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Iranian Women’s Human Rights Defenders Once Again Targeted and Arrested

Thursday 5 April 2007


Mahboubeh Hossein Zadeh and Nahid Keshavarz, two members of the One Million Signatures Campaign , who were arrested on Monday April 2nd while collecting signatures in support of a petition to change discriminatory laws against women, were transferred to Evin prison this afternoon. They are currently being held in the 209 th section of Evin prison, which is managed by the Security Forces. Three other members of the Campaign, Sara Imanian, Homayoun Nami, and Saiedeh Amin, were released after spending a day in detention at the police station.

Nahid Keshavarz and Mahboubeh Hossein-Zadeh along with the other three arrested individuals were taken to the Revolutionary Courts early today. During their interrogations, these two women’s rights defenders were asked to sign a statement agreeing to end their activities in the Campaign and on behalf of women. When they refused to do so, the two women were charged with actions against national security and transferred to Evin Prison.

According to reports court officers told the two women that the demands of the Campaign are in contradiction to the foundations of Islam and as such are seen as actions against the state. Specifically they were told that the demands of the Campaign with respect to equal rights to inheritance for women, equal value on testimony of men and women, equal financial remuneration for bodily injury or death (or blood money), and the elimination of polygamy (currently men are allowed by law to marry up to 4 permanent wives and unlimited temporary wives) were in contradiction to the tenants of Islam.

Mahboubeh Hossein-Zadeh and Nahid Keshavarz are both women’s human rights defenders, and active members of the Campaign.

Nahid Keshavarz is a member of the Women’s Cultural Center and provides regular news reports and articles for the website of this leading women’s NGO < www.herlandmag.info> and the site of the Campaign www.weforchange.net . Nahid is a sociologist and also a regular contributor to other leading publications.

Mahboubeh Hossein-Zadeh is a member of the Iran CSOs Training and Research Center < www.koneshgaran.net>, which was recently shut down by Security Forces. She served as a journalist for the website of this leading NGO engaged in capacity building for civil society. She has been a journalist with reformist dailies for 7 years.

Both Nahid and Mahboubeh are members of the media committee of the Campaign, which is charged with information sharing and reporting of developments in the Campaign.

The One Million Signatures Campaign started its activities in July 2007, and seeks to provide education on legal rights of women at the grassroots level with a view toward changing discriminatory laws against women. Along these lines, the Campaign collects signatures in support of its aims, which it plans to submit to the Parliament. Despite claims by Security Forces denying that they have a problem with the Campaign, the members of this peaceful movement have been targeted from the start with threats, arrests and harassment (for more info on this read: < http://weforchange.net/english/spip.php?article10 >). This is the first overt effort on the part of the Security Forces against the Campaign and its members. Prior to this development, the Security Forces had continually claimed that they had no problems with the Campaign, its strategies or aim.

Links with pictures—Nahid is on the right and Mahboubeh is on the left:

http://herlandmag.info/news/07,04,03,05,04,50/

News Links:

http://www.learningpartnership.org/advocacy/alerts/iranwomenarrests0307

http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/media/hrd/2007/alert/325/index.htm

www.iranian.com/News/2007/April/women.html
http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/news/3681

http://www.wluml.org/english/newsfulltxt.shtml?cmd[157]=x-157-552356=x-157-552356]

 

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