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There’s growing concern over the fate of jailed human rights activist Shiva Nazar Ahari following recent comments by her lawyer, Mohammad Sharif. In an interview he said that she is facing serious charges including waging war against God (Moharebeh), which carries the death sentence in the Islamic Republic.

Nazar Ahari, a member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR), has been in jail since December 2009. She was also arrested in June 2009 and released on a $200,000 bail in September.

In a note posted on the “Kalame” website, Zahra Rahnavard, the wife of opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi, has expressed concern over Nazar Ahari’s plight:

We are worried for Shiva Nazar Ahari, her trial, and its result because we are all Shiva Nazar Ahari. We, women, who make up half of Iran’s population, we are all Shiva Nazar Ahari.

Rahnavard, who is a university professor and a sculptor, rejects the charges Nazar Ahari is facing (including Moharebeh but also propaganda against the Iranian establishment) and says that she knows her personally from the time she was banned from classes for her activism.

I know our dear Shiva since the time she preferred human rights over other rights. She could have become the best student in engineering, instead she became the best student in the university of justice and freedom.

Rahnavard writes that Nazar Ahari was the first person to make public human rights abuses at the Kahrizak detention center where at least three detainees died as a result of torture. Many detainees said they were beaten up and raped.

Shiva is not alone. The idea that brings all justice-seeking people together -- me, Shiva, Bahareh Hedayat, and Mahdyeh Golroo [jailed female student activists], Atefeh Nabavi… [It] has connected us in order to persist and achieve our demands for human rights, freedom, and democracy.

Bloggers and Nazar Ahari’s colleagues and friends have also expressed support for her by writing about her work. Nazar Ahari’s colleague, Sepideh Pouraghayi, writes that despite threats and pressure Nazar Ahari never gave up on her activism.

Many of the prisoners and their families were constantly in touch with Shiva. I saw her many times talking on the phone to prisoners patiently and writing letters word by word about a prisoner’s demands or the bad conditions in prison.

Here is a link to a documentary about Shiva Nazar Ahari produced by Mahboubeh Abbasgholinejad (in Persian).

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.


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