Witness Statement: Shadi Sadr
A first-hand witness account from prominent human rights activist and criminal defense attorney Shadi Sadr.
Name: Shadi Sadr
Place of Birth: Tehran, Iran
Date of Birth: 1974
Occupation: Human Rights Lawyer and Women’s Rights Activist
Interviewing Organization: Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC)
Date of Interview: June 13, 2010
Interviewer: IHRDC Staff
This statement was prepared pursuant to an in person interview with Shadi Sadr. The statement was approved on December 7, 2010.
1. My name is Shadi Sadr. I am 36 years old. I worked as a lawyer prior to leaving Iran.
2. The Iranian authorities arrested me twice for my women’s rights work, including once in March 2007. The last time I was arrested was in July 2009, about a month following the June 2009 election dispute in Iran while en rout to a protest. Plainclothes men took me to Tehran’s Tracking Office, then Evin prison, where they continuously interrogated me and accused me of action against national security through causing unrest. After roughly two weeks in detention, I gave a financial guarantee of 50 million Tomans (approximately US $50,000) to secure my release.
3. I was released on July 29, 2009. On August 1, 2009, Tehran’s general prosecutor issued an indictment on the events following the election. The indictment specifically named me as one of the persons responsible for leading the women’s rights subgroup of the opposition movement. Given the serious nature of the allegations levied against me, I decided to leave Iran out of concern for my safety.
4. Two days after the issuance of the indictment, I left Iran and crossed the border into Turkey. In May 2010, Tehran’s revolutionary court sentenced me, in absentia, to six years in prison and lashes for charges from my March 2007 arrest. I have not returned to Iran since my escape.
5. I am a human rights lawyer, women’s rights activist and writer. I am one of the founders of the Stop Stoning Forever campaign. I founded Zanan-e Iran (Women of Iran), the first internet resource dedicated to chronicling the work of Iranian women’s rights activists.
6. I also founded Raahi, a legal advice center for women, and served as the group’s director. I remained in that posting until I was arrested in March 2007. Shortly thereafter, the Iranian government shut Raahi down.
Arrest Following the Election
7. My last arrest in Iran occurred on July 17, 2009, as I made my way to Friday Prayer to see Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani give a speech.
8. That day I planned to meet my friends at the end of Villa Street1 in Tehran and walk over to Friday Prayer together. I was just talking and laughing with my friends—it was early morning and the streets were not very crowded.
9. As we approached Vali Asr square, I noticed that the streets were sealed off and no cars were permitted to pass. Curiously however a gray Peugeot2 was parked on the street.
1 Now called Ostad Nejat’ollahi.
2 Peugeot is a French brand car that is popular in Iran.