On October 8, Iranian authorities finally succumbed to international pleas and released human rights defender Narges Mohammadi. Since 2015, Mohammadi was unjustly detained for bogus charges such as disturbing national security, spreading propaganda against the establishment, and insulting the supreme leader Ali Khamenei.
Amnesty International welcomed the release of Mohammadi and described it as great news and appreciated those helped her release. “Iranian human rights defender Narges Mohammadi has been released from prison! She should never have been unjustly jailed for over five years for her peaceful human rights activism,” Amnesty tweeted.
Great news! Iranian human rights defender Narges Mohammadi has been released from prison! She should never have been unjustly jailed for over 5 years for her peaceful human rights activism. Many thanks to everyone across the globe who worked tirelessly for her release! #Iran pic.twitter.com/1dp5cQd1t7
— amnestypress (@amnestypress) October 8, 2020
Mrs. Mohammadi was not the last Iranian female prisoner who was unjustly held behind bars. In recent years, Iranian authorities arrested many citizens for their activities for humanitarian affairs, abolishing the death penalty, political beliefs, and creeds, as well as members of ethnic and religious minorities.
On October 5 and 6, the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Intelligence Department raided four female labor and social media activists’ homes and arrested them in the Iranian capital Tehran and Ilam provinces, western the country. Khadijeh Mehdipour, 23, was detained in Ilam. Shabnam Ashouri, 23, Neda Pir-Khezranian, and Andisheh Sadri were also arrested in Tehran province. There is no information about the whereabouts of the two latest.
Furthermore, female inmates, particularly political prisoners, are in vile conditions. In April, the judiciary bragged about giving emergency furlough to hundreds of thousands of prisoners due to the coronavirus outbreak. However, no political prisoner, prisoner of conscience, and detained protester benefit from the furlough. Of course, in tandem with the second wave of the disease, authorities ordered all prisoners to return to contaminated jails and pushed them in contaminated wards without testing or passing the quarantine period.
The judiciary’s move placed many prisoners at the coronavirus risk. Activists argue that the government intends to get rid of political prisoners through the deadly virus. In this respect, there are enormous reports over prisoners’ infection with the Covid-19 in different prisons across the country.
Female political prisoner Massoumeh Senobari, 32, was detained in her hometown Tabriz city, northwestern Iran, on March 6, 2019. She was subjected to torture and ill-treatment during her interrogating procedure. IRGC Intelligence agents raided her home and destroyed and looted her personal belongings. The Revolutionary Courts sentenced her Senobari to collectively eight years in prison for “propaganda against the state,” “membership in the Iranian opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK),” and “insulting the supreme leader.”
Recent reports obtained by the MEK indicate Senobari has contracted the coronavirus in the women’s ward of the Central Prison of Tabriz. “Massoumeh Senobari has bad coughs. She suffers from high fever, sore throat, dry mouth, pain in the lungs and all over her body,” a source reported.
Also, on September 24, authorities transferred Mina Rad, a young poetess and writer, to the notorious Qarchak Prison in Varamin city, suburb of Tehran. In the past two years, agents of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) frequently summoned and interrogated her for participating in the late 2017-early 2018 protests.
Additionally, on September 28, judicial authorities extended the detention of Faranak Jamshidi, an environmental activist, for the third time. Since June 28, she is held in the central prison of Sanandaj, the capital of Kurdistan province.
In recent years, Iranian authorities have detained hundreds of women in protests or due to contacting their relatives affiliated to the opposition, particularly the MEK. Moreover, the MOIS and IRGC intelligence department has arrested and disappeared several mothers and sisters who looked for the fate of their loved ones. Many family members of political prisoners, who were mass killed in the summer of 1988, are behind bars for questioning and searching for their loved ones’ graves.
Of course, the facts mentioned above are the tip of the iceberg. In recent years, Iranian authorities have detained hundreds of women and girls in protests or due to making relations with their relatives affiliated to the opposition, particularly the MEK. Moreover, the MOIS and IRGC intelligence department have arrested and disappeared several mothers and sisters who looked for their loved ones’ fate. Many family members of political prisoners, who were mass killed in the summer of 1988, are behind bars for questioning and searching for their loved ones’ graves.
In this context, as rights groups and activists express their joyful for releasing Narges Mohammadi, they should keep the pressure on the Iranian government to release the rest of the female political prisoners, dissidents say. Otherwise, the ayatollahs would exploit the international community’s negligence and exert more pressure on other prisoners.