[fund] persecution of opposition

La journaliste et militante des droits de l'Homme Shiva Nazar-Ahari a été condamnée à six ans de prison, notamment pour "conspiration" et "propagande contre le régime", selon son avocat cité dimanche par plusieurs journaux. Mme Nazar-Ahari, libérée sous caution la semaine dernière après neuf mois de détention, risquait la peine de mort pour avoir été accusée d'être "ennemie de Dieu" lors de son procès.

An Iranian court has jailed a prominent human rights activist and journalist for six years after convicting her of "waging war against God" and other charges. In another indication of the regime's determination to punish those who took part in protests after last year's disputed presidential election, Shiva Nazar Ahari was convicted of the crime known as "moharebeh" - usually punishable by death.

Writing about Shiva Nazar Ahari is more than writing about a human rights activist and fighter. It’s writing about those who take up the mantle of struggle to fight for establishing and consolidating their countrymen’s basic rights, without having a political agenda.  Some bear prison and torture, others exile and refuge camps.  Still, Shiva Nazar Ahari’s case is a dangerous one and the silence of the media about her is reprehensible, especially as her lawyer says Shiva’s trial date is set for September 4, for charges of moharebeh, war on god, which is punishable by execution.

According to Javid Kian, the lawyer for 25 year old Maryam Ghorbanzadeh, in a letter to Judiciary intelligence and security, judicial officials (most notably Saeed Mortazavi) decided that the case of Maryam Ghorbanzadeh needs to be resolved so they could deal with Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s case. Javid Kian tells Rooz that “all the attention is focused on the Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani case, and in the midst of it all, the life of Ms. Ghorbanzadeh is at risk.  In the wake of protests against Ms. Ashtiani’s stoning sentence, [authorities] changed the stoning sentence for Ms. Ghorbanzadeh to death by hanging. The ruling was sent to the department that processes death sentences.  She can be executed any moment now.”

Since our last update on the case of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, and her former attorney Mohammad Mostafaei, there have been a few important developments: Mostafaei, who had fled to Turkey after the arrest of his wife and brother in-law in Tehran, was arrested by the Turkish authorities and placed in a detention centre. He has been released, and is now in Norway seeking asylum. Although the brother in-law was released shortly after his arrest, Mostafaei’s wife, Fereshteh Halimi, continued to be held at Evin prison. However, on Saturday 7 August, Halimi was also released from prison.

"I was the lawyer of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and I had the right to defend her," Iranian lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei says of the case that has drawn international attention. Mostafaei was defending Ashtiani, the Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery when Iranian officials jailed his wife, her brother, and his father-in-law in an apparent attempt to pressure him to back down. In his first interview after fleeing Iran and surfacing in Turkey, Mostafaei talked to RFE/RL's Golnaz Esfandiari, condemning the Iranian judiciary for taking his wife "hostage" and vowing that he will never surrender to Iranian authorities. He also talked about the circumstances under which he was forced to escape Iran and leave his family, including his 7-year-old daughter, behind. (Mostafaei was reportedly taken into custody by Turkish authorities and the UN's refugee agency has said he should be allowed to apply for asylum.)

Mohammad Mostafaie, a human rights defender and lawyer of Sakineh Ashtiani, the woman whose sentence to death by stoning in Iran in June received worldwide public attention, has been arrested and detained by Turkish authorities. On 24 July 2010, his wife, Fereshteh Halimi and brother in law, Farhad Halimi, were arrested and are now detained at the infamous Evin Prison in Tehran. Prior to their arrest, Mostafaie was invited for interrogation and subsequently released by the police but was immediately ordered to be arrested again.

The most widely mentioned text in Israel over the last few weeks has been the famous quotation by Pastor Martin Niemöller from 1946, which begins: "First they came for the Communists". Cited by journalists, politicians and academics, or by commenting readers on websites (known in Hebrew as "the talkbackists"), the quotation serves to communicate one idea: the increasing persecution of Palestinian citizens has led to verbal threats against Jewish radical left activists, and is now directed at proposed laws against Zionist-left activists, university professors, journalists, artists and others. The warning from the quotation is clear: "Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me."

This is an update to the January 2010 WLUML Statement on charges against Imrana Jalal: Women Living Under Muslim Laws warmly welcomes the July 30th decision by Justice Priyantha Fernando of the Fiji High Court to stay the remaining charge against Fijian human rights lawyer and longtime WLUML networker Imrana Jalal. Along with the rest of the international human rights movement, WLUML will now be closely watching the treatment of Justice Priyantha Fernando to make sure that he is not subject to adverse consequences of any kind for his appropriate ruling in this case. We note that according to the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary, “it is the duty of all governmental and other institutions to respect and observe the independence of the judiciary.”

The Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women (SKSW Campaign) and Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) are seriously concerned about the reported arrest of the wife and brother-in-law of human rights lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei. They were arrested on 24 July 2010 and are being held in the infamous Evin Prison in Tehran. His wife, Fereshteh Halimi, called her parents to confirm her arrest and detention. Her brother, Farhad Halimi, is also believed to be detained there. There are strong indications that their arrest is intended to pressure Mohammad Mostafaei to turn himself in. Mohammad Mostafaei is a leading human rights lawyer who defended Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who was sentenced to death by stoning, and a number of other detainees in Iran.

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