Iranian human rights defender, lawyer, and women’s rights activist Narges Mohammadi was sentenced to 16 years in prison this week for her human rights activities, reports the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR). She has been in Evin Prison since her arrest in May 2015, where she suffers from serious health concerns and is deprived of regular contact with her family.
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reports that Mohammadi’s trial was postponed four times since May 2015, until 20 April 2016 when it began at Branch 15 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, presided behind closed doors by the notorious Judge Abolqasem Salavati.
On 17 May 2016, the verdict was communicated to Mohammadi’s lawyer on several charges. She received a 10-year sentence for “membership in the Step by Step to Stop the Death Penalty,” (LEGAM), a group campaigning against the death penalty in Iran that she founded, which has since been closed. She also received five years for alleged “collusion and assembly against national security” and one year for “spreading propaganda against the system,” according to Amnesty International.
On 5 May 2015, Mohammadi was taken to Evin Prison after being forcibly arrested from her home. She had been sentenced to six years in prison on 22 April 2012 on previous charges but was released on bail on 31 July 2012 for health reasons. (See: http://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1009). She suffers from pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in her lung) and nervous paralysis, according to her husband, Taghi Rahmani, a human rights activist exiled in France. She reportedly suffered several seizures in August and October 2015 while in prison but did not receive adequate medical treatment.
Mohammadi was also Vice-President of the Defenders of Human Rights Center and President of the Executive Committee of the National Council of Peace in Iran. She has a lot of international support and was awarded the Per Anger Prize in 2011 by the Swedish government for her human rights work, and the “City of Paris” medal in May 2016 for her human rights writing.
GCHR condemns the sentencing of Narges Mohammadi, which it believes to be in violation of her right to freedom of expression and assembly, and urges the government of Iran to:
Immediately and unconditionally overturn all sentences against Narges Mohammadi;
Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Narges Mohammadi while she remains in prison, and ensure she receives proper medical treatment; and
Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Iran are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
The GCHR respectfully reminds the Iranian government that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognizes the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 6 (b and c): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (b) As provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, to freely publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms; (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”, and to Article 12 (1 and 2): “(1) Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. (2) The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”