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(New York) -- The 11-year sentence handed down to leading human rights activist Narges Mohammadi is another blatant attempt by the Iranian government to crush human rights organizations, Amnesty International said today.
Narges Mohammadi, the executive chairperson of Iran’s Center for Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), was sentenced Tuesday after her conviction for "propaganda against the system" and membership in a group "whose object is to disturb the security of the country."
The verdict issued by the Revolutionary Court said Mohammadi’s peaceful activities were "lies," and that her true goal was to tarnish the country’s reputation.
The CHRD was co-founded by prominent Iranian lawyers and activists, and is headed by Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi.
Ebadi told Amnesty International that "regrettably, Iran’s Judiciary has lost its independence and has become a puppet of intelligence service interrogators."
"All of Narges Mohammadi’s activities related to human rights and it was this that angered security officials," said Ebadi. "Narges continued her activism with deep conviction but the court ignored her defense and sentenced her to 11 years’ imprisonment. It is an unjust sentence and is inconsistent not only with human rights provisions but also with Iran’s own laws."
Amnesty International is calling for the sentence to be overturned. The organization would consider Mohammadi a prisoner of conscience, if she is imprisoned to serve the sentence.
Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa program, said:
"It is not Narges Mohammadi who is tarnishing Iran’s image but rather the actions of its security forces and the failures of the justice system."
Narges Mohammadi has campaigned in support of transparent elections and for an end to the execution of those under 18 years of age.
She also co-founded the National Peace Council, which aims to relax international tensions over Iran’s nuclear policy.
Her work over many years has led to human rights awards in several countries, but she was banned from travelling in 2009 when her passport was confiscated.
Mohammadi spoke to Amnesty International about her ongoing health issues due to her time behind bars, and said many other Iranians had come out of jail with serious medical problems. Her travel ban means she has been unable to travel to seek recommended medical care.
"We are seeing blanket criminalization of human rights work in Iran," said Sahraoui. "Now nearly every defense lawyer and activist – both those in her organization and others - is being targeted for arrest and prosecution on specious ‘national security’ charges."
Other founders of the CHRD, Abdolfattah Soltani, arrested on September 12, and Mohammad Seyfzadeh, serving a two-year prison sentence for his role in founding the CHRD, are also currently being held.
Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, another co-founder has been sentenced to a nine year prison term and a fine, but is free pending his appeal.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.
For more information, please visit: www.amnestyusa.org.