Iranhumanrights.org —The upholding of the 16-year prison sentence against human rights defender Narges Mohammadi by Iran’s Appeals Court for her peaceful work is cruel and indefensible, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said in a statement today.
“Sixteen years in prison for engaging in peaceful civil activities is a blatant violation of Iran’s own laws as well as its international commitments guaranteeing the rights of citizens to freely express their views and work for peaceful causes within the law,” said Hadi Ghaemi, the executive director of the Campaign.
Mohammadi’s husband, Taghi Rahmani who lives in France with their two children, said in an interview with the Campaign that lawyers had told the Appeals Court judge they were prepared to present further evidence to prove Mohammadi’s innocence.
“But on September 27 the court refused to consider the new evidence and instead handed a verdict upholding the 16-year prison term, of which she has to serve 10 years,” he added.
In cases involving convictions on multiple charges, Article 134 allows for only the longest sentence to be served.
“This is a ruling based on politics,” Rahmani told the Campaign. “A human rights activist does not belong in prison. We’re shocked that her sentence has been upheld. They want to intimidate other Iranian human rights workers. These kinds of pressures are unacceptable and irrational.”
Mohammadi, winner of the 2011 Per Anger Prize for her activism in human rights, was arrested in 2009 and sentenced to 11 years in prison in October 2011 on charges of “assembly and collusion against national security,” “membership in the [now banned] Defenders of Human Rights Center,” and “propaganda against the state.”
The Appeals Court reduced her sentence to six years in prison, and in 2013 she was released from Zanjan Prison on 600 million toman (approximately $200,000) bail for medical reasons.
She continued her activism outside prison and in March 2014 met with the European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton at the Austrian Embassy in Tehran to discuss Iran’s human rights issues.
After the meeting, pressure on Mohammadi grew, and she was subjected to months of harassment and interrogations by the security establishment. Her arrest on May 5, 2015, ostensibly on the older charges, was more accurately related to Mohammadi’s visit with Ashton and her continued peaceful activism.
“This is yet another instance demonstrating the Iranian Judiciary’s lack of fairness and respect for the law, and the overwhelming influence of the security institutions over the Judiciary,” said Ghaemi.
“Individuals such as former Tehran Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi walk free despite irrefutable evidence of involvement in crimes that led to the deaths of at least three people at the Kahrizak Detention Center in 2009, and the Judiciary has repeatedly postponed investigating the many complaints against him. Yet Narges Mohammadi, a civil activist who has done nothing but peacefully express her views, is being handed a 16-year prison sentence. Where is the rule of law?” asked Ghaemi.
“Mohammadi does not deserve a day a prison. Instead she should be respected and praised for her humanitarian work and efforts to end injustice,” Ghaemi said.