Iran revokes execution of Zahra Sedighi-Hamadani and Elham Choubdar

Amnesty International has reported that Iran has revoked the death penalty in the cases of LGBTIQA+ rights activists Zahra Sedighi-Hamadani and Elham Choubdar.

Zahra Sedighi-Hamadani (Sareh), 31, lived in Erbil, Iraq, and used a virtual platform to speak about the human rights of LGBTI people. In October 2021, she was arrested in Iran while attempting to cross the border to seek asylum in Turkey.

She had to flee after being targeted for participating in an interview with BBC Persian and speaking up on the situation of LGBTI persons in Erbil. She was charged with crossing the border illegally as well as of “promoting homosexuality”, although no evidence has been offered to substantiate the accusations.

Reports indicate that Sareh was coerced into confessing to these ‘crimes’ – potentially through acts of torture, including solitary confinement and threats of having the custody of her two children taken away from her.

Elham Choubdar, 24, is a wedding dresses shop owner and a friend of Sareh, with whom she had appeared on some Instagram live sessions. After Sareh was arrested, the same happened to Elham, who was charged for encouraging corruption and depravity.

Amnesty International have reported that the two women are no longer on death row after Iran’s Supreme Court overturned their convictions and death sentences. Their cases have now been referred back to a lower court, but the two women remain in custody.

A petition calling for the two women to be released has been set up by local LGBTIQA+ rights organisation 6Rang and a conglomeration of international LGBTIQA+ advocacy groups.

OIP Staff

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