Iran: shameful sentences for Narges Mohammadi, Issa Saharkhiz, Arash Sadeghi – no detente in human rights

September 30, 2016

© International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran

There was some hope that with the ‘nuclear agreement’ Iran would relent in its persecution of human rights defenders. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/09/11/human-rights-defenders-squeezed-by-geo-politics-the-cases-of-colombia-iran-and-cuba/#more-6957] It now seems clear that this is not the case:

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Amnesty International, OMCT and FIDH and many others condemned a decision by an Iranian appeals court to uphold a 16-year jail sentence against journalist and human rights activist Narges Mohammadi. Under a law passed last year, she will ‘only’ serve the sentence linked to the most important charge – in this case 10 years for “forming and managing an illegal group” which pressed for an end to capital punishment. Mohammadi, 44, was the spokesperson of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders and campaigned for an end to the death penalty in Iran. 2003 Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi who founded the Centre for Human Rights Defenders, said:  “I condemn this sentence imposed by the Iranian judicial system as Narges’s only crime is to be a human rights defender in a country that flouts these rights“.

Mohammadi went on hunger strike in June after being denied phone contact with her children, who live with their father in France. The authorities relented after 20 days of the hunger strike. [see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/06/12/retaliation-against-iranian-human-rights-defender-for-meeting-with-ashton/]

The Observatory has been informed about the sentencing of journalist and founding member of the Iranian Association for the Defence of Freedom of Press, Mr. Issa Saharkhiz. According to the information received, on September 17, 2016, an Islamic Revolution Court notified Mr. Issa Saharkhiz’s lawyer of a reduction in his sentence to 21 months of imprisonment. On August 8, 2016, Judge Mohammad Moghisseh of Branch 28 had sentenced Mr. Saharkhiz to three years in prison on charges of “insulting the Leader” for having used the term “Casino Seyyed Ali”[1] to describe a room in prison in his memoirs; and for “spreading propaganda against the State”. The Islamic Penal Code provides for a maximum of two years’ imprisonment for insulting the leader and a maximum penalty of one year for the second charge. Mr. Saharkhiz was arrested on November 2, 2015 by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ intelligence unit during a wave of arrests, was accused of allegedly being a “member of a network of infiltrators within the country’s cyberspace and media who cooperate with hostile Western governments”, and was kept in pre-trial detention, mostly in solitary confinement, for several months. Mr. Saharkhiz is facing charges and potential prison sentences in two other cases. One case has already been examined by the courts, and he was charged with “spreading false information.” The outcome of the trial is not clear yet, but if convicted he could face up to two additional years in prison. In the other case, which has not yet gone to court, he is charged with “insulting the head of the Judiciary and former President”.

 

Earlier Front Line Defenders reported that on 7 June 2016, human rights defender Mr Arash Sadeghi was arrested by Verdict Execution officers after the Appeals Court of Tehran upheld the nineteen year prison sentence against him over charges including “insulting the Founder of the Islamic Republic”. He is currently detained in Ward 8 of Evin prison. Arash Sadeghi is an Iranian student rights activist and human rights defender working alone on the documentation of human rights violations inside Iranian prisons. He has extensively reported on abuses and poor prison conditions, as well as violations committed by the authorities including torture, ill treatment, lack of visitation rights and access to a lawyer, and lack of medical treatment for prisoners. Arash Sadeghi was also involved in several campaigns and gatherings protesting against the unlawful detention of human rights defender Narges Mohammadi and against the execution of human rights defender Gholamreza Khosravi.

Sources:

Court upholds 10 year sentence against ‘one of Iran’s best known journalists’ | Middle East Eye

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/09/iran-shameful-16-year-sentence-for-narges-mohammadi-a-devastating-blow-to-human-rights/

http://www.omct.org/human-rights-defenders/urgent-interventions/iran/2016/09/d23967/

http://www.omct.org/human-rights-defenders/urgent-interventions/iran/2016/09/d23965/

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/arash-sadeghi

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