Civil rights activists Yasaman Aryani, Monireh Arabshahi, and Mojgan Keshavarz (L-R)
Three women in Iran have been given prison sentences of at least 16 years, for offenses such as not wearing hijab and handing out flowers on a Tehran subway train on International Women’s Day.
Civil rights activists Yasaman Aryani, Monireh Arabshahi, and Mojgan Keshavarz were condemned on Wednesday in a Revolutionary Court. Each was given 10 years for “encouraging and promoting corruption by de-veiling”, five years for “collusion and assembly to act against national security”, and one year for “propaganda against the state”.
Keshavarz was given an additional seven years and six months for “blasphemy”.
The attorney for Aryani and Arabshahi, Amir Reissian, said lawyers were not allowed to attend interrogation and trials, which were scheduled without any notice. The Revolutionary Court judge, Mohammad Moqisseh, said no access by attorneys would be granted until an appeal was arranged.
Reissian said that, if the verdict is upheld, his clients will serve at least 10 years behind bars.
Aryani, an actress, and her mother Arabshahi were arrested in early April. Their “crime” was to take off compulsory headscarves and out flowers on March 8, International Women’s Day, in a Tehran subway carriage.
Iranian authorities were embarrassed when video of the event spread on social media, with the women saying to passingers, “The day will come when women are not forced to struggle….[Walking side by side] me without the hijab and you with the hijab.”
Aryani had been involved in the White Wednesdays campaign, launched last year, in which women wear a white headscarf in public. She was initially arrested in August 2018, with 17 other women and about 50 men, after they helped a woman in downtown Tehran who was thrown to the ground by anti-riot police during protests over economic conditions. Just before her last detention, she was barred from performing at a Tehran theater owned by the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry.
Early this year Arabshahi traveled to western Iran to help flood victims. She returned to Tehran on hearing that her daughter had been arrested, and was seized as soon as she arrived at the detention center.
Keshavarz was arrested on April 25. She was transferred to Qarchak Prison, east of Tehran, a week later.