Who is Maryam?
Sunday 18 November 2007
Who is Maryam?
Maryam was born in March of 1980 in the city of Zanjan. She received her bachelor’s degree in Islamic Studies. She is married and resides in Tehran. In her nine years of activism she has written numerous articles pertaining to women’s and social issues in Iran.
Maryam is currently in Evin Prison Ward 3, on charges related to her writings in defense of women on the site of the Campaign and the site of Zanestan, the website of the Women’s Cultural Center. Since her time in detention (November 18, 2007) Maryam has been asked by officials in charge of Ward 3 to inform them of the problems faced by female inmates and has in partnership with the Sadigheh Dolatabadi Women’s Library, arranged for the transfer of 57 books to the women’s library at Evin Prison. Along with Jelve Javaheri and other members of the Campaign, Maryam is working to save the life of Raheleh a woman accused of murder and scheduled for execution on December 18, 2007.
Journalistic and volunteer works with non-governmental Organizations:
1) Membership in the Center for Young New Thinkers of Civil Society, 1998-2002
2) Active in weekly magazine called, Thought of The Day, 2003
3) Cooperation with publication of the Volunteer Researchers, 2002-2003
4) Cooperation with the Center for Empowerment of Civil Society, 2002-2003
5) Active in the Campaign to Stop Violence Against Women, 2003
6) Member of The Women’s Cultural Center, 2003-present
7) Member of the editorial board of The Women’s Cultural Center web sites (Feminist Tribune & Zanestan) 2003-present
8) Member of the One Million Signature Campaign for changing the discriminatory laws against women, 2006-present
9) Member of the editorial board of web sites of the One Million Signature Campaign’s web site, 2006-present
10) Editor for, women’s page of Etemad Meli Newspaper, 2006
11) Editor for the civil society page of Sarmaye, 2006
The following articles are a selection from several newspapers and web sites:
Miras News Agency (23 articles) 2003-2004
• “Introducing the Culture and Zoroastrian Religion”
• “Click Click to Persepolis”
• “Armenians in Tehran Celebrate Easter”
• “Khatami Can Save Damavand”
Vaghaye-e-Etefaghieh and Shargh newspapers (4 articles), 2004-2005
• “Do Not Tolerate Violence in Silence”
• “False Tribune for Women”
Sarmaye Newspaper (10 articles), 2006
• “Women Have Yet to Have their Fair Share in the Labor Market”
• “Building Trust Between Government Institutions and People Organizations”
Etemad Meli Newspaper (8 articles), 2006
• “Double Burden of Being a Woman and Laborer”
• “Women’s Addictions, The Harm That Is Taken Seriously”
• “Constitutional Revolution and Women’s Rights: the Struggle that
Etemad Newspaper (33 articles), 2007
• “Child Abuse in Iran: Iran is not Any Different than Other Countries in the Region,” an interview with Professor Paolo Sergio Pinero, independent expert for the United Nations
• “Encounter with “Bad Hejabi” by Iranian’s new police force”
• “Women’s Rights: Child Custody Is the Primary Demand of Iranian Women,” an interview with Zohre Arzani, an attorney and activist in the women’s rights movement
• “Unequal Rights Between Women and Men Are Not Acceptable”
• “Recreating the Traditional Role of Women in Advertisement”
• “Husband Killing”
• “Nobody Can Stop the One Million Signature Campaign,” an interview with Shirin Ebady of the 22 of Khordad
• “A Nine Year Old Girl Is A Child, Do not Penalize Her”
• “Do not Get Married Without Knowing the Law”
• An interview with Zhina Modaresi, one of the activists of the One Million Signature Campaign in Kordestan
• “Here Is a Prison and I am a Woman Among Women Whose Pains are a Clear Example of Inequality”
Some of Maryam’s articles which have been translated for the site of the Campaign include:
Maryam Hosseinkhah’s Lawyer Not Allowed Access to her File
Change for Equality: December 7, 2007: On the 5th of December Nasrin Sotoodeh, the lawyer defending Maryam Hosseinkhah, a member of the Campaign who was arrested on November 18 on charges related to her writings in defense of women’s rights, went to security branch of the Revolutionary courts, to view and study her file. In this regard, Ms. Sotoodeh explains: "they did not accept me as her lawyer. I objected to the high bail of 100 Million Tomans (120,000 Euros) in the case of Ms. Hosseinkhah on the grounds that this amount is high for a journalist, but they did not accept my request for a reduction in her bail amount. In fact, officials at the court explained that the reduction of bail amount in the case of Ms. Hosseinkhah cannot be addressed until the Information and Security Ministry has submitted a report on their investigation of the case to the courts. Since this report has yet to be submitted, the court officials explained that they cannot consider our request for reduction of bail in the case of Maryam."
Ms. Sotoodeh explained further that: "certain publications have published false reports on the charges against Maryam Hosseinkhah, as such I asked the courts to divulge to me the official charges against my client. But this request too was denied. It is surprising that as the lawyer representing Ms. Hosseinkhah I am not provided with information about the charges against her, but news agencies such as IRNA have been provided with this information! Unfortunately some news agencies which should be engaged in the accurate information sharing, choose to print misinformation and lies about the charges against my client. Access to such information by News agencies, when the information has not been made available to me as the lawyer of Hosseinkhah, is indeed surprising and leaves many questions unanswered. Certainly my client reserves the right to lodge a complaint against these news outlets."
Following Ms. Hosseinkhah’s arrest on the 18th of November, and the issuance of a high and unusual bail amount, women’s rights activists have worked tirelessly to reduce the amount of her bail with a view toward ensuring her release from prison. The Mother’s committee of the Campaign met with Mr. Alireza Jamshidi, the Spokesman for the Judiciary, and asked that he work to reduce the bail amount in the case of Maryam Hosseinkhah so that with a personal guarantee she could be released from prison. Following this meeting, Ms. Zohreh Arzani, lawyer and member fo the Campaign and Sussan Tahmasebi, Member of the Campaign, met with Dr. Samira Khaleghi, Head of the Commission on Women and Children within the Judiciary, to request that her office take measures to recommend a reduction in the amount of bail in the case of Maryam. Prior to this, Maryam’s Bio was shared with Ms. Khaleghi, with a view toward demonstrating that her only crime is in fact defense of women’s rights.
Maryam’s mother and husband also had a meeting to this effect with Mr. Mobasheri the Head of the Revolutionary Courts, who agreed to discuss her case with Mr. Sobhani the prosecutor in charge of Hosseinkhah’s case. Mr. Mobasheri informed Maryam’s family that the initial investigations in her case are still in process and no action with respect to reduction of bail could be taken until these investigations come to a close.
Given the fact that Maryam is a journalist and in prison in relation to her writings the Association of Journalists has also stepped up efforts to defend her. The Mother’s Committee of the Campaign held a meeting with the Spokesperson of this Association, Ms. Badr-ol-sadat Mofidi, asking the Association to follow her case and press for her release. As a follow-up Mr. Rajabali Mazroui, the Chair of the Association of Journalists, in a letter to the Head of the Judiciary, Ayatollah Shahroudi, asked for the release of Maryam Hosseinkhah.
Additionally, in a public statement objecting to increased pressures on the press, and limitations on freedom of the press and speech, a number of journalists objected to arrest and detention of journalists, including Maryam Hosseinkhah, and Jelve Javaheri, a member of the Campaign who has been arrested in connection to her writings on the web and the site of the Campaign.
November 25, 2007
More than 1,000 Equal Rights Defenders Protest Imprisonment of Hosseinkhah
Change for Equality: Monday November 25, In a statement issued yesterday on Sunday November 24, more than 1,000 equal rights defenders have protested the imprisonment of Maryam Hosseinkhah, while claiming, that all those who seek equal rights for women and a remedy to the negative impact of discriminatory laws, are as responsible as Maryam. The text of the Statement in English appears below:
Statement of Protest to the Arrest of Maryam Hosseinkhah
On 18th November, Maryam Hossienkhah, a journalist who is one of the many active members of One Million Signatures Campaign to end legal discrimination against women, was arrested after having been summoned to the revolutionary court. After being interrogated she was charged with disruption of public opinion, propaganda against the state, and publication of lies through her activity and writings in sites such as “Change for Equality” (www.we4change.info) and “Zanestan” (herlandmag.net). The bail was set for 100 million Tomans (more than hundred thousand dollars). As she could not afford bail she was transferred to Evin prison’s public ward.
We the activists, in support of legal equality, have taken steps, however small, to raise public awareness of the present discriminatory legal system. We have tried where possible to record by writing, whether in sites such as Change for Equality, Zanestan, Kanoone Zanan, and Meydaan, or in weblogs and newspapers, the experiences and pains of women in our society.
Therefore, the responsibility for the legality and transparency of the sites “Change for Equality” and “Zanestan” falls on the activists of this movement and each one of the signatories of the letter recognizes herself/himself as a member of the movement for equality. Each one of us, the defenders and activists of the movement for equality under the law, like Maryam Hossienkhah, are reporters of the pain and suffering of women in our country. We all write and we all protest the present legal discriminations. We reflect this pain and suffering through peaceful means in these sites, weblogs and newspapers such as “Change for Equality” and “Zanestan.” Therefore we share responsibility with Maryam Hosseinkhah. All the sites that write about legal equality belong not only to Maryam Hossienkhah, but to us all. They belong to all those who speak of the objections to legal discrimination through their writings. Therefore, we are all responsible for content of the internet sites and other media that publish on women’s rights issues.
We the signatories of this statement, like Maryam Hossienkhah, write in women’s sites, newspapers and magazines in the hope of improving women’s lives by echoing the pains and sufferings that are due to the existence of discriminatory laws such as polygamy, unequal blood money and age of criminal responsibility, etc.
There is no doubt that if Maryam Hosseinkhah is responsible for the writings and activities of women’s sites such as “Change for Equality” and “Zanestan,” then we the signatories are equally responsible. If Maryam Hossienkhah is imprisoned for what we all have done, then thousands of activists and defenders of equal legal rights in Iran should also be imprisoned.
Family Visits Maryam Hosseinkhah in Prison
Change for Equality: Tuesday November 20, 2007, Today is visiting day for female prisoners in Evin’s public ward and Maryam Hosseinkhah’s family was able to visit her as well, at the prison where she has been incarcerated since Sunday on charges related to her activities in the Campaign, the site of the Campaign, Change for Equality and the site of the Women’s Cultural Center. Shahab Mirzaee, Maryam’s husband, explains: "visiting hours are from 9:00am-2:00pm on Tuesdays. Fortunately we were able to visit with Maryam today." He explains further that: "Maryam’s spirits were very good. She said that here you forget your own pain and problems."
Hajar, Maryam’s sister was also able to visit Maryam today. Hajar reports on her visit with Maryam as such: "I explained to Maryam that we are trying very hard to secure your freedom. Maryam expressed dismay at the high amount of bail set for her release, as we do not have 100 million tomans (roughly $110,000). But I explained that we are trying to reduce the amount of bail requested in her case." Hajar continued by saying that "Maryam was very pleased with the kind treatment she has received from fellow inmates. She told me that they don’t usually accept newcomers amongst themselves very easily, but they have treated me well as if they know me. They know about our activities, and their positive impact on the outside, and they are grateful." Maryam explained further that "they have taken care of me since I arrived and are making sure that I don’t need anything. They know all our members and ask about Nahid and Mahboube [who were imprisoned in this same ward in April, 2007] and the Campaign and our efforts to collect signatures. They are very hopeful about our movement." Hajar explained further that: "Maryam views prison as an opportunity and wants to use it to reflect and convey the legal problems of female prisoners, in an effort to demonstrate the negative impact of discriminatory laws on their lives."
A 100 Million Toman bond has been set for the release of Maryam. Her husband explains that: "with a salary of 200 thousand Tomans (approximately $220) per month which is customary for journalists, it would take us up to 50 years to come up with that sum—given that the publication is not shut down. This is the price that people who believe in their cause have to pay."
High Bail Set for Maryam Hosseinkhah
Change for Equality: Monday November 19, 2007, In a phone conversation with her lawyer and husband, Maryam Hossienkhah announced that she is being held in ward 3 of Evin prison, a public ward for non-violent offenders. She also explained that a bail order of 100 million Tomans (approximately $110,000) was issued in her case. She has indicated on legal forms that she is unable to produce and post the bail required for her release. According to Maryam, the judge in charge of her case realizing that she is unable to post bail responded that "I will send you to a place where you will be able to complete your research on women."
Publications of lies, disruption of public opinion, and propaganda against the state, are the charges brought against Maryam Hosseinkhah. In an interview with Change for Equality, her lawyer, Shirin Ebadi explained that: "Maryam Hosseinkhah is a well-known and respected journalist who is in prison because of charges related to articles she has written on women’s rights for various dailies, the site of the Women’s Cultural Center and the site of the campaign, as well as her activities within the One Million Signatures Campaign. Unfortunately the high bail set in this case, and her inability to post the amount, has landed Maryam in prison." Ebadi continued to say: "this young journalist’s earnings through her writings has not totaled more than one million Tomans (approximately $1,100), as such posting such high bail is very difficult for her." Shirin Ebadi explained further that she has requested judiciary officials pave the path toward Maryam’s release by reducing the amount of bail in her case. "I am certain that the courts will not find her guilty," Ms. Ebadi stated.
Ebadi went further to call the high amount of bail "illegal, as the amount of bail must be determined in relation to the crime committed as well as the situation of the accused. Ms. Hosseinkhah is not a flight risk, nor is her crime, meaning the writing of a few articles, significant enough to warrant such high bail. The prosecutor in this case fully knows that it would be impossible for a young journalist, who is newly married, to post such an exorbitant amount of bail, and in fact the high bail was intended as a strategy to ensure the issuance of an arrest warrant and the subsequent imprisonment [of my client]."
Shirin Ebadi emphasized that all necessary legal steps will be taken to reduce the amount of bail to ensure Maryam Hosseinkhah’s release and to also prove her innocence in a court of law.
Change for Equality: November 18, 2007: Maryam Hossienkhah, Journalist, member of the Women’s Cultural Center, and an active member of the One Million Signatures Campaign was arrested earlier today. A few days after the site of the Women’s Cultural Center, a leading women’s NGO, was shut down on order of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and the Judiciary, Maryam Hosseinkhah, an editor of the site of this organization as well as one of the eiditors of the site of the One Million Signatures Campaign, Change for Equality, was summoned to the security branch of the Revolutionary Courts on Saturday 17th of November. She was interrogated for over 2 hours on Saturday and was told that she is charged with disruption of public opinion, propaganda against the state, and publication of lies through the publication of untrue news items on the site of the Women’s Cultural Center and the One Million Signatures Campaign. Maryam Hosseinkhah was also ordered to return to the Revolutionary Courts for more interrogation today, Sunday November 18, 2007 at 9:00am. After arriving at Court today, an order of arrest of issued for Ms. Hosseinkhah, and to our disbelief she was arrested and transferred to Evin Prison at 2:00pm.
The arrest of Maryam Hosseinkhah marks the continuation of increased harassment of women’s rights activists, especially members of the Campaign, by the Security forces. To date, over 40 individuals have been arrested in relation to their peaceful activities in support of the Campaign. Currently two other members of the Campaign besides Maryam remain in prison. Ronak Safarzadeh and Hana Abdi were both arrested in Kurdistan after collection of signatures. They remain in prison and have had not had access to their families or lawyers.