Arrested civil activists in Iran’s prisons left in limbo

Crackdown of women in Iran

London, 6 Sep - Eleven months after the arrest of Nahid Gorji in Mashhad, northeastern Iran, and considering her decreasing psychological conditions while in detention, there is still no precise information about the status of her dossier and the charges raised against her, the main Iranian opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has reported.

An informed source said while in prison Gorji began suffering from “intense depression” and “inadequate psychological conditions”, and physicians have even said she must be “transferred to a psychiatric hospital”, the NCRI’s Women’s Committee said on its website.

Gorji was arrested on 11 October 2013 at her home by security agents. She was transferred to Mashhad’s Kuh Sangi revolutionary court and then to an unknown location. Two weeks later, court orders put her bail at four billion rials (around $115,000). However, her family said this was a very heavy fee and they couldn’t come up with such amounts.

On 8 December 2014 eight Members of the European Parliament had issued a joint statement addressing EU foreign policy Chief Federica Mogherini and expressing their concern about Gorji’s detention. The MEPs asked Mogherini to raise their concerns with the Iranian government about the conditions of this civil activist and to demand her release.

Those close to Nahid Gorji say that the sole reason for her arrest were her activities on social media such as Facebook, Viber and WhatsApp.

Another civil activist Shokufeh Azar, currently held in the women’s ward of Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, also remains in limbo four months after her arrest. She has yet to be taken to a court hearing. She was arrested on 9 June along with two other activists by the names of Puriya Ebrahimi and Ghazale Shiri at a house in the town of Rudhen, east of Tehran.

According to the NCRI, an informed source said the charges raised against Azar are stated as “propaganda against the state, assembly and collusion, and forming anti-revolution groups”. The case against this 45-year old civil activists is being reviewed in Branch 6 of the Evin prosecutor’s office. She has been denied access to a lawyer, the NCRI said.