She is only 20 and has been accused of “conspiring against national security”.
The lawyer: “We will appeal.”
According to data from the Human Rights Center in Iran from January 2018 to today, 12 people have been convicted of protesting against the law that obliges women to wear veils, 33 of those arrested.
Taking off the veil in Iran is a gesture that is paid at a high price, that of freedom. The latest woman to suffer Tehran’s repression is hijab activist Saba Kord Afshari. She is only 20 years old, but for her involvement in the ‘White Wednesday’ protest, she was sentenced to 24 years in prison. “The sentence is not yet definitive – Hosein Taj, the young woman’s lawyer, explains to Repubblica – but the maximum sentence, which is 15 years, is certain. This is why we will appeal.”
The verdict was issued on August 19 by the Tehran Revolutionary Court, but the young woman’s lawyer was notified only on August 27th. The charges against the activist, who is imprisoned in the Evin prison in Tehran, are three: ranging from the “spread of corruption and ” to the spread “of propaganda against the state”, up to the “conspiracy against national security “.
Kord Afshari was arrested for the first time while participating in a peaceful protest on August 2, 2018. Released on February 2019, following an amnesty that spared her the last two months of the sentence, she was arrested again on June 1st. For her, civil rights defenders and various politicians are mobilizing. At the forefront, as always, is Masih Alinejad, the Iranian journalist and activist who has been living in exile between London and New York since 2009, promoting the protest movements that have animated a part of Iranian civil society since 2017. “These two women are the Rosa Parks of Iran,” Alinejad wrote, referring to a video in which Kord Afshari appears alongside another militant, Yasaman Aryani, who was sentenced to 16 years.
THE FIRST ‘ROSA PARKS’ OF IRAN
The first woman to be convicted of challenging the Tehran regime was Viva Movahed. Shooting while waving her white hijab from the top of an electricity booth, she had become the symbol of ‘White Wednesday’ after that video toured the world. Jailed in March 2018, she was released 10 months later. For her, Nasrin Sotoudeh, Iran’s most important advocate for human rights and women and winner of the Sakharov Prize, also fought. She was accused of propaganda against the state and of being appeared in public without a veil.
THE NUMBERS OF REPRESSION
Viva was the first, the last Saba. Among them, there are at least a dozen women who are paying for defying the law that obliges women to wear veils. This is remembered by the Center for Human Rights in Iran, according to which, from January 2018 to today, at least 12 people have been sentenced – including two men – for having publicly removed the veil or for having performed acts of civil disobedience against mandatory hijab policy. 33 were arrested instead. “But the numbers – reads the report released by the organization – could be higher because many choose to keep their cases private”.