Female Iranian prisoners call for end to executions

Petition signed by Evin Prison inmates, including daughter of former president, jailed for total of 124 years

Colleagues of French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah protest at the Sciences Po school in Paris in January 2022. AFP
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Thirty female political prisoners in Iran — including the daughter of a former president — demanded an end to the execution of protesters in the country on Sunday.

Four people have already been put to death and at least 109 others are facing execution in protest-related cases, said NGO Iran Human Rights. At least 481 people have been killed in the crackdown, it said.

The prisoners said they had been sentenced to a total of 124 years in prison through “unfair and non-transparent procedures”.

They said the combined sentence was “worth a few generations of human life”.

“We, the political and ideological prisoners in the women's ward of Evin Prison, demand an end to the execution of protesters and an end to unjust sentences of prisoners in Iran,” they said in a petition.

“We have come together to say no to execution. We defend people's right to live in justice.”

French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah, who was arrested in June 2019 on the charge of undermining national security and sentenced to five years in prison, is among those who signed the petition. Ms Adelkhah's family has strongly denied the allegations.

They also include former human rights activist Faezeh Hashemi, daughter of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was given a five-year sentence in January for “collusion against the security of the country”, and Niloufar Bayani, a former representative of the UN Environment Programme in Iran who was handed 10 years in jail in 2020 for “conspiring with America as a hostile government”.

The movement has spread as far as the US film industry, with movies by and about Iranian women featuring at the Sundance Film Festival at the weekend.

Diaspora filmmakers at the ceremony spoke about the female-led protests and the deadly challenges of censorship and resistance in their home country.

Iran erupted into protests in September after Mahsa Amini, 22, who was arrested for wearing her hijab “inappropriately”, died while in custody.

The protesters “are literally putting themselves on the line. I stand in support with them 100 per cent,” said filmmaker Sierra Urich. Ms Urich's directorial Joonam is about a three-generation family of Iranian women living in the US and The Persian Version is a colourful, candid comedy-drama which hops between Iran and New York over several decades. Both films received world premieres on Saturday.

Over the last two days, Iranian authorities have arrested three female journalists, Iranian media said on Monday.

Authorities say hundreds of people, including members of the security forces, have been killed and thousands arrested during what they label as "riots" incited by the "enemies" of the government.

"In the past 48 hours, at least three female journalists, namely Melika Hashemi, Saideh Shafiei and Mehrnoush Zarei, have been arrested in Tehran," reformist newspaper Etemad quoted the Tehran journalists' union as saying.

The paper said the three women had been transferred to Evin prison where many of those arrested in connection with the protests are being held.

It estimated that about 80 journalists have been arrested since the start of the protests in the country four months ago.

No details were given on the reasons for the latest arrests.

Ms Shafiei is a freelance journalist and novelist, while Ms Zarei writes for various reformist publications and Ms Hashemi works for an outlet named Shahr, according to local media reports.

In late October, more than 300 Iranian journalists signed a statement criticising the authorities for "arresting colleagues and stripping them of their civil rights", local media had said at the time.

AFP contributed to this report

Updated: January 23, 2023, 3:24 PM