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16th July 2019, 15:06:24 UTC

A decade in jail for defying forced veiling.

Two Iranian women’s rights defenders, Yasaman Aryani and Monireh Arabshahi, have each been sentenced to 16 years in prison, while a third, Mojgan Keshavarz, has been sentenced to 23 years and six months in prison. They are all prisoners of conscience jailed solely because of their peaceful campaigning against discriminatory forced veiling laws. If the verdicts are upheld on appeal, they would each be required to serve 10 years of their prison sentences.

Three women’s rights activists in Iran, Monireh Arabshahi, Yasaman Aryani and Mojgan Keshavarz have been detained since April 2019. They were arrested for a video of them on a train on International Women’s Day without head scarfs, distributing flowers to female passengers and expressing their hopes for women’s rights in Iran.

Following their arrests, they were held in prolonged solitary confinement, which violates the absolute prohibition on torture and other cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment under international law, and pressured to appear before a camera, “confessing” that foreign elements were behind their activism against forced veiling and “repenting” their actions.

The trial of Yasaman Aryani, Monireh Arabshahi and Mojgan Keshavarz, conducted before Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran, was grossly unfair. They were not allowed to access their lawyers at any stage of the process. They have said that the judge presiding over the court yelled and swore at them and threatened them with years of imprisonment in Shahr-e Rey prison, where women convicted of serious violent crimes are held in dire conditions. The judge rejected the women’s pleas to access their lawyers and said that their lawyers would not be allowed to access their court files or represent them until the appeal stage.

Take urgent action calling on the Head of the Judiciary Ebrahim Raisi to release these courageous activists and stop criminalising women human rights defenders.

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