Maryam Akbari-Monfared sentenced to another 2 years in prison in Iran

Iranian political prisoner Maryam Akbari-Monfared, who has already served nearly 14 years of her 15-year prison sentence, has received an additional two-year sentence, while prison guards have privately told her that she will “never be released” unless she retracts her call for accountability over the state murder of her brother and sister during the 1988 massacre of political prisoners.

Branch 101 of the Criminal Court of Semnan sentenced Ms. Akbari-Monfared in absentia to two additional years in prison and 150 million rials in fine for “disseminating falsities on social media.”

Two new charges had been filed against Maryam Akbari Monfared by the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).

The first charge concerned her time in Evin Prison, where she was accused of disseminating “propaganda against the state.” The second charge concerned her time in the Prison of Semnan where she was accused of insulting Iran’s current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, propaganda against the state, assembly and collusion, disseminating falsities and disrupting public opinion, and inciting people against national and external security.

A separate charge concerned open letters published on social media in Ms. Akbari-Monfared’s name. The verdict stipulated that the Ministry of Intelligence was the complainant in this case.

Ms. Akbari-Monfared is currently serving the final 18 months of her initial 15-year sentence. She has been repeatedly harassed and subjected to various physical and psychological tortures in prison simply for making an official request from the Judiciary of Iran to explain the circumstances of her siblings’ execution during the 1988 massacre. She had even been told that she will not be released until she retracts her call for accountability over the murder of her brother and sister in the massacre.

On 1 July 2023, Ms. Akbari-Monfared was summoned to the Courthouse of Evin Prison, where she was arraigned on five new charges. She was immediately returned to the Prison of Semnan, 216 km east of Tehran, where she is serving her sentence.

The charges against Ms. Akbari-Monfared included “propaganda against the state,” “assembly and collusion,” “dissemination of lies,” “insulting (Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei),” and “encouraging people to disrupt public order.” These charges were based on the various open letters and reports smuggled out of prison by Ms. Akbari-Monfared and published on social media.

Ms. Akbari-Monfared, born in 1975 and a mother of three daughters, has not had a single day of furlough (even during the COVID-19 outbreak) in the 13-and-a-half years that she has been kept behind bars.

Ms. Akbari-Monfared was arrested on 30 December 2009 in the middle of the night at her home as she was putting her 4-year-old daughter, Sara, to sleep.

In June 2010, the Revolutionary Court of Tehran handed her a 15-year sentence for Moharebeh (waging war on God) over her alleged “membership in the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran” (PMOI or MEK), a charge Ms. Akbari has never accepted. Ms. Akbari-Monfared suffers from Thyroid malfunction and joint rheumatism.

Ms. Akbari-Monfared is widely respected among the Iranian communities, not least because she has been a resilient and resistant political prisoner, firmly adhering to her cause.

“We can feel the scent of spring in Evin, and I am sure this beautiful spring will one day grow and embrace our homeland. The spring of freedom is on its way.… Spring will come. It will pass through the barbed wires and land in our homeland,” she previously wrote from Evin.

Ms. Akbari-Monfared’s sister and brother, Roqieh and Abdolreza Akbari-Monfared, were executed during the 1988 massacre. Two other brothers were executed during the mass executions in 1981 and 1984.

Ms. Akbari-Monfared was abruptly transferred from the women’s ward of Evin Prison to the Prison of Semnan on 9 March 2021. No legal authority has accepted responsibility for her banishment to Semnan Prison.

She has been faced with unsuitable conditions in Semnan Prison. The authorities have increased restrictions on Ms. Akbari-Monfared and her family without any legal justification.

Ms. Akbari-Monfared has suffered from fatty liver disease for over two years. However, the Intelligence Ministry has not allowed her to see a doctor outside the prison.

The prison doctor has prescribed her special food for liver patients. However, in the last two years, Ms. Akbari-Monfared’s requests for proper nutrition and a visit to a specialist have not been answered. Her physical condition has become extremely acute due to a lack of proper nutrition and access to treatment, and she suffers from various side effects.

On the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, JVMI reiterates its call for urgent United Nations intervention to help end Ms. Akbari-Monfared’s unlawful detention.