Name: Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee
Country/Area of Origin: Iran
Reason for Arrest:
Iraee is an Iranian accountant, writer, and human rights advocate whose major target for activism is abolishing the inhumane punishment of stoning which is used in Iran. In September 2014, following Iraee’s writing of an article condemning the cruel practice, authorities barged into her and her husband’s home without a warrant and arrested her. The couple’s home was subsequently thoroughly searched, and her to-be-published draft article criticizing the death penalty by stoning waged against Iranian women charged with adultery.
During her pre-trial detention, Iraee was blindfolded, interrogated, and even threatened with swift execution. In May 2015, Iraee’s first and second trials convened; during both trials, her personal lawyer was either prevented from representing her or encouraged to drop the case. She was convicted of “insulting Islamic sanctities” and disseminating “propaganda against the state” and sentenced to six years in prison.
In October 2016, while at home, Iraee was informed by phone that her sentence would be carried out soon. On the 24th of that month, government authorities raided her home and transferred her to the notorious Evin Prison women’s ward. During her time at Evin Prison, Iraee was denied visits and telephone communication with her family.
In 2018, Iraee, along with another human rights activist Atena Daemi were temporarily transferred to Shahr-e Rey prison before they ended up at Qarchak Prison. There, in February 2018, they engaged in a hunger strike to protest their inhumane detention conditions, which they ended after 81 days. The two were eventually transferred back to Evin Prison after some months at Qarchak.
In April 2019, after serving 3.5 years out of her 6 year sentence, Iraee was released on bail, and she returned home.
In July 2019, the Revolutionary Court in Tehran convicted both Iraee and Daemi with “insulting the supreme leader” and “promoting propaganda against the state” and sentenced each to 3 years and 7 months in prison. In September 2019, the Tehran Appeal Court extended their sentences for two extra years.
By November 2019, Iranian Revolutionary Guards arrested Iraee at her home and transferred her to Qarchak Prison.
- On 26 April 2021, USCIRF revealed that the Iranian government had extended the sentencing of Iraee to an additional year in prison, a prohibition on joining political groups in the future, and a two-year travel ban. USCIRF released the following remarks condemning the sentence:
- “Iranian activist Golrokh Iraee’s additional one-year sentence is an appalling violation of religious freedom. 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.” – Chair Gayle Manchin
- “Iran’s continued detention of this peaceful activist is a cowardly disregard of its international obligations to ensure freedom of religion or belief. No person should face years in prison or be denied their basic rights for the mere suggestion that human beings should not be stoned to death.” – Commissioner Gary Bauer
- On 24 January 2021, after 43 days of questioning at IRGC Intelligence Ward 2A Evin Prison, Iraee was transferred to Amon Prison. Amol, one of Iran’s northernmost cities, is currently struggling greatly with the COVID-19 epidemic, heightening international concerns that she may become more exposed to the virus.
- On 27 January 2021, USCIRF issued a press release condemning the imprisonment and mistreatment of Iraee:
- “USCIRF is appalled by Iran’s ceaseless persecution of Golrokh Iraee, a peaceful activist who has been isolated from her loved ones for months without cause. In coming months, the Biden administration must raise this egregious mistreatment in any engagement it has with Iranian leaders and stand up for all Iranians detained for peacefully exercising their freedom of religion or belief.” – USCIRF Chair Gayle Manchin
- “Iran’s leaders must be held accountable for their appalling mistreatment of citizens peacefully asserting their freedom of religion or belief. The United States must continue to impose sanctions and visa bans on high-level Iranian officials responsible for this outrageous mistreatment.” – USCIRF Commissioner Gary Bauer
- In December 2020, news outlets revealed that prison guards entered Iraee’s cell in at Qarchak and used stun guns and batons to physically assault other prisoners. Iraee was dragged out of her cell by her hair and forcibly transferred to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Intelligence Unit located in Ward 2A of Evin Prison. Iraee’s family has reported that they are concerned for her health and that all requests to visit her or talk with her on the phone have been rejected. Supervisor of political prisoners, Amin Vaziri, told her family: “The riot in Qarchak had been organized by Golrokh Iraee and whatever happens to her, she deserves it.” Another contact from IRGC Headquarters interrogated Iraee’s family regarding how they found out about Iraee’s transfer.