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Silencing the Women's Rights Movement in Iran

Although the warrant for the search explicitly stated that only property belonging to Azad and relating to the One Million Signatures Campaign could be searched and seized, police instead searched and seized the property of Azad's two housemates, fellow women's rights activists Elnaz Ansari and Aida Saadat.105 In the course of the search, security agents beat Ansari, and handcuffed and beat Azad's husband, Vahid Maleki. The police took Saadat's documents, notes, CDs, poetry book and personal planner, and Ansari's laptop. Saadat remembers that her room "looked like someone had literally ploughed through [it]."106

On March 26, 2009, authorities arrested twelve women's rights activists in Tehran while they were attempting to visit family members of political prisoners. Some of the detained were members of the Campaign. The agents took them to Evin prison where they were charged with disrupting public opinion and order.107 Ten of the detainees were released on bail three days later, and the remaining two were released in the first week of April.108 Bail was set at 50 million tomans (roughly USD $50,000) for each of the women. The authorities also required a third-party financial guarantee from a government employee." 109

Another member of the Campaign, Maryam Malek, was arrested on April 25, 2009. Three security officers had searched Malek's home three days earlier, and seized personal items including books and materials related to the Campaign and petition forms. Shortly after the search, she was served with a summons to report to the police station for interrogation. At the station, the police arrested her and took her to the Vozara Detention Center from where she was later transferred to Evin prison. The Revolutionary Court charged Malek with "propaganda against the state" and "membership in the One Million Signatures Campaign." She was unable to meet the bail amount of 20 million tomans (roughly USD $20,000) and spent five days in detention before being released on a third party financial guarantee." 110

Agents from the Qom Ministry of Intelligence arrested two Campaign members, Fatemeh Masjedi and Maryam Bidgoli, on May 7, 2009. The women were in Qom investigating an honor killing, which had sparked the strong disapproval of several influential figures in Qom.111 The authorities denied them access to a lawyer.112 Twelve days following their arrests, Masjedi and Bidgoli were released on bail equivalent to USD $20,195."113


[105] Iran: Violent Search of Women Activists' Home and Seizure of their Property, Change for Equality, February 4, 2009, available at http://payvand.com/news/09/feb/1042.html.

[106] IHRDC Interview with Aida Saadat (April 15, 2010) (on file with IHRDC).
[107] Iran : Twelve Women's Rights Activists Arrested for Planned New Year's Visit, Change for Equality, March 27, 2009, http://www.wluml.org/node/5164. Those arrested included Delaram Ali, Khadijeh Moghaddam, Leila Nazari, Farkhondeh Ehtesabian, Mahboubeh Karami, Bahara Behravan, Ali Abdi, Amir Rashidi, Mohammad Shoorab, Arash Nasiri Eghbali, Soraya Yousefi and Shahla Forouzanfar.
[108] Guzarishi az Vaz'iyat-i Zanan-i Mudafi'i Huquq-i Bashar [A Report of the Conditions of the Female Defenders of Human Rights], Change for Equality, April 16, 2009, available at http://www.we-change.org/spip.php?article3988; Azadiyih Dah Tan az Fa'alan-i Junbish-i Zanan va Idamihyih Bazdasht-i Khadijeh Moghaddam va Mahboubeh Karami [Release of Ten Women Movement Activists and Continuation of Detention of Khadijeh Moghaddam and Mahboubeh Karami], Change for Equality, March 29, 2009, available at http://www.we-change.org/spip.php?article3888.
[109] Iran : Twelve Women's Rights Activists Arrested for Planned New Year's Visit, Change for Equality, March 27, 2009, available at http://www.wluml.org/node/5164.
[110] Document - Iran: Prisoner of Conscience: Maryam Malek, Amnesty International, April 29, 2009, available at http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE13/039/2009/en/0bd1baa4-49e8-40ae-a7a2-47ccd6046dbf/mde130392009en.html; Iran: Maryam Malek Transferred to Evin Prison, Change for Equality, April 28, 2009, available at http://www.wluml.org/node/5220; Maryam Malek Released after Five Days Detention, Change for Equality, April 29, 2009, available at http://www.campaignforequality.info/english/spip.php?article507.
[111] "Honor killing" describes the practice of killing a woman for her actual or perceived immoral behavior. The woman is often killed by relatives, including her husband, brother or father. See Case Study: "Honour" Killings and Blood Feuds, Gendercide Watch, available at http://www.gendercide.org/case_honour.html.
[112] Fatemeh Masjedi and Maryam Bidgoli Held in Solitary in Qum, Iran Human Rights Voice, May 15, 2009, available at: http://www.ihrv.org/inf/?p=2310.

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Tagged as:

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