Today is International Women’s Day and a number of courageous women in Iran are behind bars merely for exercising their internationally recognized rights to freedom of expression and association.
Zeynab Jalalian, Iranian Kurdish activist, aged 40, who is serving a life sentence following a grossly unfair trial, is being deliberately prevented from receiving specialized medical care despite her deteriorating health, including lung damage and respiratory problems as a result of having contracted Covid-19 in June 2020.
Narges Mohammadi is a distinguished and passionate defender of human rights. She was vicepresident of the Center for Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) which reported on violations of human rights in Iran provided pro-bono legal representation to political prisoners and support to their families before it was forcibly closed by the Iranian authorities in December 2008.
Niloufar Bayani is a wildlife conservationist and a prisoner of conscience, sentenced to prison solely for her peaceful scientific and conservation activities, such as research on Iran’s endangered wildlife. She is one of eight scientists who were convicted and sentenced to prison terms, ranging between four to ten years, on baseless charges of “cooperating with hostile states against the Islamic Republic.
Saba Kordafshari is Women’s rights defender, aged 24, who is serving a lengthy prison sentence for campaigning against Iran’s discriminatory and abusive forced veiling laws and other peaceful human rights activism. In August 2019 a Revolutionary Court sentenced her to 24 years in prison for “inciting and facilitating corruption and prostitution” through promoting “unveiling,” “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security,” and “spreading propaganda against the system.”
Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent human rights lawyer and women’s rights defender, who has represented a woman sentenced to a long prison term for protesting forced veiling, has been sentenced to a total of 38 1/2 years in prison following two grossly unfair trials in 2016 and 2018, on spurious national security-related charges including “forming a group with the purpose of disrupting national security,” “spreading propaganda against the system” and “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security.”
Maryam Akbari-Monfared is a political prisoner who was exiled from Evin Prison, where she has served more than 11 years of her 15-year sentence, 110 miles east to the central prison in Semnan, an extremely inaccessible location for her children.
Golrokh Iraee Ebrahimi, a civil rights activist, was transferred from Gharchak Prison to the central prison in Amol, Mazandaran province in northern Iran, far from her parents.
Other cases include (but not limited to): Yasaman Ariyani and her mother Monireh Arabshahi, who were exiled from Evin Prison to Kachuei Prison in Karaj, west of Tehran, and political prisoner and Samaneh Norouz-Moradi, who was transferred to the central prison in Roudsar, northern Iran