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Iran: Mahdieh Golrou’s Case Referred to the “Judge of Death”

2015-01-15

Update: On 28 January 2015, Mahdieh Golrou was released on bail.

The Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) calls for the immediate and unconditional release of the well-known women’s and students’ rights activist Mahdieh Golrou, who has been detained for three months without charge.

Golrou was arrested on the 24th of October 2014 after a raid on her house following her rigorous participation in the protests on 22nd of October 2014 against acid attacks on women, but the charges against her are still unclear. Her case has recently been referred to Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran where the judge Abdolghasem Salavati is in charge. He is well known for sentencing many human rights defenders to extremely heavy sentences, which explains why Iranian activists call him the “hanging judge” or the “judge of death.”

Golrou was placed in solitary confinement for 40 days after her arrest. Since then, she has been living in a small cell inside ward 2-A of the notorious Evin prison along with Atena Daemi. Both inmates have been constantly watched through CCTVs even while using the toilet. During her very rare family visits, Golrou could barely inform her family of her condition seeing that interrogators were present at all times. According to a trusted source, Golrou was threatened with a heavy sentence and exile several times by Revolutionary Guard interrogators. While usually prisoners are released on bail after their interrogation until their trial, Golrou’s release has been denied. Even though her uncle and grandmother passed away while she was imprisoned she was denied the right to attend their funerals.

Born in 1985, Golrou was an industrial economy student at Allameh Tabatabaei University until she became a “starred student” and got banned from continuing her education during the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad presidency due to her student activism. She was arrested on 2 December 2009, and sentenced to two years and four months in prison on charges of “propaganda against the state.” After 30 months in prison, she was released on 19 May 2012. Following the 2013 election of Hassan Rouhani and the emergence of hope for the return of “starred students” to universities, along with many others, Golrou submitted a request to the Science Ministry to be allowed to return to her studies, but her request was not granted.

Golrou went back to her women’s and students’ rights activism as she is a member of the Council for Defense of Educational Rights. In a meeting with fellow activists she states: “What kind of future are we going to live if students with no opinions would be the ones leading us?” This explains her concern and commitment to student activism. Furthermore, nothing stopped her from calling for the arrest and sentencing of the attackers who have still not been identified in the Isfahan acid attacks (For more info on the acid attack protests: http://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/798).

Golrou is a human rights defender whom the GCHR believes has been detained solely for defending and practicing basic human rights such as protesting the acid attacks with fellow activists on behalf of the women victims. The attackers have still not yet been arrested, months after the first acid attack despite government promises and “efforts”.  “I am a woman. I am an Iranian woman who is afraid and is always worried. […]I am a woman, and these days, my womanhood scares me,” claims Golrou. 

Other women’s and students’ rights activists have been detained in Iran, some at length. For example, Bahareh Hedayat who has been in jail with Golrou, has been jailed since December 2009. GCHR calls for her release, particularly after she has overpaid her judicial “dues.” (For more info on Hedayat: http://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/772).

In the past few days, more than 300 Iranian civil rights activists urged the authorities to release Golrou but their request has been denied so far. The GCHR would like to voice that this detention silences human rights defenders and violates their right to freedom of expression, especially those standing up for national issues that are based on international human rights standards.

The GCHR strongly believes that Golrou’s ongoing detention is directly related to her human rights activities in Iran, and as such, calls on the Iranian Judiciary: 

1        To immediately and unconditionally release Mahdieh Golrou;

2        To ensure the physical and psychological integrity and security of Mahdieh Golrou, which includes providing any necessary medical attention she might need;

3        To ensure Mahdieh Golrou’s entitlement to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal;

4        To enforce the provision of the new Islamic Penal Code and release all political prisoners who have served their time according to Article 134 (such as Bahareh Hedayat;)

5        To guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Iran are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

 

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states under:

 Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 9: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10: Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. 

Article 20: 1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. 2. No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Legal reference:

The new Islamic Penal Code states under Article 134:

In the cases of offenses punishable by ta’zir, where the offenses committed are not more than three, the court shall impose the maximum punishment provided for each offense; and if the offenses committed are more than three, [the court] shall impose more than the maximum punishment provided for each crime provided that it does not exceed more than the maximum plus one half of each punishment. In any of the abovementioned cases, only the most severe punishment shall be executed and if the most severe punishment is reduced or replaced or becomes non-executable for any legal reason, the next most severe punishment shall be executed. In any case where there is no maximum and minimum provided for the punishment, if the offenses committed are not more than three, up to one-fourth, and if the offenses committed are more than three, up to half of the punishment prescribed by law shall be added to the original punishment.