Media reports said that the seven people were sentenced to between six and 18 years in prison and, in one case, 74 lashes, by Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran on September 7. All of them were arrested at some point in the last year for taking part in peaceful protests for workers’ rights at the Haft Tappeh sugar cane company in Khuzestan province, i.e. Esmail Bakhshi, or documenting the protests in the media, i.e. Sepideh Gholian. Both those mentioned were also sentenced for reporting that they’d been tortured after their first arrest in November 2018.

Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director, Philip Luther, said: “These outrageous sentences are just the latest to be meted out by Iran’s cruel justice system and expose the authorities’ complete disregard for journalists and workers’ rights. These individuals are blatantly being targeted and punished for their work defending human rights and for publicizing human rights violations.”

The sentences are as follows:

  • Bakhshi, charged with spreading lies”, “insulting the Supreme Leader” and “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security”, was sentenced to 13.5 years in prison and 74 lashes
  • Gholian and journalists Amirhossein Mohammadifard, Sanaz Alahyari, Asal Mohammadi and Amir Amirgholi, charged with “membership of a group with the purpose of disrupting national security” for their work at Gam magazine, which reports on social justice issue, “spreading propaganda against the system” and “spreading lies”, were each sentenced to 18 years in prison
  • Labor rights activist Mohammad Khanifar, charged with “spreading propaganda against the system” and “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security”, was sentenced to six years in prison

Luther continued: “This disgraceful injustice must be reversed. We call on the Iranian authorities to quash these unjust verdicts and cruel sentences and immediately and unconditionally release all seven individuals. The international community, including EU states, which have an ongoing dialogue with Iran, must step up its efforts and demand the Iranian authorities immediately stop targeting journalists and human rights defenders and end their increasingly ruthless campaign to quash what little remains of Iran’s civil society.”

The world should make their diplomatic and economic relationships with Iran conditional on improvements to Iranian human rights. After all, how can the EU or US support a Regime that would torture their people like this?