Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Ehteram Shadfar Sentenced to 6 Months Suspended Prison for Collection of Signatures

Change for Equality: Ehteram Shadfar, member of the Women’s Cultural Center and active member of the Mothers Committee of the One Million Signatures Campaign, was sentenced to 6 months suspended prison term by branch 13 of the Revolutionary Courts. The 6 month sentence will be suspended for two years, and will not be implemented unless she is found guilty of another crime during this time. Ehteram Shadfar, was found guilty of propaganda against the state, through the collection of signatures in support of the Campaign’s petition, which asks the parliament to reform laws which discriminate against women.

Shadfar, 62, explains that the sentence relies on Article 500 of the Islamic Penal Code, and reads: "the sentence, with adherence to Article 25, and with attention to special conditions and social conditions, will be suspended for 2 years, unless the accused commits a crime during this period, at which time the sentence will be implemented."

Ehteram Shadfar was arrested on June 10, 2007 in her home by Security Police from Police Station 104, in Nilofar Square, and spent 24 hours in Vozara detention center based on order of the courts. She explains the conditions of her arrest as such: "I had given a neighbor a few petitions and Campaign booklets explaining the laws. She had signed our petition and was interested in becoming more involved with the Campaign, but was arrested while collecting signatures. Upon her arrest she explained to police that she had received the booklets and petition forms from me. As such, I too was arrested."

In relation to her sentence, Shadfar explains: "they delivered the ruling of the court to my home today. I was surprised to read the decision of the courts. I am not sure what crime I have committed which deserves such a sentence. Is it a crime to talk about women’s rights or to collect signatures intended for Parliament? I spoke to my lawyer, who has not yet received a copy of the court’s ruling. But we will object to this ruling."

A similar sentence was issued on August 12, 2007 in the case of Nasim Sarabandi and Fatemeh Dehdashti, also arrested while collecting signatures in support of the Campaign’s petition. These two women’s rights activists were arrested on the Metro in January 2007 and held in detention for 24 hours. They were called in for questioning and charged with actions against the state and propaganda against the state, accusations which they denied. They were found guilty by the 28th branch of the Revolutionary Court, and 6 months suspended prison sentence was issued for each of these women’s rights activists.

The sentence issued in the case of Ehteram Shadfar represents the 3rd such sentence for members of the Campaign in relation to collection of signatures. These sentences are issued despite the fact that there is no law that claims the collection of signatures for parliament to be an illegal activity. The activists within the Campaign employ the most civil and peaceful of means in their educational and advocacy efforts, strategies which again are not criminal based on the law. To date, 43 individuals have been arrested in direct relation to their peaceful activities within the Campaign.

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