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Women's rights defender Saba Kord Afshari sentenced to 15 years in prison

Status: 
Imprisoned
About the situation

On 9 December 2020, Saba Kord Afshari was transferred to Qarchak prison. Even though the transfer was ordered by the assistant prosecutor, no explanation has been presented to the women’s rights defender either in written or oral form.

On 9 November 2020, Branch 28 of the Supreme Court rejected woman human rights defender Saba Kord Afshari’s request for retrial.

On 19 September 2020, Saba Kord Afshari was returned to Evin prison without receiving required medical treatment. She was transferred to Taleghani hospital the same day after her health seriously deteriorated.

On 1 June 2020, the lawyer of Saba Kord Afshari was informed that the verdict of the appeals court had been changed and that the woman human rights defender had now received a 15-year prison sentence. Previously, an acquittal had been issued in writing on March 17 2020 by the Evin Prosecutor’s Office. She had faced the charge of “promoting corruption and prostitution through appearing without a headscarf in public”. Her lawyer has expressed concerns regarding the acquittal, which was communicated to her in prison, emphasizing the unlawful proceedings in her case. Kord Afshari, who is currently serving a nine-year sentence, can face up to 24 years of imprisonment in total.

About Saba Kord Afshari

Saba Kord AfshariSaba Kord Afshari is a young (22 year old) women’s rights defender, who has been campaigning against the mandatory veil in Iran. She took part in the White Wednesdays- My Stealthy Freedom campaign which encourages women to appear in public without headscarf and post their photos/videos on social media to raise awareness in opposition to forced veiling laws. In reaction to the growing number of women peacefully joining this campaign, Iranian police warned on 23 February 2018 that those joining this campaign will be facing charges on “inciting and facilitating corruption and prostitution” which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years of prison.

9 December 2020
Saba Kord Afshari transferred to Qarchak prison

On 9 December 2020, Saba Kord Afshari was transferred to Qarchak prison. Even though the transfer was ordered by the assistant prosecutor, no explanation has been presented to the women’s rights defender either in written or oral form. Saba Kord Afshari was previously sentenced by the Revolutionary Court of Tehran to 24 years in prison, of which a maximum of 15 years is executable.

During Saba Kord Afshari's transfer, her mother, Raheleh Ahmadi, who is also a women’s rights defender, and who is currently serving a 31-month sentence in Evin prison, requested that she be transferred with her daughter to Qrachak prison. Her request was refused by the prison officials.

In recent months, a large number of detained women human rights defenders have been transferred from the Evin Women's Ward to other prisons which have poorer hygienic and living conditions. Saba Kord Afshari was transferred to Taleghani Hospital earlier this year, after suffering health complications throughout the year. It was discovered in hospital that she suffers from gastrointestinal complications and stomach ulcers, underlying conditions for which she requires medical treatment.

11 November 2020
Saba Kord Afshari’s request for retrial rejected by the Supreme Court

On 9 November 2020, Branch 28 of the Supreme Court rejected woman human rights defender Saba Kord Afshari’s request for retrial. The woman human rights defender’s lawyer requested the retrial following a number of judicial irregularities in her case.

On 17 March 2020, an acquittal had been issued in writing to Kord Afshari by the Evin Prosecutor’s Office on her 15 year sentence of “promoting corruption and prostitution” for appearing without a headscarf in public. Her lawyer expressed concern about the acquittal at the time, which was communicated informally, arguing that it may violate her right to a fair trial. On 1 June 2020, her lawyer was informed that the aquittal had been overturned, and the 15 year conviction once again applied. The woman human rights defender, who has been detained since 1 June 2019, is also serving time in prison for a number of other convictions and could now face a combined 24 years in prison.

29 September 2020
Women's rights defender denied necessary treatment on the pretext of cost

On 19 September 2020, Saba Kord Afshari was returned to Evin prison without receiving required medical treatment. She was transferred to Taleghani hospital the same day after her health seriously deteriorated. Her doctor had advised that she needed an ultrasound, colonoscopy, and endoscopy. However, she was returned to prison after undergoing only an ultrasound.  The defender was told that she would not receive the other procedures as she did not have the money to pay for them. However, according to regulations of the Organization of Prisons, the expenses for medical treatment of prisoners should be paid by that organization. Saba Kord Afshari's family had been told that she was in a different hospital in order to ensure they would not be able to meet with her or pay for her treatment.

Earlier this year, on 29 May 2020, the human rights defender was transferred to Taleghani Hospital for the first time, after a year of complaints of poor health. It was discovered in hospital that the women rights defender suffers from gastrointestinal complications and stomach ulcers. 

3 June 2020
Women's rights defender Saba Kord Afshari sentenced to 15 years in prison

On 1 June 2020, the lawyer of Saba Kord Afshari was informed that the verdict of the appeals court had been changed and that the woman human rights defender had now received a 15-year prison sentence. Previously, an acquittal had been issued in writing on March 17 2020 by the Evin Prosecutor’s Office. She had faced the charge of “promoting corruption and prostitution through appearing without a headscarf in public”. Her lawyer has expressed concerns regarding the acquittal, which was communicated to her in prison, emphasizing the unlawful proceedings in her case. Kord Afshari, who is currently serving a nine-year sentence, can face up to 24 years of imprisonment in total.

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Saba Kord Afshari is a young (22 year old) women’s rights defender, who has been campaigning against the mandatory veil in Iran. She took part in the White Wednesdays- My Stealthy Freedom campaign which encourages women to appear in public without headscarf and post their photos/videos on social media to raise awareness in opposition to forced veiling laws. In reaction to the growing number of women peacefully joining this campaign, Iranian police warned on 23 February 2018 that those joining this campaign will be facing charges on “inciting and facilitating corruption and prostitution” which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years of prison.

Despite the maximum of 10 years imprisonment foreseen in Islamic Penal Code, on August 27, 2019, Saba Kord Afshari was initially sentenced to a total of 24 years in prison, following a trial that took place on August 19, 2019. Branch 26 of the Islamic Revolution Court of Tehran sentenced Saba to 15 years in prison for “encouraging people to commit immorality and/or prostitution” seven years and six months for “gathering and collusion against internal or external security” and one year and six months for “spreading propaganda against the system”. She was also sentenced to a ban on social activities. The court issued the maximum sentence stipulated by the Islamic Penal Code for each charge and increased it by half, based on the multiplicity of charges against her and Kord Afshari’s previous conviction in 2018.

Saba Kord Afshari was arrested for the first time on August 2, 2018, alongside many others, during a series of protests that occurred July-August 2018 against the deterioration of Iran’s economy as well as the corruption within government. She was first transferred to Qarchak Prison in Varamin and later, in October 2018, to Evin prison’s women’s ward. In August 2018, she was sentenced to one year in prison on the charge of “disrupting the public order” at Branch 28 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court. She was released along with a large number of prisoners on 14 February 2019 as a part of general pardon coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

Saba Kord-Afshari was rearrested on June 1, 2019 in her house and the following day, she was charged with “encouraging people to commit immorality and/or prostitution” for removing her hijab and walking without hijab, as well as the two other charges. On June 11, 2019, she was sent to Qarchak prison near Tehran. She was denied contact with a lawyer and pressured by the authorities to incriminate herself in a televised appearance. Saba was eventually transferred to the women’s ward of Evin on August 13, 2019. The authorities detained her mother, Raheleh Ahmadi, from July 10 to 14, 2019 to harass Kard Afshari further, and the 26 Branch of Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced Raheleh to 31 months in prison on 16 December 2019. Raheleh is currently serving her sentence in Evin prison alongside her daughter. Neither Saba, nor her mother have been granted temporary release during the COVID19 outbreak.