Kurdish journalist and activist Gorji sentenced to 21 years in Iran

Kurdish journalist and women's rights activist Jina Modarres Gorji has been sentenced to 21 years in prison by the Iranian regime's judiciary. She was accused of overthrowing the mullah state with “feminist ideology”.

Another blow to women's rights in Iran: Kurdish journalist and human rights activist Jina Modarres Gorji has been sentenced to a 21-year prison sentence by the Iranian Revolutionary Court in Sine (Sanandaj). The French-based Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) said that Modarres Gorji was arrested in September 2022, shortly after the start of the protests triggered by the death of the young Kurdish woman, Jina Mahsa Amini.

According to KHRN, Jina Modarres Gorji received a 10-year prison sentence for “forming an illegal group with the aim of overthrowing the regime,” a one-year prison sentence for “hostile propaganda against the state,” and another 10 years for “collaborating with hostile groups and countries.”  

Given that, according to Iranian law, if you are sentenced to multiple prison sentences, only the longest sentence has to be served, the women's rights activist's time behind bars will effectively be ten years if the sentence handed down on 23 May 2024 becomes final. Modarres Gorji would then have to serve her sentence in Hemedan (Hamadan).

The list of charges against Jina Modarres Gorji is long. This includes, among other things, the founding of the 'Zhivano' association, which she initiated. The organization, based in Sine, advocates for women's rights and for putting feminist perspectives at the center of struggles for political, environmental and social change. The association is a thorn in the side of Iran's fascist and patriarchal regime. The ruling states that the organization was designed to overthrow the regime and that the “feminist ideology” was the central driving force behind this goal.

The verdict also included allegations against Modarres Gorji, such as participation in illegal meetings, the use of allegedly illegal slogans and "communication with anti-revolutionary elements, participation in international conferences and workshops, publication of content on social media and conducting interviews with foreign media "to paint a negative picture of the country's situation and to create tension in society in the sensitive period after Jina Amini's death."

The journalist's defense has already lodged an appeal against the verdict, which will have to be decided by the Sanandaj Court of Appeal.

Long-time activist in the Kurdish women's movement

The journalist and activist of the Kurdish women's movement Jina Modarres Gorji, who is known beyond Rojhilat, was first arrested by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence in Sine on 21 September 2022. She had taken part in demonstrations by the “Jin Jiyan Azadî” movement, which were sparked by the violent death of Jina Mahsa Amini. The 22-year-old from Seqiz was taken into custody by the morality police in Tehran for allegedly violating ‘clothing regulations’ and was mistreated to death at a police station. After the femicide of the Kurdish woman, protests broke out across the country.

Bookstore closed for violating ‘headscarf law’

After 40 days in the women's ward of Sine Central Prison, Jina Modarres Gorji was released on bail. She was arrested again in April last year; The regime's Secret Service agents abducted her on the street on the way to her apartment. After around four weeks in solitary confinement, she was placed in a shared cell, also in the Sine prison. She was released in July after paying bail again. Since then, she has been under constant surveillance by the state security authorities. A few weeks ago she had to close her bookstore 'Jira' in Sine for several days. Authorities accused her of violating the headscarf requirement.