Iranian women journalists, imprisoned journalist’s mother jailed arbitrarily
Two women freelance journalists and a jailed photojournalist’s mother have been ordered to begin serving prison sentences in the past month in Iran. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the systematic use of imprisonment to harass all those associated with the provision of independent news and information, including women.
Farangis Mazloom, the mother of Soheil Arabi, a photojournalist awarded the RSF Press Freedom Prize in the citizen-journalist category in 2017, was told by the Evin prison prosecutor’s office for sentence enforcement on 20 October that she must begin serving the one-year jail sentence she received in March on charges “meeting and plotting against national security” and “anti-government propaganda”.
Her crime was to have alerted public opinion about the conditions in which her son is being held, and to have protested against the inhuman and degrading treatment to which he has been subjected.
Jailed since December 2013, Arabi has been subjected to arbitrary and illegal “disciplinary” harassment in prison and has begun a new hunger strike in protest against the beatings he has received from prison officials and other forms of violence. Transferred several times to different prisons, he has spent long periods in solitary confinement. He was even tortured (and injured) when he became the mouthpiece of fellow inmates who were denouncing the appalling conditions in Tehran prison.
Freelancer Mehrnoush Tafian’s sentence of 91 days in jail and an additional one-year suspended prison sentence was meanwhile confirmed by the judicial authorities in the southern city of Ahvaz on 20 October. Tafian was arrested on 29 October 2020 when she responded to a summons from an Ahvaz revolutionary court and was released on bail two days later. She was convicted for covering a demonstration by residents of a nearby village in protest against the destruction of their homes by Iran’s wealthiest religious foundation.
Another women journalist, Narges Mohammadi, reported on Instagram on 26 September that the judicial authorities have confirmed her sentence of 36 months in prison, 80 lashes and a fine.
“Ever since they began constructing this case, I have not participated in any hearing, I have not had a lawyer and I have not written a word in my defence,” she wrote in her Instagram post. “And of course, despite my summons, I did not show up at the prison. They can come and get me by force and once in prison I will denounce this injustice.”
Mohammadi, who was also the spokesperson of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders in Iran, spent several years in prison between May 2015 and October 2020. In December 2019, she was beaten and subjected to other forms of violence by the director of Tehran’s Evin prison and several of his guards when she protested against her transfer to Zanjan prison, 300 km northwest of Tehran.
Since her release in October 2020, she has been subjected to all-out judicial harassment, including at least eight arrests, because of her defence of the families of prisoners of conscience and journalists.
Iran is ranked 174th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.