Iran: Stoning writer rearrested as Revolutionary Guards block review of her conviction
Iranian human rights defender and writer Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, sentenced to six years in prison for writing a story about the cruel practice of stoning, was rearrested on Sunday and the judicial review of her conviction is being illegally blocked, said Amnesty International today.
Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee was returned to Evin prison after being picked up by Revolutionary Guard officials while on the way to visit her gravely ill husband, human rights defender Arash Sadeghi, in hospital. She had been on temporary prison leave since 3 January, awaiting a judicial review by Iran’s Supreme Court of her six-year imprisonment for writing an unpublished, fictional story. The review is being deliberately held up in the courts by the Revolutionary Guards.
The Iranian authorities must put an end to all attempts to penalize the peaceful activities of Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee and Arash Sadeghi in defence of human rights, immediately and unconditionally release them and ensure that their unjust convictions are quashed without further delay
“Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee's rearrest and the intrusion into the judicial process by the Revolutionary Guards is the latest alarming development in the authorities’ arbitrary and unjust treatment of this activist couple,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.
“The Iranian authorities must put an end to all attempts to penalize the peaceful activities of Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee and Arash Sadeghi in defence of human rights, immediately and unconditionally release them and ensure that their unjust convictions are quashed without further delay.”
Prior to her arrest, she told Amnesty International that her sentence and the 15-year sentence given to her husband for his peaceful human rights work had been assigned for review to Branch 33 of the Supreme Court, but the Revolutionary Guards had obstructed the process by preventing the transfer of the court files from the Revolutionary Court in Tehran.
Golrkh Ebrahimi Iraee also told Amnesty International that the Associate Prosecutor of Evin Prison had admitted that illegalities had taken place in their case and promised that they would be addressed.
The authorities have effectively taken Arash Sadeghi’s health hostage. The decision to deny him access to the medical care he so desperately needs and condition it on his wife’s return to prison is patently a callous punishment for his hunger strike and amounts to torture on the part of the Iranian authorities
In addition to obstructing justice, Amnesty International is disturbed that the Revolutionary Guards continue to inflict calculated pain and suffering on Arash Sadeghi by blocking his access to urgent medical care. Arash Sadeghi was on a 72-day hunger strike between October 2016 and January 2017 in protest at the imprisonment of his wife. He ended his hunger strike on 3 January, following a global outcry and after the authorities eventually released Golrokh Ebrahim Iraee on temporary prison leave, promising to extend the leave until her case undergoes judicial review – a promise they have now broken.
In recent weeks, he has been transferred to the prison medical clinic almost on a daily basis due to internal bleeding, shortness of breath and severe coughing. Doctors have said that he is suffering from a severe lung infection, gastrointestinal problems and kidney dysfunction and requires an extended period in hospital to receive appropriate medical care.
Despite these warnings, the authorities have refused to transfer him to a hospital. Prior to her arrest yesterday, the Prosecution authorities had told Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee that the Revolutionary Guards will block Arash Sadeghi’s transfer to hospital until she returns to prison.
“The authorities have effectively taken Arash Sadeghi’s health hostage. The decision to deny him access to the medical care he so desperately needs and condition it on his wife’s return to prison is patently a callous punishment for his hunger strike and amounts to torture on the part of the Iranian authorities,” said Philip Luther.
“His condition is dire and he must be granted the necessary treatment or else his health will continue to worsen, which could put his life in danger.”
Arash Sadeghi has been serving a 15-year sentence in Evin prison for his peaceful human rights activities since June 2016. His wife, Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, was arrested on Sunday to continue serving a six-year prison sentence on charges including “insulting Islamic sanctities”. Their joint request for judicial review is currently pending before Iran’s Supreme Court. Amnesty International considers both to be prisoners of conscience.
In a report entitled Health taken hostage: Cruel denial of medical care in Iran’s prisons and published in July 2016, Amnesty International documented a pattern of authorities – in particular the Office of the Prosecutor, prison administrations and intelligence officials – deliberately preventing access to adequate medical care, in many cases as an intentional act of cruelty intended to intimidate and punish political prisoners, or to extract forced “confessions” or statements of “repentance” from them.