IRGC Agents Threaten Atena Daemi Imprisoned Civil Rights Defender with New Charges

 Thursday, December 29, 2016 3:43:47 PM

Human Rights activist Atena Daemi, photo credit by Google.

Imprisoned civil rights defender Atena Daemi faces new charges as a result of a counter complaint filed by the Iranian authorities after she had filed a complaint against the IRGC's Sarallah Base for the unlawful and violent raid on her house that resulted in her arrest and transfer to Evin Prison. The Sarallah Base is the high-ranking security base of the IRGC in Tehran.


Atena Daemi is being held in prison on a seven-year sentence, but now faces new charges due to the counter complaint. The new "lawsuit" against Atena was filed by Sarallah Base on December 19, 2016 at branch 4 of Evin Prison's Shahid Moghadas Court. According to the human rights news agency HRANA, the accusations against her include: "insulting the Supreme Leader and other authorities of Iran", "spreading false news through her Facebook posts", "resisting arrest", and "beating agents while they were attempting to arrest her".


Atena Daemi's court hearing is scheduled for Sunday January 1, 2017. After learning that she faces new charges, Atena wrote an open letter in objection to the accusations against her.

Atena Daemi along with her family, photo credit by Google.


Moreover, on December 27th, IRGC agents issued summons orders to Atena Daemi's two sisters and their brother. Atena's siblings are expected to report to the Shahid Moghadas Court on January 1, 2017.


Summary of Atena's story:


Atena Daemi was violently arrested at her home this morning by IRGC agents who reportedly threatened her with death and did not present an arrest warrant. Relatives of the 29-year-old human rights defender say she was taken to Tehran's notorious Evin Prison. According to the human rights news agency, HRANA, Atena has been transferred to the women's ward of this prison.


In response to her arrest, Amnesty International released a statement today from Philip Luther, the NGO's Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa: "This is an extremely distressing turn of events and we fear that Atena may be at risk of torture or other ill-treatment. She is being targeted by the Iranian authorities simply for her peaceful activism, in particular speaking out against the use of the death penalty and supporting women's rights. She should be immediately and unconditionally released."


Atena Daemi was first arrested on October 21, 2014 and taken to Evin Prison where she was detained in the IRGC-controlled solitary confinement ward for a total of 86 days. She was then transferred to the women's ward of this prison and detained there until she was temporarily released on February 15, 2016 on a bail amounting to approximately $180,000 USD. According to a report by Amnesty International, for the first 28 days of her detention, Atena was held in a cell that was "infested with insects and had no toilet facilities". During this time, she was reportedly interrogated while blindfolded every day for a period of about a month and a half, and she had no access to a lawyer. Atena's mental and physical health severely deteriorated during this time, but Iranian authorities denied her medical care for her growing health complications.


In spring 2015, Iranian authorities sentenced the peaceful human rights defender to 14 years in prison under four charges: "Propaganda against the regime",  "Assembly and collusion against national security", "Blasphemy and insulting the Supreme Leader through her Facebook posts", and "Concealing evidence". In September 2016, her sentence was reduced to seven years in prison by an Iranian appeals court.

Atena's family have talked to several human rights groups about the details of the charges against her. She was reportedly accused of blasphemy and insulting Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, because of jokes and song lyrics found on her mobile phone. The assembly and collusion charge was reportedly issued to her for attending a peaceful gathering in front of the United Nations office in Tehran in support of the children of Kobane, Syria. Iranian authorities reportedly charged her with propaganda against the regime for her public Facebook posts in opposition to the death penalty and Iran's mandatory hijab law. She was charged with concealing evidence for not being able to provide her interrogators with the password to the Facebook page of one of her friends.

By: Kaveh Taheri