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Silencing the Women's Rights Movement in Iran

Authorities detained 33 activists that day including Shadi Sadr, the internationally recognized women's rights lawyer," 59 Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, the veteran women's rights activist," 60 and Asieh Amini, the journalist and women's rights activist.61 All were taken to Evin prison for interrogation. Amini was released after five days. The authorities allowed Sadr to contact her family, but did not allow Abbasgholizadeh to contact hers. She remembers that "I tried to convince them that asking for our rights had nothing to do with the enemy, but they insisted that foreign governments were exploiting our cause."62 She and Sadr were released after fifteen days of interrogation. Abbasgholizadeh was released on 250 million tomans (roughly USD $250,000) bail, and Sadr on 200 million tomans (roughly USD $200,000) bail.63 They were charged with attending an illegal assembly and disorderly conduct.64

In April 2007, then-intelligence minister Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei claimed that the women's rights movement was part of an attempt by outside enemies to bring about the soft overthrow of the Islamic Republic." 65 The regime shut down organizations as well as print media and websites. In November, the regime banned publication of Zanestan, a website run by the Women's Cultural Center66 (Markaz-i Farhangiyyih Zanan).

[59] Shadi Sadr is an Iranian lawyer and women's rights activist who was the director of Raahi, a legal advice center for women until its closure by Iranian authorities in mid-March 2007. She also founded Zanan-e Iran (Women of Iran), the first internet resource dedicated to chronicling the work of Iranian women's rights activists, and was centrally involved in founding the prominent and internationally recognized "Stop Stoning Forever" campaign. IHRDC Interview with Shadi Sadr (June 13, 2010) (on file with IHRDC); see also, "Raahi" barayih Ta'qir-i Zindigiyih Zanan [A "Way" to Change Women's Lives], Radio Zamaaneh, April 8, 2007, available at http://radiozamaaneh.com/morenews/2007/04/post_651.html.
[60] Caroline Sevier, Dissident Watch: Shadi Sadr and Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2007, available at http://www.meforum.org/1746/dissident-watch-shadi-sadr-and-mahboubeh. Abbasgholizadeh, a well-known journalist, film maker and activist, was the director of the Association of Women Writers and Journalists and editor-in-chief of Farzaneh, a journal on women's studies. She was also a leading member of the Stop Stoning Forever campaign. Iran: Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh sentenced to 2 ½ years in jail and 30 lashes for ‘acts against national security, Women Living Under Muslim Laws, available at http://www.wluml.org/node/6306.
[61] Amini is an accomplished journalist, women's rights activist and poet. Soheila Vahdati, Asieh's eyes, Iranian.com, Oct. 16, 2007, available at http://www.iranian.com/main/2007/asieh-s-eyes. Amini was later acquitted.
[62] Scheherzad Faramarzi, Iran Women's Hell, Iran Press Service, May 2, 2007, available at http://www.iran-press-service.com/ips/articles-2007/may2007/bad_hejabi_2507.shtml.
[63] Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh va Shadi Sadr Azad Shudand [Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh and Shadi Sadr Were Released], Gooya News, March 19, 2007, available at http://news.gooya.com/politics/archives/2007/03/058235.php.
[64] Press release, Hivos shocked about Iranian verdict against Abbasgholizadeh and Sadr, Hivos, May 21, 2010, available at http://www.hivos.nl/eng/Hivos-news/Hivos-news/Hivos-shocked-about-Iranian-verdict-against-Abbasgholizadeh-and-Sadr. On May 16, 2010, the Revolutionary Court sentenced Sadr to six years imprisonment and 74 lashes for acting against national security and harming the public order. It sentenced Abbasgholizadeh to two and a half years and thirty lashes. Id.
[65] Vazir-i Ittila't dar Qazvin: Amal-i Ingilis dar Siyasi Kardan-i Qaziyihyih Mutajavizan Napukhtih va Nabikhradanih Bud [Minister of Intelligence in Qazvin: the Action of Britain in Politicizing their Aggression Was not Well Thought Out], ISNA, April 10, 2007, available at http://isna.ir/ISNA/NewsView.aspx?ID=News-902320.
[66] Parvin Ardalan and Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani founded the Women's Cultural Center, an NGO that worked on women's health and legal issues. The Center started working in 1999, was officially registered in 2001, and was shut down during the purge of civil society NGOs in 2007. Ardalan and Ahmadi Khorasani won the Latifeh Yarshater Award in 2004 for a book they co-authored, and Ardalan won Sweden's Olof Palme Prize in 2007 for her work on women's rights. See Maryam Dastgir, Interrogations of Women Continue, Cyrus News Agency, June 27, 2006, available at http://www.cyrusnews.com/news/en/?mi=6&ni=442; Faragis Najibullah, Iran: Women's Activist Wins Human Rights Award, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, Feb. 14 2008, available at http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1079477.html; Iranian Women Celebrate the Award of the Olof Palme Prize to Parvin Ardalan, OpenDemocracy,Ltd, February 17, 2008, available at http://www.opendemocracy.net/blog/jane_gabriel/olof_palme_prize_parvin_ardalan; Campaign: A Matter of Life / Parvin Ardalan, Change for Equality, March 10, 2007, available at http://www.forequality.info/english/spip.php?article46.

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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