London, 30 August – According to her lawyer and Iranian media, 21-year-old Parisa Rafei, a student of fine arts at the University of Tehran, has been sentenced to seven years in prison for taking part in university protests.
On Monday, it was reported by the reformist newspaper Shargh, that she was convicted of “assembly with the intention of acting against national security, propaganda against the system and disrupting public order.”
In a post on Twitter, her lawyer, Saeed Khalili, described the sentencing as “unfair and unreasonable”. He was also quoted by Shargh as saying, “In my view, none of these charges are logical or a legally sufficient reason to indicate that she has committed a crime.”
According to Khalili, the alleged crimes focused on a student union demonstration in early December over issues such as dormitory opening hours. “All these actions are within the framework of law and rights stated in the constitution,” Khalili stated.
Speaking with the state-run Iran Students News Agency (ISNA), Saeid Khalili said her client was tried for assembling and collusion intended to commit a crime against the country’s security, propaganda against the government, and disturbing public order. She said that verdict was issued against Rafiei for merely voicing students’ demands. Khalili added that she hoped the court of appeal’s verdict would lead to Rafiei’s acquittal.
Rafiei’s aunt, Safieh Qarabaghi, cited agents responsible for her niece’s detention as saying, “Since Parisa has rejected cooperation with IRGC’s Intelligence Organization, she should be deprived of her rights.”
Dozens of other students’ rights activists have been reportedly sentenced in recent weeks. For instance, a student at Tabriz University and one of the students arrested for joining last December’s widespread protest rallies, Roya Saghiri, was taken to the city’s prison on August 25 to serve her 23-month term. Saghiri, publicly opposed compulsory hijab, published her own verdict on July 11th on her Instagram account.
As reported in an article in the reformist Etemad newspaper, a total of 45 of her fellow students are also behind bars for their part in much broader unrest that swept the country later in December. The article alleged that at least two of the students have been given sentences of eight years, without providing details, and that all the cases were due to be completed within the next month.
The Iranian public expressed their support for Rafei on Twitter, using the hashtag ‘Release Parisa Rafei’.