Two Iranians sentenced to death, including an LGBTQ activist


Two Iranians were sentenced to death by a court for “corruption on land,” Iranian state news agency IRNA said Monday.

One of them, Zahra Sedighi-Hamadani, was described by Amnesty International earlier this year as a gender non-compliant person and LGBTI activist who was detained by the authorities “because of her real sexual orientation and gender identity. or perceived, as well as his posts on social media and statements in defense of LGBTI rights “.

Elham Chobdar was also charged and convicted as part of the same case and sentenced to death, Iranian state media reported.

The two were accused of “trafficking in young women” in the Iranian province of Western Azerbaijan and other parts of the unnamed country, according to the IRNA report.

Amnesty said on Tuesday it was “outraged” by the sentences and called on the Iranian authorities to “immediately cancel the sentences and death sentences” and release Sedighi-Hamadani and Chobdar, the statement said. The sentences have been appealed in the Iranian Supreme Court, he added.

Amnesty said in January that Sedighi-Hamadani, who also uses the name Sareh, was first detained in October 2021 in Erbil, Iraq, in connection with an appearance she made in a BBC documentary. , speaking of the abuses of the LGBTQ community in the region.

After his release in Iraq, Sedighi-Hamadani attempted to enter Turkey from Iran to seek asylum, Amnesty said, but in November the Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Organization claimed that a “leader” of a trafficking network of human beings “involved in the Iranian smuggling of girls and women” to neighboring countries and directing them to homosexual groups under “protection of [foreign] intelligence agencies “had been captured.

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Amnesty believes that the Revolutionary Guards statement referred to Sedighi-Hamadani and called the allegations “spurious and unfounded”.

Before allegedly attempting to cross into Turkey, Sedighi-Hamadani said he was “traveling to freedom” in a video released by the Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network, also known as 6Rang, in December 2021 and quoted by Amnesty the following month. .

“If I succeed, I will continue to take care of LGBT people. I’ll stay behind them and raise my voice. If I don’t make it, I will have given my life for this cause, “she said in the video.

In a letter sent to the President of the Iranian Supreme Court, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, Amnesty stated that Sedighi-Hamadani was accused in January by the Urumieh prosecutor of “spreading corruption on the earth” including through the “promotion of homosexuality “,” communication with anti-Islamic republic media channels “and” promotion of Christianity “.

Iranian state media said the Sedighi-Hamadani and Chobdar convictions were related to trafficking, without referring to the Sedighi-Hamadani allegations, his activism, or further details about Chobdar.

“Contrary to what was reported on social media, the area of ​​accusations against these individuals is linked to the trafficking of women and girls with the hope of education and the promise of work to a regional country and they too have been mistreated and this has led to the suicide of a number of these girls, “said IRNA, without giving details.

CNN contacted the Iranian government about the allegation that Sedighi-Hamadani’s sexual minority status was the reason for her conviction. It was not immediately clear whether Sedighi-Hamadani and Chobdar had lawyers.