PSA: Release Iranian Women’s Rights Activists Immediately

by matttbastard

Human Rights Watch:

Iran: Release Women’s Rights Activists Immediately
Government Should Drop All Charges, End Harassment
(New York, December 17, 2007) – Iran should drop politically motivated charges against two women’s rights activists facing trial this week because of their participation in a peaceful protest, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should release Jelveh Javahari and Maryam Hosseinkhah without delay.

Human Rights Watch learned that court officials have set court dates of December 18 and 19 to try Javaheri and Hosseinkhah on charges stemming from their involvement in a March 4 peaceful gathering to protest the prosecution of other women’s rights activists.They were among 26 women arrested at that time and released from detention over the following weeks.

However, authorities have been holding Hosseinkhah and Javeheri in Unit 3 of the general women’s ward of Evin prison since November 17 and December 1, respectively, on separate charges relating to their peaceful activities on behalf of the One Million Signatures Campaign to End Discrimination Against Women.

“There seems to be no end in sight to the Iranian government’s persecution of women’s rights activists,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “They are bringing new charges against women faster than they can try them.”

On November 17, Hosseinkhah responded to a written order to appear before a branch of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran in connection with her advocacy for the One Million Signatures Campaign. Officials charged her with “disturbing the public opinion” and “publishing lies” and set a heavy bail of 100 million tomans (approximately US$100,000) for her release. As a result of her inability to provide bail, authorities transferred her to Evin prison.

On December 1, Javahari responded to a written order to appear before a branch of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran, also stemming from her involvement with the One Million Signatures Campaign. The court charged her with “disturbing the public opinion,” “propaganda against the order,” and “publishing lies via the publication of false news,” and then transferred her to Evin prison. According to interviews with Javahari’s mother, which are available on the website of the One Million Signatures Campaign to End Discrimination Against Women, the court initially set a bail of 50 million tomans (approximately US$50,000) but withdrew it on grounds that investigations into the case would first have to be completed.

It is not clear if the trials on December 18 and 19 will also address the new charges against them.

Two other women’s rights activists with the One Million Signatures Campaign to End Discrimination Against Women, Ronak Safazadeh, 21, and Hana Abdi, 21, remain in detention on charges of “endangering national security.” Authorities arrested and detained Safazadeh on September 25 and Abdi on October 23 in Sanandaj, a city in the Kurdish region of northwestern Iran.

“The government has not provided a shred of evidence to suggest that Ronak Safazadeh and Hana Abdi have done anything except campaign peacefully for the rights of Iranian women,” Whitson said.

Take action now. Further background here and here. Once again, more on the still-ongoing One Million Signatures Campaign for Equality from Change For Equality (more here) and Ms. Magazine.

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to add your name.

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PSA: Free Jelveh Javaheri

by matttbastard

jelveh.jpg

Vanessa @ Feministing:

Not even a month after Iranian feminist Delaram Ali was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for taking part in a women’s rights rally, Jelveh Javaheri was arrested on Saturday for creating the website We4Change, which promotes women’s rights in Iran. On the site, Maryam Hosseinkhah, also arrested last month, reports from prison.

All three women are leaders in the One Million Signatures Campaign, which is seeking to gather signatures calling for the change of discriminatory laws in Iran.

More from Human Rights First:

Jelveh Javaheri was arrested on December 1, 2007, after being summoned for interrogation at the security branch of the Revolutionary Courts in Tehran. A sociology student and journalist, Ms. Javaheri has published articles about the women’s rights campaign in many media outlets. For her writing, she was charged with inciting public opinion, propaganda against the state, and publication of false information, and is currently being held in Evin Prison’s women’s ward. Ms. Javaheri was previously arrested in March 2007 for peacefully protesting outside the trial of five other activists,. She has a court appearance relating to that arrest scheduled for December 18.

 

Maryam Hosseinkhah, like Ms. Javaheri, is a journalist who writes about women’s issues and the campaign for equality. On November 18, 2007, she was summoned for interrogation at the Revolutionary Court and was subsequently charged with “inciting public opinion, propaganda, and publication of false information.” Her bail was set at one million Tomans (approximately US $110,000), despite the minor nature of the charges and her low income. The exorbitantly high bail appears to be a strategy to force Ms. Hosseinkhah to go to jail. She is currently held in Evin Prison’s women’s ward.

 

The charges against these activists are part of the mounting repression of the women’s rights movement by the Iranian authorities. Iran should respect the provisions of international human rights treaties to which it is a State Party, and the 1998 U.N. Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, particularly the right to freedom of expression, association, and information, and should drop the charges against these peaceful activists and release those who the authorities have detained.

Take action now. Also see We4Change, Amnesty International and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Related: More on Delaram Ali and what can be done to assist women’s rights activists in Iran; according to Human Rights First,

[a]fter seven leading human rights organizations around the world made a statement condemning the harsh sentence, [Ali’s] sentence was stayed; as of last week, however, the stay has expired and the sentence could be implemented at any time.

Take action now.

Once again, more on the still-ongoing One Million Signatures Campaign for Equality from Change For Equality (more here) and Ms. Magazine. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to add your name.

arton103.jpg

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers