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Iranian Women’s Rights Activist Sentenced to Prison

An Iranian women’s rights activist was sentenced to a five year prison term last week, the maximum penalty for her so-called crime. Hana Abdi was convicted of “gathering and colluding to commit a crime against national security,” according to Payvand Iran News.

Ronak Safarzadeh, another young activist who was working with Abdi, has been charged with “enmity against God,” which could carry the death penalty. Amnesty International released a press report last week expressing the belief that both women are prisoners of conscience, “detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and association.”

“It’s become routine for the Iranian government to use vague security charges to detain and intimidate peaceful activists,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, according to a statement. “Now, they’re going further by handing down outrageous sentences.”

Both Abdi and Safarzadeh are members of Campaign for Equality, a group working to end legal discrimination against women in Iran. This group has come under increased media attention recently after nine members were arrested two weeks ago during a demonstration to commemorate Iran’s national day of solidarity.

Sources:

Payvand Iran News 6/21/2008; Feminist Daily Newswire 6/17/2008; Amnesty International 6/20/2008; Human Rights Watch