Iran’s judiciary convicted at least 24 protesters, including two women, on vaguely defined national security charges, Human Rights Watch said today.
Their prison sentences ranged from six months to six years.
They were among more than 50 people arrested on August 2 during a protest in Tehran about deteriorating economic conditions and corruption.
Authorities also arrested a human rights lawyer who had been convicted to three years in prison for reporting a protester’s death in detention on October 28.
“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 protestors languish in prison for years,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
“Prosecuting peaceful protesters will only add fuel to Iranians’ boiling frustration and discontent with the situation.”
Three sources with close knowledge of the protesters’ cases told Human Rights Watch that prosecutors charged them with “assembly and collusion against national security” due to “participating in a protest without a permit that disrupted public order.”
In the sentencing of at least two people, including Saba Kordafshari, 19, the evidence prosecutors presented was solely their social media posts reporting on the protest.
Two sources reported to HRW that prosecutors and prison officials denied the detainees access to a lawyer throughout the investigation and the trial and pressured them to plead guilty.
Iranian law restricts the rights of detainees charged with national security crimes to see a lawyer during the investigation period.