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Nahid Keshavarz and Sarah Imanian, Campaign Members, Acquitted on the Charge of Actions against National Security

Thursday 26 November 2009


Change for Equality: Nahid Keshavarz and Sarah Imaninan, members of the One Million Signatures Campaign were acquitted on the charge of actions against national security through a ruling issued by an appeals court. The ruling stated: “given that the actions of the accused in collecting the signatures of one million citizens as a form of protest against [existing laws] on women’s rights, is not considered to be propaganda against the state, and the demand of expressing this protest to different authorities within the state, specifically the parliament has been outlined, the court does not find the charges relevant. In general it is not in the interest of the state and the nation that members of society, who are committed to conducting activities inside the country, should be faced with baseless accusations and be prosecution. As such, the court accepts the request [of the defense], and overturns the ruling issued against the accused (Sarah Imanian and Nahid Keshavarz) and instead issues a ruling of acquittal.”

In their initial court hearing held in April 2009, two cases against the activists were heard—one case was in relation to a protest outside the revolutionary court which ended in the arrest of 33 activists on March 4, 2006 and the second case was in relation to an arrest during a signature drive in April 2007 in Laleh Park. Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, presided by Judge Mogheysi, sentenced Nahid Keshavarz to a three year suspended sentence for the period of two years, on the charge of actions against national security through collusion and gathering with the intent of disrupting national security and spreading of propaganda against the state and sentenced Sarah Imanian on similar charges to a suspended sentence of 18 months for the period of two years. Nasrin Sotoodeh, the lawyer representing these activists, objected to this ruling and requested an appeals hearing.

Nahid Keshavarz and Sarah Imanian were arrested along with Mahboube Hosseinzadeh, Saeideh Amin, and Homayoun Nami,while collecting signatures in support of the Campaign’s petition in Laleh Park on April 2, 2007. While three of the activists were release on April 3, after spending a day in detention, Mahbobeh Hosseinzadeh and Nahid Keshavarz spent 2 weeks in Evin prison and were released on April 15, 2007. Mahboboube Hosseinzadeh’s trial was postponed due to travel and she has yet to go to trial in this case.

This ruling has been issued by the appeals court at a time when Mehrnoosh Etemadi, another member of the Campaign in Isfahan is being detained in relation to her activities in support of women’s rights. Over 50 members of the Campaign have been arrested, charged, tried and sentenced since the start of the Campaign in August 2006. Still the Campaign activists contend that their peaceful and civil activities are within the law and as such have not abandoned their efforts to reform laws which discriminate against women. This ruling, as well as several other court rulings, support the claims of these activists.

 

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