Government continues to harass cyber-feminists in attempt to silence them

Thursday 30 October 2008

Reporters Without Borders Iran29 October 2008:

Reporters Without Borders urges the Iranian authorities to stop its harassment of cyber-feminists after two more were summoned to a Tehran court for questioning about articles posted on women’s rights websites, and online journalist Sussan Tahmasebi was banned from leaving the country without being given any reason.

“The way the government hounds these women shows how much it fears their criticism,” Reporters Without Borders said. “These cyber-feminists are just using their right to free expression in order to condemn the situation of women. Thanks to their campaigning, a bill that would facilitate polygamy was challenged at the start of September. This shows the importance of their work.”

Tahmasebi, who is under police surveillance, went today to the Tehran revolutionary court in response to a summons for questioning about her activities. On 26 October, her passport was seized at Imam Khomeini airport in south Tehran. She was questioned by security agents who confiscated CDs, books, manuscripts and texts calling for peace in Iran. Her computer was also inspected.

In an interview for the online magazine Tagir Bary Barbary (“Change for Equality” -, Tahmasebi said: “This is the fourth time I have been prevented from leaving the country on various pretexts. Despite my insistence, no one explained the reason for the decision or said why I had been summoned to the revolutionary court.”

On leaving the court today, she told Reporters Without Borders: “This harassment is being done with the aim of making us shut up. Nonetheless, we will not stop demanding equality. Women now have an important place in Iranian society and the authorities will be forced to listen to us.”

One of the promoters of the campaign for “One Million Signatures Demanding Changes to Discriminatory Laws” that was launched online in 2005, Tahmasebi edits the English-language version of the Tagir Bary Barbary website. The police searched her home on 2 May.

The two other cyber-feminists to be summoned to the Tehran revolutionary court to explain what they have been posting online were Nahid Keshavarz and Mahboubeh Hosseinzadeh, who write for Tagir Bary Barbary and Zanestan (“Women’s City” - They were told to report back for a hearing on 27 January.


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