Mahboubeh Hossein Zadeh and Nahid Keshavarz, Women’s Rights Defenders, Remain in Prison:Families and Lawyer denied Information and Opportunity to Post Bail

Friday 13 April 2007

On Tuesday April 10, 2007, Mr. Jamshidi, Spokesman for the Judiciary, explained to reporters that Mahboubeh Hossein Zadeh and Nahid Keshavarz have been issued bail, and should be freed once a third party guarantor agrees to post bail. According to Jamshidi, these women are still being held in prison because bail has not yet been posted. The proclamations of the spokesperson came at time when the family members of both Nahid Keshavarz and Mahboubeh Hossein Zadeh have repeatedly gone to the Revolutionary Courts for the purpose of posting bail and inquiring about the status of the two women. The families of Hossein Zadeh and Keshavaraz, along with their lawyer, Nasrin Sotoodeh, have been denied access to the Revolutionary Courts or to the files of these two women’s rights activists over the past 2 weeks. In fact, they have been told by Court officials that the cases of these two women are still in the preliminary investigation stages and until the preliminary investigations are complete the court is not obliged to respond to any inquiries or to release the two women on bail.

Following Jamshidi’s explanation, Nasrin Sotoodeh, who is representing the two women, along with their family members went to the Revolutionary Courts, for the purpose of posting bail. Once again, they were turned away, with no response from Court officials. Nasrin Sotoodeh explained to reporters that "not only did the courts deny me the right to represent these two women, but they informed me that they are still conducting preliminary investigation of the charges against these two women and while these investigations are still incomplete no information about the cases and charges against these two women can be provided."

Sadigheh Keshavarz, Nahid’s sister, explained that "I went to the court in an effort to post bail for my sister. But court officials instead asked me why I had come. They said that the case against my sister was no concern of mine." Nader HajMohsen, Nahid’s husband, told reporters that "I explained to court officials that I have been coming to court for the purpose of posting bail and following up on the case of my wife for over a week now. But Judge told me that he was busy with another case and didn’t have time to attend to the charges and case against Nahid."

Zahra Hossein Zadeh, Mahboubeh’s sister, also went to the Revolutionary Court on Wednesday with the intent to post bail for her sister. She was not allowed entry into the court and was turned away without any response. According to reports, Zahra Hossein Zadeh, spoke to court officials by phone. "I explained to the officials that I want to post bail for my sister’s release. I explained that according to Mr. Jamshidi’s explanations, I should be able to post bail and free my sister. But the Court official responded by saying that: ’we don’t take orders from Mr. Jamshidi."

On Thursday, according to phone conversations they had with their family members, Mahboubeh and Nahid reported that they had their first interrogation since being sent to Evin Prison on April 3. They were interrogated with blindfolds, and were not able to see their interrogators, both actions in violation of the law and citizen’s rights. The interrogations were largely focused on Nahid and Mahboubeh’s efforts on behalf of women’s rights.

Keshavarz and Hossein Zadeh were arrested on April 2 while collecting signatures in support of the "One Million Signatures Campaign" which aims to change discriminatory laws against Iranian women. These two women’s rights defenders were transferred to Evin prison on April 3 and have remained in detention. Thus far, their lawyers and family members have been denied information about their cases, and official charges against them have yet to be announced formally.


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