Iran: Six-month prison sentences for four cyber-feminists



    MONTREAL, Sept. 4 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders is outraged by
the six-month prison sentences which a Tehran court has passed on four
cyber-feminists - Parvin Ardalan, Jelveh Javaheri, Maryam Hosseinkhah and
Nahid Keshavarz - on charges of "publishing information against the
government" under article 500 of the Islamic criminal code.
    The four, who are still free pending the outcome of their appeals, were
prosecuted for writing articles for two online newspapers that defend women's
rights in Iran - Zanestan ("Women's City - http://herlandmag.net/) and Tagir
Bary Barbary ("Change for Equality" - http://we-change.org/).
    "These four journalists post their articles online because their
magazines have been censored," Reporters Without Borders said. "They are the
victims of persecution by the authorities, who repeatedly summon to them to
court for interrogation about their activities. They are the victims of
discriminatory measures. We call on the government to drop these proceedings
against them."
    Under article 500 of the Islamic Republic's criminal code, "anyone who
undertakes any form of propaganda against the state will be sentenced to
between three months and one year in prison." Nobel peace prize winning lawyer
Shirin Ebadi, who is acting for the cyber-feminists, says they plan to appeal.
    She told Reporters Without Borders: "These four journalists have been
convicted just for writing articles and criticising laws that are unfair to
Iranian women (...) I am worried because I see the situation getting worse. If
parliament ratifies the new law increasing sentences for crimes against
society's moral security, bloggers could get prison sentences."
    Ardalan, who edits the Tagir Bary Barbary website, has already been
convicted three times on similar charges, and has a one-year prison sentence
and suspended sentences of five and a half years in prison hanging over her.
    Javaheri, 30, writes for Tagir Bary Barbary. She was already arrested
with Keshavarz on 14 February for "attacking state security." She was
previously held from 1 December to 3 January in Evin prison (in north Tehran)
with Hosseinkhah on charges of disturbing public opinion, publishing false
information and publicity against the Islamic Republic for writing articles
demanding recognition of women's constitutional rights.
    Keshavarz, who writes for both Tagir Bary Barbary and Zanestan, was
already arrested twice and interrogated by intelligence officers for
participating in two street demonstrations in defence of women's rights. She
spent 12 days in prison in April 2007. She currently has three complaints
pending against her.
    Hosseinkhah, 32, also writes for both websites. She was held in Evin
prison from 18 November to 3 January with Javaheri. She currently has two
cases pending against her.
    Meanwhile, Jila Bani Yaghoub, a journalist who writes for the Sarmayeh
daily newspaper and the Canon Zeman Irani website (http://www.irwomen.com),
was summoned by a Tehran revolutionary court on 2 September without any charge
being specified. She was arrested with eight other journalists on 12 June
while covering the third anniversary of the biggest-ever feminist protest in
the capital - on 12 June 2005. They were released the next morning.
    Iran was ranked 166th out of 169 countries in the latest Reporters
Without Borders world press freedom index.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive Director,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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