Iran’s judiciary sentences 24 people over anti-government protests

Saba Kordafshari, 19, and Yasaman Ariyani, 23, have been sentenced to prison by Iran's judiciary for protesting against the government. (Human Rights Watch)
Updated 06 November 2018
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Iran’s judiciary sentences 24 people over anti-government protests

  • Prison sentences range from six months to six years for the 24 people
  • On Oct. 28, authorities also arrested a human rights lawyer over the reporting of a protester’s death in detention

LONDON: Iran’s judiciary has convicted at least 24 protesters on what Human Rights Watch has called “vaguely defined national security charges,” according to a statement from the group.
Prison sentences range from six months to six years for the 24 people, who were among 50 arrested on August 2 during anti-government protests in Tehran.
According to the HRW statement citing sources close to the case, Iranian prosecutors charged them with “assembly and collusion against national security” due to “participating in a protest without a permit that disrupted public order.”
On October 28, authorities also arrested a human rights lawyer over the reporting of a protester’s death in detention.
In the sentencing of at least two of the people, including 19-year-old Saba Kordafshari, the evidence presented by the prosecution was based entirely on social media posts they made about the protests.
Two sources reported that prosecutors and prison officials “denied the detainees access to a lawyer” throughout the investigation and that the protesters were pressured into pleading guilty.
Michael Page, deputy director of HRW Middle East said: “Iranian government officials repeatedly advertise to the world that the repeated protests in the country signal that there are real freedoms in Iran, while these same protesters languish in prison for years.
“Prosecuting peaceful protesters will only add fuel to Iranians’ boiling frustration and discontent with the situation.
“Countries that engage with Iran should press authorities for independent investigations into the proliferating number of abuses committed by Iran’s repressive intelligence and security apparatus,” Page added.
On July 31, protests against poor economic conditions and corruption that began in the city of Esfahan spread to other cities, including Karaj in Alborz province and the capital Tehran.
According to official government reports, at least 30 people have been killed in widespread demonstrations since January.


Yemen prisoner swap terms expected in coming days, says govt delegate

Updated 5 min 25 sec ago
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Yemen prisoner swap terms expected in coming days, says govt delegate

  • UN is pushing for exchange and a truce agreement in Yemen’s main port, Hodeidah

ADEN: Yemen’s warring parties are expected to agree on the terms of a prisoner exchange in around 10 days, a representative of the internationally recognized Yemeni government said on Wednesday.

Talks between the two sides took place in Jordan last week. Both parties need to agree on lists of prisoners to be swapped.

“We expect that in 10 days time the final signing will have happened,” the head of the government delegation to the prisoner-exchange talks, Hadi Haig, told Reuters by telephone.

The UN is pushing for the exchange and a peace deal in Yemen’s main port, Hodeidah. That could open the way for more talks between the Iran-backed Houthi militants and the Yemeni government on ending the country’s civil war. 

The swap was one of the least contentious confidence-building measures at December’s UN-sponsored peace talks in Sweden, held amid Western pressure to end the conflict. The fighting has lasted nearly four years, killed tens of thousands of people.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Wednesday that it hopes to see “progress in the coming days” and urged the warring parties not to let the opportunity slip away.

“This is a crucial moment for the people of Yemen,” Red Cross regional director Fabrizio Carboni said in a statement. 

The ICRC official said it was preparing for the swap by increasing staff numbers and arranging medical support. 

The ICRC was also preparing two planes to carry detainees between Sanaa and Sayoun, a town under the control of the Yemeni government, he said.

The conflict pits the Iran-backed Houthis against Yemeni forces backed by an Arab coalition, which are trying to restore the government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

The conflict began after pro-democracy unrest forced the former president, the late Ali Abdullah Saleh, to step down in 2012. 

Hadi was elected to a two-year term to head a transitional government. Later Hadi was forced into exile by the Houthis, which prompted the Arab coalition to intervene in Yemen in 2015.