Iran: WHRD Narges Mohammadi remains at risk of COVID-19 despite the authorities’ reports, and must be freed

08.10.20

Update: Iran: WHRD Narges Mohammadi, 48, was released from prison at 3am on 08 October 2020 after a 10-year sentence was commuted due to health concerns. She was in prison since her re-arrest on 05 May 2015, after being sentenced in 2012 for human rights work.

2020-07-23

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) is very concerned about the well-being of women human rights defenders (WHRDs) and activists who remain in Iranian prisons amidst the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and reports of a second peak in Iran. 

Earlier in July, GCHR received reports confirming that Iranian WHRD Narges Mohammadi was showing symptoms of COVID-19 while in prison. The courageous 48-year-old WHRD suffers from serious pre-existing health conditions which put her health at further risk if she remains in prison, living in a poor and inhuman environment.

Mohammadi, who is the recipient of the 2018 Andrei Sakharov Prize from the American Physical Society, 2016 Human Rights Award of the German city of Weimar, 2011 Per Anger Prize, and the Swedish government’s international award for human rights, has been serving a 16-year sentence since 2015 for her peaceful human rights activism. She is due to be released after serving 10 years in jail.

In June 2020, GCHR reported that Mohammadi is facing ludicrous new charges, even while in prison, which was revealed in an open letter recently sent by her brother Mehdi Mohammadi to the Iranian authorities. In his letter, he stated that his sister had serious health problems but “was not allowed out of prison to see a doctor.”  

In a recent clip posted on 16 July 2020 that was broadcast on Iranian national TV, the Iranian authorities showed Mohammadi (in the photo above) being tested for the coronavirus by a medical professional. “A manufactured attempt by the authorities in Iran to counter reports that she may have COVID-19,” is how the broadcast was described by Mohammadi’s husband, Taghi Rahmani, who is exiled in France. He also questioned the timing of filming this footage and the purpose behind airing it now.

Mohammadi was seen at the 01:18 min of the same clip, saying, “I’m good, I’m good.” However, she is still denied visits from her lawyers and an independent doctor, in addition to her family members, which raise doubts around the credibility of the content of this video, according to her husband, as reported by the Iranian Centre for Human Rights.

GCHR reiterates its calls to the Iranian authorities to release all Iranian WHRDs and to immediately and unconditionally free Narges Mohammadi on humanitarian ground due to her poor health. She remains at grave risk of developing serious health complications if she catches COVID-19 in such poor living conditions.