Friday , 19 July 2024

Atena Daemi Begins New Prison Sentence on Day She Was to Be Freed

CHRI – More New Cases Opened Against Daemi, Maryam Akbari Monfared, Leila Hosseinzadeh and other Prisoners

Despite completing a five-year prison sentence for her peaceful activism, civil rights activist Atena Daemi continues to be held in prison following the enforcement of a new bogus conviction that would keep her behind bars for two more years, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned.

Daemi should have been freed on July 4, 2020, after serving five years in prison for peacefully advocating for children’s rights and against the death penalty, but she is now serving a new two-year prison sentence imposed for singing a song honoring executed prisoners in Evin Prison’s Women’s Ward, her mother, Masoumeh Nemati, told CHRI.

“This is the seventh time she has been prosecuted during her five years in prison,” Nemati told CHRI on July 6, 2020. “Some of the cases have been dropped but her conviction with Golrokh Iraee… was enforced on Sunday [July 5] to prevent her from being freed.”

Daemi’s mother continued: “Atena, Narges Mohammadi and some of the other prisoners held a sit-in protest in [Evin Prison’s] Women’s Ward in memory of those who were killed in the November 2019 protests.

“Following the protest, Narges was moved to Zanjan Prison and Atena was put in solitary confinement for about 15 days. Meanwhile the Revolutionary Guards and the Intelligence Ministry worked on the case and Atena was summoned to court three times but she refused to appear because she had not been informed of the proceedings earlier and her lawyer had not been allowed to defend her.

“Ultimately her lawyer was allowed to be present with her in court on May 13 and she was put on trial for the charges of ‘propaganda against the state’ and ‘disturbing order.’ There was not enough evidence to support the charges, and the case was sent back for further investigation. But on June 27 she appeared in court again and this time the proceedings lasted only five minutes and she was not even able to present a defense. Then on June 30th, her lawyer was informed that she was sentenced to two years in prison and 74 lashes.”

On July 4th, Atena’s sister, Ensiyeh Daemi, tweeted: “When Atena heard about the sentence… she told our father, ‘Today I am free because freedom is not on the other side of the metal bars. Every new conviction is a confirmation of my freedom!”

The persecutions have not ended there. Nemati said her daughter is facing more charges.

“The prosecutor in the Evin Courthouse summoned Atena and told her that a new case has been opened against her and other prisoners, including Maryam Akbari Monfared and Leila Hosseinzadeh and a number of others in the Women’s Ward. The authorities say they are being charged for chanting slogans on the anniversary of the [1979] Revolution on February 22, 2020.”

Nemati continued: “Atena says that the Revolutionary Guards don’t want to let her go free because of her uncompromising stance. The interrogators have told her that if she writes a request for pardon or at least moderated her behavior a little, she could definitely be conditionally released or allowed to go on furlough.”

Arrested in October 2014 by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Intelligence Organization for Facebook posts critical of the government and participation in gatherings for children’s rights and against capital punishment, in June 2015 a lower court sentenced Daemi to 14 years in prison for “assembly and collusion against national security,” “insulting the supreme leader” and “concealing criminal evidence.”

In October 2015, the Appeals Court acquitted her of “concealing criminal evidence” and sentenced her to seven years in prison, five years of which was to be enforced based on Article 134 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, which allows for only the heaviest sentence to be imposed in the case of multiple sentences.

But in July 2019, a lower court sentenced Daemi and fellow civil rights activist Golrokh Sadeghi Iraee to an additional 3.7 years in prison on the charges of “insulting the supreme leader” (2.1 years) and “propaganda against the state” (1.6 years) for condemning the executions of political prisoners and for singing the revolutionary anthem “Oh Martyr” in honor of the executed prisoners, which the court said was an insult to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

The sentence was upheld on appeal in September 2019, for which the two activists would both have to serve two years and one month in prison, based on Article 134.

Read this article in Persian.