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HRW blasts ‘draconian’ sentences for Iranian rights defenders

Gohardasht Prison - Karaj, Iran. (Ensie & Matthias/Wikimedia Commons)
September 15, 2019

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused Iran’s judiciary of “dramatically increasing the costs of peaceful dissent,” saying at least 13 activists had been handed prison sentences of more than 10 years since July 31.

“Again and again, Iranian revolutionary court judges have been ensuring that anyone who dares challenge the authorities will pay a draconian price,” Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at HRW, said in a statement on September 10.

“When activists who raise issues that concern many Iranians are crushed with such harsh sentences, the judiciary’s promise of combating wrongdoing becomes a mockery of justice,” he added.

In the most recent case, a court on September 7 handed down total sentences ranging from 14 years to 19 years to six labor rights activists, the New York-based human rights watchdog said.

If the verdicts are upheld on appeal, those convicted will serve the longest of the terms they received in the concurrent sentences.

The cases are related to November 2018 protests by workers at the Haft Tappeh sugar factory in Khuzestan Province over unpaid wages.