A revolutionary court in Tehran has reportedly issued an additional ten-year prison sentence for prominent Iranian journalist and human rights activist Narges Mohammadi because of so-called crimes against national security.
Ms. Mohammadi, a former spokesperson for Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi’s now-banned Center for Human Rights Defenders, has been an advocate for women’s rights, religious and ethnic minorities, political prisoners, and is a committed opponent of the death penalty.
Ms. Mohammadi has been repeatedly incarcerated because of her human rights work, and is currently serving a six-year term in Evin prison. She is reported to be in dangerously poor health.
Human rights monitors have expressed outrage over the recent reported action against Ms. Mohammadi. Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani of the Geneva-based Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, called the sentence “appalling,” saying it “is illustrative of an increasingly low tolerance for human rights advocacy in Iran.”Amnesty International said it was “another chilling example of Iran’s use of vague national security charges to crackdown on peaceful freedom of expression.”
UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran Ahmed Shaheed said there is “absolutely no reason why Narges Mohammadi should spend one more hour in prison, let alone 16 years.” He called for her immediate and unconditional release and access to medical treatment.
State Department Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski tweeted that “No one should be sent to prison for 16 years for peaceful civic activism. Iran should release Narges Mohammadi immediately.” And US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power called the news “terrible,” adding that Ms. Mohammadi “is unjustly jailed and should be free.”
President Barack Obama has said that strong and vibrant civil societies are an essential component of strong and successful countries:
“Human progress has been propelled not just by famous leaders, not just by states, but by ordinary men and women who believe that change is possible; by citizens who are willing to stand up against incredible odds and great danger not only to protect their own rights, but to extend rights to others.”
Narges Mohammadi is one such citizen. The United States joins the international community in calling on the Iranian government to release her and all members of Iran’s civil society who have been unjustly imprisoned for the peaceful exercise of their fundamental rights.