted for expressing their beliefs, is awarded by the New England Association of PEN America to this murdered writer.

PEN America wrote on its official website about the award to Sattar Beheshti: “Iranian blogger Sattar Beheshti was tortured and killed in 2012 at the hands of Iran’s cyber police. His murder drew international outrage and became a rallying point for the Iranian dissident community and free speech advocates around the world.”

PEN New England, which has only awarded alive writers so far, writes further: ” On April 30th, we will present the 2015 Vasyl Stus Freedom to Write Award, paying tribute to Beheshti and other Iranian writers and dissidents who exhibit monumental courage in the face censorship, oppression, and death.”

Sattar Beheshti, a laborer and blogger who wrote critical words and articles against the Islamic regime, was arrested on October 30, 2012 by Iran’s cyber police, and four days later, on November 3, 2012, was killed under torture in custody by interrogators. During the so called investigation of the death of Sattar Beheshti, his family lawyer said: “We still recognize Sattar Beheshti death as a murder and do not accept it as unintentional.” But the court recognized Sattar Beheshti death as a “unintentional murder” and the interrogator officer who was responsible for his death condemned apparently to three years imprisonment, two years of exile and 74 lashes.

According to the coroner, Sattar Beheshti death was due to internal bleeding resulting from torture and hitting on different parts of the kidneys, colon and nape.

When the death of Sattar Beheshti in custody was revealed, first the authorities tried to suppress it, but because of its broad reflection in local and foreign media and also public reaction, the regime was forced to retreat.

The award ceremony was held at MIT in Boston. Gohar Eshghi, Sattar ‘s mother, also sent a video message and appreciate PEN America.

Iranian PEN in Exile, are grateful for the PEN New England Association act and ask them to award the next year prize to two murdered well-known member of Iranian Writers Association, Mohammed Mokhtari and M.J. pooyandeh. Mokhtari was writer and poet, and Pooyandeh was writer and translator and both were prominent member of the Iranian Writers Association advisory board. They were abducted in November 1998, by Iran’s Islamic state security forces and were left theirs mutilated bodies on the wasteland at sideline of Tehran metropolis.

Undoubtedly, such actions will help the cultural, social and political campaign of writers, journalists, artists and other social movements’ activists against government censorship, torture, execution and Islamic superstition.


Iranian PEN Association in exile

May 4, 2015

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