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Silencing the Women's Rights Movement in Iran

Jila Bani Yaghoub

Jila Bani Yaghoub, an internationally-renowned Iranian journalist and women's rights activist,166 was immediately released after being pulled from the bus on December 20, 2009. She had been previously arrested on June 20, 2009, along with her husband Bahman Ahmadi Amoee. Bani Yaghoub was released on bail two months later but her husband's five year sentence was upheld on appeal and he is currently serving his term in Ward 350 of Evin.167

Following her release, Bani Yaghoub did not feel secure or that she could freely express herself. In an open letter to the head of the Iranian judiciary, she lamented how her arrest has impacted her freedom of expression:

Around 70 journalists are now in the prisons of the Islamic Republic and many others, like me, are free on bail, lacking any security. We are afraid that anything that we write may be used as evidence of "propaganda against the system" or "conspiracy against national security." My colleagues and I try to write as little as possible.168

Tania Ahmadi Kaliji

Tania Ahmadi Kaliji, a weblogger and women's rights activist, took photographs and distributed reports from the post-election demonstrations. She changed SIM cards in her mobile phone to avoid the government's surveillance. However, in August 2009, agents arrested her at her apartment in Tehran and seized women's rights literature. They held her in solitary confinement in a small room for three days, and interrogated her intensly for seven to eight hours. Ahmadi Kaliji believes they wanted the names of her contacts.169

After her release, they threatened her on the phone and by text messages. Ahmadi Kaliji worried about walking the streets alone, but nonetheless remained active. In January 2010, plain clothes agents arrested her again without showing her a warrant. They released her early the next morning without lodging formal charges. Her body was bruised and bloodied. She did not have a ride home and struggled to flag down a car. Based on the location of her release, Ahmadi Kaliji believes that she was held at the Ministry of Interior.170

A few weeks after her release, Ahmadi Kaliji received a court summons to report to the court branch on Sepahbod Gharani Street, which she believes handles murder trials. Fearing for her life, Ahmadi Kaliji fled to Turkey in February. However, her interrogators regularly call her family and demand that she return to Iran.171

Asieh Amini

An acclaimed journalist, poet and women's rights activist, Asieh Amini was one of the leading members of Koneshgaran, an NGO that provided support to Iranian civil society." 172 The organization was listed in


[166] Bani Yaghoub served as the Editor in Chief of Qanun Zanan Irani and won the Courage in Journalism Award in 2009.
[167] Ahmadi Amoee was temporarily released in March 2010 to spend Norooz with his family but was summoned back to Evin at the end of May 2010. See the postings of Jila Bani Yaghoub, about his imprisonment and temporary release on her weblog, Nivishtih-hayih Jila Bani Yaghoub [Writings of Jila Bani Yaghoub], available at http://www.zhila.org/spip.php.
[168] Iran : Journalists Under Siege, Amnesty International, April 30, 2010, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/iran-journalists-under-siege-2010-04-30.
[169] IHRDC Interview with Tania Ahmadi Kaliji (April 19, 2010) (on file with IHRDC).
[170] Id.
[171] Id.
[172] Koneshgaran is short for Koneshgaran-i Davtalab, or the Iranian Civil Society Organizations Training and Research Center (also known as Volunteer Actors Institute). Koneshgaran was founded in 2002 to provide capacity-building support for Iranian civil society organizations, promote greater access to information, promote enhancement to the situation of women and children in connection with the Millennium Development Goals, and seek to raise public awareness of human rights within Iran. In March 2007, Iranian security forces closed Koneshgaran, froze its bank accounts and confiscated computer equipment and documents. See IHRDC Interview with Asieh Amini (June 11, 2010) (on file with IHRDC); Iran: Amnesty International Urges Immediate and Unconditional Release of Sohrab Razzaghi, Amnesty International, Nov. 16, 2007, available at http://www.amnesty.ca/resource_centre/news/view.php?load=arcview&article=4118&c=Resource+Centre+News.

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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