Statement in Support of Imprisoned Women’s Rights Activists and Their Right to Due Process
Activists Demand Judicial Review of Sentence in Case of Zeinab Bayazidi
Monday 12 January 2009
Change for Equality: A statement signed by 2000 student, women’s rights and civil society activists was released today asking for a review of the sentence issued in the case of Zeinab Bayazidi, who was sentenced to four years in prison to be served in Exile, in the City of Zanjan.. It should be noted that Zeinab was arrested on July 9, 2008 in the city of Mahabad in Kurdistan Province by Security Forces. Her appeals process, as noted by her lawyer, was unusually speeding and suffered from legal irregularities. This statement has been issued in response to her lawyers request for a judicial review of the sentence issued against Zeinab. The translation of the statement, which also request that courts respect the legal rights and take action to immediately release other imprisoned women’s rights activists including Shahnaz Gholami, Hana Abdi and Ronak Safazadeh, is provided below:
Statement by 2000 Activists Demanding Judicial Review of Sentence in Case of Zeinab Bayazidi
Close to six (6) months has passed from the arrest of Zeinab Bayazidi. Ms. Bayazidi who is a woman’s rights activist, member of Kurdistan Human Rights Organization and the One Million Signature Campaign to change discriminatory laws against women was arrested in July 2008 in the city of Mahabad, Kurdistan Province.
Ms. Bayazidi was tried behind closed doors, without access to a defense lawyer of her choosing, in an unusually expedited and llegally unusual trial. Although less than a month had passed since Ms. Bayazidi’s arrest and pre-trial custody she was sentenced to four years of prison to be served in imprisonment and exile to Central Prison in the City of Zanjan. Within two days the sentence was confirmed in the Court of Appeals in Zanjan. She is currently serving her sentence in the Central Prison in the city of Zanjan and has not been allowed to take advantage of her right for temporary leave.
Ms. Bayazidi was convicted on the grounds that she was a member of an illegal organization, namely the Kurdistan Human Rights Organization and the court found membership in the One Million Signatures Campaign also illegal. However her most serious charges are acting against national security, support of a Kurdish political organization and propaganda against the State by conducting interviews with foreign media. Ms. Bayazadi has denied all charges against her and her defense lawyer has stated that there was not enough evidence in her file to prove her guilt.
Because of lack of due process, especially in the Court of Appeals where Ms. Bayazidi’s lawyer was not present to defend her, Ms. Bayazidi’s lawyer Mr. Saeedi Mehdi Hojati has filed an appeal based on Article 18 of the Laws Pertaining to the Establishment of Public Revolutionary Courts, asking for a judicial review of the sentence issued in the case of his client.
We the undersigned oppose the lack of due process in Ms. Bayazidi’s case as well as her treatment during the process of her arrest and her time in prison. We also announce our support for Ms. Bayazidi and her legal right to be granted temporary release from prison. Further we announce our support for Ms. Bayazidi’s lawyer and his request for an appeal in the Supreme Court of Azarbaijan Province.
Besides Ms. Zeynab Bajazidi there are other female activists who face uncertain futures. Ms. Shahnaz Gholami started a hunger strike on December 19th due to the length of her pre-trial custody in Tabriz Prison. Ms. Hanna Abdi, another women’s rights activist has not been allowed a temporary leave from prison, although this is a legal right given to prisoners. Ms. Ronak Safazadeh is still in pre-trial custody after 15 months of imprisonment, although her lawyer has submitted both a written and oral defense on her behalf.
We the undersigned are also greatly concerned about the situation of Ms. Shahnaz Gholami, Ms. Hanna Abdi and Ms. Ronak Safazadeh, and ask for their immediate release and the protection of their legal rights.