Civil Activist Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee Imprisoned to 22 Months for Using Her Imagination

Iran’s regime has no intention of changing its policies toward activists and civilians and thus continues to wage vicious crackdowns against human rights defenders since Hassan Rouhani became president in 2013, demonizing and imprisoning protesters who dare to stand up for people’s rights, Amnesty International said in a new report published today. 

Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, an imprisoned civil activist in the women’s ward of Evin Prison, will remain in jail for no more than 22 months before being released, Human Rights Activist News Agency in Iran (HRANA).

On October 4, 2014 Iraee received a threatening phone call from the Centre for the Implementation of Sentences ordering her to present herself to Evin Prison to begin serving her six-year prison sentence for “insulting Islamic sanctities” and “spreading propaganda against the system.”

The first charge, for which she has received five years in prison, was imposed primarily in response to an unpublished fictional story that she had written. The story describes the emotional reaction of a young woman who watches the film The Stoning of Soraya M – which tells the true story of a young woman stoned to death for adultery – and becomes so enraged that she burns a copy of the Qur’an.

The story was discovered by authorities on September 6, 2014, and on October 24 Iraee was arrested together with her husband Arash Sadeghi at his workplace in Tehran by men believed to be Revolutionary Guards. The men showed no arrest warrant but took the couple to their house where they searched their possessions and seized items, including their laptops, notebooks and some CDs.

They then transferred Arash Sadeghi, a human rights activist, to Tehran’s Evin Prison and Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee to a secret detention place. She was kept there for the night and then transferred to a section of Evin Prison that is under the control of the Revolutionary Guards. She was held there for 20 days, without access to her family, a lawyer or a court. She was in solitary confinement for the first three days.

In April of 2015, she was sentenced in Branch 15 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court on charges of insulting holy sanctuaries, propaganda against the regime, blasphemy, which was based on an unpublished story criticizing stoning as well as the belief that stoning is sacred. Other charges include her refusal to wear a hijab and promoting others to not wear the hijab, as well as sharing photos with her husband on Facebook, opposition to retaliation order, signing a statement in opposition to the death penalty, participation in gatherings to support political prisoners, and meeting with political prisoners.

Her sentence was confirmed in Branch 54 of the Appeals Court, but she was not present at this trial.

Iraee was initially imprisoned for 6 years, which was later reduced to 5 years by consolidating her sentences. Then her sentence was reduced to 30 months imprisonment because of Nowruz’s amnesty.

Iraee once suffered from a severe illness. She was sent to jail without a full medical treatment, and now needs medical treatment. Amnesty International took up her cause. They stated:

“Iranian authorities must immediately repeal the conviction and sentence of Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, a writer and human rights activist who is due to begin serving six years in prison on charges including ‘insulting Islamic sanctities’ through the writing of an unpublished story about the horrific practice of stoning.”

Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, said:

“The charges against Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee are ludicrous. She is facing years behind bars simply for writing a story, and one which was not even published – she is effectively being punished for using her imagination.”

He added, “Instead of imprisoning a young woman for peacefully exercising her human rights by expressing her opposition to stoning, the Iranian authorities should focus on abolishing this punishment, which amounts to torture.”