Iranian activist and journalist Narges Mohammadi has won awards and global plaudits for her human rights advocacy, including her work to end Iran’s use of the death penalty for young offenders. But the 44-year-old mother of two has spent the past year behind bars, serving the remainder of a six-year sentence simply for speaking out.
Now Mohammadi, who has an undiagnosed disease affecting her muscle control, faces a further 16 years in jail after being convicted in May of several national security-related offenses tied to her peaceful activism.
Thousands of Iranian citizens have joined the United Nations and global rights groups in campaigning for Mohammadi’s release.
Iran has fielded harsh criticism from the U.N. and international community for its widespread crackdown on dissent, including hundreds of arrests of activists, journalists and reformists in recent years. The British government called Mohammadi’s arrest for the sentence that landed her back in jail last year “another sad example of the Iranian authorities’ attempts to silence brave human rights defenders.”
Global humanitarian organization Amnesty International has denounced Mohammadi’s imprisonment and latest sentence as an “all out attack” on freedom of expression by Iran’s “abusive” criminal justice system.
“Narges Mohammadi’s sentence is yet another chilling example of Iran’s use of vaguely worded national security charges to crack down on peaceful freedom of expression,” said Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director, Philip Luther. “There is no doubt that she is being unjustly punished for her steadfast commitment to human rights.”
Activist Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad, a prominent crusader against Iran’s compulsory veiling law, used her online movement My Stealthy Freedom to start a campaign advocating for Mohammadi’s release. Thousands of men and women have posted photos of themselves on social media with “Free Narges” written on their hands, in a pose that is similar to a photo of Mohammadi.
“Narges is innocent, and people are crying for her,” Alinedjad told The WorldPost. “We want her to be free, and this is the only way that we can get the attention of our government and international community.”
Take a look at some of the posts calling for Mohammadi’s immediate release: