Iran Human Rights (IHR); March 19, 2021: Imprisoned human rights defender, Atena Daemi has been exiled from Evin Prison to Rasht Central Prison days before Norouz. Atena has been behind bars for more than four years without a day’s leave.
According to Iran Human Rights, Atena Daemi was transferred from Evin Prison to Rasht Central Prison in handcuffs and shackles on March 16 in the latest wave of prison exiles. She has been denied the right to contact her family since her transfer.
Given that none of Atena’s sentences include prison exile, the transfer can only be seen as a method of harassing political prisoners and their families. She also has no links or connections to Rasht. The transfer was made days before Norouz, the Iranian new year, making it harder for her family to visit her.
In recent months, several women have been transferred from Evin Prison’s political prisoners ward to prisons around the country. Human rights defender Golrokh Ebrahimi-Iraei was transferred to Amol Prison on January 24, hours after being returned to Qarchak Prison from the IRGC’s Ward 2A of Evin Prison. Maryam Akbari-Monfared and Sepideh Gholiyan were transferred from Evin Prison to Semnan Prion on March 9 and Bushehr Prison on March 10 respectively.
Atena Daemi was first arrested by Iranian authorities on 21 October 2014 and was subjected to interrogations for 86 days in ward 2A, an IRGC-operated solitary confinement ward in Evin Prison. Following the end of her interrogations, on 18 January 2015, she was transferred from 2A to the women's ward of the prison. Due to the peaceful nature of her activities, she was sentenced to 14 years in prison on charges of "propaganda against the system", "assembly and collusion against national security", "blasphemy and insulting the Supreme Leader" and "concealing evidence". Facebook posts and her activism against the death penalty were used as part of the evidence against her. Her sentence was reduced to seven years on appeal.
On 18 July 2019, both Atena and Golrokh were sentenced to an additional 3 years and 7 months and a two year ban on group and organisational activities by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran for “insulting the founder and Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic and propaganda against the system,” which was upheld by the Tehran Appeal Court on 5 September 2019. On 21 December 2019, Atena along with a group of other prisoners, staged a sit in, in protest to the state response to the November 2019 nationwide demonstrations and in solidarity with the family of the victims.
On 2 July 2020, her lawyer was informed that she had been sentenced to a further two years in prison and 74 lashes by Branch 24 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court, presided over by Judge Mohammadreza Amouzad on charges of “propaganda against the system and disrupting prison order.” On the charge of "propaganda against the system" the court cited statements, written letters and statements attributed to her and on charges of "disrupting prison order" celebrating, partying and dancing during Ashoora, the day marking the death of Imam Hussein in the Shi’ite calendar, were cited. Atena called the new charges baseless, stating that, for example, in the case of disrupting prison order, there had been no celebrations by her or her fellow prisoners around the days marking Ashoora. As with her conviction in March 2018, Atena refused to attend the hearing in protest to the breach of her legal rights in the time between the date of notification and trial and the lack of access to her legal counsel.