Reporters Sans Frontier Issues Statement In Support of Women’s Rights Activists
Four women get jail terms in crackdown on “cyber-feminists
Saturday 5 May 2007
Voicing support for the way Iranian feminists are going online to demand an improvement in the condition of women in Iran, Reporters Without Borders today said it was dismayed by the prison sentences imposed on four “cyber-feminists” between 17 and 23 March for using the Internet to organise their movement, publicise their demands and condemn abuses.
“Despite the constant harassment of its members, the Iranian feminist movement is growing and is alarming the government,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The Internet is now a battle-ground between these women, who are just demanding the same rights as men, and a regime that remains as rigid as ever. The ‘national security’ charges on which these four activists were convicted are utterly absurd.”
Fariba Davoudi Mahajer, a former contributor to several pro-reform newspapers that are now closed and to the Wechange, Zanestan and Meydaan websites, received a sentence of one year in prison and a suspended sentence of three years in prison for “violating national security.”
Sussan Tahmassebi, an activist and editor of the English-language version of the Wechange website, was given six months in prison, plus a further 18 months that were suspended, for “meeting in collusion with the aim of violating national security.”
Six-month jail terms combined with suspended sentences of another two and a half years in prison were passed on Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani, editor of the magazines Jense Dovom (Second Sex) and Fasle Zana (Woman’s Season), and Parvin Ardalan, a journalist who writes for Jense Dovom and various websites including Zanestan.
The four activists, who are still free pending the outcome of the appeals they have filed, had participated in an online campaign for “A million signatures to get laws that discriminate against women changed.” They also took part in a demonstration in Tehran on 12 June 2006 that ended with dozens of arrests. During the march, they brandished banners with such slogans as “We are women, humans and citizens, but we have no rights” and “Women’s rights are human rights.”
Their convictions have coincided with a government campaign for the “dress laws” to be respected. As they do every spring, the police have been harassing women who wear brightly-coloured clothes or cloaks that are too waisted, who are showing too much hair or who are displaying their ankles.
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