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Silencing the Women's Rights Movement in Iran

election rallies and distributed literature setting forth these demands." 92

Three of the four candidates, recognizing the electoral potential of such a significant segment of the population, increasingly spoke out on issues that mattered to women of all backgrounds. Reformist candidate Mir-Houssein Mousavi issued a "comprehensive and … detailed" plan to promote gender equality through measures that included ratification of the CEDAW and ensuring greater access for women to higher education and professional fields. Reformist candidate Mehdi Karroubi issued a statement in May 2009 in which he pledged, inter alia, to review discriminatory laws, ensure women held decision-making positions in government, and implement CEDAW." 93 Conservative candidate Mohsen Rezai promised that he would appoint female ministers, provide salaries to housewives, promote women's organizations, and facilitate the fair distribution of opportunities to men and women.94

Zahra Rahnavard, in her position as the wife of reformist candidate Mousavi, broke precedent by campaigning publicly with her husband-the first candidate's wife in the history of the Islamic Republic to do so.95 Rahnavard used the spotlight of her husband's campaign to convey a platform of expanded women's rights including "[e]limination of discrimination and strengthening of cultural rights, women's rights and equal rights under the law."96 Rahnavard also publicly endorsed the One Million Signatures Campaign,97 and published an article calling for an end to discrimination against women and pushing for ratification of international women's rights conventions.98

2.2 Suppression of Activists

However, the incumbent regime increased its suppression of women rights activists and organizations during the lead-up to the elections. It shut down offices, arrested and interrogated many activists, and prevented some from leaving the country.

On December 21, 2008, Iranian authorities raided the offices of the Defenders of Human Rights Center that had been founded by veteran lawyer and activist Shirin Ebadi in 2001, just before a commemoration ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was to take place." 99

[92] Women's Movement: A Model for the Green Movement, Gozaar, June 11, 2010, available at http://www.gozaar.org/english/articles-en/Women-s-Movement-A-Model-for-the-Green-Movement.html.
[93] Tahmasebi, supra note 90.
[94] Id.; Reza Sayah & Christiane Amanpour, contributors, Iranian election could be test for women's rights, CNN, June 11, 2009, available at http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/06/11/iran.election.women/.
[95] Support for Moderate a Challenge to Iran's Leader, The New York Times, May 25, 2009, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/26/world/middleeast/26iran.html; Thousands Gather to Hear, Cheer Iran's Michelle Obama, CNN, May 24, 2009, available at http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/05/24/iran.wife/index.html.
[96] Zahra Rahnavard: 'I will sacrifice my life for freedom & democracy,' (Negar Irani, trans.), The Green Voice of Freedom, June 9, 2010, available at http://en.irangreenvoice.com/article/2010/jun/09/2019.
[97] Haleh Esfandiari, Iran's Women of War, New York Review of Books, Jan. 14, 2010, available at http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2010/jan/14/irans-women-of-war/.
[98] Hamsar-i Mir Hossein Mousavi: Raf'i Tab'iz az Zanan Shu'ar-i Kandidaha Bashad [Wife of Mir Hossein Mousavi: Removal of Discrimination From Women Should Be the Slogan of the Candidates], Aftab April 6, 2009, available at http://www.aftabnews.ir/vdcg3w97.ak93t4prra.html.
[99] Ebadi, a lawyer, and women's and children's rights activist, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her human rights work. Police Close Offices of Group Led by Nobel Peace Laureate Hours Before Commemoration, Washington Post Foreign Service, December 22, 2008, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/21/AR2008122100676.html; Open Letter by Shirin Ebadi to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Defenders of Human Rights Center, June 6, 2009, available at http://www.humanrights-ir.org/php/view_en.php?objnr=284.

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Sexual Violence, Gender Rights, Death Penalty, Political Killings, Executions, Torture, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, Punishment, Personal Liberty, Arbitrary Detention, Travel Restrictions, Due Process, Right to an Attorney, Illegal Search and Seizure, Free Speech, Right to Protest, Protests, Free Association, Child Rights, Political Freedom, Equality Before the Law, Discrimination