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Violence against Women’s Rights Activists: A Report on Arrests and Summons of Campaign Activists

By: Maryam Hosseinkhah

Monday 11 January 2010


Change for Equality: The following report, outlines the pressures faced by activists involved in the One Million Signatures Campaign, including arrests, summons, sentences, travel bans, and search of property. The report was compiled in November 2009 and updated in late December 2009. Several of the members of the Campaign who have been arrested in the past few weeks days are not included in the report, including:

Somayeh Rashidi, was arrested on December 19 after appearing in court in response to a summons. Her home had been searched on December 14 and her personal property was seized. There is no information about the reason for her arrest and she has not been allowed to visit with her family or lawyer since her arrests. In a telephone call to her family, Somayeh informed them that she is being held in Ward 209 of Evin prison, which is managed by the Intelligence Ministry.

Shiva Nazar Ahari, a member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters and a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign was arrested on her way to attend the funeral of Ayatollah Montazeri, in Qom, on December 20. This is the second time she has been arrested in relation to her human rights activities since the Presidential elections in June. The first time, she was arrested on June 14th and released almost four months on a bail of $202,039. Her arrest is part of an ongoing crackdown against the members of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters. Currently seven members of this human rights organization are in prison.

Atiyeh Yousefi, activist in the One Million Signatures Campaign in Rasht [Gilan province, northern Iran], is currently being held in Lakan Prison in Rasht, without any reason having been given for her detention. Five days after Atiyeh Yousefi’s arrest, her family still has no information on the arrest warrant issued for her, and have not managed to arrange a meeting with the judge presiding over her case. Atiyeh Yousefi was arrested while seeking to give assistance to a young man who had been severely beaten by plainclothes security officers on the day of Ashura [27th December 2009]. On 1st January her family was able to visit her in Lakan Prison. They gave a good report of her morale and stated that she is being subjected to lengthy and ongoing interrogations.

Bahareh Hedayat, student activist and member of the Campaign was arrested on December 30, 2009, after her home was searched and property seized. Hedayat is a member of Council of the Student Organization Office to Foster Unity. Currently there are three members of the Central Council of this student organization in prison.

Mansoureh Shojaee, also a member of the Campaign was arrested at her home on December 29, after her home was searched and property seized. In a phone call to her family, Mansoureh informed them that she is being held in Evin prison. The charges pending against this women’s rights activist are not clear.

Parisa Kakaee, a member of the Campaign and the Committee for Human Rights Reporters, was arrested on January 1, after responding to a telephone summons and appearing at the office of the Intelligence Ministry. It seems that her arrest is part of a campaign of pressure being exerted against the members of the Committee for Human Rights Reporters. Currently seven members of the Committee are being detained in Ward 209 of Evin prison, and other members have been threatened and summoned.

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Pressures Faced by Campaign Activists Through December 2009:
Change for Equality –Nearly fifty Campaign activists have had legal cases brought against them. The Campaign is a network of advocates of equality who are active in both promoting equality within society, and working towards achieving their peaceful demand for change in discriminatory laws by collecting signatures. Although all of the officials and judges are aware of this fact, the arrest of the movements’ activists continues and they are accused of charges such as “participation in an illegal group”. What you are about to read is a report on actions taken by security and police forces in order to prevent Campaign members from actively pushing forth their demand for women’s human’s rights.

In the past three years, from the beginning of Campaign’s activity on August 27, 2006 until today, fifty activists of the One Million Signatures Campaign have been arrested. Four have been summoned to appear in court without an official arrest warrant; more than fifteen people have been summoned to appear at the offices of security forces, and have been repeatedly interrogated.

Four and half years in prison is the sum of the mandatory imprisonment periods that Campaign activists currently have to serve. Some of the legal cases against them are still waiting for the court’s final ruling.

Campaign activists during the past three years have spent an aggregate of 273 days in various detention centers such as the Gisha detention centre, section 209 of Evin Prison, managed by the Intelligence Ministry, the general women’s ward of Evin Prison, and Isfahan’s correction facility.

Most activists are released on provision of personal or third party guarantees or the posting of bail; a total of $465,418 in third party guarantees and $232,205 in bail is the price Campaign activists have paid for temporary freedom until their court date or while waiting for the court’s final ruling.

Reasons for the Arrests

The pretext for most of the arrests is collecting signatures, and until now sixteen people have been arrested in Tehran and been sent to prison. They have received varying treatment in the courts, ranging from acquittal to one year suspended sentences.

Two of the Campaign activists have been arrested and arraigned for working on two websites “Zanestan” and “Change for Equality”. Similarly, one person was arrested for conducting interviews and videotaping Campaign members, two individuals for hosting gatherings at their home and one for speaking to media and spreading news about the arrest of her spouse.

Twenty-five individuals were arrested for organizing and or participating in a workshop in the city of Khorramabad. All other detainees besides three were released after twelve hours and no legal case was brought against them.

Arrests Unrelated to the Campaign but Detainees Interrogated about the Campaign

Some of those Campaign activists who were arrested in relation to their activities in other groups or social movements, were also interrogated about the Campaign during their detention. The Campaign is essentially used as a tool with which to bring additional pressure to bear during questioning. These people were interrogated about their involvement in the Campaign.

• Nahid Mirhaj, Nafiseh Azad, Aida Saadat, Jelveh Javaheri, Sara Loghmanian, and Nasrin Sotoudeh were detained for hours and were subject to repeated interrogations on June 12th 2008.
• Kaveh Rezaee, student activist, was arrested in February 2009. He was released from prison after nine days and after posting $53,032 bail.
• Twelve women’s rights activists were arrested of whom ten were Campaign activists. The reason for their arrest was their attempt to visit the mourning family of Zahra Bani-Yaghoub in March 2009 for the Iranian New Year (Norooz).
• Pooriya Pooshtareh, Nikzad Zangeneh, Taha Valizadeh, Kaveh Mozaffari and Amir Yaghoubali were arrested on May 1st 2009 at a workers’ rally for International Labor Day; subsequently Jelveh Javaheri was arrested at her house.
• Farnaz Kamali, Jilla Bani-Yaghoub and Shiva Nazar-Ahari are Campaign members who were arrested after the recent disputed presidential election in June 2009 and were interrogated about their activities in the Campaign.

Summons and House Searches

Unofficial summons and searches of homes belonging to One Million Signatures Campaign members are another type of pressure that Campaign activists have had to endure in their quest for equality.

Parastoo Allahyari, Sussan Tahmassebi, Nafiseh Azad, Maryam Malek, Fereshteh Shirazi, Jelveh Javaheri, and Kaveh Mozaffari are among Campaign activists whose homes have been invaded by security service personnel, and whose computers, files and personal belongings have been confiscated. Najmeh Zare, Behnaz Shekari and Nasrin Foroohmand have also been summoned and investigated for hosting Campaign gatherings at their homes.

Aside from these summons, according to reports from women’s rights and Campaign activists in other provinces, Campaign activists in cities including Isfahan, Shiraz, Kermanshah, Anzali, Rasht and Hamedan have also been summoned and interrogated.

Ronak Saffarzadeh, Hana Abdi and Zeynab Bayazdi are also three Campaign activists in Kurdistan who have faced charges other than their activism in the Campaign. Hana Abdi, who was arrested after Ronak had already been arrested and on similar charges, was released in March 2009 after serving 18 months in prison.

Navid Mohebi and Fereshteh Shirazi, Campaign activists in Amol, and Haydeh Tabesh, Campaign activist in Isfahan, have been summoned and interrogated about their activism in the Campaign.

Khadijeh Moghaddam, Jelveh Javaheri, Kaveh Mozaffari, Maryam Malek, Aida Saadat, Elnaz Ansari, Parisa Kakayi and a number of other Campaign activists were summoned for their activism in the Campaign and were interrogated in February 2009.

Final Sentences Issued

At the present time, final verdicts have been given on the cases of seven members of the Campaign:

• Amir Yaghoubali has been sentenced by the Court of Appeals to one year of imprisonment suspended for four years, and ordered to report to the Ministry of Intelligence every four months.

• Ehteram Shadfar received a final sentence of six months imprisonment, suspended for two years.

• Parvin Ardalan, Maryam Hosseinkhah, Nahid Keshavarz and Jelveh Javaheri, were sentenced to a suspended sentence of six months, which is to be suspended for four years.

• Parastou Allahyari, who had been sentenced to one year of imprisonment, was acquitted in the Court of Appeal.

•Nasim Khosravi and Raha Asgarizadeh were acquitted by the Preliminary Court.

• Nasim Sarabandizadeh and Fatemeh Dehdashti, who have received six months of imprisonment in the Preliminary Court, are awaiting the decision of the Court of Appeal.

•Nafiseh Azad, who had received one year of suspended imprisonment, was acquitted by the Court of Appeal.

•Nahid Keshavarz, who had received one year of imprisonment, suspended for two years, as well as Sara Imanian, sentenced to one and a half years of imprisonment, suspended for two years, were acquitted.

The cases of the rest of the arrested Campaign activists are either waiting to be sent to the courts or are in the process of being considered by them.

Travel Bans

In addition to the arrests and the sentences issued, until now seven of the Campaign’s activists have been prevented from leaving the country by security forces. Parvin Ardalan, Talat Taghinia, Mansoureh Shojaee, Farnaz Seifi, Nasrin Sotoudeh, Sussan Tahmasebi, Mehrnoush Etemadi, Hayedeh Tabesh and Jina Modarres-Gorji are the activists whose passports were confiscated. They were not informed of the reason for their travel bans. Later on the travel bans placed on Farnaz Seifi, Sussan Tahmasebi and Parvin Ardalan were removed and their passports were given back to them.

What follows is a report on the latest status of the cases of those One Million Signatures Campaign activists whose charges are specifically related to their being active in the Campaign. At the same time, some of those activists who have been interrogated or arrested for other activities in the past three years, have also been interrogated and put under pressure in relation to their activities in the Campaign.

December 15th, 2006: Zeinab Peighambarzadeh. Charge: Collecting Signatures, Tehran-Karaj Subway

On December 15th, 2006, four months after the formation of the One Million Signatures Campaign, Zeinab Peighambarzadeh was arrested while she was collecting signatures in the Tehran-Karaj subway. After being held for five days at the Vozara and Gisha detention centers, she was charged with endangering national security.

She was released on December 20th after interrogation by the 14th branch of the Revolutionary Court. She was released on a third party guarantee of $10 million Tomans ($10,870) and the court has yet to hear the case pending against her.

January 10th, 2007: Nasim Sarabandi and Fatemeh Dehdashti. Charge: Collecting Signatures, Tehran Subway, Sadeghiyyeh

On January 10th, 2007, Nasim Sarabandi and Fatemeh Dehdashti were arrested in the subway when they were collecting signatures. Both were released after being held for one day at the Gisha detention center, with a third party guarantee of 500,000 Tomans ($565). However, in a trial on July 12th, 2007 in the 28th branch of the Revolutionary Court, they were sentenced to six months of imprisonment suspended for two years, on the charge of endangering national security. The cases of these two activists from the One Million Signatures Campaign are being reviewed by the Court of Appeal.

April 2nd, 2007: Saiedeh Amin, Sara Imanian, Mahboubeh Hosseinzadeh, Nahid Keshavarz and Homayoun Nami. Charge: Collecting Signatures, Laleh Park, Tehran

On April 2nd, 2007, Saiedeh Amin, Sara Imanian, Mahboubeh Hosseinzadeh, Nahid Keshavarz and Homayoun Nami, five activists from the One Million Signatures Campaign, who were collecting signatures in Laleh Park, were arrested and transferred to the Vozara detention center.

On April 21st, three of them (Sara Imanian, Saiedeh Amin, Homayoun Nami) were released after providing personal guarantees to the Revolutionary Court. Nahid Keshavarz and Mahboubeh Hosseinzadeh were transferred to the general ward of Evin prison. Nahid Keshavarz and Mahboubeh Hosseinzadeh, after thirteen days of detention were freed on May 15th, with a third party guarantee of 20 Million Tomans ($22,650). Endangering national security through propaganda against the state was the charge that was made against these two Campaign members. They were subsequently released from section 209 of Evin Prison.

These cases were considered by the Preliminary Court. Nahid Keshavarz was sentenced to one year of imprisonment suspended for two years and Sara Imanian was sentenced to a year and six months imprisonment suspended for two years.

Sara Imanian and Nahid Keshavarz were then acquitted by the 36th branch of the Court of Appeals. Hosseinzadeh’s trial has not yet been held.

June 10th, 2007: Ehteram Shadfar and her neighbor. Charges: collecting signatures, Tehran

On June 10th, 2007, Ehteram Shadfar’s neighbor was arrested while collecting signatures. After arresting her, the officials went to Ehteram Shadfar’s house with her and arrested Ehteram as well. The charge against Ehteram was supply of Campaign notes and statements to her neighbor. They were released on a personal guarantee after one day of detention at the Vozara detention center. Ms. Shadfar’s neighbor’s case was closed. Eight months later, Ehteram Shadfar received six months of imprisonment suspended for two years. The thirteenth branch of the Revolutionary Court charged her with endangering national security through propaganda against the Islamic Republic in the One Million Signatures Campaign. Collecting signatures was the reason for issuance of this charge. The twenty first branch of the Revolutionary Court confirmed a guilty verdict against Ehteram Shadfar, member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, on August 2007.

September 14th, 2007: Amir Yaghoubali, Collecting Signatures, Charges: Andisheh Park, Tehran

On September 14th, 2007, Amir Yaghoubali was arrested in Andisheh Park in Tehran while he was collecting signatures. He was transferred to solitary confinement in section 209 of Evin Prison and after 28 days of detention there, he was released after posting bail in the amount of $22,000. In May 2008, the fifteenth branch of the Revolutionary Court sentenced him to one year of imprisonment on the charge of endangering national security through propaganda against the state. The Court of Appeals also confirmed this verdict. According to this sentence, which was issued in August 2008 by the 54th branch of the Court of Appeals for Tehran province, Amir Yaghoubali was sentenced to one year of imprisonment suspended for four years and has been ordered to report to the Ministry of Intelligence every four months.

September 14th, 2007: Arrest of twenty-five people at a Campaign workshop in Khorramabad

On September 14th, 2007, twenty-five people were arrested at a Campaign workshop in Khorramabad. Ten armed (male) police officers and three female police officers raided the workshop, held at one of the Campaign volunteers’ homes, and beat those attending. Twenty-two participants in the workshop, including Nafiseh Azad, Zara Amjadian, Jelveh Javaheri, Mansoureh Shojaee and Nazli Farrokhi, five Campaign members from Tehran, were held for several hours then released. Three activists including: Bahman Azadi, Reza Dolatshah, and Khosrow Nasimpour, were held for three days at the Khorramabad intelligence services offices and were interrogated on a number of occasions after their release.

Mansoureh Shojaee, Jelveh Javaheri and Nafiseh Azad were also interrogated after their release by the Ministry of Intelligence in Tehran concerning the workshop. No trials have yet taken place in connection with this case.

November 2007: Arrest of Maryam Hosseinkhah—Charge: Activities in the Site of the Campaign, Change for Equality

After receiving a summons to appear at the Revolutionary Courts, Maryam Hossienkhah went for interrogation. During the course of interrogations, Hosseinkhah was charged with actions against national security, the publication of lies and disruption of public opinion, through activities in the site of the Campaign, Change for Equality and Zanestan (the site of the Women’s Cultural Center). She was asked to show for further interrogation the next day, but after she appeared at the court on November 18, 2007 a bail order in the amount of 100 Million Tomans (roughly $100,000) was issued and she was transferred to the public ward of Evin prison. She was in prison for 45 days, and in the end after her family insisted that they were not able to post such a high bail amount, the order was reduced to a 5 Million Toman Check Guarantee (roughly $5000). She was released on January 2, 2008.

On August 18, 2008 was sentenced to six months mandatory prison, but in appeals court on January 27, 2009 the sentence was reduced to a suspended sentence of six months for the period of four months.

December 2007: Arrest of Jelve Javaheri—Charge: Activities in the Site of the Campaign, Change for Equality

Jelve Javaheri was arrested on November 30, 2008 because of her activities on the site of the Campaign, Change for Equality. After receiving a summons from Security branch 1 of the Revolutionary Courts, Javaheri appeared in court. After interrogation, she was charged with actions against national security, the publication of lies and disruption of public opinion, through activities on the site of Change for Equality. A bail order in the amount of 50 Million Tomans was issued for Jelve, and she was transferred to prison as she was unable to post the bail amount. The order was reduced to a 5 Million Toman Check Guarantee (roughly $5000). She was released on January 2, 2008.

On August 18, 2008 was sentenced to six months mandatory prison, but in appeals court on January 27, 2009 the sentence was reduced to a suspended sentence of six months for the period of four months.

December 2008: Parvin Ardalan and Nahid Keshavarz. Charge: involvement with the Campaign website

Jelveh Javaheri and Maryam Hosseinikhah were arrested because of their involvement with the Change for Equality and Zanestan websites. Simultaneously Parvin Ardalan and Nahid Keshavarz, two other women’s right activists, were summoned and investigated for the same reason. Although no arrest warrant had been issued, the court, which had begun to consider these two cases on August 19th, sentenced Parvin Ardalan and Nahid Keshavarz to six months imprisonment. The charge against them was endangering national security through propaganda against the state. After these two activists filed an appeal against the sentence, the Court of Appeals sat on the case on January 19th 2008. The court issued a suspended sentence of six months for the period of four years.

February 13th 2008: Raheleh Asgarizadeh, Nasim Khosravi. Charge: collecting signatures, Daneshjoo Park, Tehran

On February 13th 2008 Nasim Khosravi and Raheleh Asgarizadeh were arrested while collecting signatures at a street theatre performance relating to women’s issues. They were charged with propaganda against the state. After arrest they were sent to police station number 129 (Jami station) and then to the eighth regional police station. After interrogation they were sent to the Vozara detention centre and then Evin prison. These two Campaign activists were released from the women’s general ward of Evin Prison after thirteen days. The Revolutionary Court at first issued a bail order in the amount of 20 Million Tomans (roughly $20,000), but the amount was reduced to a third party guarantee in the amount of 10 Million Tomans (roughly $10,000). On July 21st 2008, the thirteenth branch of the Revolutionary Court acquitted these two activists of the charge of propaganda against the state.

April 8th 2008, Khadijeh Moghaddam. Charge: organizing Campaign gatherings at her home

Khadijeh Moghaddam was arrested at her residence on April 8th 2008. Security guards arrested her on the charge of organizing Campaign gatherings at her home and took her to the Vozara detention centre. She was charged with endangering national security, incitement of public opinion, and propaganda against the state.

Khadijeh Moghaddam was released on a third party guarantee in the amount of 100 Million Tomans (roughly $100,000) after spending eight days in solitary confinement and one day in the general ward of Evin Prison.

The Revolutionary Court investigated the charges against the activist on September 12th 2008 but a judgment has not as yet been issued.

October 15th 2008, Esha Momeni. Charge: Interviewing Campaign activists, Modarres Highway, Tehran

On October 15th 2008, Esha Momeni, an Iranian student who is studying in the USA and is one of the volunteers of the One Million Signatures Campaign in California, was arrested on the Modarres highway in Tehran.

Security officers went to her residence after her arrest and searched her personal belongings. They stated that interviewing and filming members of the One Million Signatures Campaign members was the reason for her arrest.

Esha Momeni interviewed and filmed some of the Campaign’s members in order to complete her thesis on the Iranian women’s movement.

After spending twenty-seven days in solitary confinement in section 209 of Evin Prison, she was released on a bail of $205,700. She was charged with propaganda against the state, but the court charged with investigating this accusation has yet to sit on the case.

Esha Momeni returned to the USA to continue her education in August 2009 after nine months of being forbidden from leaving the country.

October 12th 2008: Parastou Allahyari’s residence searched, and she is summoned to the Revolutionary Court

On October 12th officers from the security forces searched Parastou Allahyari’s residence and confiscated her laptop. Personal photo albums and some of her notes were confiscated, and she herself was interrogated.

Parastou was summoned to the Revolutionary Court for investigation for the second time on December 7th 2008 and was released on a third party guarantee in the amount of 50 Million Tomans (approximately $50,000). She appeared in court on April 13th 2009. She was charged with membership in the Campaign and organising Campaign gatherings at her residence.

Parastou Allahyari was sentenced to one year of imprisonment in April 2009. She was convicted of endangering national security through propaganda against the system of the Islamic Republic. The 34th branch of the Tehran province Court of Appeals handed down Parastou Allahyari’s final sentence in July 2009.The court overturned the initial sentence of one year in prison and acquitted her of any wrongdoing.

January 29th 2009, Nafiseh Azad and Beygard Ebrahimi. Charge: Collecting Signatures, near Tehran

On January 29th 2009 Nafiseh Azad, Beygard Ebrahimi and another Campaign volunteer were arrested while collecting signatures on Tochal Mountain near Tehran, and taken to the Vozara detention centre. Two of the Campaign volunteers were released after a one-day detention on a bail of $52,000.

Nafiseh Azad was released after 6 days, on a third party guarantee of 50 Million Tomans (roughly $50,000). She appeared in court on June 15th 2009. Nafiseh Azad, who was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment by the Preliminary court on charges of propaganda against the state, was found innocent and acquitted by the Court of Appeals.

April 25th 2009: Maryam Malek arrested

Maryam Malek, after receiving a written summons, reported to the security services logistics centre of the 14th branch of the security police in Nateb, Tehran. She was taken to the Revolutionary Court and then to the Vozara detention centre after hours of interrogation. On May 22nd security officers searched her father’s house and confiscated her computer, books, CDs, signature forms, and Campaign booklets. Her mobile phone was also seized by her security police interrogator in front of the Varsho hall on March 8th.

After being held for five days at the Vozara detention centre, in the general ward and section 209 of Evin prison, this Campaign activist was released on a third party guarantee in the amount of 20 Million Tomans (roughly $20,000). She was charged with endangering national security through propaganda against the state and membership of the One Million Signatures Campaign. The activist is yet to appear in court. Her lawyers are Mr. Soltani and Ms. Parakand and Ms. Mirzai.

May 1st 2009: Jelveh Javaheri arrested

Jelveh Javaheri was arrested at her residence on May 1st 2009. Security officers, after arresting her husband Kaveh Mozaffari on charges of participating in International Worker’s Day, searched her house and took her to Evin Prison.

This women’s activist was charged with endangering national security through propaganda, membership of the One Million Signatures Campaign, illegal assembly, and conspiracy.

Jelveh Javaheri was released from Evin Prison on third party guarantee in the amount of 100 Million Tomans (roughly $100,000) on June 7th 2009. She spent 16 days in section 209 of Evin Prison and the rest in the general ward. She is yet to appear in court.

November 23rd 2009, Mehrnoosh Etemadi, Isfahan

Mehrnoosh Etemadi, one of the One Million Signature Campaign’s activists in Isfahan, was arrested at her residence on December 23rd.

Security officers after investigating her house confiscated some of her books, educational booklets, and a computer case. Prior to her arrest Ms. Etemadi had been summoned and threatened several times over the phone.
Mehrnoosh Etemadi was released on December 8, after spending 15 days in Isfahan’s Central Prison. She was charged with action against national security through activism in the One Million Signatures Campaign and through carrying out activities intent on empowering women. She was released after posting a bail in the amount of 50 Million Tomans (roughly $50,000). A court date has not yet been set to address the charges pending against this women’s rights defender.

December 5, 2009, Hayedeh Tabesh, Isfahan

Hayedeh Tabesh an activist with the Campaign in Isfahan was arrested on December 5, after security agents searched her home and seized personal property, including her computer and the computers of her sons. She was transferred to Isfahan Central Prison and released on December 8, on a third party guarantee in the amount of 5 Million Tomans (roughly $5,000). She was charged with action against national security through activism in the One Million Signatures Campaign and through carrying out activities intent on empowering women. A court date has not yet been set to address the charges pending against this women’s rights defender.

 

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