UN High Commissioner On Human Rights to Meet with Women’s Rights Activists

Sunday 2 September 2007

Change for Equality: Septmber 2, 2007: Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, will be in Tehran September 2-4, to attend the Non-Aligned Conference which will be held on September 2-3, at the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran. During her stay in Iran, Ms. Arbour will also meet with women and human rights defenders, in an effort to investigate increased pressures on these sectors. The meeting with women’s rights defenders will be held at the UN headquarters in Iran. The meeting with women human rights defenders, follows a letter by the Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi in July who wrote to the Honorable Ms. Louise Arbour, the High Commissioner on Human Rights requesting a delegation visit to Iran to investigate the status of women’s rights defenders.

Iranian women’s rights defenders have come under increased pressure, as they have stepped up efforts to reform laws that discriminate against women. Activists involved in the One Million Signatures Campaign, which is a peaceful and civil effort intended to collect signatures asking the Parliament to reform laws which discriminate against women, have faced consistent pressure in the past year, since the launch of the Campaign. Recently two members of the Campaign, Fatemeh Dehdashti and Nasim Sarabandi were issued 6 month jail terms for collecting signatures and Amir Yaghoubali the most recent member of the Campaign to be arrested for collection of signatures, spent nearly one month in solitary confinement in the Security branch of Evin Prison, Ward 209. In all 13 members of the Campaign have been arrested in relation to their activities in this peaceful effort and for collecting signatures, most are facing security charges. Other forms of pressure, such as threats, phone tapping, interrogations, disruption of meetings, denial of meeting space, blocking of the their website, etc have worked to thwart the Campaign and its activists in their efforts to raise public awareness about the discriminatory nature of the law. Despite these pressures, the Campaign celebrated its first year anniversary on August 27, 2007, and the activists involved in the Campaign are continuing with their work.

Prior to the launch of the Campaign, authorities violently broke up several public protests held by women’s rights activists. On June 12, 2006, a public protest in Hafte Tir Square, marking the day of Solidarity of Iranian women, and in demand of equal rights for women, was violently broken up and nearly 70 persons arrested. In March of 2006 and 2007, again violence was used to break up peaceful protests by women, demanding equal rights and marking international women’s day. Women’s rights activists have brought up charges against the police for use of violence with regards to all three protests, but these charges have not been addressed by the courts. In fact, with respect to the complaint brought against the police in use of violence in June 2006, police officers were found not guilty. The case is now in appeals court. The other two cases have yet to be taken up by the courts.

Women’s rights activists, in meeting with Ms. Arbour, hope to be able to bring to light some of the pressures they have faced in recent years in their increased activism on behalf of women’s rights. They hope that this meeting will impress upon the Iranian government that the activities of women’s rights defenders are indeed peaceful and not intended to undermine "national security" a charge many of these women’s rights activists are facing in court. Additionally, they hope that this meeting will bring to light for Iranian authorities the need to seriously and urgently review and reform laws that discriminate against women.

It should be noted that many of the women’s rights defenders meeting with Ms. Arbour, had initially tried to meet with judiciary officials in an effort to protest the unfair and illegal treatment and the violation of their civil rights by the security ministries and security branch of the Revolutionary courts, but they were denied meeting time with Judiciary officials charged with reviewing violations of civil rights of citizens.


  • The so-called Islamic Republic Regime of Mullahs is already laughing at you.

    They say "" women are going to Universities, they drive, they work. These are more than enough for women. The LAW stays as it is. That is a Man can have at least four wives. A man can divorce a woman at will. A woman has to prove many many things to be able to get divorce. For example, her husband is impotent. Two women WITNESS for crime is equal to ONE MAN WITNESS!!And, A girl is entitle to 50% of what a boy inherits. A woman can NOT travel abroad WITHOUT written permission of her husband, whereas A MAN CAN DO WHATEVER PLEASES HIM...........""
    In other words, a woman has no validity, except through her husband. THE ONLY SOLUTION IS REGIME CHANGE.


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