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Amnesty Issues Urgent Appeal in Case of Maryam Hosseinkhah

Thursday 22 November 2007


Amnesty International, the leading human rights organization, has issued an urgent appeal in the case of Maryam Hosseinkhah, who was imprisoned on charges related to her activities as a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, on the site of the Campaign, Change for Equality, and the site of the Women’s Cultural Center, where she serves as an editor. Maryam Hossienkhah is a well known journalist who has dedicated most of her career to writing about women’s problems, especially women’s legal problems. She was arrested on November 17, and taken to the public ward 3 of Evin prison. An exceptionally high bail, in relation to her charges, of 100 Million Tomans (approximately $110,000) has been issued in her case. Since Maryam and her family are unable to produce this amount of bail, she is forced to remain in prison. Her lawyer, Shirin Ebadi, and her family members have asked the court to reduce the amount of bail, paving the way for her release. The urgent action appeal issued by Amnesty international appears below. To take action on behalf of Maryam and to demand her immediate and unconditional release from Iranian authorities visit the site of Amnesty International.

URGENT ACTION
Iran: Arbitrary arrest/prisoner of conscience: Maryam Hosseinkhah (f)

PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/137/2007

19 November 2007

UA 312/07 Arbitrary arrest/prisoner of conscience

IRAN Maryam Hosseinkhah (f), journalist and women’s rights defender

Maryam Hosseinkhah, a journalist and women’s rights defender, was arrested on 18 November when she reported to a branch of the Revolutionary Court in the capital, Tehran, for questioning. According to other members of a women’s rights campaign, she has been accused of "disturbing public opinion", "propaganda against the system" and "publication of lies" in connection with articles posted on websites she edits.

Amnesty International believes she is a prisoner of conscience, held solely on account of her peaceful activities in support of equal rights for women in Iran, and is calling for her immediate and unconditional release.

Maryam Hosseinkhah is an active member of the Campaign for Equality, which aims to collect a million signatures in support of an end to legislation which discriminates against women, and is one of the editors of the campaign’s website (http://www.we4change.info/). She is also a member of the Women’s Cultural Centre, a women’s organization founded in 2001 to promote women’s human and political rights in Iran. Several days before her summons, the website of the WCC was shut down on the orders of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and the Judiciary.

On 17 November, Maryam Hosseinkhah was called in to a branch of the
Revolutionary Courts, which deals with cases involving security-related issues, for interrogation about her work in defence of women’s rights. She was questioned for over two hours and was told to report for further interrogation the next day. On her arrival at the court on 18 November, an arrest warrant was issued, and she was detained and transferred to Section 3 of Tehran’s Evin Prison, an open section which is used to hold those convicted of non-violent crimes and where other women’s rights activists were previously held.

Maryam Hosseinkhah was among 33 women arrested on 4 March 2007 while protesting at the trial of five women’s rights activists. She was released four days later (see UA 52/07, MDE 13/021/2007, 5 March 2007, and follow-ups).

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Repression of activists associated with the Campaign for Equality, and of other members of Iranian civil society, has intensified in recent weeks. In
September, at least 25 people (including five members of the Campaign for Equality’s education committee who had travelled from Tehran) were arrested during an educational workshop held by the Campaign in a private house in Lorestan province, western Iran. Of these, 22 were released later that night, after being questioned about the Campaign’s activities. The other three, Reza Dolatshah, Bahman Azadi, and Khosrow Nasimpour, released the following day, beaten in custody. Two women, Ronak Safarzadeh and Hana Abdi, are detained in the city of Sanandaj, Kordestan province, and have not been permitted access to families or lawyers (See UA 297/07, MDE 13/130/2007, 7November 2007). Dr
Sohrab Razzaghi, the Director of the Iranian Civil Society Organizations
Training and Research Center (ICTRC) has been detained since 24 October, apparently for interrogation about the activities of his organization, including the financial assistance it receives from international donors, like the Dutch non-governmental organization Hivos.

AI Index: MDE 13/137/2007 19 November 2007

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