Iranian writer jailed for anti-stoning story

By agency reporter
October 25, 2016

Amnesty International has called on the  Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release writer and human rights activist Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee following her jailing yesterday (24 October 2016).

Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee's home was raided by officials who broke through her front door before taking her to Evin Prison in Tehran.

Despite no official summons having been issued, it appears she has been taken to the women's ward to begin serving a six-year sentence over her conviction on charges including "insulting Islamic sanctities"  for writing an unpublished story about the horrific practice of stoning in Iran, says Amnesty.

The story describes the emotional reaction of a young woman who watches the film The Stoning of Soraya M which tells the true story of a young woman stoned to death for adultery and becomes so enraged that she burns a copy of the Qur'an.

The story was originally discovered on 6 September 2014 when Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee was arrested together with her husband, Arash Sadeghi at Sadeghi's workplace in Tehran by men believed to be Revolutionary Guards. The men, who had not showed an arrest warrant, took the couple back to their home, where they proceeded to search through their possessions and found Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee's story.

Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee was detained in a secret location for one night before being transferred to Evin prison, where she was held for 20 days without access to her family, a lawyer or a court. Her first three days were spent in solitary confinement. During her detention she was subjected to extended interrogations, where she was blindfolded and warned she could face execution for "insulting Islam". In the next cell she could hear her husband being threatened and verbally abused by his interrogators. Sadeghi has since stated that he was punched in the head, kicked, slapped and choked while in custody.

Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee was tried and sentenced to six years' imprisonment in two brief sessions by a Revolutionary Court in Tehran. She had no legal representation at the trial. The first lawyer she appointed was put under pressure by intelligence and security officials to withdraw from the case, and the second was barred from reading her court case and representing her. She was not given the chance to speak in her own defence because the first session was focused on her husband's activism. At the second session she was in hospital recovering from major surgery and could not be present; she provided the court with her medical records but her request to adjourn the hearing was rejected.

Earlier this month, Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee received a phone call from the Centre for the Implementation of Sentences ordering her to present herself to Evin Prison to begin serving her six-year prison sentence, and threatening that if she did not she would be picked up on the street or her house would be raided. However, she was never served with a formal summons.

Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Magdalena Mughrabi said: "Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee is the latest young writer and activist to be caught up in Iran's relentless crackdown on artistic expression.

"Her imprisonment for peacefully voicing her opposition to stoning is a terrible injustice and an outrageous assault on freedom of expression. It is also a shocking and deeply disturbing display of support for the cruel and inhuman punishment of stoning.

"The Iranian authorities must break this cycle of injustice and immediately and unconditionally release Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee. We also urge them to ensure that her conviction is quashed."

Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee's husband Arash Sadeghi is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence in Evin Prison on various charges, including "spreading propaganda against the system", "gathering and colluding against national security" and "insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic", all of which stem from his peaceful human rights activities.

Arash Sadeghi has started a hunger strike in protest at his wife's imprisonment.

* Amnesty International https://www.amnesty.org.uk/

[Ekk/4]

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