Member of the Defenders of Human Rights Center and Nationalist-Religious activist Narges Mohammadi was sentenced to 11 years in prison by a Tehran court. In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Mohammadi called her sentence “an unfair ruling for a human rights activist.”
“In the ruling, my efforts for starting an international campaign for human rights, establishment of the National Peace Council at the Defenders of Human Rights Center, as well as my position as Deputy Chairperson for the DHRC have been counted as ‘security crimes.’ I have been called ‘an overthrower of the regime’ in the ruling, which is very unfair and unjust. Of course the 11-year prison sentence is also unfair, but to call human rights activities, an internationally-accepted value, as my actions to overthrow my government is most unfair,” Mohammadi told the Campaign.
Branch 26 of Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced Mohammadi to five years in prison for “assembly and collusion against national security,” five years for “membership in the Defenders of Human Rights Center,” and one year for “propagating against the regime.” “My lawyers had an issue with these charges, in that these three charges are all one in principle. When an individual is a member of a center or society, she would naturally participate in that society. For example, I would organize meetings and conferences, or I was the Center’s Spokesperson for two years, for which I would naturally publish the Center’s news. The court has in effect charged me with membership in the DHRC, and for two other charges that are subsets of the first charge and has sentenced me to six additional years in prison. These are the legal problems with the ruling,” said Mohammadi.
“The DHRC was a civil organization that was established in 2000 by obtaining an operating license from the Interior Ministry. According to the Constitution of the Islamic Republic, activities of parties, societies, and organizations are allowed. Additionally, Iran has accepted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and according to Article 9 of Iranian Civil Law, considers international covenants as binding as internal laws. Therefore, according to domestic laws and international commitments, the DHRC was a completely legal organization that performed human rights activities. But in my sentence, this type of activity is referred to as ‘overthrowing activities.’ It is a shame that human rights activities should be considered overthrowing activities for a regime. It is regrettable that such rulings are issued by our courts,” added Mohammadi.
“Since January 2009, when the DHRC offices were shut down illegally and without judicial orders, pressure on its members has increased. I, myself, was barred from leaving the country in May of that year, when I was heading for Guatemala. I was told to stop my human rights activites or else face more deprivation. Several months later, in November of 2009, I was fired from my job for obvious reasons and I was even told during my dismissal that if I continued my human rights activities, I would face more deprivation. After that, I was summoned to Investigative Branch 4. I presented my defense in five sessions and was released on custodianship orders [in lieu of bail]. But 20 days later, in a completely illegal manner, without judicial orders, I was arrested and detained. After I was released, I had two court sessions. Now my sentence which is in continuation of that pressure is very unfair. Instead of valuing human rights activities in our society, this is how they treat the activists. I am concerned that as human rights are taken more seriously in the world, human rights activists will face more prosecution and persecution,” said Mohammadi.
Narges Mohammadi told the Campaign that she would appeal the court ruling within the allotted time. “But I don’t know what decision they will make. The lower court’s decision was unexpected and I didn’t think that they would issue such a sentence for a human rights activist.”
“According to Iranian laws, a copy of the issued ruling must be sent to the lawyer or the suspect, but since a long time ago, they are telling the lawyers to go to the branch and to copy the original ruling by hand, said Mohammadi, adding that, “My lawyers were forced to hand-copy the 23-page ruling yesterday.”
Narges Mohammadi developed a serious illness during her detention in 2010, which required long-term treatment. After security forces stormed her home on 9 February 2010, when her husband was also arrested, she wrote a letter to Tehran’s Prosecutor demanding judicial review of the illegal breaking and entering of her home and the inappropriate treatment of herself and her family by security forces, for which she never received a response from judicial authorities.