A court in Mashhad has sentenced eight activists to a total of 72 years in prison.
In several open letters in 2019, dozens of Iranian dissidents called on Islamic Republic Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to step down.
The Revolutionary Court of Mashhad sentenced Hashem Khastar, Mohammad Nourizad, Mohammad Hossein Sepehri, and Fatemeh Sepehri – the signatories of open letter to supreme leader – alongside Abdul Rasoul Mortazavi, Hashem Rajaei, Gholamali Hosseinpour, and Morteza Ghasemi – supporters of the letter – to total 72 years in prison, six years ban from traveling abroad, and six years of internal exile.
Court has sentenced Hashem Khastar to 16 years in prison, 3 years’ banishment to the city of Nikshahr and three years ban from traveling abroad; Mohammad Nourizad 15 years in prison, 3 years’ exile to the city of Izeh and three years ban from traveling abroad.
Abdul Rasoul Mortazavi, who was a supporter of the letter of 14 activists, received 26 years. Mohammad Hossein Sepehri, and Fatemeh Sepehri received six years each.
Hashem Rajaei, Gholamali Hosseinpour, and Morteza Ghasemi received one year.
According to the reports, the signatories of the open letter to Iran’s supreme leader were charged with “insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic,” “insulting the supreme leader,” “propaganda,” cooperating with foreign media”, and “attending illegal meetings.”
Mohammad Hossein Aghasi, a lawyer in Tehran wrote in a tweet that the Revolutionary Court of Mashhad has sentenced four of those who wrote the letter to Khamenei to prison. On June 12, 2019, fourteen civil rights and political activists in Iran called for the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, to step down. In a statement addressed to the “fellow citizens in Iran,” the signatories called Iranians to step up and demanded fundamental changes in the Iranian constitution and Khamenei’s resignation.
“The horrendous history of the past 40 years shows that not only there is no will for leaders to be accountable to the Iranian people, but also the ruling system insists on its way and the autocracy,” the activists wrote in their statement.
Gowhar Eshghi, Hoorieh Farajzadeh, Mohammad Karimbeigi, Hashem Khastar, Mohammad Mahdavifar, Mohammad Maleki, Javad Laal Mohammadi, Mohammad Nourizad, Mohammad Hossein Sepehri, Abbas Vahedian Shahroodi, Kamal Jaafari Yazdi, Reza Mehrgan, Mohammadreza Bayat and Zardosht Ahmadi Ragheb are the signatories of the first letter.
A week after the first open letter, the same group published another statement. In the second statement, they called for a non-violent change through a transition in the Iranian political system based on a free election.
Following the publication of these letters in August 2019, some of the signatories were summoned and arrested.
On 5 August, fourteen women activists also released a similar letter. Referring to the same demand of the fourteen political and social activists, the women’s rights activists protested the “gender apartheid” dominating the country.
“Four decades of Guardianship of the Islamist jurist (velāyat-e faqīh) has eliminated the rights of half of the country’s population,” the women’s rights activists said in their statement.
Nosrat Beheshti, Shahla Entesari, Zahra Jamali, Shahla Jahanbin, Ezzat Javadi Hessar, Nargess Mansouri, Farangis Mazloum, Kimia Norouzi Saber, Parva Pachideh, Guiti Pour Fazel, Fatemeh Sepehri, Maryam Soleimani, Sussan Taherkhani, and Fereshteh Tasvibi are the signatories to women rights activists letter.
The signatories have called on the Iranians to join them in saying: “No to the Islamic Republic.”