Labor activist Sharifeh Mohammadi

Outcry sparked over death sentence of Iranian labor activist

Friday, 07/05/2024

The issuance of a death sentence to Sharifeh Mohammadi, a labor activist imprisoned in Iran, has sparked condemnation and promises of protest.

Facing charges of armed rebellion, she has become a symbol of the Iranian government's repression of dissent.

Farhad Meysami, a civil activist, has opposed the death sentence issued to Mohammadi on Thursday and has pledged to go on a hunger strike in front of the Revolutionary Court in Rasht if the sentence is not revoked. In a statement, he declared, "If you want to execute Mohammadi, dig two graves."

The Campaign to Defend Mohammadi stated on Instagram, "This sentence is based on the pretext of Mohammadi's membership in an independent, public, and legal labor organization a decade ago, demonstrating the baselessness of the verdict." The campaign labeled the ruling as intended to instill fear among activists as the government continues to oppress any voices of dissent.

Mohammadi, arrested in December 2023, is one of the latest in a wave of executions aimed at quashing dissent. Last year, 834 Iranians were executed, according to the United Nations, marking a record high and a 50 percent increase from the previous year. At least 22 of those executed were women, making Iran the world's number one executioner of women. The 2023 figures were the highest since 2014, according to Iran Human Rights.

The campaign has called for Mohammadi's acquittal and unconditional release, declaring, "This sentence is not only against Sharifeh but is a declaration of war and a death sentence against all social and civil activists."

In January, the UN called for an end to the "horrific wave of executions" underway, with 67 executions in May alone.

According to rights groups, during her detention, Mohammadi was deprived of basic prisoner rights, such as in-person visits and phone calls. For a long time, she was denied visits with her family, especially her child, and was not allowed to contact them by phone. The physical and psychological torture inflicted on Mohammadi by Ministry of Intelligence officials was so severe that prison authorities protested out of fear for her life.

Vida Mohammadi, Sharifeh’s cousin, reported to Radio Farda about the torture she endured during her two-month imprisonment in Sanandaj prison. She stated that inmates in other cells had repeatedly witnessed Mohammadi being tortured. According to Vida, Sharifeh was a member of the Coordination Committee for the Establishment of Labor Organizations, an independent and legal organization, until 10 years ago, but she has not been a member since. She emphasized that Mohammadi has no affiliation with any political organizations inside or outside the country and has only conducted independent activities for women or in support of workers. Vida stated that issuing such a sentence after 10 years and the charge of "rebellion" is baseless.

The Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company on Wednesday condemned the charges against the labor activist in a statement, calling the charge of "rebellion" against her "completely baseless" and "pure falsehood" and demanded her immediate and unconditional release.

Earlier, on June 26, Mohammadi's mother expressed concern about her daughter's condition in a video and called for information about her. Mohammadi's husband was also arrested for following up on her situation and was recently released.

This incident occurs amid increasing security and judicial crackdowns on labor activists, teachers, and retirees. Following rampant inflation in recent years and the wide gap between income and household expenses, various groups, including workers, teachers, and retirees, have staged widespread protests and strikes. The protests intensified amid the "Woman, Life, Freedom" demonstrations following Mahsa Amini's death in morality police custody, but they were met with repression by the government.

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