by Monica Ricci Sargentini
Shahla Abdi, 22, four months pregnant, has been held in a prison in Urmia since mid-October. The UN Human Rights Council has called for urgent action
Shahla Abdi smiles in the photo that has been circulating all over social media. A light make-up, a touch of lipstick, the face framed by a colorful hijab. Her luck ran out in mid-October 2022 when the 22-year-old girl of Kurdish descent was arrested in Urmia, the capital of west Azerbaijan, Iran, during one of the many protests for Mahsa Amini, the young woman who died while she was in the hands of the moral police.
According to Iran Wire, which exclusively broke the news, Abdi was found guilty of setting fire to a picture of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s founder, Ruhollah Khomeini, and was sentenced to death for it. According to the pan-Arab television channel Al Arabiya, the execution is imminent. And this despite the fact that Shahla is four months pregnant.
It is not known where the young woman is currently being held. She was reportedly held in solitary confinement in Urmia Central Prison between October and November, but was then transferred to Tabriz Prison or the Ministry of Intelligence Detention Center. I saw her – a prisoner told Iran Wire – she looked very young but weak and battered and she was four months pregnant. The online newspaper reports that Abdi is always under close surveillance and is accompanied by two agents wherever she goes. The news caused a worldwide sensation. Calls to save the girl increased on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. According to Al Arabiya, two days ago the UN Human Rights Council called for urgent action to counter the verdict.
The Human Rights Activists News Agency (Hrana) has so far counted 520 deaths among the protesters, while more than 19,000 people have been arrested, including some pregnant women. Zahra Nabizadeh was six months pregnant when she was detained in Mahabad, western Azerbaijan, on January 18. This was reported by Hengaw, a Norway-based group that monitors human rights abuses in Iran’s Kurdish regions. The girl lost her baby after security forces kicked her in the stomach.
If the execution of Shahla Abdi is completed, it would be the first execution of a woman since protests against Mahsa Amini began in Iran on September 17. So far, 17 men have been sentenced to death as a result of the wave of protests. Four executions so far.
But there is more. There is a categorical ban on the execution of pregnant women in international law (Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), which was subsequently extended to young mothers – explains Riccardo Noury, spokesman for Amnesty International in Italy -. Even Iranian law provides that a pregnant woman will not be killed if she is caring for her child and her execution would endanger the child’s life.
Yesterday Amnesty International called for the convictions of three young Iranian protesters who were subjected to floggings, electric shocks, hanging with their heads bowed and other forms of torture to be overturned after their arrest. They are Arshia Takdastan, 18, Mehdi Mohammadifard, 19, and Javad Rouhi, 31. The three inmates were sentenced to double death in December 2022 for enmity against God and corruption on earth. According to the verdict, they started fires and vandalism in the northern Iranian province of Manzadaran. Their trials only lasted an hour. Now we hope to go to the Supreme Court.
January 27, 2023 (change January 28, 2023 | 08:28)
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