Iran sentences young Christian woman to 10 lashes, three months in prison

Iranian Christian Mary Mohammadi. (Twitter)

Iran has sentenced a young Christian woman to 10 lashes and three months in prison for allegedly demonstrating against the military’s downing of a Ukrainian airplane in January.

Mary Mohammadi, 21, was arrested in Tehran on January 12 and charged with “disrupting public order by participating in an illegal rally,” according to nonprofit Christian watchdog Article 18.

Mohammadi said she was subjected to torture while being detained in Evin prison and Qarchak Women’s Prison for 46 days.

“I was forced to endure all kinds of torture, none of which is sanctioned by law, and which ought to be considered crimes in themselves,” said Mohammadi in a post on Twitter.

Iran’s largest women’s prison, Qarchak is known for its “unbearable conditions, including regular assaults and inappropriate behavior of prison guards towards women, chronic lack of water, unsanitary living spaces, and an environment that enables rape and murder,” said US official Brian Hook during a special briefing in December.

An Iranian inmate peers from behind a wall as a guard walks by at the female section of the infamous Evin jail, north of Tehran on June 13, 2006. (AFP)

An Iranian inmate peers from behind a wall as a guard walks by at the female section of the infamous Evin jail, north of Tehran on June 13, 2006. (AFP)

Mohammadi was sentenced on April 21, according to Article 18, who reported the judge at the court hearing repeatedly asked Mohammadi about her Christian faith.

Mohammadi said she is being punished for “protesting against the slaughter of human beings” and for “showing sympathy for all the families who perished on the Ukraine airline crash.”

Flight PS752, a Ukrainian International Airlines airliner, was shot down outside Tehran on January 8, killing all 176 people on board.

Iranian officials initially claimed the plane had crashed due to a technical error and invited countries that lost citizens to help investigate.

Three days later, Iran admitted responsibility for shooting down the plane, saying its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) mistook the plane for a “hostile target.” The admission came after Western leaders said there was strong evidence the plane was hit by a surface-to-air missile.

The plane’s passengers included 63 Canadians, 82 Iranians, and others from Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan, Germany and the UK.

Mourners place flowers by photos of the victims, before the start of a memorial service for the Ukrainian Airlines flight PS752, in Edmonton, Canada on January 12, 2020. (AFP)

Mourners place flowers by photos of the victims, before the start of a memorial service for the Ukrainian Airlines flight PS752, in Edmonton, Canada on January 12, 2020. (AFP)

After Tehran’s admission, protests erupted across the country in support of the victims. Mohammadi said in a social media post she is “proud of sympathizing with human beings” and that her sentencing is the cost of that.

Mohammadi is just one of many young Iranians who have been sentenced to time behind bars for protesting against the IRGC shooting down the civilian airliner. Just after Mohammadi’s judgment, two other Iranian students were sentenced to prison time for participating in the January protests.

Iran’s judiciary announced on January 14 it had arrested about 30 protesters in relation to the "illegal rallies."

“Around 30 people have been arrested for taking part in illegal gatherings ... We have tolerance towards legal rallies,” said spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili, the Iranian semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

Mary Mohammadi. (Twitter)

Mary Mohammadi. (Twitter)

Mohammadi, whose sentence has been suspended for one year, has decided not to appeal against the verdict, according to Article 18.

“We have refrained from appealing against the verdict because the appeal courts have turned into confirmation courts!” Mohammadi said in a statement to Article 18.

US President Donald Trump mentioned the case against Mohammadi during a speech at the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC, in February.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 10:02 - GMT 07:02
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