While the issuing of harsh sentences against detained political activists involved in post-election protests still continues, on Tuesday, November 24, branch 12 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced Atefeh Nabavi, a student leader already being held in Evin Prison, to a four-year jail term. What is important about this sentencing is that Ms. Nabavi is the first woman to receive a court sentencing for her involvement in the rallies following the election, and that the Revolutionary Courts have not yet started to review the cases of other female detainees.
In previous years, the issuance of such a harsh sentence against a woman has been rare, but this is not the first time for such a sentencing. In past years, Revolutionary Courts and judicial bodies have systematically tried to issue suspended sentences against feminist activists in an effort to impede their activities. Nevertheless, issuing a four-year sentence against a 28-year old woman solely for her participation in post-election protest rallies is a new tactic employed by the Revolutionary Courts to confront female political activists.
Branch 12 of the Revolutionary Court dropped the charge of “Association with Mojahedin Khalgh Organization (MKO)”, which was the most serious charge against her during her interrogation proceedings, for which she had been pressured to admit her guilt. Ms. Nabavi’s other charges included “gathering and collusion against the regime” and “spreading propaganda against the regime”, and in total she received four years of jail sentencing. The basis that the court used to arrive at the sentencing was Ms. Nabavi’s participation in a march that was held on June 15. During the protest march, more than three million people appeared to protest against election fraud.
Detention of Atefeh Nabavi
In the evening of June 15, Ms. Nabavi, along with seven of her friends, was detained in her residence. In the gathering, Ziauldin Nabavi, the spokesman for the Defense Council for Education Rights and Rights of Students Marked with Stars, also participated. Once Ms. Nabavi was detained, she was taken to section 209 inside Evin Prison. During Ms. Nabavi’s interrogations, she was accused of association with MKO, and she was subjected to intense psychological pressure to submit a forced confession; nevertheless, according to Ms. Nabavi, she refused to admit to the made-up charges.
After 97 days in detention in section 209 of Evin Prison, Ms. Nabavi was transferred to the general section in the same prison, and at the present time, she is in her sixth month of incarceration.
Protest Campaign against Atefeh Nabavi’s Sentencing
In recent days, a group of civil rights activists have started a campaign called “I Am Atefeh”, and they are planning to attract the attention of international organizations and judiciary bodies to the plight and unfair sentences that have been issued against female students. The campaign, in its first issued statement, asked all those who had also participated in the post-election marches, especially in a protest rally held on June 15, to write a short statement and announce that they had also participated in the gathering, and that they support Atefeh. Organizers announced that Atefeh’s guilt in joining the protest, if this be considered a crime, is shared by those who were also at the protest.
The content of the statement said: “We, in our first issued statement, ask all of those who participated in post-election protests, especially in the protest held on June 15, to write a few lines addressed to Atefeh and judiciary bodies, and state that you are a partner of Atefeh in the commission of the crime, and if she is destined to be imprisoned, then we must all be imprisoned as well. Atefeh Nabavi is in prison and her name has been lost among all the other news related to detentions and imprisonments. This 28-year old girl must stay in jail for next four years, solely for her one-day presence in the street protest. We want to say that we think like her, that we all are Atefeh, and we must all be imprisoned.”
Founders of the campaign say: “The news of Atefeh Nabavi’s sentencing, lacking name-based recognition, has been lost among other news related to similar sentences, and it is our intention to start a symbolic movement to protest Atefeh’s sentencing, and we are optimistic that the sentencing will be looked upon favorably in the appeals court.”
The campaign is also planning to visit and meet with judiciary authorities. One day after the start of the campaign, more than 10 people have composed petitions in response to the campaign’s statement to make their protest known and show their opposition to the sentencing.
Another part of the campaign’s statement said: “Atefeh Nabavi is the first woman to receive a sentence for her involvement in the post-election protest, solely for her participation in the rally held on June 15, a rally, that many of us also took part in it. As such, we are as guilty as she is. But now we are sitting at home, and Atefeh must stay in prison for all those 3,000,000 others who took to the streets. Four years.”