In May 2021, the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) launched the VERY IMPORTANT STAMPS prison mail initiative. Representing thousands of prisoners around the world, ten political prisoners were portrayed for postage stamps by well-known artists from Germany. The stamps were printed and can be obtained for free from the ISHR


How postage stamps are supposed to protect political prisoners

Frankfurt am Main, May 26th, 2021 – Belarus, China, Iran, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Turkey – critics of the system, human rights activists and artists all over the world are in prison – often without a confirmable offense, without charges or the opportunity to defend themselves.


Iranian women’s rights activist Saba Kord Afshari and Belarusian author and blogger Sergei Petruchkin

Prison Mail – Letters That Save Lives.

Supporting politically imprisoned people is not difficult. Post from abroad is a tried and tested method. Every letter and every postcard can protect against reprisals or even torture because they send the message to the prison authorities that the detainee is held in high regard internationally and that their fate is being critically observed abroad. In addition, they provide psychological support. After their release, prisoners repeatedly report how much they were helped by letters sent to prison – even if they did not know the author or understood their language.


Cuban rapper Denis Solís González and Taiwanese democracy and human rights activist Lee Ming-che


Portraits of inmates become stamps.

“The aim of the campaign is not only to bring the subject of prison mail closer to the general public, but also to generate a large number of letters and postcards to be sent to the political prisoners and help those who have been portrayed,” explains ISHR spokesman Martin Lessenthin. “After all, unimportant people don’t end up on postage stamps. Prison athorities in Iran, China and Cuba also know that”.


The Iranian-German architect Nahid Taghavi and Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh


10 prisoners, representing tens of thousands.

The most prominent example among the prisoners portrayed is the Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. The winner of the alternative Nobel Peace Prize was sentenced to 33 years in prison and 148 lashes in her home country for her commitment to human rights. The Iranian women’s rights activist Saba Kord Afshari and the German-Iranian Nahid Taghavi have also been portraited in the stamps. The blogger Sergej Petruchkin and the opposition activist Svetlana Kupreeva are represented from Belarus, the regime critic Pablo Moya Delá and the rapper Denis Solís González from Cuba, the internet activist Raif Badawi from Saudi Arabia and the Kurdish singer Nûdem Durak from Turkey are also pictured. The portrait of the Taiwanese democracy activist Lee Ming-che, who is apprehended in China, was also immortalized on a postage stamp.


Kurdish singer Nûdem Durak and Cuban democracy activist Pablo Moya Delá


Artists are committed to human rights.

Well-known artists from Germany stand behind the portraits of the prisoners. Laura Breiling, Tina Berning, Bene Rohlmann, Heiko Müller, Dijana Ejaita and Andreas Prize support the initiative. Three other creative people support the campaign anonymously. If the campaign is successful, another series of portrait stamps with other prisoners and artists is planned.

The International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) based in Frankfurt am Main is one of the oldest human rights organizations in Germany. Through numerous actions and campaigns, in addition to other human rights issues, it repeatedly advocates the support of political prisoners.


Saudi internet activist Raif Badawi and Belarusian retired accountant Svetlana Kupreeva