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

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.


Israeli court bars ‘racist’ candidates from September poll

Updated 32 min 57 sec ago

Israeli court bars ‘racist’ candidates from September poll

JERUSALEM: Israel’s Supreme Court has barred two members of an extreme-right party many view as racist from running in a September 17 general election.
The court ruled that candidates Benzi Gopstein and Baruch Marzel, of the Jewish Power party could not stand, quoting a law barring “incitement to racism” by candidates, according to a court statement late Sunday.
Jewish Power members are followers of late racist rabbi Meir Kahane, whose Kach movement wanted to chase Arabs from Israel.
The ideology of Kahane, assassinated in New York in 1990, also inspired Baruch Goldstein, who carried out a massacre of 29 Palestinian worshippers in Hebron in 1994.
The court rejected petitions to ban the Jewish Power as a party and upheld the candidacy of West Bank settler Itamar Ben-Gvir, who heads its electoral list.
Ben-Gvir acknowledges having a picture of Goldstein in his living room, but has reportedly said it is because he was a physician who rescued Jews targeted in Palestinian attacks.
Indicted 53 times since his youth, Ben-Gvir boasts of having been cleared in 46 cases. He decided to study law on the recommendation of judges so he could defend himself.
He now represents settlers accused of violence, including those allegedly responsible for an arson attack that killed an 18-month-old Palestinian boy and his parents in 2015 in the West Bank, an incident that drew widespread revulsion.
Jewish Power advocates removing “Israel’s enemies from our land,” a reference to Palestinians and Arab Israelis who carry out attacks.
It also calls for Israel annexing the occupied West Bank, where more than 2.5 million Palestinians live.
Alone it was considered unlikely to garner the 3.25 percent of votes cast necessary to get into parliament.
But a deal mentored by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saw it entering an electoral alliance with two other far-right parties, improving its chances.
The pact drew disgust from many in Israel and among Jewish communities abroad, particularly in the United States.
For Netanyahu, the deal ahead of what is expected to be a close election was pure politics.
He defended it by saying he does not want any right-wing votes to go to waste as he plans his next coalition.