Narges Mohammadi, the prominent human rights defender and Deputy Head of the now shuttered Defenders of Human Rights Center, has been summoned to the Evin Prison Court following a moving speech she made at the grave site of Sattar Beheshti, the 35-year-old blogger who died under torture at a police detention center in November 2012. “In the summons I received on November 5, 2014, it is stated that I must turn myself in ‘for charges,’ but there is no further explanation about these charges,” said Mohammadi.
A video of her October 31 speech in remembrance of the second anniversary of Sattar Beheshti’s murder quickly went viral among social networks. In her speech, Narges Mohammadi spoke about the police negligence that led to Beheshti’s death under torture while being interrogated, and a bill currently under review at the Iranian Parliament that aims to implement the Islamic principle of “Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice” in Iran. “How is it that the Parliament Members are suggesting a Plan for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, but nobody spoke up two years ago, when an innocent human being by the name of Sattar Beheshti died under torture in the hands of his interrogator?” Mohammadi asked.
“Is [seeing] my, the Iranian woman’s, hair the only vice that has mobilized all of you? Why should four thousand bikers be allowed to come to Tehran streets to propose a plan for dealing with poor hijab, and to combat poor hijab, because poor hijab is a vice, but where were these four thousand men when the mothers of those killed were wailing? she asked in her speech.
Narges Mohammadi was one of the women who met with Catherine Ashton, the former foreign policy chief of the European Union, at the Austrian Embassy in Tehran last March on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Following the release of photographs of the visit, Mohammadi was harshly criticized by the state-controlled media and hardliners in the Iranian Parliament, and was described as “a sedition activist and convict,” referring to the post-2009 presidential election protests in Iran.
Mohammadi was arrested in 2009 and charged with propaganda against the state. She was sentenced to eleven years in prison in October 2011 on charges of “assembly and collusion against national security,” “membership in the Defenders of Human Rights Center,” and “propaganda against state,” but her sentence was reduced to six years in prison at the appeals level. Due to severe illnesses in Zanjan Prison, she was released in 2013 for medical reasons on bail of 600 million toman (approximately $200,000).
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