Iran: Women writers and journalists receive heavy prison terms

English PEN protests the convictions of prominent writers and women’s rights advocates Fariba Davoodi Mohajer, Nusheen Ahmadi Khorasani, Parvin Ardalan and Sussan Tahmassebi, who were sentenced to two, three, and four years’ imprisonment under Iran’s national security laws. All remain free on bail pending appeal.

PEN considers these women to be targeted solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory, and calls for the charges against them to be dropped.

According to PEN’s information, journalists and writers Nusheen Ahmadi Khorasani, Parvin Ardalan, Fariba Davoodi Mohajer and Sussan Tahmassebi are among six women’s rights activists to be sentenced under national security laws on 11, 18 and 24 April 2007. Nusheen Ahmadi Khorasani and Parvin Ardalan were each sentenced on 24 April 2007 to three years’ imprisonment, six months of which are to be served in prison. Fariba Davoodi Mohajer was handed down a four-year prison sentence on 18 April 2007, three years of which are suspended. Sussan Tahmassebi was sentenced on 18 April 2007 to two years in prison, one-and-a-half of which are suspended. The suspensive part of these sentences remains in force for five years. All were convicted under Article 610 of the Islamic Penal Code of ‘collusion and assembly to endanger the national security’.

The charges were brought following a public demonstration protesting allegedly discriminatory laws against women in Iran held on 12 June 2006. These arrests appear to be part of a recent crackdown on Iran’s burgeoning women’s rights movement.


Fariba Davoodi Mohajer is a pro-reform journalist and women’s rights activist. She has written for many now-banned reformist dailies, and is a council member of the Women Journalists Association and secretary of the Women’s Committee of Iranian Alumni.

Nusheen Ahmadi Khorasani is a prominent journalist, activist and translator. She formerly edited the journals Jens-e Dovom and Fasl-e Zanan. She is a founding member of the Women’s Cultural Centre, established in 2001 to promote women’s cultural and political rights. Also co-founder of the Feminist Tribune website, which discusses social and political issues affecting women both in Iran and internationally, and provides information about the activities of the women’s movement in Iran. 

Parvin Ardalan is editor of the website Feminist Tribune and member of the Women’s Cultural Centre. Formerly she wrote for the monthly Zanan magazine, and the literary monthly journal Adineh. She is a leading member of the Change for Equality campaign, which lobbies to change discriminatory laws against women in Iran, and has been previously targeted for her writings and womens’ rights activism.

Sussan Tahmassebi is a editor of the English-language version of the Wechange website, and a leading Iranian-American political scientist and civil society activist. She formerly worked for US-based non-profit organisations, and since 2005 has worked in Iran as International Director of the Science and Arts Foundation (SAF), an organisation committed to empowering women in developing countries by providing access to Information Communications Technology, education, employment and training. She has published numerous articles and research papers on civil society and women’s issues. 

Please send appeals:

  • Protesting the sentences handed down to prominent writers and women’s rights advocates Fariba Davoodi Mohajer, Nusheen Ahmadi Khorasani, Parvin Ardalan and Sussan Tahmassebi solely for their critical writings and peaceful activism;

  • Calling for all charges against them to be dropped in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory.


Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei,
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Shoahada Street, Qom,

Islamic Republic of Iran

Head of the Judiciary
His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Ministry of Justice, Park-e Shahr,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email:   via Judiciary website:
Salutation: Your Excellency

His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency,
Palestine Avenue,
Azerbaijan Intersection,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax Via Foreign Ministry: 98 21 6 674 790
(mark: “Please forward to H.E. President Ahmadinejad”)

You may wish to forward the above appeals via the Iranian embassy in London:

His Excellency Mr Rasoul Movahedian

16 Prince’s Gate

London SW7 1PT

Fax: 020 7225 3000


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