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Amnesty, the Observatory and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran Issues Urgent Actions for Esha Momeni

Friday 24 October 2008


Change for Equality: October 23, 2008: Following the unexpected and unusual arrest of Esha Momeni, a volunteer with the Campaign in California, who was in Iran visiting family and conducting research for her graduate thesis on women’s rights activists, several human rights organizations have issued statements, including Amnesty International, Observatory for Protection of Human Rights Defenders, and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. The statements appear below. Please visit the relevant websites of these organizations to take action on behalf of Esha.

Statement Issued by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran

Women’s Rights Activist and Researcher Detained

(21 October 2008) Iranian intelligence agents detained Esha Momeni, an activist in the One Million Signature Campaign and a graduate student doing research for her thesis on the Iranian women’s movement, on 15 October 2008. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran called on the Iranian authorities to immediately release Momeni and end their prosecution and persecution of women’s rights activists.

According to the One Million Signatures Campaign, Momeni was detained while driving in Tehran. She is being held in Section 209 of Evin Prison and has had no access to a lawyer. After detaining her, security agents searched her home and confiscated her computer and personal belongings, including material relating to her thesis research.

Momeni is a graduate student at the School of Communications, Media, and Arts at California State University, Northridge. She had been visiting Iran for the past two months and conducting research for her thesis, including making video interviews with members of the One Million Signature Campaign.

“There are no legal grounds for detaining and interrogating Momeni. Unfortunately, this is the continuation of a pattern of prosecutions and harassments by the Intelligence Ministry directed at women’s rights activists,” the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran stated.

Statement/Urgent Action Issued by Amnesty International

PUBLIC

AI Index: MDE 13/155/2008

21 October 2008

UA 289/08 Arbitrary detention/ fear of torture or other ill-treatment

IRAN Esha Momeni (f), student

Esha Momeni, a student and women’s rights defender, was arrested by Iranian security officials on 15 October. She is being held in Section 209 of Evin Prison in Tehran, which is run by the Ministry of Intelligence. She has not been charged with any offence, and is at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

Esha Momeni is a graduate student at California State University, Northridge, in the USA. She is also a member of a branch of the Campaign for Equality in California. She had been in Iran for two months to visit her family and to conduct research for her Master’s degree thesis on the Iranian women’s movement, for which she had conducted video interviews with members of the Campaign for Equality in Tehran.

Esha Momeni was arrested while driving on the Moddaress Highway in Tehran, by officials who identified themselves as traffic police. They told her that they were arresting her on suspicion of committing a traffic offence. They then escorted her to her family’s home, which they searched, confiscating her computer and the footage of the interviews she had conducted. She was then taken to Section 209 of Evin Prison. Esha Momeni’s family have not been allowed to visit her and were told by the arresting authorities that if they did not publicize her arrest, she would be released quickly. However, on 20 October, relatives visited a branch of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran to try and find out more about her situation. Officials told them that Esha Momeni’s case was still being investigated, and no details would be released until the investigation was completed. Following this, her family allowed details of her arrest to be made public.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The Campaign for Equality, launched in 2006, is an Iranian women’s rights initiative composed of a network of women and men committed to ending discrimination against women in Iranian law. The Campaign gives volunteers basic legal training, and these volunteers travel around the country promoting the Campaign, talking with women in their homes, as well as in public places, telling them about their rights and the need for legal reform. The volunteers are also collecting one million signatures of Iranian nationals for a petition demanding an end to legal discrimination against women in Iran.

Dozens of activists and supporters have been arrested in connection with their activities for the Campaign for Equality, some while collecting signatures for the petition demanding an end to legal discrimination against women in Iran. As of October 2008, the Campaign’s website had been blocked by the authorities at least 16 times (see: http://www.change4equality.com). Official permission to hold public meetings has frequently been denied, and Campaign activists usually hold their workshops in the homes of sympathizers, some of whom have then received threatening phone calls apparently from security officials or been summoned by them for interrogation. At least one such workshop was forcibly broken up by police, who arrested those present, beating some.

Two women, Ronak Safarzadeh and Hana Abdi, remain detained in the city of Sanandaj, Kordestan province (see UA 297/07, MDE 13/130/2007, 7 November 2007), while a third woman, Zeynab Beyezidi is imprisoned in Mahabad in connection with their activities on behalf of the Campaign for Equality.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Persian, Arabic, English and French or your own language:

- expressing concern at the arrest of Esha Momeni, and urging on the authorities to treat her humanely in detention, and protect her from torture or other ill-treatment;

- asking the authorities to ensure that while in detention she is granted immediate and regular access to her family, a lawyer of her choice, and any medical treatment she may require;

- expressing concern that her arrest was apparently in connection with her peaceful activities in support of equal rights for women in Iran and in the context of her graduate research;

- urging the authorities to release her immediately and unconditionally if she is not to be charged with a recognizably criminal offence and brought to trial promptly and fairly;

APPEALS TO:

Head of the Judiciary

His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi

Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh / Office of the Head of the Judiciary

Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran

1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: info@dadgostary-tehran.ir (In the subject line write: FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)

Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Intelligence

Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie

Ministry of Intelligence, Second Negarestan Street, Pasdaran Avenue,

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Salutation: Your Excellency

Leader of the Islamic Republic

His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme
Leader

Islamic Republic Street - Shahid Keshvar Doust Street

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: info@leader.ir

Salutation: Your Excellency

COPIES TO:

President

His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

The Presidency

Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Fax: + 98 21 6 649 5880

Email: via website: http://www.president.ir/email/

Director, Human Rights Headquarters of Iran

His Excellency Mohammad Javad Larijani

Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)

Pasteur St, Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran

1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran

Fax: +98 21 3390 4986 (there are problems with this line, please try three times)

Email: int_aff@judiciary.ir (In the subject line: FAO Mohammad Javad Larijani)

and to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 2 December 2008.

Statement from the Observatory
Arbitrary arrest and subsequent detention of Ms. Esha Momen

IRN 010 / 1008 / OBS 166

Arbitrary detention

Iran

October 20, 2008

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Iran.
Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary arrest and subsequent detention of Ms. Esha Momeni, a women’s rights activist and a member of the One Million Signatures Petition Campaign[1] studying in California, and who was on a visit in Tehran.

According to the information received, on October 15, 2008, Ms. Esha Momeni was forced to pull over while she was driving on Moddaress highway by individuals who identified themselves as traffic police. The latter argued that she had unlawfully passed another vehicle while driving. They subsequently arrested her and took her to Section 209 of Evin Prison, managed by the Intelligence and Security Ministry.

Prior to her transfer to Evin, security officials searched her home in Tehran in her absence, and seized property, including her computer and films which were part of her thesis project, focusing on the Iranian women’s movement. The security officials had an arrest warrant and court permission to search the home and seize property.

On October 19, 2008, Ms. Esha Momeni’s parents went to Evin to follow-up on their daughter’s case, but were told not to come again since no information would be given until the end of the investigation.

The Observatory expresses its deep concern about the arbitrary arrest of Ms. Momeni, which is once again evidence of the ongoing harsh repression of the Iranian authorities against human rights defenders, in particular women’s rights activists involved in the One Million Signatures Campaign.

The Observatory also recalls that more than a hundred of women’s rights activists have been arrested, interrogated, and/or sentenced in the past two years and that the Government has raised over one million Euros by imprisoning the activists and releasing them on high bail[2].

The Observatory further wishes to insist on the fact that Iran had committed to “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights”[3] by presenting its candidacy to the Human Rights Council 2006 election and had insisted in this regard on the fact that the country had “continuously put great efforts into safeguarding the status and inherent dignity of the human person as well as the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms”[4]. In order to ensure the continuation of these efforts, the Observatory urges the Islamic Republic of Iran to conform with international human rights standards.
Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Iran urging them to:

1. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Esha Momeni, as well as all activists engaged in the One Million Signatures Campaign;

2. Immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Esha Momeni since her detention is arbitrary as it only seems to sanction her human rights activities;

3. Drop all arbitrary charges and stop harassment against all women’s rights defenders involved in the One Million Signatures Campaign;

4. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Iranian human rights defenders;

5. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” and Article 12.2, which provides that “"the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

6. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Iran.

Addresses:

* Leader of the Islamic Republic, His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader, Shoahada Street, Qom, Islamic Republic of Iran, Faxes: + 98.21.649.5880 / 21.774.2228, Email: info@leader.ir / istiftaa@wilayah.org / webmaster@wilayah.org;

* President, His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98.21.649.5880, E-mail: dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir;

* Head of the Judiciary, His Excellency Mr. Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, Ministry of Justice, Park-e Shahr, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: +98.21.879.6671 / +98 21 3 311 6567 / +98 21 3 390 4986, Email: Irjpr@iranjudiciary.com / info@dadgostary-tehran.ir;

* Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Mr. Manuchehr Motaki, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdolmajid Keshk-e Mesri Av, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98.21.390.1999, Email: matbuat@mfa.gov;

* Director, Human Rights Headquarters of Iran, His Excellency Mohammad Javad Larijani, C/o Office of the Deputy for International Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Justice Building, Panzdah-Khordad (Ark) Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98 21 5 537 8827

* Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28, 1209 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 7330203, Email: mission.iran@ties.itu.int;

* Ambassador Mr. Ahani, Embassy of Iran in Brussels, avenue Franklin Roosevelt, 15 A. 1050 Bruxelles, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 762 39 15. Email: iran-embassy@yahoo.com.

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Iran in your respective country.

 

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