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Iran MPs call for release of death penalty activist

Narges Mohammadi at her home in Tehran in 2001 © AFP / Behrouz Mehri

Tehran, Iran, Oct 16 – A group of Iranian lawmakers has written an open letter to the head of the judiciary calling for the release of Narges Mohammadi, an activist sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Mohammadi, 44, has campaigned against the death penalty and was awarded the City of Paris medal earlier this year for her work on women’s rights.

Arrested in May last year, the mother-of-two was sentenced in April to a total of 16 years in prison on various charges, including “forming and managing an illegal group”.

In the letter published by Iranian media on Sunday, the lawmakers call on Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, the head of the judiciary, “to apply the clemency and mercy of the Islamic republic” and reunite her with her children.

They also highlight Mohammadi’s medical problems including “muscular paralysis”.

Among the signatories were parliamentary vice president Ali Motahari and several female MPs.

Mohammadi, who was also spokeswoman for Iran’s Centre for Human Rights Defenders, went on hunger strike in June after being denied phone contact with her children, who live with their father in France. The authorities relented after 20 days of the hunger strike.

Under a law passed last year, she should only serve the sentence linked to the most important charge — in this case 10 years for forming the “illegal group” Legam which pressed for an end to capital punishment.

Amnesty International says Iran executed 977 people last year, mostly on drug trafficking charges.

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