Kurdish women's rights activist released in Iran
Kurdish student Hana Abdi was released from prison on Thursday after spending nearly 16 months in detention. She had been charged with "enmity against God" and "gathering and colluding to harm national security". Amnesty International had campaigned for Hana Abdi’s release and considered her to be a prisoner of conscience, detained solely because of her peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and association in connection with her work for women’s rights and the rights of Iran's Kurdish minority. Hana Abdi, a student in Bijar University, is a member of the Campaign for Equality, a grass-roots initiative to end legal discrimination against women in Iran, and its Kurdish affiliate, the Azar Mehr Women’s Organization of Sanandaj non-governmental organization. She was arrested in November 2007, accused of membership of the Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK), an armed Kurdish opposition group, and participation in "attacks" in Sanandaj in Kordestan province, northwestern Iran. She was held incommunicado for two months by the Ministry of Intelligence before being transferred to Sanandaj prison. She was sentenced to five years imprisonment to be spent in exile in Germi, far to the north. Her sentence was reduced to 18 months imprisonment on appeal, to be spent in Razan, Hamedan province. Shortly before her release, she was transferred to Meshkin Shahr in Ardabil Province, north-western Iran. Amnesty International welcomed the release of Hana Abdi as the organization considered the charges against her to be politically motivated and possibly intended to discredit the Campaign for Equality, a grass-roots initiative to end legal discrimination against women in Iran. Her colleague, Ronak Safarzadeh, who was arrested a month earlier, remains detained in Sanandaj prison, and is awaiting the outcome of her trial. She is due to appear in court again on Saturday 28 February. She has also been charged with "enmity against God" which can carry the death penalty. In February 2008, the lawyer of both women voiced concern that they had been interrogated using illegal methods and accused of very serious charges while being held in solitary confinement. In his opinion, their confessions were not valid and could not be used in court as credible evidence.