Repression of human right defenders continues with four convictions

Press release
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Paris-Geneva, May 20, 2010. The Observatory for the human rights defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), strongly condemns the conviction of four human rights defenders to prison terms.

On May 17, 2010, Ms. Shadi Sadr, a prominent lawyer, women’s rights activist, Director of Raahi (a legal advice centre for women), founder of Zanan-e Iran (a website dedicated to the work of Iranian women’s rights activists) and a journalist for Meydaan, an on-line newspaper of the Stop Stoning to Death Campaign, and Ms. Mahbubeh Abbas-Gholizadeh, founding member of Stop Stoning to Death Campaign and Women’s Charter, Founder of a civil society training and capacity building centre for non-governmental organisations in Tehran and Editor of the quarterly journal Farzaneh (Sage), were sentenced to respectively six years of imprisonment with 74 lashes and two and a half years of imprisonment with 30 lashes, on charges of “acting against national security and harming public order" after they participated in a rally within the framework of the “One Million Signatures Campaign” in March 2007 outside a revolutionary court where four fellow feminists were on trial. Iranian authorities arrested them along with 30 other protesters. The two human rights defenders, who are currently abroad, were tried in absentia on May 16, and will appeal the court’s decision.

On May 19, 2010, two leaders of the Iranian-based student organisation Daftar-e Tahkim Vahdat (Unity Consolidation Office) were also sentenced to heavy prison terms. Ms. Bahareh Hedayat, also active in the Iranian women’s rights movement and a founding member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, who was arrested in December 2009 during a gathering in front of Evin prison to stand in solidarity with the families of recent political detainees, was sentenced by the 28th branch of the Revolutionary Court to nine years of imprisonment on charges of “propaganda against the regime through interviews with foreign media, insulting the leader and the President, disrupting public order by participation in illegal gatherings, illegal entry and demolition of the entrance gate of Amir Kabir University”. She is detained in the Women’s Section of Evin Prison. As for Mr. Milad Assadi, detained since November 2009, he was sentenced by the same court to seven years of imprisonment for having participated in alleged “anti-governmental activities”, “propaganda” and “insulting the leadership”. He is detained in Unit 350 of Evin prison.

Moreover, the trial against Ms. Shiva Nazarahari, a founding member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR), child labour activist, member of the “One Million Signatures Campaign”, journalist, blogger and university student deprived of the right to education, who has been detained since December 20, 2009, will take place on May 23. If convicted on the basis of an alleged “affiliation with the Mojahedin Khalq Organisation (MKO)”, she risks a possible sentence to the death penalty.

The Observatory strongly denounces those convictions, which seem to merely aim at sanctioning the above-mentioned defenders’ human rights activities. Following the massive waves of arrest, the Iranian regime indeed continues its pressure on human rights defenders by resorting to summary trials and corporal punishment. The Observatory therefore calls upon the Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the above-mentioned defenders and all human rights defenders currently detained in Iran, to guarantee in all circumstances their physical and psychological integrity and to conform in all circumstances with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as international human rights instruments ratified by Iran.

For further information, please contact:
FIDH: Karine Appy / Fabien Maitre, + 33 1 43 55 25 18
OMCT: Delphine Reculeau, + 41 22 809 49 39

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