Saba Kord Afshari Gives Statement Upon End of Hunger Strike

Saba Kord Afshari, an activist imprisoned in Qarchak Prison in Varamin, has given a statement since ending her hunger strike on May 17.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, 22-year-old Kord Afshari had been on a hunger strike since May 8 to protest the increasing pressure on her family and family of fellow political prisoners, and to demand the release of her mother, Raheleh Ahmadi.

Kord Afshari has written a letter explaining her physical condition and the reasons why she ended the strike. Below is the full letter, which was provided to HRANA to be published:


” For years, protests and strikes have been answered with beatings and bullets. For years, when we have opened our mouths to talk about the oppression of our rights and beliefs, the only answers we have received have been arrest, solitary confinement, physical and mental torture, imprisonment, and execution.

It has been years of families seeking justice for the murder and imprisonment of their children, and then receiving nothing but the same treatment.

For years [the regime] has been trying to destroy thoughts, reason, and the right to choose. It has tried to spread dogmatism and to turn its people into unquestioning robots.

But they can never inject us with what is in their rusty brains. They cannot impose upon us the ideas that even they themselves do not believe. They treat our raised fists with guns and weapons, and they destroy the pens that express our beliefs and aspirations.

The same goes for prisons. They use a variety of methods to silence the prisoner, whose only tool to fight is hunger strike and sit-down strike. Demands are met with violence.

 You destroyed our bodies and our pens; but how can you destroy the thoughts that we are not afraid to express? The struggle for freedom does not end with pressure or threats, but instead finds a way to prevail in a stormy environment.

On May 8, 2021, I started a hunger strike demanding an end to the pressure on families of political prisoners and the release of my mother, Raheleh Asl Ahmadi; but unfortunately, my physical condition is not good.

I am fully aware that human lives are of no value to the Islamic Republic, so I am ending my hunger strike, but I am still seeking to fulfill my demands.

Oppression has never lasted and it never will.”


Saba Kordafshari / May 17, 2021 / Qarchak prison in Varamin.

Rouhani 8 Years On: The Situation of Women’s Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

HRANA – On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Human Rights Activists in Iran highlights the situation of women’s rights in Iran during the 8 year term of President Hassan Rouhani. The following report includes an 8-year statistical overview of the most pressing human rights issues women are facing in the country. The report also introduces the brave women’s rights activists that are currently imprisoned or are facing imprisonment.

Women and girls in the Islamic Republic of Iran face widespread and systematic discrimination in areas touching nearly all corners of their lives. Discrimination against women is abundantly present in matters of family law, criminal law, education, employment, and social and cultural life. However, in the face of state-sanctioned discrimination, women in Iran are leading the charge, playing a primary role in defending their rights, standing up and demanding change; unfortunately, this is not without consequence.

Although many were hopeful, 8 years on, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has done little to improve the lives of women in Iran. In fact, from August 2013 to March 2021, there have been 72 cases of self-immolation, 3,048 suicides, 20 claims of workplace discrimination, 2 reported cases of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), 553 honor killings, 33,210 child marriages (girls under the age of 18), and 460 reported acid attacks against women. On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2021, Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI) highlights some of the most pressing women’s rights issues today and throughout the 8-year Rouhani presidency, as well as the 22 Iranian women’s rights activists targeted over the past 8 years, who have faced harassment, torture, ill-treatment, arrest and arbitrary imprisonment for speaking out against the instruments of oppression working against them every day.


International Framework


The situation of women’s rights in Iran falls short of nearly all international human rights standards and obligations. While Iran is not a State party to The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), they remain obligated as a State party to other international mechanisms which protect against gender inequality and discrimination, including: The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Despite these obligations, women and girls remain unequal in both law and practice and according to the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap Report, Iran ranked 148 out of 153 countries, only coming in ahead of The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, Pakistan, Iraq, and Yemen.


Women’s Rights in Iran


Compulsory Veiling

Amidst wider social upheaval, compulsory veiling is one of the more well-known women’s rights issues in Iran. The Human Rights Council has stated that any laws regulating what women wear ‘violate [a] State’s obligation under the ICCPR’. Yet, in both law and practice women who choose not to abide by compulsory veiling laws face unrelenting punishment. Under law, women can be fined up to 500,000 rials and/or face up to 2 months in prison. In practice however, they are increasingly charged with crimes such as ‘moral corruption on Earth’, a charge which carries up to 10 years imprisonment. Imprisonment in any regard relating to compulsory garments is a violation of article 9 of the ICCPR.

Cultural Rights

 Article 15 of the ICESCR recognizes the ‘right of everyone to take part in cultural life’. Nonetheless, Iranian women are banned from both singing and dancing in public and although it is not written into the law it is customary that women are also prohibited from attending sporting events. While there have been few occurrences which allow for women’s access to sporting events, access remains segregated and largely unequal.  From 2013 to 2021, at least 147 women were denied entry to sports stadiums. Additionally, 4 female athletes were deprived of traveling outside of the country to compete due to unequal and discriminatory marriage and family laws. The Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights has stated that ensuring the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of cultural rights is a mandatory and immediate obligation of State parties (general comment No.16 (2005), para. 16).

Marriage and Family

Inconsistent with obligations under the ICCPR, Iranian women face discrimination in almost all aspects of family life including in marriage, divorce, custody, and guardianship. The ICCPR also protects the freedom of movement, yet women in Iran face widespread limitations. While women under the age of 40 require the permission of their husbands to travel outside of the country, married women require permission from their husbands; in fact, married women are not permitted to apply for a passport without their husbands’ prior approval—they’ve also no say in their place of residence.

Under Iranian law women are viewed as subordinates to both their spouses and male family members. This affects a woman’s right to obtain her desired employment, as husbands have the right to prevent their wives from taking up certain employment should they deem it inappropriate (against “family values”). Additionally, wives are required, under law, to provide for a husband’s sexual needs; if they should not, a husband in all cases has the exclusive right to a divorce, without question, while women face unconscionable hurdles in the same respect. Should a divorce occur, the father becomes the lawful guardian of a child; in the case of a fathers passing, guardianship is passed to the paternal grandfather as stated in Iranian Civil Code.  The Human Rights Council has stated that inequality in marriage is a violation of Article 23.4 of the ICCPR. (HRC general comment no.  28) including in the dissolution of such and with regard to the issue of custody.

 The Right to Education

 According to the CEO of the Society for Protecting the Rights of the Child (SPRC), approximately 1 million children living in underdeveloped and impoverished neighborhoods of Iran are deprived of receiving an education. In addition to being left out of school for societal reasons such as poverty, the lack of a birth certificate and the need to work in lieu of attending school are among contributing factors. Girls, in certain cases, are deliberately deprived of receiving an education. From 2013 to 2021, 4,142 female students were reportedly deprived of receiving an education due to early marriages, in certain cases as early as age 9, as well as a lack of permission from their male guardians to attend school. These numbers fly in the face of international standards as well as obligations under the CRC.


Women’s Rights Activists 


An overview

 Between August 3, 2013, and March 2, 2021, a total of 84 women’s rights activists were arrested, 8 of whom were men. Additionally, 22 were sentenced to a total of 1,627 months of imprisonment, 8,800,000 Tomans in fines, and 148 floggings. The courts in this regard, carry out sentencing in ways that fail to meet international fair trial standards.

The charges placed upon them by the judicial authorities include:

➡️ 11 charges of “assembly and collusion against the national security”

➡️ 12 Charges of “propaganda against the regime”

➡️ 6 charges of “Performing the ‘Haram’ (Forbidden) act of not wearing headscarf”

➡️ 3 charges of “inciting moral corruption through unveiling”

➡️ 3 charges of “inciting and providing the means for moral corruption”

➡️ 1 charge of “publishing vulgar content on the internet and being present in public without headscarf”

➡️ 1 charge of “spreading moral corruption through unveiling and taking a walk without headscarf”

➡️ 2 charges of “Cooperating with the Hostile Government of United States against the Islamic Republic in the field of family and women’s rights”

➡️ 1 charge of “disrupting public order, on the basis of participating in protest following the death of Farinaz Khosravani”

➡️ 1 charge of “publishing false information online with the aim of disturbing the public mind”

➡️ 1 charge of “disturbing public peace and order”

➡️ 1 charge of “assembly and collusion against national security through cooperation with dissident media.”

➡️ 1 charge of “Insulting Sanctities”

➡️ 1 charge of “being an effective member of the unlawful group the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), LEGAM (Step by Step to Abolition Death Penalty) and the National Peace Council”


Image 1. A Breakdown of the Charges Placed Upon Iranian Women’s Rights Activists Image 1. A Breakdown of the Charges Placed Upon Iranian Women’s Rights Activists from 2013-2021 from 2013-2021
Click on the image to enlarge the chart


Imprisoned Women’s Rights Activists

Yasaman Ariyani and Monireh Arabshahi (mother and daughter)

Latest Arrest Dates:

Yasaman Ariyani: 10 April 2019

Monireh Arabshahi: 11 April 2019

Charges and Sentence:

“Gathering and collusion against national security”

“Propaganda against the regime”

“Inciting and providing the means for moral corruption”

Both mother and daughter were Initially sentenced to 16 years imprisonment. Upon appeal, the sentence was reduced to 9 years and 7 months each. Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code allows for 5 years and 6 months imprisonment in this regard.

Condition: Doctors have indicated that Monire Arabshahi requires a lumbar disc surgery and thyroid biopsy; she has been denied access to medical care.

Prison: After arrest held at Gharchak Prison of Karaj on 13 August 2019 both women were transferred to Evin prisons Female’s Ward. On 21 October 2020 they were transferred to Kachoui of Karaj.

Yasmin Ariyani was transferred to solitary cell on Friday 13 November 2020, following a positive COVID-19 test.


Saba Kordafshari and Raheleh Ahmadi (mother and daughter) 

Latest Arrest Dates:

Saba Kordafshari: 1 June 2019

Raheleh Ahmadi: 10 July 2019

Charges and Sentence:

Saba Kordafshari:

“spreading moral corruption through unveiling and taking a walk without headscarf”

“Propaganda against the Regime”

“Gathering and colluding against national security”

Raheleh Ahmadi:

“assembly and collusion against national security through cooperation with dissident media”

“propaganda against the regime”

“inciting moral corruption through unveiling and posting it online” (acquitted)

Saba Kordafshari: – sentenced to a total of 24 years of imprisonment for the above-mentioned charges

Raheleh Ahmadi – sentenced to a total of 4 years and 2 months for the above-mentioned charges

Condition: On 24 December 2020, Ms. Ahmadi was transferred to a hospital to receive an MRI test, which indicated her spinal cord had been damaged due to stress and shock of the news that her daughter (Saba Kordafshari) was exiled to Gharchak prison of Varamin.

Prison: On Tuesday 26 January 2021 Saba Kordafshari was transferred from ward 8 of Gharchak Prison of Varamin to Ward 6, where she was beaten. She is currently housed alongside “violent crimes” prisoners.


Mojgan Keshavarz

Civil rights activists opposing compulsory veiling

Latest Arrest: Thursday 25 April 2019. She was arrested at her home.

Charges and Sentence:

Sentenced by Branch 54 of the Appeals Court of Tehran

“Assembly and collusion against national security” 3 years and 6 months imprisonment

“Propaganda against the regime” 7 months imprisonment.

“inciting and providing the means for moral corruption” 5 years and 6 months imprisonment

“insulting the sanctities” received 3 years imprisonment.

Prison: On Saturday December 5th, 2020 she was transferred from the Women’s Political Prisoners Ward of Evin Prison to Gharchak Prison of Varamin.


Alieh Motalebzadeh

Photographer and women’s rights activist

Arrest and Prison: Ms. Motalebzadeh was initially arrested on November 26th, 2016 through a phone call by the intelligence ministry. She was interrogated at Ward 209 of Evin Prison (under the control of the intelligence ministry) she was temporarily released on bail of 300 million Toman on December 19, 2016. On October 11th, 2020 she was arrested at the Sentence Execution Unit of Evin Prison to begin serving her sentence.


“Gathering and collusion against national security”

“propaganda against the regime”.

Sentence: Tried at the Revolutionary Court of Tehran in 2017 and sentenced to 3 years imprisonment. The sentence was upheld by Branch 36 of the Appeals Court of Tehran headed by Judge Seyed Ahmad Zargar.


Nasrin Sotoudeh

Human rights activists and lawyer

Latest arrest: June 13, 2018 at her home

Trial: Tried on December 30th, 2018, in absentia, by Branch 28 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court


“gathering and collusion against national security”

“Propaganda against the regime”

“inciting and providing the means for moral corruption”

“appearing at an interrogation branch without proper Islamic Hijab”

“disturbing public peace and order”

“publishing false information with the aim of disturbing public opinion”

being an effective member of the unlawful group the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), LEGAM (Step by Step to Abolition Death Penalty) and the National Peace Council”

Sentence: 33 years imprisonment and 148 floggings


– On Tuesday August 11, 2020, through a letter demanding the release of political prisoners Ms. Sotoudeh announced she was going on hunger strike.

– On September 19, 2020, following a heart condition she was transferred from Evin Prison to CCU units at Taleghani Hospital of Tehran.

– On Wednesday September 23rd, she returned to Evin Prison from the hospital.

Mr. Khandan (Ms. Sotoudeh’s husband) has stated that Ms. Sotoudeh did not receive the proper medical care during this time.

– On September 25th Ms. Sotoudeh ended her hunger strike.

* she was transferred from Evin Prison to Gharchak Prison of Varamin on October 20th, 2020

Women’s rights activists at risk of imprisonment  

  1. cases awaiting review

Nahid Shaghaghi, Akram Nasirian, Maryam Mohammadi, and Asrin Darkaleh


Akram Nasirian: April 29, 2019

Nahid Shaghayeghi: May 15, 2019

Maryam Mohammadi: July 8, 2019

Asrin Darkaleh: July 28, 2019

All four women were summoned to prison to begin serving their sentence on March 14, 2020

Charges and Sentence: Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, headed by Judge Iman Afshari, sentenced each woman to 4 years and 2 months imprisonment.

“Gathering and Collusion against national security” each received 3 years imprisonment

“Propaganda against the Regime” each received 6 months imprisonment.

“Performing ‘Haram’ (Forbidden) act of not wearing headscarf” each received 8 months imprisonment.


  1. cases where the initial verdict has been issued


Banafsheh Jamali

Women’s rights activist

Arrest: In 2017 Ms. Jamali was arrested along with others during the 8th March, International Women’s Day Rally in Tehran, she was released sometime after the arrest.

Charges: “Propaganda against the Regime”

Sentence: 1 year of imprisonment, 4 million Toman fine

Banned from using smart electrical devices (smartphones)

Mandatory attendance at MAVA Counselling in Qom City

* the imprisonment has been suspended for 5 years


  1. cases awaiting sentence to be executed

Raha (Raheleh) Askari-Zadeh

Journalist, photographer, and women’s rights activist

Arrest: Raha was arrested on November 29th, 2018, at the Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKIA) while attempting to depart.

Charges: “assembly and collusion against the national security”

Sentence: Initially issued by the Revolutionary Court of Tehran and later upheld by the Appeals Court. 2 years imprisonment

2-year ban from exiting the country

2-year ban from Internet activities

2-year ban from activity in political or journalist groups


Najme Vahedi and Hoda Amid

Women’s rights activists

Arrest: On September 1, 2018, both women were arrested separately at their homes.

Charges: “Cooperating with the hostile government of United States against the Islamic Republic in the field of family and women’s rights”

Sentence: Hoda Amid: 8 years imprisonment

2-year ban from joining political parties and groups

2-year ban from being active on the Internet, social media, and in the press

2-year ban from exiting the country

2-year ban from working as a lawyer

Najmeh Vahedi:7 years imprisonment

2-year ban from joining political parties and groups

2-year ban from being active on the internet, social media, and in the press

2-year ban from exiting the country


For media inquiries please contact Senior Advocacy Coordinator, Skylar Thompson at [email protected]


Women’s Rights Activist Najmeh Vahedi Released On Bail

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- On November 6, 2018, women’s rights activist and sociology graduate Najmeh Vahedi, who was arrested in her home by security forces on September 1st, was released on bail pending trial.

Vahedi was one of many snared in the judiciary’s recently-revived sanctions on women’s rights activists. With her comrade Hoda Amid, Vahedi had reportedly held educational training workshops for women inquiring about their rights in marriage contracts.

Human Rights Watch issued a statement on September 5th of this year asking Iranian authorities to stop the repression of human rights defenders like Amid and Vahedi and to immediately release those who are in custody for peaceful expressions of dissent. Later that month, 750 civil rights activists inside and outside Iran issued a statement condemning the persecution of women’s rights defenders, demanding their immediate and unconditional release.

Last week, the voice of Amnesty International joined the outcry against the civil crackdowns, demanding that affected prisoners be immediately released and that defendants not be limited to a list of regime-designated attorneys.

Narges Mohammadi Released on 3-Day Furlough

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Deputy of the Defenders of Human Rights Center Narges Mohammadi was released on a three-day furlough on September 26, 2018. Reporting the news of her furlough to HRANA, Mohammadi’s spouse Taghi Rahmani shared that Mohammadi will need long-term medical furlough to get adequate care for her illness.

Prior to Mohammadi’s furlough release, her mother Ozra Bazargan wrote to the Prosecutor of Tehran with the request that her daughter is granted a furlough to visit her ailing father. From June 30th – July 5th of this year, Mohammadi was released from prison to get back surgery at an outside hospital. On August 6th, prison authorities prevented Mohammadi from being transferred out of Evin Prison to see a neurologist, only to approve her transfer to Imam Khomeini Hospital when she fell into critical condition one week later.

Mohammadi’s attorney Mohamoud Behzadirad previously commented on the status of his client’s case file, stating “it has been six years and four months since my client was detained, and around three years and eight months remain of her sentence. She is eligible for conditional release, but the request for that release has yet to be approved.”

In May 2016, Narges Mohammadi was sentenced by the Revolutionary Court of Tehran to sixteen years of imprisonment, ten years of which was for her role in the Step-by-Step Campaign to Abolish Death Penalty in Iran (LAGAM). The court considered her collaboration with this peaceful campaign to be an example of “gathering with intent to disrupt national security.”

According to Narges Mohammadi, her trial judge treated her with bias and hostility, openly defending the charges levied against her by officials from the Ministry of Intelligence and accusing her of trying to “warp divine law” for her demonstrations of dissent against capital punishment.

The additional six years of Narges Mohammadi’s imprisonment were issued in connection to her peaceful human rights activism, which translated in court to charges of “gathering and conspiring against national security” and “propaganda against the regime.” Her offenses included giving media interviews about human rights violations, her participation in peaceful gatherings to support the families of prisoners on death row, her contact with other human rights defenders (including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi), her participation in peaceful protests to condemn acid attacks against women, and her 2014* meeting with Catherine Ashton.

In Autumn of 2016, Branch 36 of the Tehran Appeals Court upheld Narges Mohammadi’s prison sentence. In May 2017, her request for a retrial was reportedly rejected by Iran’s Supreme Court.

Women Prisoners of Conscience Respond to Executions of Ramin Hossein Panahi, Loghman & Zanyar Moradi

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Political and civil rights activists detained in the Women’s Ward of Evin Prison in Tehran have released a statement in response to the execution of political prisoners Ramin Hossein Panahi, Loghman Moradi, and Zanyar Moradi.

In a letter, Narges Mohammadi, Nasrin Sotoudeh, Golrokh Ibrahim Iraee, Maryam Akbari Monfared, Atena Daemi, Azita Rafizadeh, and Negin Ghademian expressed condolences to the families of the three Iranian Kurdish prisoners, who were hung to death September 8th amid dubious legal proceedings and international protest.

Barring the families from interring their sons’ bodies themselves, authorities commandeered the remains to be buried in an undisclosed location. According to Ramin’s brother Amjad Hossein Panahi, the Ministry of Intelligence has threatened the Moradis and Panahi families with detention. To the surprise of all families involved, the executions were carried out in an undisclosed location in Tehran province.

Amnesty International, one of the human rights organizations who were aghast at the course of the young men’s case, called the executions an “outrage.” Voices of the Evin Prison Women’s Ward now join the wave of dissent against the outcome of their case.

During a visitation on Sunday, the authors of the statement, many of whom are being held as political prisoners themselves, joined the families in singing “Ode to the Bleeding Tulip” and “O Iran” to commemorate and honor the memories of Ramin Hossein-Panahi, Loghman Moradi, and Zanyar Moradi.

The full text of their message, translated into English by HRANA, is below:

No words could contain the crushing weight of our sorrow.

These brave children of our country leave us a legacy of patience, freedom, and perseverance.

Their names are affixed to the helms of those fighting for freedom, and for those that seek it, the path has been laid by their resistance.

We wish solace for the families and cellmates of Zanyar Moradi, Loghman Moradi, and Ramin Hossein-Panahi. We wish solace for all the afflicted citizens of our land.

We bear your pain in our chests and we stand with you.

Narges Mohammadi, Nasrin Sotudeh, Golrokh Ibrahimi, Maryam Akbari Monfared, Atena Daemi, Azita Rafizadeh, and Negin Ghadamian

Women’s Ward of Evin Prison

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