Rezvan Moghaddam’s Sentence Upheld in Appeals Court

Friday 7 November 2008

Change for Equality: An appeals court ruling has upheld the sentence issued by the 15th branch of the Revolutionary courts in the case against Rezvan Moghaddam, a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign. Rezvan Moghaddam was among 33 women arrested in March 2007 during a peaceful protest objecting to the trial of 5 women’s rights activists and the increased pressures on the women’s movement. Following her arrest a case was brought up against her, in which the 15th branch of the Revolutionary Courts found her guilty of the charge of disruption of public order and sentenced her to a suspended sentence of 6 months and 10 lashings, for a period of three years. An appeals court ruling has upheld the original sentence in this case. If Moghaddam is found guilty of another crime during the course of three years, she will be forced to serve the 6 month sentence and endure 10 lashings.

Her lawyer, Abdolfateh Soltani while acknowledging the ruling of the appeals court has called the sentence illegal. "One of the arguments in court and our objections to the original ruling was the fact that tending to the charge of disruption of public order did not fall under the jurisdiction of the Revolutionary Courts, rather the charge falls under the jurisdiction of the public courts. In reality the appeals court did not take into consideration our objections. On the other hand, the peaceful gathering of a group in front of the Revolutionary with the intent of following the trial of their friends, which resulted in the arrest of my client and 32 others on March 4, 2007, is not considered a crime under current law. As such, this action cannot serve as an example of disruption of public order. According to such a defense, the entire charge against my client should have been dismissed by the appeals court, but the judge did not pay attention to our objections and defense."

With respect to the sentences issued by the Revolutionary Courts against activists in the Campaign, Mr. Soltani criticized the extreme approach of a faction within the judiciary explaining that: "there seems to be two factions at work within the judiciary. The first faction represents a majority which is engaged in issuing fairer and more just rulings and which is not seeking power. The second faction represents a minority within the judiciary, who unfortunately has much more power and benefits from an extreme approach close to the political leanings of Mr. Ahmadinejad. The perspective and approach of the second faction relies on an approach of victory through the creation of fear and promotion of intimidation against women’s rights activists and with this perspective they are intent on cracking down on all justice seeking voices. The sentences issued against women’s rights activists too have been issued by the second faction."

Soltani a member of the Organization of Human Rights Defenders emphasized his commitment to deep rooted and incremental social change and based on these beliefs explained that he believed that the One Million Signatures Campaign to be a successful movement which had been able to change the perspective and thinking of citizens about women’s rights and the discrimination that women face.

In closing, Mr. Soltani explained: "The Campaign has proven the shortcomings of the laws, and has managed to spread its message to the public, so much so that today we are witnessing the demand for change in discriminatory laws against women being echoed by men as well. This is a huge victory. The Campaign has proven that even the culture and approach of socially disadvantaged groups within our society is ahead of the current laws."


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