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Iran’s female political prisoners

Bahareh Hedayat © sahamnews

Bahareh Hedayat © sahamnews

Iran is holding numerous women in jail on political charges. They include human rights activists, journalists, artists and simply engaged citizens.


Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Iranact2An employee of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, she has been in jail since April, 2016. She has both British and Iranian citizenship, and wanted to visit family in Iran with her two-year-old daughter. She is accused of participating in efforts “to cause the soft toppling of the Islamic Republic.” Her foundation, which educates journalists worldwide, has called the allegations groundless.


Zahra Rahnavard

Iranact3Zahra Rahnavard, wife of opposition politician Mir Hossein Mousavi, is perhaps the most well-known of Iran’s female political prisoners. After the disputed presidential elections in 2009, she backed her husband. The sculptor and academic has been under house arrest with her husband since February 2011 without charges.


Narges Mohammadi

Iranact4Narges Mohammadi is a human rights activist. In May, 2016 she was sentenced to 16 years in prison, although her work is seen as peaceful. At the end of June, she began a hunger strike after authorities restricted telephone contact with her young son and daughter. After 20 days on hunger strike, she was granted permission to speak once a week with her children.


Homa Hoodfar

Iranact5The Canadan-Irish-Iranian anthropologist Homa Hoodfar has been jailed at Tehran’s Evin Prison since June 6, 2016. The renowned academic was arrested during a private visit to Iran. She had planned to research women in Iranian politics. She was accused of creating security problems in the Islamic Republic by taking part in feminist activities.

Bahareh Hedayat

Iranact6Bahareh Hedayat is a women’s rights activist and prominent figure in the student movement in Iran. In 2010, shortly before her wedding, she was arrested and ultimately sentenced to 10 years in prison. She was head of an organization fighting for political reforms and against human rights violations.


Reyhaneh Tabatabaei

Iranact7The political journalist has been arrested many times, most recently in January 2016. Reyhaneh Tabatabaei was accused of “propaganda against the state.” She supported reform activists. Tabatabaei was sentenced to a year in prison and was handed a two-year employment ban. The Revolutionary Court also prohibited her from participating in any political activities for two years.


Fariba Kamalabadi

Iranact8After eight years behind bars, Fariba Kamalabadi (third from right) was granted temporary release in May. Until 2008, she was one of Iran’s leading Baha’i figures. She was sentenced to 20 years for her religious beliefs. While on release she visited Faezeh Hashemi, daughter of former president Ali Akbar Rafsanjani. Several grand ayatollahs denounced the visit as a “betrayal of Islam.”

Author: Shabnam von Hein



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16.08.2016 | 14:17