British-Iranian woman given one-year jail term for attending men′s volleyball | News | DW | 02.11.2014
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British-Iranian woman given one-year jail term for attending men's volleyball

Ghoncheh Ghavami, a British-Iranian woman who was arrested in Tehran after trying to attend a men's volleyball match, has been sentenced to one year in jail. Amnesty International has called the ruling "appalling."

A court in the Iranian capital of Tehran handed down a one-year jail sentence to a British-Iranian woman, her lawyer said on Sunday.

Ghoncheh Ghavami, a 25-year-old law gradute from London, England, was first arrested on June 20 at Azadi or "Freedom" Stadium in Tehran, after attempting to attend a men's volleyball match between Iran and Italy.

Women are banned from attending male-only matches in Iran. According to human rights organization Amnesty International, Ghavami tried to enter the stadium with around a dozen other women in protest against the ban. Female photographers inside the complex were also ordered to leave, though none were arrested. Iranian officials claim the ban is to protect women from lewd behavior among male fans.

Ghavami was released within just a few hours, only to be re-arrested days later.

According to her family, Ghavami spent at least 41 day in solitary confinement at Tehran's Evin prison before going on trial last month. Amnesty international said Ghavami also began a two-week hunger strike over her detention.

Her lawyer, Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei, who has not been allowed to visit his client, said the court has found Ghavami guilty of "propagating against the ruling system."

'Prisoner of conscience'

The British Foreign Office said on Sunday that it had "concerns about the grounds for this prosecution, due process during the trial and Miss Ghavami's treatment whilst in custody."

Volleyball World Cup in Poland

Protesters demand Ghavami's release at the 2014 Volleyball World Cup in Poland

British Prime Minister David Cameron had previously raised Ghavami's case with Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, in September at the UN Gerneral Assembly in New York, where he underlined "the impact that such cases had on iran's image in the UK."

Amnesty International has also voiced outrage over Ghavami's sentence, calling the court judgment "appalling." Kate Allen, the rights group's director for Britain said,

"It's an outrage that a young woman is being locked up simply for peacefully having her say about how women are discriminated against in Iran," the Amnesty director for Britain, Kate Allen, describing Ghavami as a "prisoner of conscience."

Allen called on Iranian authorities to quash the sentence, demanding Ghavami's immediate and unconditional release.

International outrage

A Facebook page demanding Ghavami's release has also gained more than 22,500 "likes" since the page was created on September 6.

Prior to her jail sentence, protesters had demanded Ghavami's release at the Volleyball World Cup in poland in September, with many carrying banners and placards reading slogans such as, "Goncheh only wanted to watch volleyball" and "Let Iranian women in the stadium."

Iran's treatment of political prisoners, women and religious minorities has come under fire on several occasions recently. Just last week, several diplomats at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva condemned the arrests and harassment of journalists, forced confessions and lack of access to fair trials in the country.

ksb/kms (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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