Paris-Geneva, April 23, 2012. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), deplores the arrest of human rights defender Nargess Mohammadi.
On April 21, 2012, Ms. Nargess Mohammadi, Spokesperson and Vice-President of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC), was arrested by the police in her parents' house in the city of Zanjan and taken into custody in Tehran’s Evin prison to serve her six-year imprisonment sentence. On the same day, the State media reported that she had been summoned to prison to serve her six-year sentence that had been upheld on appeal.
The Observatory is appalled that Ms. Nargess Mohammadi was arrested on the same day of her summons and was not even given a proper chance to get prepared and report herself to prison authorities, though she is the mother of two young children and is suffering from an unknown disease (muscle paralysis) and is in need of medical care and calm.
The Observatory recalls that Ms. Mohammadi had been sentenced on appeal to six years in prison on charges of “assembly and collusion against the national security”, “membership of the DHRC” and “propaganda against the Islamic Republic” on February 14, 2012. Other DHRC members are subjected to a relentless judicial harassment, including Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani, who is still arbitrarily detained despite appealing the first instance sentence of 18 years in prison and 20 years ban on professional practice, Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh, serving a six-year sentence, and Mr. Mohammad Seifzadeh, serving a two-year sentence. Other DHRC members remain free but are at risk of imminent arrest, such as Mr. Mohammad Ali Dadkah, who was sentenced by a first instance court to nine years in prison and 10 years ban on practice and teaching. Another member, Mr. Abdolreza Tajik, was forced to leave the country recently after his six-year prison sentence was upheld on appeal.
“Nargess Mohammadi is arbitrarily detained and harassed because of her strong commitment to democracy and basic human rights standards. It is obvious that, in the prevailing context of repression in Iran, the authorities are doing everything to silence every dissenting voice”, said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President.
“We deeply condemn that, over, over and again, Iranian human rights defenders suffer judicial harassment, unfair prison sentences and punitive measures aimed at breaking their commitment towards human rights”, added Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General.
The Observatory expresses its deepest concern about the arrest of Ms. Nargess Mohammadi and the harassment faced by the above-mentioned human rights defenders as it seems they are merely sanctioned for their human rights activities.
Accordingly, the Observatory calls upon the Iranian authorities to provide Ms. Nargess Mohammadi with adequate and proper medical care, and to guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in Iran. Furthermore, the Observatory demands the immediate and unconditional release of Ms. Nargess Mohammadi, Ms. Nasrin Sotudeh, Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani, Mr. Mohammad Seifzadeh, and all other defenders detained and an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against all human rights defenders.
1- Furthermore, her husband, Mr. Taqhi Rahmani, a scholar, writer, journalist and human rights defender had to leave the country a couple of months ago, to avoid imprisonment as a seven-year prison sentence (dating to 2000-2001) against him had become final. The authorities have effectively deprived the two very young children of both their parents.