An appeals court upheld the sentences of Maryam Bidgoli and Fatemeh Masjedi who are women’s rights activists and members of the One Million Signatures Campaign. Bidgoli and Masjedi will now begin serving sentences of six months in prison and will pay fines of $200 in cash in the coming days.
In the final ruling was issued by Branch Three of the Qom Province Judiciary and has been reviewed by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. The ruling stated that collecting signatures for the Campaign for Equality is “propagation against the regime,” and a factor in upholding the sentence is the signing of a statement in which the Islamic Republic is characterized as “without merit for filling a seat on the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women.”
Iranian authorities, such as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Head of the Judiciary’s Human Rights Council Mohammad Javad Larijani, have repeatedly spoken of freedom of expression in Iran during trips abroad. However, courts found Bidgoli and Masjedi guilty of “propagation against the regime” for their activism and signing a statement expressing their opinions about the conditions of human rights and discriminatory laws in Iran.
The ruling for Bidgoli and Masjedi, originally issued by Branch Two of the Qom Revolutionary Courts, is reflected as “propagation against the Islamic Republic regime, and in favor of a feminist group (The Campaign), through distribution and collection of signatures for changing discriminatory laws against women.”
The Appeals Court included in its ruling issues such as “internet signatures of a statement demanding disqualification of the Islamic Republic for filling a seat on the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women,” “interviewing with JARAS website,” and “signing the Campaign statemen.” These new charges for Bidgoli and Masjedi are clear manifestations of the judges’ denial of freedom of opinion and expression. The Campaign demands a halt to this unfair ruling. The Campaign further demands that the Iranian Judiciary respect minimum individual and social rights in their rulings.