UPDATE: Iran: All women's rights activists have been released although crackdown on Iranian civil society escalates

Women's human rights defenders released on exorbitant bail, but repression of civil society continues.
Two prominent Iranian women's rights activists, arrested at a peaceful protest on March 4, were released on March 19. Shadi Sadr and Mahboubeh Abasgholizadeh were charged with acting against national security and holding an illegal assembly for their role in organizing the March 4 protest against the increasing government pressure on civil society activists and, in particular, the trial of five women activists who organized a peaceful protest for women's rights on June 12, 2006.
Sadr and Abasgholizadeh were released from Evin Prison on 200 million toumans (about $215,000) bail each. The two women spent 16 days in detention, 10 of which were in solitary confinement.

The crackdown on civil society continues to escalate throughout the country. At least eight women were arrested at a peaceful protest to celebrate International Women's Day in Sanandaj, the capital of Kordestan province. Most were released shortly afterwards except for a journalist, Aso Saleh, who is still being detained.

The escalating government harassment of civil society has expanded to include the closure of NGOs and the detention of teachers. Dozens of teachers remain in prison following a peaceful demonstration on March 14 to demand pay raises. At least three civil society organizations have been closed down. The Iranian NGOs Training Center, founded by Abasgholizadeh, and RAAHI: Women's Center for Legal Counselling, directed by Sadr, were closed and sealed shut on March 15. Another organization, the Iranian CSOs Training and Research Center (also known as Koneshgaran Davtalab), which played a critical role in defending those arrested after the March 4 protest, was also shut down.