Iran: Update: Iran: Student activist and WHRD Bahareh Hedayat released

05.09.16

After 2,410 days of imprisonment, student activist and women human rights defender Bahareh Hedayat has been released from Evin prison in Iran. The Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) welcomes this news with great relief and calls for the protection and security of Hedayat at all times after her release.

GCHR takes this opportunity to re-iterate the importance of her strong will and perseverance as a human rights defender in Iran; these traits were highlighted in inspirational letters she wrote to Iranian students from jail calling for hope: “These perpetual, sad and cold days and nights will surely end forever someday so that the hopeful promise of life surrounds us all over. There is no doubt in my mind that in our bright future, we will breathe in a free country while celebrating our liberty together.” She continued, “We must believe in this and stand up like before, informed and hopeful.”

On the night of 31 December 2009, the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence arrested Hedayat. Sentenced to two years for "insulting the Supreme Leader"; six months for "insulting the President"; five years for "acting against national security and publishing falsehoods"; as well as an additional two years imprisonment (suspended) for "acting against national security through holding a protest gathering for women," she would have served a total of nine and a half years in prison, with two years’ suspended imprisonment. See: https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1299

However under Article 134 of Iran’s new Islamic Penal Code, Hedayat had to be released after having served her longest sentence: the five year sentence for “acting against national security and publishing falsehoods.” Article 134 requires that prisoners charged with multiple crimes serve the sentence attributed to only their most serious offence. Her detention was deemed against international law in May 2016 by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD).

Now that the call was answered and that she is released, GCHR calls for Bahareh Hedayat to be protected from any act of reprisal and for her freedom of expression not to be threatened after her release. Remembering her medical issues throughout her detention, we also call on the authorities to ensure that all human rights defenders in Iran’s prisons be treated fairly and humanely, as research has found evidence of increased mistreatment and lack of medical attention.