Last Updated: Sun Oct 17, 2010 00:08 am (KSA) 21:08 pm (GMT)

Iran rights activist faces capital punishment

Shiva Nazar Ahari denied terror charges
Shiva Nazar Ahari denied terror charges

Iranian human rights activist Shiva Nazar Ahari was put on trial for conspiracy against the regime, affiliation with a terrorist group, and being “an enemy of God” amid apprehensions that she might face the death sentence.

The trial of Shiva Nazar Ahari, 26, started Saturday in Tehran. Ahari is facing several charges like belonging to the People's Mujahedin of Iran, known as Mojahedin-e Khalgh (MEK), which calls for overthrowing the Iranian regime.

 We believe this organization is a terrorist group who have shown that they don’t follow the Iranian people’s best interests 
Ahari\'s mother Shahrzad Kariman

If found guilty of affiliation to the dissident organization, Ahari could be facing the death sentence. Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the Iranian regime has executed thousands of MEK members have been executed.

In the session, Ahari pleaded not guilty and denied any connection with the MEK. Ahari’s mother, Shahrzad Kariman, said that the entire family has always held the group in contempt.

“There has never been, nor there will ever be a connection with this organization,” Kariman told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

“We believe this organization is a terrorist group who have shown that they don’t follow the Iranian people’s best interests.”

Kariman quoted Ahari’s lawyer Mohammad Sharif as saying that there is no evidence or documents that implicate her daughter and that she defended herself well in court.

According to Sharif, Ahari condemned the terrorist operations carried out by MEK and stressed that she is a human rights activist who calls for the rights of women and political prisoners. She also denied involvement in plans to overthrow the Islamic government.

Ahari is facing several other charges like waging war against God, assembly for planning crimes, destabilizing security, and propaganda against the regime, ILNA News Agency reported Saturday. All charges are reportedly in violation of several articles in the Islamic Penal Code.

After the completion of all defense statements by Ahari and her lawyers, the presiding judge announced that the trial is adjourned.

Twice arrested

Ahari was arrested twice before she was put on trial. The first time was in June 2009 in the wake of the political instability that swept the country after the controversial presidential elections. She was released on bail after spending 100 days in solitary confinement.

She was arrested again in December 2009 when she was on her way to attend the funeral of reformist Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, known for his criticism of the Iranian regime.

Iranian reformists condemned the arrest and trial of Ahari. Reformist leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi called for Ahari’s release and visited her in jail with his wife Zahra Rahnavard.

Reformist leader Mehdi Karroubi expressed solidarity with Ahari and said that she is a symbol of the struggle against repression.

Iranian authorities have issued warnings to reformist leaders that if they do not stop anti-government demonstrations, they could face execution because they are “enemies of God.”

(Translated from the Arabic by Sonia Farid)

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