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Silencing the Women's Rights Movement in Iran

Instead, they made baseless claims that she maintained links to the MEK.255

The interrogators insisted that if released Abbasgholizadeh must speak with Nazar Ahari's mother and tell her that her daughter is part of the MEK and to close the Committee of Human Rights Reporters website. But Abbasgholizadeh pointed out that she did not know Nazar Ahari's mother personally. Eventually the interrogators agreed to release her if she agreed to write a letter disavowing the MEK. Abbasgholizadeh readily agreed to this condition, as she was not part of the organization and did not agree with its activities. Abbasgholizadeh also agreed to her interrogators' demand that she remove her films from her website.256

That evening, Abbasgholizadeh signed a letter of guarantee and two hours later went before a judge for the explanation of her charges. The judge asked why a lady of her age was there-Abbasgholizadeh surmises that at the time, not many older people had been arrested, and so the judge was likely expecting only younger activists. The judge released her.257

After her June 2009 arrest, Hengameh Shahidi, was held in solitary confinement in Evin's Ward 209 for 50 days and subjected to lengthy interrogation sessions. She was interrogated over thirty times during her detention. Shahidi was subjected to physical and psychological torture while in prison:

On the first night of imprisonment they beat me and insulted me continuously, to the point that I was begging them to stop … from the first night of arrest until I was taken out of solitary cells I was constantly threatened with execution. This and their constant insults and verbal abuse was so extreme that I had nightmares of execution for fifty nights. I was pressured to give more confessions.258

The sessions lasted for hours. During one session, Shahidi wrote 46 pages of answers for her interrogators. Shahidi's interrogators accused her of inciting others to participate in illegal gatherings, and alleged that she engaged in propaganda activity against the regime. They asked her questions about her women's and human rights activities, and about the nature of her personal relationships with her male friends. They also interrogated her about her family's loyalty to the Iranian regime-Shahidi took deep offense as two of her brothers died in service during the Iran-Iraq war.259

3.6 Restriction on Freedom of Movement

Women's rights activists have historically been banned from leaving Iran to attend international conferences, and accept prizes and awards for their work, in an attempt to prevent them from speaking to an international audience about the needs for reforms in Iranian law.260 However, it appears that activists have been banned from travelling more frequently following the June 2009 election.

[255] IHRDC Interview with Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh (July 6, 2010) (on file with IHRDC).
[256] Id.
[257] Id.
[258] Qissihyih Pur Qussihyih Parvandihyih Hengameh Shahidi [The Sorrowful Tale of the Case of Hengameh Shahidi], RAHANA, April 9, 2010, available at http://www.rhairan.in/archives/9040.
[259] Id.
[260] Examples include (1) Tala't Taghinia, Mansoureh Shojaee and Farnaz Seify, women's rights activists, journalists and members of the Women's Cultural Center, were arrested at Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran, while trying to exit the country to attend a journalism training in New Delhi, India; (2) Nasrin Sotoodeh, a prominent lawyer and women's rights activist, was prevented from traveling to Italy to accept an award from the Italian organization Human Rights International on December 10, 2008. She had already passed through passport control when someone who introduced himself as an agent from the president's office, without showing any identification, confiscated her passport and prevented her from boarding her flight. Nasrin Sotoodeh: Mumani'at az Khuruj-i Man Qayr-i Qanuni Bud [Nasrin Sotoodeh: Preventing Me From Exiting the Country Was Illegal], BBC Persian, December 10, 2008, available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/persian/iran/2008/12/081209_ba-sotoudeh-barred.shtml.

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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