By Iran Probe staff
Wedesday, 28 September 2016
The New York Times reported that an Iranian appeals court has confirmed a 16-year sentence for one of Iran’s most prominent women’s rights activists, her lawyer said Wednesday.
The activist, Narges Mohammadi, 44, a human rights lawyer, has been in and out of jail over the past 15 years and has had several confrontations with Iran’s hard-line dominated judiciary. Her arrest in 2015 and conviction a year later were severe blows to Iran’s small and embattled community of women’s rights activists, highlighting the severe pressures they face.
“She has committed no crime and has just been doing her job as a lawyer and citizen,” said Nasrin Sotoudeh, a human rights lawyer and prominent activist who spent two years in prison but who was granted an early release in 2013.
Ms. Sotoudeh characterized her colleague as a law-abiding citizen who defended victims of acid attacks and voted while in prison during the 2015 parliamentary elections. “Every day Narges is behind bars is one too many,” Ms. Sotoudeh said.
In response to the news that Narges Mohammadi has been upheld on appeal, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Philip Luther, said: “This verdict is yet another cruel and devastating blow to human rights in Iran, which demonstrates the authorities’ utter contempt for justice. Narges Mohammadi is a prominent advocate of human rights and a prisoner of conscience. She should be lauded for her courage not locked in a prison cell for 16 years.
“By insisting that this harsh and appalling sentence is imposed for her peaceful human rights work, the authorities have laid bare their intent to silence human rights defenders at all costs.
“It is particularly shocking that this sentence comes as Iran’s authorities are preparing for renewed bilateral dialogue with the EU, given that Narges Mohammadi was convicted for her work campaigning against the death penalty and meeting with the former EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs. This casts serious doubts over Iran’s commitment to engage meaningfully with the EU on human rights issues.
“Narges Mohammadi’s conviction and sentence must be quashed and the authorities must order her immediate and unconditional release. We urge the EU to make these calls, too, and put the heightened repression of human rights defenders in Iran at the heart of their dialogue.”