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​Sponsorship (also known as guardianship, or godparenting) of political prisoners of conscience refers to politicians or other public figures in one country taking up advocacy for a prisoner unjustly detained and mistreated in another country. This advocacy can take many forms, from speaking publicly or writing articles to posting on social media and attending interviews to raise awareness about the prisoner, their circumstances and likely fate.
With the right platforms and advocacy initiatives, sponsors can powerfully bring a human face to the prisoners that the Islamic Republic in Iran wants us not to know at all or forget about. Sponsors have the potential of serving as an invaluable voice, calling for international attention to the injustices visited upon innocent civilians whose only “crimes” were bravely standing up in the face of oppression and human rights abuse.
Sponsors are often parliamentarians and politicians serving office within a peace-loving nation, though it's not necessary that they be a politician at all. The essential factor for a strong sponsor is anyone who has a strong:
- followership (or widely known public platform with international reach); 

- human rights leaning (for authenticity and alignment with their core values and brand); and
- advocacy skills (to shine a bright light on their sponsored prisoner and do so frequently).

Contrary to common assumption, there’s no legal framework underpinning sponsorship. As such, the sponsor is not the legal representative of the prisoner and has no legal relationship with the country where their sponsored prisoner is held captive. The advocacy efforts of the sponsor work by bringing unwanted international attention, and thereby pressure, on the responsible government (in this case the Islamic Republic in Iran), and their officials. Focusing the attention of the international community on prisoners, and providing updates on their individual cases, is an effective tool for deterring regime officials and authorities from pursuing execution and ill-treatment.
Sponsorship can save lives by securing the safe release of prisoners and the cessation of their abuse.
The sponsorship of political prisoners is not a novel concept.
It is currently being used by sponsors from numerous European countries to assist over 1000 Belarusian prisoners who were arbitrarily detained for protesting against the rigged elections in Belarus on 9 August 2020 where president A Lukashenko announced himself the winner for the 6th consecutive term in office. Hundreds of these prisoners have now been released, thanks to their sponsors’ advocacy and efforts (learn more here: Godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus | Libereco).
Sponsorship has also been used successfully in the past by parliamentarians across the world to
support political prisoners in South Africa, Iran and Soviet Union.

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