Iran: Release Yasaman from prison
After pressure from over one million Amnesty International supporters from around the world, Yasaman’s prison sentence was in February 2020 reduced to 5 years and 6 months.
Her mother and fellow women’s rights defender, Monireh Arabshahi, was also arrested when she went to enquire about her daughter. She was also sentenced to 16 years in prison – and her sentence was also reduced to the same length at that time.
A reduced sentence is not enough – both these women need to be released immediately.
As an act of peaceful protest, Yasaman and two other women handed out flowers to female passengers on a metro train in Tehran.
The unveiled women were filmed sharing their hopes for women in Iran on International Women’s Day 2019.
Days after the video (below) went viral on social media, they were charged with sham offences including ‘inciting prostitution’ for promoting unveiling.
Above: Instagram video showing Monireh Arabshahi, Yasaman Aryani and Mojgan Keshavarz handing out flowers on train, March 9 2019. Post shared by @masih.alinejad
Weeks later, Yasaman was arrested and faced intense interrogation and abuse.
After the authorities held Yasaman in solitary confinement and threatened to arrest her family if she didn’t “repent”, they sentenced her to 16 years in prison. She is required to serve 10 years of this sentence.
On 5 February 2020 we learnt that Yasaman and had had her sentence reduced to nine years and seven months by an appeals court.
In the last few years, a growing movement against forced veiling laws has emerged inside Iran, with women and girls performing courageous acts of defiance. Men and women who actively choose to wear hijab have joined too – because the movement is about choice: a woman’s right to choose what to wear without fear of harassment, violence, threats and imprisonment.
Yasaman’s cruel punishment is part of a wider crackdown on women campaigning against discriminatory forced veiling laws in Iran. The Iranian authorities must not be allowed to rob Yasaman of the best years of her life – simply because she believes women should have the right to choose what they wear.