Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Widespread Arrests of Women’s Rights Activists & Journalists

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International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran

Numerous women’s rights campaigners, female journalists and relatives are being arrested and persecuted as authorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran attempt to repress masses of Iranians from advocating for their civil rights in recent weeks, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today. “It is evident that the authorities are singling out women’s rights activists and arbitrarily arresting them, as well as female journalists, in the context of recent public demonstrations,” stated Aaron Rhodes, a spokesperson for the Campaign. Dr. Nooshin Ebadi, the sister of Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi, was arbitrarily arrested on 28 December. Nooshin Ebadi has no record of political or human rights activism and her arrest is a blatant attempt to intimidate and silence Shirin Ebadi. “The arrest of Shirin Ebadi’s sister is an act of hostage-taking by the state and should be strongly condemned by the international community,” Rhodes said. Some activists have been threatened with execution, while others have disappeared, with no official record of their arrest or whereabouts provided. Atieh Yousefi, one of the most active members of the One Million Signatures Campaignin the city of Rasht, was arrested on the Shiite Holy day of Ashura (27 December). According to information provided to the Campaign, Yousefi was arrested while trying to assist a young man who had been severely injured by plain clothed agents who had beaten him. Still in detention, a judge has denied her family permission to visit her. On 2 January 2010, Parisa Kakaie, a member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, who had been summoned to the Intelligence Ministry and threatened in telephone calls, was arrested when she appeared at the Intelligence Office.

On 3 January, Kakaie called her home and said that she was in ward 209 of Evin prison. Previously, Kakaie was summoned to Branch 3 of the Revolutionary Court, along with other women’s rights activists, and was questioned at the Investigation Office of the Intelligence Ministry. Bahareh Hedayat, a women’s rights advocate and a leading student activist, was arrested on 30 December 2009, by intelligence agents who presented a written order to detain her. Her home was searched and many of her personal belongings, including her computer and books, were confiscated. Zohre Tonkaboni, 62, a former teacher and member of Mothers for Peace, was arrested on 28 December. Mahin Fahimi, another member of Mothers for Peace, was arrested on 8 December 2009, along with her son, Omid Montazeri. Fahimi’s husband was executed in 1988 while he was a political prisoner. On 20 December 2009, Shiva Nazarahari, a leading member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, was arrested on a bus en route to Qom for Grand Ayatollah Montazeri’s funeral, when the bus was stopped by Security Forces in Enqelab Square in Tehran. Nazarahari went on a dry hunger strike after she was arrested, and was transferred to the health clinic of Evin prison’s ward 209 on 1 January, where she was warned that she would be executed if she continued her hunger strike. Previously, on 14 June 2009, Nazarahari had been arrested at her office but was released after 100 days on bail of $200,000, and is waiting for her trial. Before these detentions, she had been arrested in August 2004, in a gathering of political prisoners’ families in front of the UN building, and was sentenced to a one-year suspended prison term. (Read more...)