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Iran
02.09.19
Urgent Interventions

Sentencing of Mses. Saba Kord-Afshari, Yassman Aryani, Monireh Arabshahi and Mojgan Keshavarz, four women’s rights defenders

IRN 006 / 0919 / OBS 068Sentencing /Arbitrary detention /Judicial harassmentIran
September 2, 2019
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Iran.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by the League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI) about the sentencing of Mses. Saba Kord-Afshari, Yassman Aryani, Monireh Arabshahi, and Mojgan Keshavarz, four women’s rights defenders who have been targeted by the Iranian authorities for their defence of women’s rights and their support of the protests against mandatory hijab laws[1].
According to the information received, on August 27, 2019, Ms. Saba Kord-Afshari’s lawyer reported that her client had been sentenced to a total of 24 years in prison, following a trial that took place on August 19, 2019. Branch 26 of the Islamic Revolution Court of Tehran sentenced Ms. Saba Kord-Afshari to 15 years in prison for “encouraging people to commit immorality and/or prostitution” (Article 639 of the Islamic Penal Code), seven years and six months for “gathering and collusion against internal or external security” (Article 610) and one year and six months for “spreading propaganda against the system” (Article 500). She was also sentenced to a ban on social activities. The court issued the maximum sentence stipulated by the Islamic Penal Code for each charge and increased it by half, based on the multiplicity of charges against her and Ms. Saba Kord-Afshari’s previous conviction in 2018[2]. If the sentence is upheld on appeal, she will serve only the highest sentence, i.e. 15 years in prison.
On July 31, 2019, Ms. Yassman Aryani and her mother, Ms. Monireh Arabshahi, as well as Ms. Mojgan Keshavarzwere all notified of the total of 16-year prison sentence imposed against each of them by Branch 28 of the Islamic Revolution Court in Tehran. The sentence included one year for “spreading propaganda against the system” (Article 500 of the Islamic Penal Code), five years for “gathering and collusion against internal or external security” (Article 610), and 10 years for “encouraging people to commit immorality and/or prostitution” (Article 639). Furthermore, Ms. Mojgan Keshavarzwas additionally notified of a seven years and six months prison sentence for “insulting the sanctities”. If the sentences are upheld on appeal, they will serve only the highest sentence, i.e. 10 years in prison. The three women were not allowed to have a lawyer during the trial. All three women are detained in Shahr-e Rey prison outside Tehran.
The Observatory recalls that the prosecution, arbitrary detention and prison sentences of the four women's rights defenders stem from events that took place on March 8, 2019, when several women who had taken off their headscarves gave flowers to other women in underground trains in Tehran and spoke about the right to not wear the hijab.
Ms. Yassman Aryani and her mother, Ms. Monireh Arabshahi, were arrested on April 10 and 11, 2019, respectively. Ms. Mojgan Keshavarz was arrested on April 25, 2019.
Ms. Saba Kord-Afshari was arrested on June 1, 2019. On the next day, she was charged with “encouraging people to commit immorality and/or prostitution” for removing her hijab and walking without hijab, as well as the two other charges. On June 11, 2019, she was sent to Qarchak prison near Tehran. She was denied contacts with a lawyer and put under pressure by the authorities to incriminate herself in a televised appearance. To put more pressure on her, the authorities detained her mother, Ms. Raheleh Ahmadi, from July 10 to 14, 2019, and released her on bail after purportedly charging her under the same articles as her daughter.
The Observatory expresses its strong concern over the sentencing and arbitrary detention of Mses. Saba Kord-Afshari, Yassman Aryani, Monireh Arabshahi, andMojgan Keshavarzwhich seem to be only aimed at punishing them for their legitimate defence of women’s rights. The Observatory calls on the Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the four women’s rights defenders and to put an end to harassments, including at the judicial level, against all the human rights defenders in Iran.
Actions requested:
Please write to the authorities of Iran asking them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Mses. Saba Kord-Afshari, Yassman Aryani, Monireh Arabshahi and Mojgan Keshavarz, and all the human rights defenders in Iran;
ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Mses. Saba Kord-Afshari, Yassman Aryani, Monireh Arabshahi, Mojgan Keshavarzand all human rights defenders detained in the country, as their detention is arbitrary and it only seems to aim at punishing them for their human rights activities;
iii. Guarantee the unhindered access of Mses. Saba Kord-Afshari, Yassman Aryani, Monireh Arabshahi and Mojgan Keshavarzto a lawyer of their choice;
iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mses. Saba Kord-Afshari, Yassman Aryani, Monireh Arabshahi and Mojgan Keshavarz, and all other human rights defenders, and ensure they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance;
v. Conform to all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its Articles 1, 6, 9, 11 and 12;
vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Iran.
Addresses:
• Leader of the Islamic Republic, H.E. Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, Fax: + 98 21 441 2030, Email: info_leader@leader.ir; Twitter: @khamenei_ir
• President Hassan Rouhani, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98 21 644 54811; Email: media@rouhani.ir; Twitter: @HassanRouhani (English) and @Rouhani_ir (Persian).
• Head of the Judiciary, H.E. Hojattolislam Ebrahim Ra’eesi, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: +98 21 879 6671 / +98 21 3 311 6567, Email: info@dadiran.ir / info@dadgostary-tehran.ir / info@bia-judiciary.ir
• Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: +98-21-66743149; matbuat@mfa.gov.ir
• Secretary General, High Council for Human Rights, Mr. Mohammed Javad Larijani, Islamic Republic of Iran. Email: info@humanrights-iran.ir
• H.E. Mr. Esmaeil Baghaei Hamaneh, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 7330203, Email: mission.iran@ties.itu.int
• H.E. Mr. Peiman Seadat, Ambassador, Embassy of Iran in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 762 39 15. Email: secreteriat@iranembassy.be
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Iran in your respective countries.
***Paris-Geneva, September 2, 2019
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society. [1]For more information see the Observatory Report, Indefensible: Iran systematic criminalisation of human rights defenders, published in August 2019: https://www.omct.org/files/2019/08/25480/iran_hrd_report_2019.pdf[2]She had previously been arrested on August 2, 2018 during popular protests against the spiraling prices of staple foods and living costs and had been sentenced by Branch 28 of the Islamic Revolution Court in Tehran to one year in prison for “disrupting order and comfort and calm of the general public or preventing people from work” (Article 618 of the Islamic Penal Code). She was released in February 2019.
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