Iran jails author for unpublished story on stoning

Her husband is an inmate at the same prison and has vowed to start a hunger strike in protest

James Smith
Tuesday 25 October 2016 14:52
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Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee and her husband Arash Sadegh were first arrested in September 2014
Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee and her husband Arash Sadegh were first arrested in September 2014

An Iranian author and human rights activist has been jailed for writing an unpublished novel about stoning.

Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee had returned home after being convicted by a revolutionary court for “insulting Islamic sanctities” when her house was violently raided.

Instead of being issued a summons, as is required by law, law enforcers were sent to break through her front door on Monday, before taking Ms Ebrahimi Iraee to Evin Prison in Tehran.

The author’s story describes a young woman who burns a copy of the Qur’an after watching the film The Stoning of Soraya M, a true story about the stoning to death of a woman for adultery.

Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International said of the case: “Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee is the latest young writer and activist to be caught up in Iran’s relentless crackdown on artistic expression.

“Her imprisonment for peacefully voicing her opposition to stoning is a terrible injustice and an outrageous assault on freedom of expression.

“It is also a shocking and deeply disturbing display of support for the cruel and inhuman punishment of stoning,

“The Iranian authorities must break this cycle of injustice and immediately and unconditionally release Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee. We also urge them to ensure that her conviction is quashed.”

Ms Iraee was sentenced to six years in prison after two brief court sessions by an Islamic Revolutionary Guards court in Tehran with no legal representation earlier this month.

Her first lawyer was put under pressure by intelligence and security officials to withdraw from the case, it was reported, while a second was barred from reading her case or representing her.

According to Amnesty, she had been unable to speak in her own defence because the first session was focused on her husband’s activism. Ms Iraee was in hospital recovering from a major surgery during the second.

Despite providing the court with her medical records a request to adjourn the hearing was rejected.

Her husband, student activist Arash Sadeghi, is already serving a 15-year sentence at the same prison and has vowed to begin a hunger strike to protest his wife’s imprisonment.

According to Amnesty International he was arrested for his human rights activities, convicted of “spreading propaganda against the system”, “gathering and colluding against national security” and “insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic.”

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Both Mr Sadeghi and Ms Iraee were arrested at work on 6 September 2014 by apparent Revolutionary Guards, who did not have a warrant, and after searching their home officials found the short story which has been used to convict her.

Mr Sadeghi was moved to Evin prison while Ms Iraee was sent to a secret location and detained. She was then moved to Evin Prison for 20 days without access to her family, a lawyer or a court, and spent three days in solitary confinement.

In detention Ms Iraee suffered extended interrogation, was blindfolded and told she could be executed for “insulting Islam,” while in the next cell her husband could be heard being threatened and verbally abused by interrogators.

He has since said he was punched in the head, kicked, slapped and choked while in custody.

Earlier this month, Ms Iraee said she had received a phone call from the Centre for the Implementation of Sentences ordering her to present herself at Evin Prison and threatening that otherwise she would be picked up from the street or her house would be raided.

“They haven’t issued a written summons” she told The Guardian earlier this month. “They called me using the telephone of one of my friends, Navid Kamran; they had gone to his shop to arrest him and they called me from there to summon me.”

Despite international pressure Iran has retained the practice of stoning to death, which Amnesty describes as tantamount to torture.

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