I shall submit to love’s noose
I live for the Friend – whatever will be will be
Shame on whoever accepts the way of bondage
Honour goes to whoever calls for freedom
Sedigheh Vasmaghi is a lawyer, poet and woman rights activist from Iran. A Phd in Law from Teheran University, she has worked tirelessly to highlight and improve women’s status and rights in the Iranian society. She came to Uppsala in Sweden through the ICORN programme 2012-2014 and stayed and worked there until she and her husband returned to Iran in October 2017.
Upon arrival in Teheran, she was immediately arrested at the airport and later sentenced to 5 years in the Evin prison on the charge of propaganda against the state. In a statement, English PEN considers Vasmaghi’s arrest and detention to be politically motivated and linked to her writings and peaceful activities.
Accused of activities against the Regime – in support of the protesters in November 2019
On 24 June, Vasmaghi was again summoned to the Revolutionary Court accused, through an indictment, of activities against the Regime and of signing a statement under the title, “Respect the People’s Demands.” This refers to a statement she signed, along with seventy-six other individuals, following the November protests of 2019, when they objected to and protested the crackdown on demonstrators
In protest against a trial in essence unfair in claims and procedure, Vasmaghi has refused to attend the hearing that took place on 4 August. She instead issued her statement of defence to the Court of Public Opinion. Read the full defece statement by Vasmaghi.
To underline that this is a national security issue rather than a political case, Vasmaghi writes in her statement, the case is tried in the Revolutionary Court, which is also not open to the public, instead of the General Court, which would be open to the public.
Sedigheh Vasmaghi’s background to her defence to the public court:
On 4 August 2020, I and some of my friends, who had signed a statement objecting to the slaughter in November 2019, were summoned to Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court for the third time. The two earlier hearings were on 25 June (4 Tir) and 14 July (24 Tir). The third was on 4 August (14 Mordad); on that day they announced the conclusion of the hearing, and now we must await the court decision. I did not attend any of these meetings for the reasons that I set out in the statement below.
My lawyer, Mr Sayyid Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabataba’i, objected to the Revolutionary Court’s authority to deal with political cases, as well as to the authority of Judge Iman Afshari specifically. He has two official positions: In addition to being the president of branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court, he is also the head of the Intelligence Security Unit of the Revolutionary Court. According to my lawyer, this is in contradiction of the Constitution, and clearly invalidates his authority to judge [this case]. Mr Alizadeh told the judge: “you are head of the Intelligence Security Unit of the Revolutionary Court, a position that is in reality that of a policeman. You cannot be simultaneously a policeman and a judge.” Despite these vital objections to the authority of the court, the judge Iman Afshari declared the conclusion of the hearing.
Given that investigation of political accusations must be carried out in Open courts and with a jury, I present my statement of defence to the court of public opinion.
"I find my human dignity in freedom"
In her final words of her defence, Vasmaghi states that she refuses be silenced and will keep writing and speaking and fight for freedom and human dignity:
My final word is that I desire to see reforms in our country and wish for the prosperity, freedom and loftiness of my homeland. I will do my utmost in this endeavour. I will continue speaking and writing. In this noble cause, I am not afraid to be tried and sentenced to jail. We are all to blame for the current critical situation. And all of us should try our best to change things for the better.
I find human dignity in freedom. I will not censor myself and will not allow my freedom to be trampled on. I want to live free even in a cell. The high walls and iron gates of prison will not bring me down.