Situation of Political Prisoners Worsens as Iranian Government’s Assault on Peaceful Dissent Intensifies. Activists, Lawyers, Dissidents being kept behind Bars with continuous new convictions
Center for Human Rights with FIDH (24.01.2022) – In an ongoing campaign to silence human rights defenders and crush dissent in the Islamic Republic, the prominent rights defender Narges Mohammadi, already serving time at Iran’s notorious Gharchak Prison for her peaceful activism, has been sentenced to another eight years in prison and more than 70 lashes, according to a tweet by her Paris-based husband.
Mohammadi’s new conviction was after a 5-minute trial, her husband Taghi Rahmani wrote. He stated she also had a two–year ban on “communication,” but that she has not contacted the family and he did not know the details of the trial or the new sentence.
The prominent activist’s latest conviction comes as the authorities intensify their efforts to squash growing dissent in Iran by imprisoning activists and human rights attorneys after grossly unfair trials, shooting to kill protesters in the street, imposing death sentences on dissidents and protesters, and causing the death of political prisoners by egregiously neglecting their medical needs.
On May 18, 2016, Branch 15 of the Tehran Islamic Revolution Court found Ms. Narges Mohammadi guilty of “assembly and collusion to commit crimes against national security”, “spreading propaganda against the State” and “establishing and running the illegal splinter group LEGAM” (under Article 498 of the Penal Code), and sentenced her respectively to five years, one year and 10 years of prison, for a total of 16 years in prison.
On September 28, 2016, Branch 36 of the Tehran Court of Appeals upheld the sentence and asserted that pursuant to Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, she must serve the maximum sentence, i.e. 10 years. At the time of her sentencing, she was already serving the remainder of another six-year sentence handed down in September 2011, when she was found guilty of acting against national security, propaganda against the system, and membership of the banned DHRC.
On January 3, 2019, Ms. Narges Mohammadi undertook a three-day hunger strike to protest being denied access to medical care.
On April 27, 2019, Ms. Narges Mohammadi was transferred to Mehr Hospital for medical examination and returned to Evin prison on the same day.
On May 14, 2019, she was sent to hospital again, where she underwent a hysterectomy operation, and was returned to prison on May 26, 2019, before she had fully recovered.
On June 2, 2019, she was reported to have contracted a serious infection, and was denied adequate medication (i.e. antibiotics) in prison.
On December 26, 2019, Ms. Narges Mohammadi was transferred from Evin to Zanjan prison, around 350 kilometres from Tehran, as a punishment for taking part in a collective protest sit-in with several other prisoners in Evin prison’s Women’s Ward on December 21, 2019, in solidarity with mourning families of the victims of the November 2019 nationwide protests. In a letter from Zanjan prison, Ms. Mohammadi said that several prison and security agents headed by the Governor of Evin prison, and including her interrogator from the Ministry of Intelligence, had beaten her and forcefully thrown her into a car before transferring her to Zanjan prison.
On December 28, 2019, Ms. Narges Mohammadi was examined by two doctors in Zanjan prison. According to her brother, “there were bruises, cuts and even traces of fingernails on her chest and throat as well as traces of fingers and fists on her body.” Evin prison authorities and the Spokesperson of the Judiciary denied any ill-treatment and maintained that Ms. Mohammadi had been sent to Zanjan prison by a judicial order, which was never presented to her. No investigation has been conducted about Ms. Narges Mohammadi’s allegations of mistreatment, although even Deputy Chairperson of Parliament’s judicial committee has called for it.
On February 22, 2020, judicial authorities communicated two sets of new charges in two cases against Ms. Narges Mohammadi.
In the first case, she has been charged with “spreading propaganda against the system” (Article 500 of the Islamic Penal Code) and “assembly and collusion with intent to take action against national security” (Article 610), which she is alleged to have committed while in prison. The Prosecutor cited “issuing of political statements, holding educational classes and staging a protest sit-in at Tehran’s Evin prison” as the reasons for those charges.
The second case was brought against her following a complaint by the Governor of Evin prison, Mr. Gholamreza Ziaei, who accused Ms. Narges Mohammadi of “disrupting order in prison”, “disrupting general calm in Women’s Ward by organising gatherings and singing loudly,” and “insulting government agents including the prison governor and defaming him by accusing him of torturing and beating and injuring her.”
Ms. Narges Mohammadi denied all new charges and refused to defend herself.
Photo credits: FIDH