Activist Who Met With Ashton Decries Defamation by Hardliners
Human rights activist Narges Mohammadi who has come under intense attacks by hardliners following her meeting with Catherine Ashton, the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Representative, has emphatically denied accusations about ever taking up arms against the Islamic Republic.
“I don’t know how they can accuse me of armed sedition,” Mohammadi told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “But I do know they have nothing to prove their accusations. This is an immoral move by members of the Parliament and some websites and newspapers, following our meeting with Ms. Ashton. Apparently they are allowed to attack us but we have no means to defend ourselves.”
Mohammadi, who is the deputy head of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, was one of several women activists who accepted an invitation to meet the EU representative at the Austrian Embassy in Tehran on March 8, 2014.
The meeting took Iranian officials by surprise and unleashed a flurry of criticism by conservatives who described the meeting as “foreign interference in Iranian domestic affairs” and labeled the Iranian participants as foreign collaborators.
Member of the Parliament Fatemeh Rahbar, who heads the “Women and Family” faction in the Parliament, wrote a letter to Ashton in which she indirectly accused Mohammadi of past participation in armed attacks against the Islamic Republic.
Resalat Newspaper also published a commentary on March 11 criticizing Ashton for meeting Mohammadi, “who along with her husband, a refugee in France, has a history of moharebeh [enmity with God] and taking up arms against the state.”
But Mohammadi told the Campaign, “I have held a pen in my hand for 20 years but never a gun… I strongly deny these false allegations and confidently say that they have nothing to back their accusations.”
The human rights activist noted that President Rouhani and in particular the Foreign Ministry had come under a great deal of pressure by conservatives and extremists who are looking for an excuse to derail the nuclear talks, the same way extremists in the West have opposed a resolution.
“We civil rights activists are aware of the pressure on the government but the fact is that the government should not ignore the public opinion which brought Mr. Rouhani to power. He should respect public opinion and defend us despite all the pressure,” she added.