Marzieh Nikara, a prominent human rights lawyer and activist, was handed a one-year imprisonment sentence by Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, Branch 29, on Sunday, May 14, 2023. The charges leveled against Nikara included “anti-regime propaganda activities” and “dissemination of falsehoods.” Human rights lawyer Mohammad Seifzadeh was similarly sentenced to a year’s incarceration on matching charges.
These charges stem from a letter penned by a cohort of human rights defenders and legal scholars to the UN Secretary-General. This missive reported on the suppression and intimidation of citizens during the 2022-2023 nationwide protests.
Forough Sheikhol Eslami Vatani, of the Central Bar Association, was also ordered to appear before Branch 7 of the Security Courthouse of Evin Prison on May 24, 2023. Lawyers Yashar Kazemi and Shayan Zadegan received concurrent summons. Separately, human rights attorney Tutia Partovi Amoli, another Central Bar Association member, has been summoned, though the exact reasons remain undisclosed.
Meanwhile, the trial for lawyer Farzaneh Zilabi has been rescheduled for June 4, 2023, at Branch 113 of Ahvaz’s Criminal Court. Zilabi is facing charges related to “spreading falsehoods” and her purported involvement in activities supporting the 2022-2023 uprising.
Zilabi previously defended herself against charges of “insulting the leadership,” among others, in a trial session at the Ahvaz Courthouse on February 14, 2023, during which she was temporarily released on bail. She was notable for having represented clients such as the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Workers and recent detainees, including Mehrnoush Tafian, Mandana Sadeghi, and Ronak Razaei.
These developments underscore the heightened tension surrounding the treatment of human rights lawyers in Iran, particularly those involved with protest-related cases. These events have drawn renewed attention to the lack of independence in Iran’s legal system and judiciary, prompting calls from human rights organizations for immediate action to safeguard legal professionals and uphold the principles of freedom of speech and fair trials.
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