Iran: Iran: Judicial Harassment of Human Rights Activist Narges Mohammadi

14.11.14

 

The Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) is very concerned about the ongoing judicial harassment of human rights defender, lawyer, and women’s rights activist Narges Mohammadi, who was summoned to Evin Prison Court in Iran on 8 November and interrogated for six hours.

The summons may be related to her tribute to another human rights defender who died two years ago. On 31 October 2012, Sattar Beheshti, the prominent blogger, wrote: “I, Sattar Beheshti, was arrested by FATA [Iranian Cyberpolice] and beaten and tortured with multiple blows to my head and body... I want to write that if anything happens to me, the police are responsible.” Beheshti died under torture at the police station center in November 2012.

Then on 31 October 2014, Mohammadi made a moving speech at the gravesite of Beheshti, stating, “How is it that the Parliament Members are suggesting a Plan for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, but nobody spoke up two years ago, when an innocent human being by the name of Sattar Beheshti died under torture in the hands of his interrogator?” Despite the act of extreme violence against Beheshti, which was met with an international uproar back in 2012, his case still raises questions and Evin prison still witnesses torture and unfair arrests of human rights defenders today.

The video of Mohammadi’s 31 October speech quickly went viral on social media networks resulting in her being summoned to Evin Prison Court. “In the summons I received on 5 November 2014, it is stated that I must turn myself in ‘for charges,’ but there is no further explanation about these charges,” she stated. The GCHR believes that this is part of an ongoing trend of harassment against human rights defenders in Iran.

Mohammadi is a prominent human rights defender who was the spokesperson as well as the vice-president of the now defunct Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC). She has long been active in human rights related issues and has been persecuted as a result. For instance, on 14 February 2012, Mohammadi was sentenced to six years in prison on charges of “assembly and collusion against the national security,” “membership in an illegal group” (referring to the DHRC), and “propaganda against the Islamic Republic.” She was released on bail on 31 July 2012 for medical reasons, and has since continued to advocate and work for the defense of human rights in Iran. In fact, she recently participated in the protests against acid attacks on women, which took place on 22 October in front of the Iranian parliament. (See http://gc4hr.org/news/view/798)

Given this record, the GCHR expresses its deepest concern about the judicial harassment Mohammadi is currently receiving. GCHR believes that this kind of harassment is merely aimed at deterring human rights defenders from their human rights activities. Mohammadi's summons on 8 November may lead to her re-arrest on these kinds of fabricated charges considering her pending sentence of six years in prison and her recent human rights activities.

Based on the above, the GCHR condemns this act of harassment and urges the government of Iran to:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Narges Mohammadi and all human rights defenders in Iran;
  2. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Narges Mohammadi and all human rights defenders in Iran;
  3. 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 GCHR respectfully reminds the Iranian government that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognizes the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 6 (b and c): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (b) As provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, to freely publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms; (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”, and to Article 12 (1 and 2): “(1) Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. (2) The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”

Also we remind the Iranian government of the following:

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 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.