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Shahnaz Akmali


"From the day that I lost my son till the end of my life I am going to be the voice of my son and crying for justice. I am not scared of anything."

Shahnaz Akmali is the mother of well-known Moustafa Karimbeigi, a 26-year-old peaceful street protester and member of the Green Movement. He was shot and killed by Iranian authorities in 2009 during the Ashura uprising,the result of widespread protests against Iran’s presidential election results that year. Since her son’s death, the human rights defender has made numerous attempts to seek redress for her son in Iran’s courts, resulting in repeated threats by the Iranian government against her and her family. She also joined the mothers of other victims of political violence to demand justice for their children. Shahnaz Akmali is likewise known for advocating for the rights of political prisoners held in Iran’s Evin prison by shaving her head in solidarity with the prisoners.

Human rights defenders and journalists are arrested, detained and prosecuted in unfair trials. HRDs continue to receive death threats and are subjected to harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention. They are refused bail or receive extreme bail conditions. HRDs are additionally subjected to systematic surveillance and their family members are targeted. Journalists have been subjected to flogging for criticising the government.

Judicial harassment is one of the most common tactic used to silence HRDs and independent voices. Vaguely-worded charges of “acting against national security", “propaganda against the regime” or “enmity against God” are often used. Many are convicted in the absence of their lawyers, on the basis of "confessions" extracted under torture. In a number of cases the targeting of HRDs is ostensibly linked to their actual or perceived religious affiliation.