USCIRF Condemns Additional Prison Sentence for Iranian Religious Prisoner of Conscience

Apr 26, 2021

USCIRF Condemns Additional Prison Sentence for Iranian Religious Prisoner of Conscience

Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today condemned the government of Iran for sentencing religious prisoner of conscience Golrokh Iraee to an additional year in prison, a ban on membership in political organizations, and a two-year travel ban on charges of “propaganda against the state.”  Ms. Iraee, who is detained at Amol Prison in Mazandaran Province, was not present at the hearing and was not granted access to a lawyer.

“Iranian activist Golrokh Iraee's additional one-year sentence is an appalling violation of religious freedom,” said USCIRF Chair Gayle Manchin, who advocates for Ms. Iraee as part of the Commission’s Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project. “The United States government must hold accountable officials responsible for this outrageous and unwarranted punishment by imposing targeted sanctions through the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, and through relevant Executive Orders."

Golrokh Iraee was jailed in October 2016 for an unpublished short story criticizing the religiously-justified practice of stoning adulterous women. She was released from prison in April 2019 but rearrested in November 2019 on a new three-year and seven-month sentence for “insulting the Supreme Leader” and “propaganda against the state.” In December 2020, guards entered her cell in Qarchak Prison using stun guns and dragged Iraee out by her hair. She was then transferred to Ward 2A of Evin Prison, which is run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Intelligence unit. On January 24, 2021 she was moved back to Qarchak prison and transferred hours later to Amol Prison. Judge Iman Afshari of Branch 26 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court imposed her latest sentence, about which she was informed April 12. She remains unable to make phone calls or contact her family and has also been denied visitation with her husband Arash Sadeghi, who is undergoing cancer treatment.

“Iran’s continued detention of this peaceful activist is a cowardly disregard of its international obligations to ensure freedom of religion or belief,” said USCIRF Commissioner Gary Bauer. “No person should face years in prison or be denied her basic rights for the mere suggestion that human beings should not be stoned to death.”

In its 2021 Annual Report, USCIRF recommended Iran for designation as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) for engaging in or tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, as it has recommended every year since 2002. In August 2020, USCIRF released a factsheet on sanctioned religious freedom violators in Iran. In December 2020, the State Department redesignated Iran as a CPC.

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The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at media@USCIRF.gov.