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Silencing the Women's Rights Movement in Iran

The formal mission statement of the Mourning Mothers, also known as the "Mothers of Laleh," was issued on Tuesday, June 23, 2009. It contained the following pledge: "Until the release of all detained demonstrators who have been arrested for protesting the rigging of the election, the cessation of violence and until our children's killers receive their punishment, we will gather near the place of martyrdom of our beloved Neda, Amir Abad Street, Laleh Park, next to the water fountain, at 7 p.m. every week and sit in silence and mourn."" 221

The same day, the Mourning Mothers assembled at Laleh Park in Tehran. According to eye witnesses, state security forces brutally broke up the gathering of more than 500 women and mothers, and ordered the women to disperse. Despite this setback, the women continued to meet in parks all over Tehran every Saturday night through the summer months.222

While the Mourning Mothers movement originated in Tehran, it soon spread to other cities in Iran and throughout the world. As the movement spread, state security forces began arresting the mothers at the gatherings and their homes. On December 5, 2009, they arrested over twenty mothers at one of the weekly gatherings at a park in Tehran. Some of the mothers were reported to have been released hours later, while others remained in custody." 223

On January 9, 2010, agents arrested 33 members of the Mourning Mothers during their weekly peaceful gathering in Laleh Park.224 They took most of the women to the Vozara Detention Center but took nine to hospital." 225 The families and friends of the detained women assembled outside the Vozara Detention Center the next day demanding to know why they were being held and to protest their seemingly unlawful arrests." 226 In early February 2010, authorities arrested supporters of the Mourning Mothers in their homes in Tehran and took some to Evin Prison's Ward 209 where they were held in solitary confinement." 227

3.5 Interrogations

The Iranian authorities subjected the detained activists to lengthy and often brutal interrogation sessions. During interrogations that lasted hours, interrogators attempted to humiliate, shame, and threaten activists They physically assaulted many and possibly raped at least one while she was forcibly drugged.

[221] Girdiham-a'i Madaran-i Azadar [Gathering of the Mourning Mothers], Mournful Mothers, June 23, 2009, available at http://mournfulmothers.blogfa.com/8804.aspx.
[222] The Second Announcement of Mourning Mothers: the Mourning Continues, Change for Equality, July 1, 2009, available at http://www.we-change.org/english/spip.php?article542; Girdiham-a'i Madaran-i Azadar [Gathering of the Mourning Mothers], Mournful Mothers, June 23, 2009, available at http://mournfulmothers.blogfa.com/8804.aspx. See also IHRDC Interview with Aida Saadat (April 15, 2010) (on file with IHRDC); IHRDC Interview with Asieh Amini (June 11, 2010) (on file with IHRDC).
[223] Mothers Arrested Before Opposition Rally in Iran, New York Times, December 6, 2009, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/07/world/middleeast/07iran.html?_r=2.
[224] Detention of 33 Iranian Mothers Sparks Protest, Group Says, CNN World, January 10, 2010, available at http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/01/10/iran.mourning.mothers/index.html.
[225] According to one report, 28 of the 33 women detained in Vozara Detention Center were: Tahereh Akhshay, Zahra Afrouz, Fatemeh Farhadi, Kobra Najafpour, Zahra Atab, Sadigheh Shokri, Ziba Shekoor-Sadiqi, Mansoureh Behkish, Farideh Sahraie, Maliheh Sahraie, Touba Dar-al-shafaie, Zari Nojavan, Fereshteh Taodoli, Masoumeh Ataar, Fatemeh Rastegar, Fatemeh Salehi, Nosrat Khaki, Soraya Jaafari, Maryam Hossein Gholizadeh, Hakimeh Shokri, Manizheh Taheri, Eshrat Khabarhassan, Mohtaram Karamad, Jila Mahdavian, Leila Seifallahi, Ansieh Bakhshay, Izedi, Roghiyeh Tabrizi. See Asamiyih Madaran-i Azadar-i Bazdasht Shudih dar Tehran [Names of the Mourning Mothers Detained in Tehran], Iran Press News, January 10, 2010, available at http://www.iranpressnews.net/source/071126.htm.
[226] Update: Detained Mothers Shuffled Between Emergency Rooms and Detention Center, International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, January 10, 2010, available at http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2010/01/mourning-mothers-update/.
[227] Mourning Mothers Supporters in Solitary Confinement, Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran, February 18, 2010, available at http://persian2english.com/?p=7167.

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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