a couple jailed for a dance video that went viral

According to Iranian activists, a couple who filmed themselves dancing in front of a monument in Tehran have been sentenced to more than ten years in prison.

Source AFP

In Iran, mobilizations against the regime have continued since the death of Mahsa Amini in September 2022.

Premium Subscriber-only audio playback

I subscribe to 1€ the 1st month

Astiyazh Haghighi and her fiancé Amir Mohammad Ahmadi, both in their twenties, were arrested in November 2022. The cause of their arrest: a video of them dancing romantically in front of Azadi Tower in Tehran had gone viral. An Iranian court sentenced the young couple to more than ten years in prison, according to Iranian human rights activists. Astiyazh Haghighi did not wear an Islamic veil, defying the Islamic Republic’s strict rules regarding women, who are also not allowed to dance in public in Iran.

A revolutionary court in Tehran sentenced them to 10.5 years in prison, as well as being banned from using the internet and from leaving Iran, the NGO Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), based in the United States, reported. UNITED STATES. Popular on Instagram, the couple were found guilty of “encouraging corruption and public prostitution”, as well as “gathering with intent to disrupt national security”, added the NGO.

14,000 people arrested since protests began

Citing sources close to their families, HRANA said they were denied a lawyer during the legal proceedings and attempts to obtain their release on bail were rejected. The NGO specifies that Astiyazh Haghighi is in the famous Qarchak women’s prison, whose conditions of detention are regularly condemned by human rights activists.

Iranian authorities have cracked down harshly on all forms of dissent since the death of Mahsa Amini in September, which sparked a wave of protests against the regime. At least 14,000 people have been arrested since, according to the United Nations, including celebrities, journalists, lawyers and ordinary citizens.

READ ALSOIran: why the EU did not sanction the Revolutionary Guards

The video of this couple had been hailed as a symbol of the freedoms claimed by the protest movement. Known as one of the main attractions of the Iranian capital, the gigantic and futuristic Azadi (“freedom”) tower is a sensitive place for power. It was inaugurated during the reign of the last Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi (1941-1979), in the early 1970s, and was then known as the Shahyad (“in memory of the Shah”) tower. It was renamed when the Islamic Republic was created in 1979.

In a separate case, Armita Abbasi, a 20-year-old Iranian woman, went on trial Sunday after being arrested in October during protests in the city of Karaj near Tehran. CNN, citing leaks and an unnamed medical source, reported in November that she had been taken to hospital after being raped while in custody. Allegations denied by the Iranian authorities. His lawyer Shahla Oroji said Armita Abbasi was accused of propaganda against the system and the court refused to release her on bail.

READ ALSOWhat can we do for the Iranians who are hanged at dawn?