Nargess Mohammadi – Abdolfattah Soltani

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders has condemned the recent sentences handed to Nargess Mohammadi and Abdolafattah Soltani and denounced the Islamic Republic’s "relentless harassment of members of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC).”

This week, the Iranian judiciary sentenced Nargess Mohammadi to six years in prison and Abdolafattah Soltani to 18 years in prison and exile, all for their involvement in the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC), an NGO founded by a group of Iranian lawyers to focus on human rights cases in Iran.

Mohammadi, the spokeswoman and deputy head of DHRC, has been charged with “assembly and collusion against National Security and propaganda activities against the Islamic Republic.”

Soltani, one of the founding lawyers of DHRC, has been charged with “propaganda against the regime, founding HDRC, assembly and collusion against the regime.”

He has also been accused of “collecting pelf"  by receiving the Nuremberg Human Rights Award in 2009.

Soltani is currently in Evin Prison and Mohammadi, who had been previously arrested and released on bail, is in imminent danger of being arrested again.

The Observatory also reports that “several other DHRC members, including Messrs. Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, Mohammad Seifzadeh, Abdolreza Tajik and Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh, have also faced an intense criminalization campaign since the closure of the centre in December 2008.”

It goes on to add that these detainees have been under pressure to denounce their activities in the DHRC and also to implicate Iranian Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi, another founding member of the HDRC, in unlawful activities.

Souhayr Belhassen, the president of the International Federation of Human Rights, says: “The authorities effectively criminalize human rights legal representation and attempt to stifle human rights work in the country. We fear that the harassment against DHRC and attempts to silence Shirin Ebadi for her continued human rights work will continue”.

The Observatory adds that these sentences are aimed at intimidating all human rights defenders in Iran.

The Observatory goes on to call for an end to Mohammadi’s harassment and the release of all human rights defenders.