Iran: Nine more women’s rights activists arrested

On June 12th, the occasion of the National Day of Solidarity of Iranian Women, nine women’s rights activists were arrested outside of the Rahe Abrisham Gallery just prior to a small, peaceful assembly planned to commemorate the day.
Aida Saadat, Nahid Mirhaj, Nafiseh Azad, Nasrin Sotoodeh, Jelve Javaheri, Jila Baniyagoub, Sarah Loghmani, Farideh Ghaeb, were arrested by Tehran security police along with photographer and reporter Aliyeh Mohtalebzadeh and taken to the Vozara Detention Center.

June 12th has been chosen by Iranian women’s rights activists as their national day of solidarity to object harmful actions which attempt to silence Iranian women. Women’s rights activists are continually denied the right of freedom of association and assembly. Even meetings in private homes are often broken up by security forces.

According to latest information from Tehran, all nine women’s rights activists detained today by security forces have been released. Security forces had detained the nine women and prevented a gathering on the anniversary of Iran’s historic 12 June women’s rights demonstration. Late in the evening, local time, the authorities contacted the detainee’s families and informed them they would be released. Around 1 a.m. all detainees were released to their families. It as yet unknown whether the charges against them have been dropped.

The following statement was signed by over 40 organizations, including WLUML and the Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women, in anticipation of this repression of peaceful demonstrations in Iran.

(10 June, 2008) We, the undersigned, representing international women's and human rights organizations, express our solidarity with Iranian women, on 12 June 2008. This is the day identified by women's rights activists in Iran as their national day of solidarity in objecting to laws that discriminate against women.

Three years ago, on this day, women's rights activists organized an unprecedented protest in front of Tehran University, demanding that laws which discriminate against women be revised. They pledged to keep up their activities until their demands were met by authorities. On 12 June 2006, Iranian women's rights activists took to the streets again and planned a similar protest in Haft-e Tir Square, in Tehran, with similar objectives and demands. The protest was violently broken up and over 70 persons arrested. This was the first major crackdown against peaceful women's activism in Iran.

Since then, scores of women's rights activists in Iran have been summoned, charged, arrested and sentenced in relation to their peaceful activism and their demands for equality. Last year, because of security pressures, women's rights activists celebrated their day of solidarity in their private homes. But as witnessed in the continued summonses to court and persecution of activists involved in the One Million Signatures Campaign, the security forces won’t even tolerate the convening of meetings by activists in their private homes.

On this day, we the undersigned thus want to express our solidarity with women's rights activists in Iran and send them and their government the message that the international community is watching. We are watching closely their struggle for equality and admire their creativity, persistence and determination under difficult circumstances.

We urge the Iranian government to stop its harassment of equal rights defenders, to drop all charges against activists who have peacefully advocated for the human rights of women, especially those involved in the One Million Signatures Campaign, to allow women's rights activists to use civil means to address their concerns about discriminatory Iranian laws, and to raise awareness about their concerns among the public.

Lastly, we urge the Iranian authorities to take concrete steps to bring laws governing the lives of women in line with international human rights standards, and in line with Iran’s own international commitments. We urge them to recognize that, while Iranian women have achieved a great deal socially, laws lag far behind the realities of women's lives in Iran.

And in closing, we urge the Iranian government to allow women to celebrate their day of solidarity unimpeded.

Endorsed By:

1. Action Now, Kenya
2. AIDOS, Italy
3. Aim for Human Rights, the Netherlands
4. Amargi Woman Cooperative, Istanbul
5. Amnesty International
6. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Thailand
7. Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
8. Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)
9. BAOBAB for Women's Human Rights, Nigeria
10. Campaign for Peace and Democracy, New York
11. Center for Women's Global Leadership (CWGL)
12. Diakonia, Colombia
13. Education Society of Malopolska, Nowy Sacz, Poland
14. Feminists of Ankara Initiative
15. Forum for Human Rights, Hyderabad, India
16. Forum for the Empowerment of Women, South Africa
17. Foundation For Women's Solidarity, Ankara
18. Front Line
19. Fuerza de Mujeres Wayce: Wayuu Women Force, Colombia
20. Human Rights First
21. Human Rights Watch
22. Information Monitor (Inform)
23. Interdisciplinary Group for Human Rights, Colombia
24. International Association of Women Ministers
25. International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran
26. International Friends for Global Peace, Sri Lanka
27. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
28. ISIS-Women's International Cross-Cultural Exchange (ISIS-WICCE)
29. KAGİDER , Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey
30. Kaos GL Association, Ankara
31. Komnas Perempuan, National Commission on Violence Against Women, Indonesia
32. MADRE (an international women’s human rights organisation)
33. MULABI, Latino American Sapce Working on Sexualities and Rights, Colombia
34. People changing the World, Kyrgystan
35. The Global Campaign Stop Killing and Stoning Women!
36. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH)
37. The Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women's Rights (CLADEM)
38. Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO)
39. Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Rights (UAF)
40. Women Against War, United States
41. Women for Women’s Human Rights (WWHR) – New Ways, Turkey
42. Women’s Initiative for Gender Justice (WIGJ)
43. Women Learning Partnership
44. Women Living Under Muslim Laws
45. Women's Resource Center, Sri Lanka
46. WOREC, Nepal

WLUML networkers / WLP