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Silencing the Women's Rights Movement in Iran

This was not the first time the authorities had tried to intimidate Saadat into stopping her activism. In her hometown of Qazvin, Iran , Saadat worked with NGOs on children's rights issues and helped organize workshops about gender discrimination. She moved to Tehran in 2007, and found employment at a bank. After being fired from her job at the bank on account of her women's rights activism, she found a job doing public relations work at a recycling plant." 178

When Saadat moved to Tehran, she became involved with the One Million Signatures Campaign. She canvassed the streets of Tehran, speaking to people about women's rights and collecting signatures in support of the Campaign's petition for reform of Iran 's discriminatory laws against women. She also began writing and uploading content onto the Campaign's website, Change for Equality.179

On June 12, 2008, she was arrested outside Rahe Abrisham Gallery in Tehran, for helping organize a peaceful demonstration in celebration of women's unity day. Eight other women were arrested that day including prominent Campaign members Jila Bani Yaghoub and Jelve Javaheri.180 Interrogators subjected Saadat and the other arrestees to lengthy interrogations, and released the other women on bail. Saadat worried she would be forced to remain in prison, as her family was not in Tehran and she could not afford to post the heavy bail herself. She was eventually released after turning over her identification cards in lieu of bail. Her trial was held two months later. She was charged with disrupting the public order and disobeying the police, but was acquitted of all charges in November 2009.181

In October 2009, Saadat began receiving threatening phone calls telling her to report to the court. She refused to report unless a formal summons was delivered to her home. In November, Saadat, along with Parisa Kakaee, Shiva Nazar Ahari and others, was formally summoned to the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. The Court questioned Saadat intensively about her association with the women's movement and other women activists. The day after her interrogation, she was once again fired. Her boss admitted that he had been happy with her performance, but said that state security officials had threatened him and told him to fire her." 182

Security forces closely monitored Saadat; interrogators called her mobile phone five or six times a day, and called her family members to monitor her movements. She sensed that officers were closely watching her home and that a security car was following her. Fearing another arrest, Saadat went into hiding and stayed at friends' homes for about a month. She was separated from her son, and she had to quietly visit her sick father without attracting the attention of authorities.183

[177] IHRDC Interview with Aida Saadat (April 15, 2010) (on file with IHRDC).
[178] Id.
[179] Id.
[180] Id.; see also, Nine Women's Rights Activists Released Several Hours After Arrest, Change for Equality, June 12, 2008, available at http://www.we-change.org/english/spip.php?article291.
[181] IHRDC Interview with Aida Saadat (April 15, 2010) (on file with IHRDC).
[182] Id.
[183] Id.

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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