The renewed trial of Nargess Mohammadi, an Iranian activist, once more exemplifies that people who are identified by the regime as “political criminals” for criticizing the regime have no chance to a fair trial: Mohammadi is to remain in jail until 2026.
Why? Let’s start from the end: On September 28th, the Tehran court of Appeals upheld a sentence against Mohammadi which would keep her in jail for another 10 years for a number of political charges – “assembly and collusion to commit crimes against national security” (5 years), “spreading propaganda against the State” (1 year) and “establishing and running the illegal splinter group LEGAM” (10 years). But what exactly were her “crimes”? She was a member of an organization whose goal was to abolish capital punishment in Iran. She met with the former EU representative Catherine Ashton in Tehran without permission. She made a speech at the gravesite of Sattar Beheshti who died after being tortured by the regime. All of these “crimes” can be lumped into one bigger “crime”: criticizing the regime.
Unfortunately for Mohammadi, the regime in Tehran has zero tolerance for criticism of any kind: the regime’s goal is to sustain itself and the only way it can do this is to maintain the status quo from the 1979 Islamic Revolution, effectively barring any change that could endanger the regime. Furthermore, the regime is all encompassing in that it has it maintains its power bases in the non-elected bodies such as the Supreme Leader and the Guardian Council, in the Assembly of Experts, in the Majlis (parliament), in the government, in the judiciary, in the IRGC (includes both military and economy), the military/police/intelligence, the Basij (volunteer paramilitary), the nuclear program etc… These interacting tentacles of power in all the aspects of the lives of Iranians ensure that any one criticizing the regime, its ideals, its laws or its governing bodies can be punished without any effort to maintain the civil rights of the “criminal”. In this vicious circle, all the people and organizations under the influence of the regime work together to stifle or oust any danger to the regime itself. In such a manner, an activist for human rights or for social change, such as Mohammadi, can easily be arrested, charged and convicted with trying to overthrow the regime, a “crime” which carries heavy prison convictions or even execution.
It’s irrelevant to the regime that Mohammadi, and activists like her, do not receive the benefits of a fair trial. Mohammadi wasn’t even present at the verdict of her trial in which she was convicted to 11 years in jail. She can’t even enjoy the benefits of Iranian law which stipulates that “criminals” do not have to serve accumulating prison sentences on different charges but should serve only the largest sentence (10 years in her case).
The fact that Mohammadi is a mother of two who will not see her children grow up is irrelevant and the fact that her health has deteriorated rapidly while in jail is irrelevant as well because Mohammadi’s fate is not her own: her fate is meant to be a deterrent to all would-be activists in Iran with one clear message: criticizing the regime will lead to a loss of freedom and dignity.
Mohammadi’s plight has generated massive support from the UN, Amnesty, Front Line Defenders, Nobel Women, Reporters Without Borders and a host of other governments and NGO’s which have all decried Mohammadi’s cause and the reaction from Tehran has been, to date, “butt out!”. If there’s one thing that bothers the regime more than criticism from Iranians, it is criticism from non-Iranians. Yes, some believe that an increase in global pressure might hurt Mohammadi’s cause into leading the regime to dig its heels in harder but most activists believe that with enough pressure, Hassan Rouhani’s government might have to rethink its ways if it wants to maintain its new-found ties with Western countries.
So, please add your own weight to helping Mohammadi by either sharing this article or join the converstion at any of these sites.
https://twitter.com/UnitedForNarges, https://www.facebook.com/International-Campaign-for-Human-Rights-in-Iran-49929580840/?fref=nf, https://www.facebook.com/humanrightsiran/?fref=nf, https://www.facebook.com/StealthyFreedom/, https://www.facebook.com/nobelwomen/, https://www.facebook.com/Free-Narges-612133508960995/?fref=nf, https://www.facebook.com/lddhi.fidh/?fref=nf, http://www.pen-international.org/newsitems/iran-take-action-for-narges-mohammadi/