Iran Should Stop Assaulting, Threatening Peaceful Activists
June 17, 2021 – Iranian authorities should stop physically assaulting, harassing and threatening peaceful activists in Iran, including the prominent rights defender Narges Mohammadi, who told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) that she fears for her life after being twice violently confronted by unidentified state security agents in less than a week.“I am extremely worried for my life,” Mohammadi told CHRI on June 17, 2021. “In a matter of a few days, unknown assailants who do not identify themselves have attacked and threatened me.”
“They have told me to stop my activities because it ‘harms the interests of the Islamic Republic,’” she added. “I am a human rights defender and have not broken any laws.”
Photographs received by CHRI show large bruises on Mohammadi’s body.
CHRI calls on the Iranian authorities to cease trying to muzzle free speech and expression and allow peaceful activism without the threat of violence, imprisonment or death.
CHRI urges the international community to speak out against this unlawful state violence, and to monitor the human rights situation in Iran with heightened vigilance ahead of a sham election, scheduled for June 18, 2021, that could bring Ebrahim Raisi, a man guilty of crimes against humanity, to power.
Mohammadi and Mothers of Killed Protesters Violently Confronted in Shiraz
Mohammadi and other activists, including the mothers of peaceful protesters who were killed by security forces, were first violently confronted and briefly detained by state agents who refused to identify themselves on June 12, 2021, in the city Shiraz. They had traveled to Shiraz to visit the grieving family of champion wrestler Navid Afkari, who was unjustly executed there in September 2020.
The activists had peacefully gathered outside the prison where the wrestler was hanged—and where his two brothers now also fear for their lives in prolonged solitary confinement—when they were beaten by plainclothes agents who refused to identify themselves.
The second confrontation occurred on June 17 when Mohammadi traveled with fellow activists to the city of Shazand in Markazi Province to visit the family of an imprisoned human rights lawyer, Mohammadi Najafi, and was refused entry into the city.
Agents who again refused to identify themselves forced her into a car, drove her around for hours and “confronted her with violence.”
“They showed us an Intelligence Ministry letter requesting the prosecutor prohibit [my] entry into Shazand,” Mohammadi said in an audio message that was circulated on social media.
In the message, Mohammadi added that she was with three human rights lawyers, Abdolfattah Soltani, Arash Keykhosravi and Mostafa Nili, as well as Shanaz Akmali, who has been seeking justice for her son Mostafa Karim Beigi, who was killed in Tehran during a 2009 protest.
Mohammadi: “It has been nothing short of kidnappings and threatening my life”
“When I ask them to show me any legal documents and identify themselves, they refused,” Mohammadi told CHRI. “It has been nothing short of kidnappings and threatening my life. In Shiraz I was assaulted and bruised. My life is in danger.”
They were ultimately forced to return to Tehran.
Released from prison in October 2020 after serving five years for engaging in peaceful activism including against capital punishment, Mohammadi was again sentenced to 30 months in prison and 80 lashes in May 2021 for joining a peaceful sit-in at Evin Prison’s Women’s Ward to protest the violent state suppression of street protests in November 2019.
In late December 2019, following her participation in a peaceful protest in Evin prison against the killing of protestors by state security forces in November 2019, Mohammadi was forcibly and violently exiled to Zanjan prison, some 300 km from Tehran.
Instead of investigating her complaint against the violent prison transfer, she was later sentenced to more prison time. These rights violations took place during the tenure of Judiciary Chief Raisi.
In 2016, Mohammadi was sentenced to 16 years imprisonment for “membership in the [now banned] Step by Step to Stop the Death Penalty” group; “taking part in assembly and collusion against national security” and “committing propaganda against the state.”
The former Deputy Director of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC), Mohammadi was awarded the Per Anger Prize by the Swedish government for her human rights work in 2011 and the Andrei Sakharov Prize from the American Physical Society in 2018.