Iran: Iran’s Criminalization of Human Rights Defenders: The Case of Narges Mohammadi

January 12, 2017

The “harassment” of human rights defenders’ and “criminalization” of their activities in Iran has become common practice by the judicial branch of the Islamic Republic in recent years. According to the Secretary-General’s report to the General Assembly, in September 2016, this trend includes arbitrary arrest; prolonged solitary confinement; psychological and physical torture; unfair trials; and vague and questionable national security charges. The compelling case of Narges Mohammadi is one example of Iran’s heavy crackdown on human rights defenders.

Narges Mohammadi is an Iranian human rights defender whose legitimate and peaceful activities to reform the human rights situation inside Iran have resulted in 22-years imprisonment. Her activities include being Deputy Director and spokeswoman for the Defenders of Human Rights Center; campaigning to abolish the death penalty in Iran; advocacy for women, children and minority rights, and protection of the rights of political prisoners and their families (English, Farsi).

All charges against her consist of what the judiciary calls “serious crimes against national security and the government.” She was first charged and convicted in 2011 with “meeting and conspiring against the Islamic Republic,” “anti-government publicity,” and “collaborating with the Center for Human Rights Defenders.” In 2012, she commenced serving a six-year prison but was released on bail for medical reasons. However, in 2015 she was re-arrested to serve the remainder of the six-year prison sentence.

In May 2016, Branch 15 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced her to additional 16-year imprisonment on the basis of three new charges: “assembly and collusion to commit crimes against national security,” “spreading propaganda against the State,” and “establishing and running the illegal splinter group LEGAM.” In September 2016, the Tehran Appeals Court upheld the 16-year prison sentence.


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