Civil Rights Activist Parastou Forouhar Fights Six-Year Suspended Prison Sentence
Civil rights activist Parastou Forouhar is awaiting the results of her appeal against a six-year suspended prison sentence issued to her by a Revolutionary Court in Tehran, she told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
“The sentence was verbally conveyed to my lawyer in late December  but he complained that it had no legal validity and demanded a written sentence,” Forouhar told CHRI on February 16, 2018.
“A few days later, my lawyer was shown the sentence so he could copy it by hand,” added Forouhar, who lives in Germany but visits Iran every year. “So they didn’t even give us a written sentence.”
An artist by trade, Forouhar has determinedly been seeking justice for the murder of her dissident parents, Dariush and Parvaneh Forouhar, by agents of the Intelligence Ministry in November 1998. But the Intelligence Ministry has repeatedly attempted to intimidate her into giving up her quest.
During an annual visit to Tehran in early 2017 to commemorate her parents’ death, Forouhar was charged with “insulting the sacred” and “propaganda against the state” for appearing in a photo that was shared on social media in May 2016 showing human rights lawyer Shadi Sadr holding a glass of wine and sitting on one of Forouhar’s artistic creations: a beanbag made of fabric with Arabic script pertaining to Shia Islam.
Muslims are forbidden from consuming alcohol or desecrating Islamic script. In Iran, people can be prosecuted for these actions.
Forouhar’s trial was held on November 25, 2017, at Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court presided by Judge Mohammad Moghisseh. A month later he issued her suspended prison sentences of five years in prison for “insulting the sacred” and a year in prison for “propaganda against the state.”
The Intelligence Ministry brought the charges.
Forouhar told CHRI she believes the verdict was harsher than what she had expected and is now waiting for the Appeals Court’s decision.
On February 13, Forouhar also wrote in the Amsterdam-based Radio Zamaneh that her indictment included many actions she never thought would be categorized as crimes.
“They had underlined many of my writings in red to emphasize what big crimes I had committed,” she said. “One of them was a quote from [the late secular Iranian playwright] Gholam-Hossein Sa’edi. I suppose I’m criminally responsible for what he wrote as well.”
Forouhar added that the Intelligence Ministry had also brought charges against her for her decision to support a sit-in by human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and for visiting the resting place of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh with 10 members of the opposition National Front party.
“For months, my lawyer and I worked on a detailed response to all the accusations,” she wrote. “We presented all kinds of documents, which have all been registered in the file, but none of it got the judge’s attention.”
In an interview with CHRI before her trial in November 2017, Forouhar said it was “mind-boggling” that she was being prosecuted under charges brought by the same agency responsible for her parents’ murder.
“The same government [President Hassan Rouhani] that issues a Charter on Citizens’ Rights and talks about respecting the people’s rights, then sends its Intelligence Ministry to file charges against me—the same Intelligence Ministry whose 18 employees were charged with killing my parents,” she said.