Update: Iran: Release of Shiva Nazar Ahari
UPDATED 20/09/2010: An Iranian court has now jailed Shiva Nazar Ahari for six years after convicting her of "moharebeh" or "emnity with God" - usually punishable by death.
The Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) international solidarity network and the Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women (SKSW campaign) welcome the news that Shiva Nazar Ahari was released from prison on Sunday 12 September 2010. Shiva Nazar Ahari is a 26-year-old human rights activist specializing in women’s rights, children’s rights, and the defense of political prisoners. She is a journalist and blogger, as well as actively involved with the Committee of Human Rights Reporters and the One Million Signatures Campaign. Formerly a civil engineering graduate student, Ahari was expelled from university as a result of her student activism. She had endured 266 consecutive days in Evin Prison, 100 of which were spent in solitary confinement, for participating in non-violent actions.
In July 2004, Nazar Ahari was arrested in front of the United Nations building in Tehran during a protest by families of political prisoners; she was arrested again during the wave of protests that followed Iran’s disputed tenth presidential elections in 2009. Iranian intelligence agents arrested Nazar Ahari at her workplace on 14 June 2009.
On 17 July, Shiva’s defense attorney, Shadi Sadr, was arrested while on her way to Tehran University to attend the demonstration during Friday Prayers. When Sadr received the International Women of Courage Award in March 2010, she dedicated her award to Nazar Ahari.
After spending 33 days in solitary confinement at Evin’s Ward 209, she was transferred to a general ward on 17 August 2009. She was not granted visitation rights and had very limited contact with her family. In September, her family posted the exorbitant amount of USD$200,000 for her bail. She had been charged with moharebeh (enmity with God), which under the current regime in Iran, is punishable by death.
Nazar Ahari was re-arrested on 20 December 2009 at Tehran’s Enghelab Square, along with numerous other rights activists who were en route to the city of Qom to attend the funeral of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri. The last trial for Shiva Nazar Ahari took place on 4 September 2010 for charges including: “assembly and collusion to commit a crime”, “propaganda against the regime,” and “disrupting the public order”. Worldwide protests were also launched calling for the freedom of Shiva Nazar Ahari.
Nazar Ahari has now been released on USD $500,000 bail, though her official sentence has yet to be announced. Reports received indicate that she is well, but Shiva, her family, the Iranian human rights movement, and the international community remain gravely concerned for her security with the impending sentencing due on in the next 2 weeks.
We thank all those who joined their voices in condemning the repression and illegal detention of peaceful human rights defenders in Iran, including Shiva Nazar Ahari. Mobilization efforts around the world have been crucial, as allies in, and of, Iran report that this international pressure remains an important strategy in addressing the waves of repression against the non-violent defence of human rights. It is important to keep the pressure on, especially in the lead-up to the sentencing of Nazar Ahari.
These are the most important points you could make when writing to the Iranian authorities:
- Welcome the release of Shiva Nazar Ahari
- Express your concern about the official final sentence on her case, which is scheduled to be delivered in two weeks’ time, and her security given the charge of “moharebeh” (enmity with God) against her which can carry a death penalty in Iran.
- Make an appeal that all charges against her should be dropped in connection with her peaceful exercise of her rights to freedom of expression and association, which are guaranteed by the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party.