Iran: Iran: New charges against woman human rights defender Atena Daemi, due in court in January


Human rights defender Atena Daemi has been in Evin prison in Iran for almost 50 days now since her arrest on 26 November 2016. In light of court proceedings to be held in January 2017, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) demands the Iranian Revolutionary Court to drop all new charges against Daemi which are directly related to her legitimate human rights work and her right to self defense. GCHR further reiterates a call for the previous charges to be overturned and for Daemi to be freed immediately and unconditionally.

Daemi is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence in Tehran’s Evin prison based on charges of “insulting the supreme leader,” “insulting state officials,” “spreading lies,” “resisting arrest” and “assaulting the arresting agent.” The latter charge contradicts witness testimonies. She is now facing the risk of additional years in detention after having filed a complaint against the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) for using excessive force - such as pepper spray - during her arrest in November 2016, without even showing a summons.

Daemi had been released on bail on 15 February 2016 pending her appeal. She had been in jail since her arrest on 21 October 2014, and was sentenced to 14 years in prison during a brief trial on 14 May 2015. After appeal proceedings on 29 September 2016, the court reduced her punishment on the charge of “insulting the Supreme Leader” from three to two years and the charge of “assembly and collusion against national security” from seven to five years.

She was brutally rearrested on 26 November 2016 to resume serving her sentence, and is now facing new charges based on her filing a complaint about the unnecessary force to which she and her family were subjected during her arrest. She appeared in court on 19 December 2016 on those charges.

Her previous arrest was based on allegedly meeting families of political prisoners, criticising the Islamic Republic on Facebook, and condemning the state’s massacre of political prisoners in 1988. Daemi is well known for her human rights work focused on advocating for the rights of children in Kobane and Gaza, as well as advocating for women’s rights. She was also very vocal in her criticism against capital punishment, for which Iran is well known.

This action by the Iranian Revolutionary Court serves as a deterrence for other human rights defenders in Iran who have been vocal about human rights abuses, and hinders their work. Their right to freedom of expression and to defend human rights should not be faced with any obstacles.

Accordingly, GCHR urges the Iranian Revolutionary Court to:

●       Immediately and unconditionally free Atena Daemi;

●       Drop the new charges against Atena Daemi related to the force used against her and her family during her arrest;

●       Overturn the sentence against Atena Daemi related to her human rights work, and in  violation of her right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and

●       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.