Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently said that universal values enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights "today, everywhere... are under threat":
"Democracy needs defending. The struggle to make human rights a human reality needs champions."
One such champion is Shiva Nazar Ahari; an Iranian journalist, blogger and founding member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters. Ms. Ahari has been an outspoken advocate for the rights of women, children, and prisoners. She has been repeatedly arrested for her advocacy work, most recently in December 2009, when she was confined in Evin prison.
On September 3rd, Ms. Ahari was tried in a Revolutionary Court in Tehran, on charges of "assembly and collusion to commit a crime," "propaganda against the regime," and "moharebeh," an offense meaning "waging war against God," a charge that could carry the death penalty. Her lawyer reported that no evidence against her was presented at the proceeding.
After the trial, Ms. Ahari was temporarily released on bail for $500,000. But on September 18, she was convicted of the charges. While the death penalty was not invoked, Ms. Ahari has been sentenced to 6 years in prison –- adding to the list of human rights defenders and civil society activists in Iran who have recently received long prison sentences.
Human rights organizations consider Shiva Nazar Ahari a prisoner of conscience, persecuted for her peaceful advocacy of universal values and for exercising her right to free expression. In June, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on the Iranian government to release her immediately. The U.S. reiterates that call, and urges Iranian authorities to live up to their obligations under international law, including their obligations pertaining to due process under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.