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Silencing the Women's Rights Movement in Iran

leader of the women's subgroup leading a "velvet revolution." Sadr was stunned. These charges were very serious and could merit the death penalty in Iran . She recalls her reaction to the indictment:

That night, I was watching television and there was a news report about the indictment. I saw that they were playing [Mohammad-Ali] Abtahi's confession and the confession of several others. At that point, it clicked. There was no doubt in my mind that the state authorities wanted to charge me with the same things and bring me back to prison to give a forced confession under pressure and torture and make admissions against myself and the women's movement. I did not want this to happen. I decided to leave Iran . 48 hours later I was on Turkish soil." 148

Sadr has not returned to Iran, as she knows that her safety and that of her family cannot be guaranteed. She still has not received a court date for her July arrest." 149

Sadr's arrest, so soon after the election, had a chilling effect on other women's rights activists. Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, a leading member of the Stop Stoning Forever campaign150 and journalist who had been arrested and detained with Sadr on March 4, 2007, remembers feeling foreboding when Sadr was arrested.151 Asieh Amini, a prominent women's rights activist, and close friend and former colleague of Sadr, recalls:

After [Shadi Sadr was arrested], we were a bit scared and decided to be more cautious about what we used to communicate with one another-we did not want to end up on the radar of the authorities and have our plans intercepted." 152

Parvin Ardalan, one of the original fifty founders of the One Million Signatures Campaign, a founder of the Women's Cultural Center and editor of the Change for Equality website, was initially amused by the fact that the first indictment incorrectly described her as the daughter of Ali Ardalan, a member of Iran 's National Front party. However, she knew that the indictment signified that more arrests and detentions of activists were imminent, and therefore continued her work with more caution. She generally kept her cell phone turned off, and did not answer her landline unless someone first emailed her about the phone call.153

However, Ardalan's health deteriorated due to a pre-existing medical condition and she left Iran in September 2009 for medical care in Sweden . She believed that the Iranian government issued the indictment to scare activists, but that as with previous crackdowns, life would fall back into its normal routine after a few months. But, her doctors warned that the high stress situation in Iran would be difficult, and advised her to remain in Sweden for the time being." 154

[148] Id.
[149] Id.
[150] "Stop Stoning Forever" is a campaign launched in October 2006 that sought to repeal the Iranian law that makes stoning a legal punishment for adultery for women. See Soheila Vahdati, Stop Stonings in Iran, But Don't Confuse the Issue, The World, January 4, 2007, available at http://www.womensenews.org/story/the-world/070104/stop-stonings-iran-dont-confuse-the-issue.
[151] IHRDC Interview with Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh (July 6, 2010) (on file with IHRDC).
[152] IHRDC Interview with Asieh Amini (June 11, 2010) (on file with IHRDC).
[153] IHRDC Interview with Parvin Ardalan (July 6, 2010) (on file with IHRDC). Ardalan marveled at how hasty the indictment drafting process must have been for this amateur mistake to make the cut. It was not the first time the Iranian Regime had lobbed wild accusations against her-in the past, it had alleged that she was a member of SAVAK, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's security and intelligence forces, even though she was just a child at the time of the Islamic Revolution. Id.
[154] Id. In 2008, Ardalan was banned from leaving Iran for two years-she was prevented from traveling to Stockholm to collect the Olof Palme Prize she had been awarded for her work on women's rights in Iran . After the ban ended, she received her passport in September 2009.

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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