Women's Rights & Movements in IranIran women's activist jailed for five years

Iran women’s activist jailed for five years

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ImageReuters: An Iranian women's rights activist has been sentenced to five years in prison on security-related charges, her lawyer said on Saturday.

ImageTEHRAN (Reuters) – An Iranian women's rights activist has been sentenced to five years in prison on security-related charges, her lawyer said on Saturday.

Hana Abdi, a 22-year-old woman from Iran's Kurdistan province, was accused of "illegal gathering with the intention of committing a crime against the nation's security", lawyer Mohammad Sharif told Reuters by telephone.

"The verdict was communicated to me on Wednesday," he said, adding it would be appealed.

Abdi is a member of a campaign to try to gather 1 million signatures in support of greater women's rights in the Islamic Republic, a fellow activist said. Rights groups accuse Iran of discriminating against women, a charge Tehran denies.

"We're all very shocked by this harsh sentence," the campaigner said, declining to be named.

There was no immediate comment from the judiciary.

An unidentified Iranian judge was in December quoted by an official news agency as saying Abdi and another woman arrested in a Kurdish region a few months earlier were accused of being members of a rebel group, PJAK, and of involvement in bombings.

The Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) is an Iranian offshoot of the separatist Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) movement that is fighting neighbouring Turkey.

Several clashes between Iranian forces and Kurdish rebels have been reported over the past year in northwest Iran.

Iranian women's rights campaigners say dozens of activists have been detained since the countrywide One Million Signature Campaign was launched in 2006, most of them released after a few days or weeks.

But last month, a male activist in the campaign was sentenced to one year in prison, his lawyer said.

Judiciary spokesman Alireza Jamshidi earlier this year said collecting signatures was not a crime, but "making propaganda against the system and disturbing public opinion" was.

Western diplomats see the detention of women activists in Iran as part of a wider crackdown on dissent.

(Writing by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Alison Williams)

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