Parvin Ardalan Receives 2 Years Suspended Sentence

Friday 2 May 2008

Change for Equality: The 13th branch of the Revolutionary Courts has issued a sentence in the case of Parvin Ardalan. Based on Amendment 610 and in accordance with amendment 25 of the Islamic Penal Code, the Court found Ardalan guilty on the charges of "illegal gathering and collusion and refusal to obey the orders of the police with the intent of endangering national security." She was sentenced to 2 years suspended prison sentence, for the period of three years. If Ardalan is found guilty of another crime during these three years, this suspended sentence will be implemented.

Parvin Ardalan appeared in court on March 4th, where she along with 4 other women’s rights activists were on trial for organizing a protest in Hafte Tir Square on June 12th, objecting to legal discrimination against women. Ardalan, along with the others on trial in the 6th branch of the Revolutionary courts, exited the courthouse, when police began to beat and arrest their friends who had gathered peacefully in front of the courthouse in a show of solidarity with those on trial. Ardalan was arrested along with 32 other women’s rights activists that day, including the other women on trial.

Leila Ali Karami the lawyer representing Ardalan, will appeal this court ruling. Others who have received a sentence in this case include, Rezvan Moghaddam, Nahid Jafari, Minou Mortazi, all of whom were sentenced by the 13th branch of the Revolutionary Courts to 6 months suspended prison and 10 suspended lashings, as well as Zeinab Payghambarzadeh, who was sentenced by the 16th branch of the Revolutionary Courts to 2 years suspended prison sentence. At least 12 others in the same case have been acquitted on the same charges.

In an interview with Change for Equality, Parvin Ardalan explained how she was informed about her sentence, as follows: "I had gone to the Revolutionary Courts, Branch 13th, to follow up on the travel ban imposed on me. The travel ban was imposed in relation to another case, where I am charged with "propaganda against the state" in connection with my activities and writings on the site of Change for Equality and Zanestan (the webzine of the Women’s Cultural Center). Maryam Hosseinkhah and Jelve Javaheri had been arrested earlier on similar charges."

This recipient of the Olaf Palme award explained further that: "On March 3, 2008 I was on my way to Stockholm to take part in the Olaf Palme ceremony in my honor, when I was banned from travel. I was later summoned to court and questioned in relation to my activities on the sites of Change for Equality and Zanestan. During that court session, I asked about my travel ban, and explained to the investigative judge that I have been invited to take part in several conferences. The investigative judge told me that I should present him with the invitations to these conferences, as a precondition for removal of my travel ban. Of course, I found the precondition unorthodox, as there is no law that requires me to ask the court for permission prior to travel, a fact that was confirmed by my lawyer. My lawyer also filed papers with the court asking for the removal of the travel ban and a return of my passport, which is currently in the possession of security forces. But I was told by court officials that "since you did not present us with the invitation to the conference we have filed a court case in this regard." Court officials further explained that I needed to follow my travel ban with the 13th branch of the Revolutionary Courts in charge of my most recent case [propaganda against the state in relation to my activities on the site of Change for Equality and Zanestan]. I inquired about my travel ban from the 13th branch of the Revolutionary Courts, and there I was told that they were not able to issue an order to lift the travel ban, until after my court date, which is scheduled for August 2, 2008. The judge further explained that since the travel ban was imposed by the Security Branch of the Revolutionary Courts, they have the authority to issue an order to lift it. I went back to the Security Branch of the Revolutionary Court, where they once again told me that they have no say in the matter and that the 13th branch has authority. So you see it seems that no one is responsible and no one has authority to solve this problem. While in terms of its appearance my travel ban seems legal, the fact remains that no one is accountable and no one is responsive. In actuality, this travel ban is part of a long running policy designed to prevent the travel of women’s rights activists in an effort to isolate them from the international community. As one friend put it: "if we announce that we plan to leave the country and do not intend to return then surely they will lift these travel bans and gladly allow us to leave!"


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