The Campaign from a Different Perspective: A Series of Articles to Commemorate the Campaign's 4th Anniversary

August 30, 2010

A Series of Articles to Commemorate the Campaign's 4th Anniversary.

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  • Source: Change for Equality

    Four years have passed since the start of our struggle for equality. Four years filled with major changes and upheavals for the people of Iran. A Campaign which started with the goal of changing ten laws, from numerous discriminatory laws in Iran’s legal code, is today facing both encouragement and criticism. The milieu of social, political and economic conditions along with the tensions and shock that were injected into Iranian society over the last year and following the disputed presidential elections, have posed many questions for Iranian women’s rights activists, including activists involved in the Campaign. These questions, within the social and political context of Iranian society prior to the election unrests, may have yielded another set of answers. The pressures and crackdown on civil society, the closure and constriction of public space, the increase in migration of social and women’s rights activists and other similar challenges have left the social fabric of Iranian society in a bewildered state. To reconstruct the women’s movements, and its strategies and struggles in a manner similar to what existed prior to these developments, would be as if one were were recreating previous choices in a context that had experienced significant change.

    There were those who felt that the Campaign had not yet achieved its goals. They believe that the Campaign should continue with its efforts. There were others who believed that the Campaign should directly and concretely coalesce itself with the Green Movement and even accept the supremacy of the Green Movements demands over its own. Some believed that the Campaign had lost its position and status, and had to come up with a different plan for its survival. Some believed the Campaign strategies and structure were innovative and novel, while others spoke of the multiplicity of ideas, and Campaign’s inability to define a new strategy because of its confused structure and lack of defined leadership. What is the Campaign and where is it going? What are the criticism of the Campaign and what aspects of the Campaign are to be commended? How much has the legitimacy of signature collection for a petition been undermined given the new developments in Iranian society? How should the demands of the women’s movement been prioritized vis-à-vis the larger movement for democracy? These were the questions and challenges that Campaign activists faced. In order to devise an appropriate response to these questions, time and opportunity was needed. The fourth anniversary of the Campaign however has served as an excuse to tackle some of these lingering questions.

    The need for efforts intent on eliminating discrimination, or in other words the struggle to prevent the creation of further discriminations, becomes more meaningful for women’s rights activists when government officials—men and women alike—intensify their pressures and pursue further discrimination in the law in the form of the Family Support Bill. This is a bill which even the staunchest of the Campaign’s critics, the most conservative groups of women, view to be anti-woman and anti-family. Introspective questioning has resulted in the illuminating of the special circumstances with which Iranian society is currently grappling. It serves as an exercise in the examination of the challenges and strengths, opportunities for praise and criticism, of equal rights movements, such as the Campaign.

    The benefits to this introspective questioning and the invitation to Iranian society at large, analysts and civil society and women’s rights activists to provide their analysis of the situation of the Campaign and the women’s movement in these new and difficult times, especially at a time when women’s accomplishments, such as their high numbers in university, are under sever attack and being relentlessly undermined are many. They include the opportunity to hear new ideas, the ability to devise new strategies, the purposeful attempt at safeguarding and nurturing a constructive feminist critique of our current situation, and the ability to reconstruct social networks for the purpose of agency and for the purpose of reaction and resistance.

    This time, instead of reading the critiques of the Campaign in other media, we have sought them out ourselves. But we have not limited ourselves to analysts and activists alone, we have gone to where the legitimacy of the Campaign lies, to where it aims to have the most impact—we have gone to the people on the streets and in the alleys as well. We have collected these ideas and suggestions, these critiques and are publishing them on our site then in electronic format as a collection. With the hope that equality is not a futile cause and that prison is not where equal rights activists are condemned to spend their days.

    **It should be noted that for June 12, 2010, the anniversary of Day of Solidarity of Iranian women a similar volume entitled: “Again from those Same Streets” was published in Farsi on our website. This collection included essay, interviews and writings by Campaign and women’s rights activists, who examined the situation of the women’s movement in general and the Campaign in particular vis-à-vis the green movement and provided analysis on the future of the Campaign given the changed political and social climate of Iran following the protests to the disputed presidential elections in June 2009. This latest volume seeks the perspectives of those who follow the Campaign from a distance. Select articles from both volumes will be translated and made available on the English website of Change for Equality in the weeks that follow.

    Read more:

    "Training of 406 Persons in Four Cities over the Past Year"

    "Four Years of Engaging Face-to-Face on Women’s Rights"

    "People Who Still Have Hope for the Future"

    "Sometimes People Need to Feel the Pain"

    "These Laws Aren’t Discriminatory, They’re Supports!!"

    "Collecting Signatures on the Bus"

    "The Never Ending Sorrow of Women and the Cherished Wealth of the Campaign"


    Mahboubeh Karami after 6 Months in Detention: I Have Denied all the Charges Brought against Me

    August 30, 2010

    Change for Equality: Mahboubeh Karami a women’s rights and Campaign activist who was arrested on March 2, 2010 after security forces raided her home, is now free on a bail order of half million dollars, after spending 6 months in detention. Karami was sentenced to serve 4 years in prison by the 26th Branch of the Revolutionary Courts. In an interview with the site of Change for Equality, Mahboubeh spoke about her time in Ward 2 of Evin prison, managed by the Revolutionary Guards.

    What happened on March 2, 2010?

    On that night I was at my home along with my father and brother. Around 11 pm someone rang the door bell. When my brother answered, the person behind the door explained that he was a technician from the electric company and asked him to open the door. My brother went to the front yard and I could see from the window that three men approached him and showed him a piece of paper. They entered our home along with my brother. As soon as they entered our home one of them began to search the premises. Another asked to see my computer.

    What was on the piece of paper they showed your brother?

    It was a summons giving them the right to search the premises, to seize my personal property, such as books and papers and my computer and to arrest me. But these security officials did not only search my personal property, they searched the entire house, including my brothers belongings.

    After your arrest, where were you taken?

    They asked that I go with them and in response to my brother’s repeated inquiries about why I was being arrested they kept saying that it’s not an important issue and they only want to question me. But these three men who had come to my house in the middle of the night intended to arrest me. The fact that they were three men and there was no woman with them was worrisome for both myself and my family. They took me to the car and gave me a blindfold and pushed my head down to the ground and in the end they took me to Evin prison, to Ward 2. Of course, at first I didn’t realize that this was Ward 2, which is managed by the Revolutionary Guards. Anyhow, I was taken to solitary confinement. The following day, my interrogations began.

    Prior to the start of the interrogations, did they explain to you why you had been arrested?

    Unfortunately no one explained anything to me. The first time they took me to the interrogation room, I noticed that the walls were mirrored. Later I found out that they referred to that room as the mirrored interrogation room. The female prison guard who had taken me to that room, left me there and I sat on the chair in the room. After a few minutes a man entered the room abruptly while yelling and screaming at me. He was very violent and from the minute he entered the room, he yelled “GET UP! Who has allowed you to sit?” I got up, but he continued his constant shouting “stand up straight! Don’t lean on the wall!” He was cursing. I became very anxious and nervous. He kept yelling, “tell me the password to your email!” and he continued cursing at me. Finally I realized that the reason for my arrest was my association with the “Human Rights Activists Group,” because all his questions were in this relation.

    You said that the room they took you to was the mirrored interrogation room. Why did they call it the mirrored room?

    The walls were covered in mirrors. Later I found out that when they left me alone in the room and even when I was being interrogated, there were people behind the mirrors watching.

    What happened next?

    After the first interrogation, another interrogator was sent. He tried to have a more pleasant approach. I was interrogated on an almost daily basis, and remained in solitary confinement. This continued for several weeks. I was under a great deal of pressure emotionally. One day, I asked the prison guard to bring me my scarf. I explained that the blanket they had given me had a lot of hairs on it and that I wanted to use my scarf as a sheet between my body and the blanket. She brought me the scarf. I tied the scarf around my neck tightly. I was tired and extremely weak. I was crying constantly and my emotional state was extremely poor. I pulled on the knot of the scarf, tightly, that eventually, I passed out. When I came to, there were two guards standing over me, and they were rubbing my neck. After that they took me to the interrogation room again. The first interrogator came to the room and began explaining that all that was happening to me was actually my own fault and a result of my own wrongdoing.

    Despite having attempted suicide in prison they didn’t take you to a doctor?

    They took me to the prison infirmary and there they didn’t do anything in particular for me. More than anything, I needed a psychologist or psychiatrist or a therapist, not a general doctor.

    Were you provided phone privileges during your imprisonment?

    Yes. Almost every other day I was allowed to call my brother or my aunt, who has been very worried about me since the passing of my mother.

    How long were you in Ward 2 of Evin managed by the Revolutionary Guards?

    Approximately 80 days. Of course during this time, I was transferred also to solitary confinement in the women’s ward. I would be taken from there to Ward 2 for my interrogations.

    Last March (2009), you were also in prison during the Iranian New Year’s holidays, is that true?

    Yes . Last March 2009, I was in prison and arrested for no reason. My mother was extremely sick with cancer and I missed out on being with her during her final days. This year for the New Years, despite all their promises, they did not allow me to attend the memorial services for my mother. They didn’t even give me the clothes my family had delivered to the prison in the hopes that I would be allowed to take part in her memorial service on the anniversary of her passing.

    Where did they send you after Ward 2?

    After 80 days I was transferred to the quarantine section of the female ward. I spent another 18 days in solitary confinement there and did not have the right to make any phone calls. My lack of communication worried my family greatly. After that they transferred me to the public women’s ward. I spent all my days in the public ward in one room along with 25 other prisoners. We were in a room that is called the political prisoner’s room.

    Did you feel better after going to the public Ward?

    Naturally, I felt much better than when I was in solitary confinement. But I had become very weak and extremely depressed. I was crying constantly.

    Did you receive any medical care during this time?

    After I submitted a written request I was taken to the medical examiner, who determined that I was suffering from depression. Of course he has also determined that my emotional state and my depression would not prevent me from serving any prison sentence that may be handed down in my case. Except for this, no other action was taken to provide me with treatment in prison.

    During your imprisonment, there were news reports that you had to go for a nose operation in Taleqani hospital, but you did not agree to the operation. Can you explain about this?

    I have had problems with my breathing since I was a child. For this reason I am a difficult sleeper. In prison I made a lot of noise while sleeping as well. Sometimes I would snore, but at times I would scream while sleeping. My screaming was so bad that my cell mates had to wake me up. They took me to the hospital for this reason and the doctor suggested that I have an operation which would allow me to breathe more easily. I did not agree to the operation, because prison conditions are not suited for a recuperation after operation. Also, my problems were much more serious than just breathing difficulties.

    During this time, your court date has been changed on two occasions. Can you explain about that?

    My first court date was scheduled for the 29th of June, but was postponed because on that day most court officials were on holiday and there was no one present to respond to our inquiries either. The second time, the Judge was not present in his chambers and as such the date of my hearing was postponed again.

    What were the charges brought against you in court?

    I was charged with holding a position of responsibility in an illegal organization (the human rights activists group), accepting responsibility of the women’s committee in this group with the intent of disrupting national security, spreading of propaganda against the state, collusion and gathering with the intent to commit a crime against national security and the publication of lies.

    Did the court find you guilty of all the charges against you?

    I was only acquitted on the charge of spreading lies, but was found guilty on all other charges. I was sentenced to two years for membership in the human rights organization and two years for collusion and gathering and spreading of propaganda against the state. In total I received a four year mandatory prison sentence.

    So, you have been sentenced to four years. What will you do next?

    I will appeal the ruling. Currently because of my poor emotional state and on doctor’s orders I will have to be hospitalized. But my lawyers will appeal the ruling in the time frame allotted by the courts. I do not accept any of the charges brought against me and have denied them.


    Maryam Bidgoli and Fatemeh Masjedi Sentenced to One Year in Prison for Campaign Activities

    August 29, 2010

    Change for Equality: Maryam Bidgoli and Fatemeh Masjedi, One Million Signatures Campaign and women’s rights activists in Qom, have been sentenced to a one year mandatory prison term by the Second Branch of the Revolutionary Courts in the city of Qom. According to the verdict issued by Judge Mousavi, these two activists were found guilty on the charge of “spreading propaganda against the state, through collection of signatures for changing discriminatory laws and publication of materials in support of a feminist group (Campaign) which works in opposition to the Regime.” In court, Fatemeh Masjedi denied the charges brought against her and explained that the One Million Signatures Campaign is an independent social movement and that her activities were in line with the law and that she is only seeking to change law, an act allowable through dynamic jurisprudence. Maryam Bidgoli too denied the charges pending against her, and explained that she worked on a volunteer basis in the Campaign which seeks to collect signatures for a petition directed at lawmakers. She also explained that no other court had found the Campaign and the activities within it to constitute a violation of the law.

    To date, all the activists in the Campaign who have been summoned or arrested on the charge of spreading of propaganda against the state, have been acquitted of the charges brought against them either in their initial court hearings or in appeal.

    Mina Jafari and Mahnaz Parakand the lawyers representing these two women’s rights defenders have drafted their objection to the court ruling and will be requesting an appeal within the timeframe allowed by the courts.


    Mahboubeh Karami Released Temporarily on Half Million Dollar Bail Order

    August 19, 2010

    Change for Equality: Mahboubeh Karami, women’s rights and One Million Signatures Campaign activist, was temporarily released on the evening of Wednesday August 18, 2010 after posting a bail amount of 500 Million Tomans (roughly $500,000).

    Karami spent 170 days in detention. Her court session was held on Saturday August 14, 2010 after which the bail order was issued by the judge. Despite the extremely high bail order and the fact that Mahboubeh continues to insist that none of her human rights and women’s rights activities constitued the breaking of the law, her family posted the bail, by submitting the deed to their family home. It should be noted that Mahboubeh suffered from extreme and debilitating depression while in detention and was very worried about the health of her ailing father.


    Mahboubeh Karami’s Court Hearing Postponed Again

    August 10, 2010

    Change for Equality: Mahboubeh Karami’s court was scheduled to take place today, August 9, 2010, but was postponed a second time when Judge Pir-Abbasi of the 26th Branch of the Revolutionary Court did not appear to hear the case. According to Mahboubeh’s lawyer, Mina Jafari, the new court date has been scheduled for Saturday August 14, 2010.

    161 days have passed since Mahboubeh was arrested. Despite the fact that the prison physician and the Medical Examiner have both found that Mahboubeh’s presence in prison contributes to the worsening of her severe depression, her temporary arrest order has not been changed to a bail order on which she can be released while awaiting trial.

    Mahboubeh Karami is a women’s rights and One Million Signatures Campaign activist who was arrested on March 2, 2010, after her home was searched and personal property seized. Since her arrest in March, Mahboubeh has spent 80 days in solitary confinement, and is currently being held in Section 2 of Evin Prison managed by the Revolutionary Gaurds. This is the fifth time that Mahboubeh has been arrested. She was arrested in relation to the student uprising in July 1999 twice. Mahboubeh Karami was arrested a third time in June 2009 on the charge of endangering national security and released after 70 days and a fourth time in March 2009 along with 11 others while intending to pay a visit to the family of the late Dr. Zahra Baniyaghoub who had died suspiciously while in detention. Mahboubeh was released 13 days later. She has been acquitted in all the four cases brought against her.

    According to an interview Mahboubeh Karami’s brother conducted with Voice of America, this woman’s rights activist is suffering from severe depression, so much so that she attempted suicide during her detention in solitary confinement.


    Mahboubeh Karami Remains in Prison, Despite Depression; Court Date Scheduled

    August 8, 2010

    Change for Equality: A court date has been scheduled for the case pending against Mahboubeh Karami, women’s rights and Campaign activist for Monday August 9, 2010. The state of Mahboubeh’s health and in particular the state of her emotional health continue to alarm her family and friends.

    In a telephone call from prison, Mahboubeh announced that the office of the Medical Examiner conducted tests and announced that Mahboubeh suffers from mild depression and needs to use medication. Still, the office of the Medical Examiner informed Mahboubeh that her depression is not sufficient cause for her release from prison, should she be sentenced to serve a prison term by the courts. At the same time, the physician at Evin Prison’s infirmary has not accepted the decision of the Medical Examiner, claiming that her situation in prison will only worsen her emotional health and depression, and has stated that the Medical Examiner should have requested her release.

    In the telephone call from prison, Mahboubeh also explained that if she had been in prison due to addiction or smuggling, her depression would be sufficient for her conditional release, but it seems that human rights and women’s rights activists do not benefit from such advantages and that it seems that she will have to remain in prison.

    Mahboubeh Karami is an activist with the One Million Signatures Campaign. She was arrested on March 2, 2010 after her home was searched and personal possessions seized. Her court date was originally scheduled for June 28, in Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Courts, but was postponed as the Judge was not present. She has been in temporary detention since her arrest.


    Court Hearing Scheduled for Fatemeh Masjedi and Maryam Bidgoli, Campaign Activists in Qom

    July 31, 2010

    Change for Equality: A court hearing for two campaign activists and women’s rights defenders, Fatemeh Masjedi and Maryam Bidgoli, has been scheduled for August 4, 2010. These activists have been charged with "actions against national security through membership in the Campaign a group intent on overthrowing the State," and "spreading of propaganda against the State."

    Both activists were arrested in the city of Qom on May 7, 2009 and were released on May 19 after spending 13 days in detention on a bail order of 20 Million Tomans (roughly $20,000).

    It should be noted that Fatemeh Masjedi and Maryam Bidgoli have worked on women’s rights and women’s empowerment for years. Prior to their arrest, the two were involved in an effort to defend a young woman who was faced with a potential attempt on her life (honor killing) and as a result got into a verbal scuttle with some influential figures in the city of Qom.


    Seventeen Prisoners at Evin on Hunger Strike and in Solitary Confinement

    July 29, 2010

    Change for Equality: According to reports by Kalameh News Site and other independent human rights investigators, at least seventeen prisoners of conscience imprisoned in the aftermath of the protests to the disputed results of the Presidential elections have been transferred to solitary confinement and are on hunger strike. The seventeen prisoners were being held at Evin’s Public Ward 350, but were transferred to solitary confinement in Ward 240, after they objected to prison conditions, including poor treatment by prison guards and officials and poor prison conditions and refusal of officials to allow them weekly visits with their family members. All those transferred to solitary confinement have gone on hunger strike to protest their conditions as well as their transfer to solitary confinement. While at first the names of these prisoners were unknown, the list of seventeen prisoners currently on hunger strike has been made available to Kalameh news site and by other independent human rights activists.

    Bahman Ahmadi Amoui (husband of women's rights activist and journalist Jila Baniyaghoub) and Keyvan Samimi, both journalists, were the first prisoners to be transferred to solitary confinement on Monday July 26, 2010 at 3 am. From among the seventeen prisoners, Bahman Ahmadi Amouie began his hunger strike three days ago, followed by five others the next day, including Majid Tavakoli, Abdullah Momeni, and Kouhyar Goudarzi. The rest of these prisoners went on hunger strike on Thursday to demonstrate their support for their prison mates. These prisoners have vowed not to end their strike until their demands are met.

    While seventeen of these prisoners’ names have been leaked from inside the prison, there still may be others in solitary confinement and on hunger strike. It is also reported that the phones in Ward 350 have been cut off as to prevent communication about the situation of these prisoners to the outside world and to the press. Updates will be provided as received.


    Nasim Sarabandi, Campaign and Student Activist Summoned to Revolutionary Courts

    July 27, 2010

    Change for Equality: Nasim Sarabandi, women’s and student rights activist has been summoned to investigative branch 4 of the Revolutionary Courts. According to StudentNews website, in October 2009 Nasim Sarabandi had been arrested and transferred to one of the offices of the Ministry of Intelligence along with 17 other members of the Tehran Council of the student organization the Office to Foster Unity. In the past months, including in February 2010 and June 2010, officers of the Ministry of Intelligence had contacted this student and women’s rights activist, threatening her and demanding that she resign her position within the Office to Foster Unity and to discontinue her student activism.

    Other student rights activists have faced even greater pressure. Bahareh Hedayat and Milad Asadi have been in detention for several months and the courts have issued heavy sentences in their cases, 9.5 and 7 years respectively. Despite the fact that they have been in prison, the courts have banned both from travel abroad. It should also be noted that during 2009, the members of the Central Council of the Office to Foster Unity, including Bahareh Hedayat, Mehdi Arabshahi, Abbas Hakimzadeh, Milad Asadi, Morteza Semyari, and Amin Nazari had been arrested by security forces on several occasions. Additionally, security officials have not allowed this student organization to convene meetings or to hold elections.

    It is worth mentioning that as a result of pressures endured in prison, student activist Mehdi Arabshahi endured a heart attack and was released as a result. He was admitted again to hospital on the 21st of July as a result of related complications.


    Student and Women’s Rights Activist Bahareh Hedayat to Serve 9 and Half Years in Prison

    July 27, 2010

    Change for Equality: Student and women’s rights activist Bahareh Hedayat’s nine and half year prison sentence has been upheld in appeal. The sentence was submitted to her lawyer on Saturday July 24.

    According to reports by Rahana, Bahareh Hedayat faced a variety of charges after her arrest, including spreading of propaganda against the state through interviews with foreign media, insulting the Leader of IRI, insulting the President of the IRI, disruption of public order through participation in illegal protests, illegal entry into and vandalism of Amir Kabir University during a visit by Mehdi Karoubi and illegal gathering and collusion against the state. The 28th branch of the Revolutionary Courts had issued a sentence of nine and half years in the initial court hearing. Hedayat was given 6 months for insulting the president, 2 years for insulting the Leader and 5 years for anti-state and anti-national security actions. The sentence was upheld in the 54th branch of the Tehran appeals court, without consideration of new investigations.

    It should be noted that Bahareh was sentenced to a two year suspended prison term for her participation in the protest of women’s rights in Haft-e Tir square in June 2006. The two year suspended sentence has been added to her 7 and half year sentence, making her mandatory prison time 9 and half years.

    Bahareh Hedayat is a well known women’s rights activist, student leader and member of the Central Council of Student Organization Office to Foster Unity. She was arrested in the midst of the unrest following the disputed presidential elections, on December 31, 2009 and has remained in prison since. It should be noted that Milad Asadi, another leading student activist and member of Student Organization to Foster Unity was sentence to 7 years prison term. This sentence has also been upheld in appeal. Milad Asadi was arrested on November 30, 2009.


    Activist Narges Mohammadi Hospitalized Following Release from Prison on Bail

    July 6, 2010

    Change for Equality: Narges Mohammadi, human and women’s right activist, was hospitalized on July 3 due to her poor physical condition.

    Mohammadi was released from prison on July 3 after posting bail. At the time she was in such severe physical condition that she required hospitalization. She has been periodically experiencing muscle paralysis, inhibiting her daily work and preventing her from speaking.

    According to her husband, Taghi Rahmani, these physical problems began while she was in prison and have since continued. Following several tests, doctors still have not determined the cause of her paralysis, which is also affecting muscles in her arms and legs.

    Mohammadi, who is deputy and spokeswoman of Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), was arrested on June 11. On that night officials entered her residence and after two hours inspection of her house arrested Mohammadi while her two young children were watching.


    Mahboubeh Karami to Appear in Court June 28th

    June 20, 2010

    Lawyer’s appeal to post bail was rejected.

    Change for Equality: Mahboubeh Karami’s court hearing will be held in the 26th branch of the Revoutionary Court on June 28th, 120 days after her arrest. Mahboubeh is a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign.

    Jinous Sharif Razi, Mahboubeh’s lawyer, was able to read her case file last week and subsequently filed an appeal with the court for permission to post bail for Mahboubeh; but the request to post bail was rejected.

    Mahboubeh Karami is in poor physical and psychological conditions and the continuation of her detention is alarming. Tehran’s prosecutor general, Jafari Dolatabadi, has confirmed this in a meeting with Mahboubeh’s brother and has spoken of Mahboubeh’s poor emotional state.

    Mahboubeh Karami was arrested on March 2nd 2010, following the search of her family home and seizure of some of her personal belongings. She was kept in Ward 2-A of Revolutionary Guard. She spent more than 80 days in this ward and then was transferred to the political prisoners’ cell in Evin prison’s women’s ward.

    Update, June 29, 2010: Neither the judge nor prosecutor appeared in court on the set date, and Mahboubeh's court date has now been postponed until July 9.


    Women’s Rights Activist Bahareh Hedayat Sentenced to 9 ½ Years

    May 21, 2010

    Women’s rights activist Bahareh Hedayat was sentenced by the 28th branch of the Revolutionary Court to 9 ½ years in prison: 6 months for "insulting the president," 2 years for "insulting the Leader," and 5 years for "anti-state and anti-national security actions." A 2-year suspended prior jail term, which was given to her for organizing a gathering in June 2006, has also been added to the new court ruling.


    Kaveh Ghassemi Kermanshahi on Hunger Strike

    May 21, 2010

    Change for Equality: Kaveh Ghasemi Kermanshahi has been on a hunger strike in objection to his unclear situation. The human rights activist has now spent nearly four months in solitary confinement in the Intelligence Ministry’s detention center in city of Kermanshah. Despite the conclusion of his interrogations, he continues to be kept in solitary confinement. Kaveh and his family have been repeatedly promised that he can be released on bail but so far they were not permitted to post bail. In the duration of his detention, Kaveh was not permitted to call his family and was given only two visitations. The state of his case and his charges are still unclear and his lawyers don’t have access to his files.

    To protest his condition, Kaveh Kermanshahi began a hunger strike one week ago and only ended his hunger strike after he was allowed to make a phone call to his family. Due to the hunger strike, Kermanshahi is in poor physical condition, and he has expressed great concern about the harsh conditions of his detention.

    Update: Kaveh Ghasemi Kermanshahi was released from prison on May 22, 2010, after his family posted a bail of $100,000.


    Mahboubeh Karami Remains in Prison; No Contact with Family

    May 16, 2010

    Change for Equality: Approximately ten days have passed since Mahboubeh Karami last contacted her family from Evin Prison, where she was arrested over 75 days ago. According to Mohsen Karami, Mahboubeh’s brother, the last telephone contact Mahboubeh had with her family was on the 6th of May. Prior to this, Mahboubeh had the opportunity to contact her family by telephone every other day. She was scheduled to be transferred to the public women’s ward in Evin prison, but since this decision was made, there has been no news from Mahboubeh. According to promises from the Tehran Prosecutor, the courts were to attend to the situation of Mahboubeh as soon as possible. In a meeting that Mohsen Karami had with the Tehran Prosecutor, Mr. Jafari Dowlatabadi, told Mohsen Karami that he had visited with Mahboubeh and was following up on her situation. Still there is no news about the possibility of releasing Mahboubeh. Additionally the lawyer representing Mahboubeh has been unable to visit with her since her arrest.

    Mahboubeh’s family remains concerned about her situation. The fact that more than 75 days have passed since her arrest, the lack of clarity with respect to the case pending against her and the fact that she has not contacted her family from prison for over ten days has added to their concern.


    Dorsa Sobhani Campaign Activist Released from Prison

    May 3, 2010

    Change for Equality: According to reports by the Committee of Human Rights Reporters Dorsa Sobhani, an activist involved in the One Million Signatures Campaign, was released from detention on April 21, 2010 on bail. Dorsa was arrested on March 7, 2010 in Sari (northern Iran) and transferred to Section 209 of Evin prison in Tehran. Twenty five days of her time in detention were spent in solitary confinement. It should be noted that this social activist was barred from continuing her education at the university level, due to her belief in the Bahai’i faith and the charges pending against her remain unclear.


    Hengameh Shahidi’s Health Declines in Prison

    May 3, 2010

    Change for Equality: According to a report by Kalameh website, the health of journalist Hengameh Shahidi has declined considerably in prison. Shahidi had been arrested in the midst of the unrest that followed the Presidential elections. She was sentenced by the courts to serve a six year mandatory prison sentence. Currently she is being held in Section 209 of Evin prison, in relation to her prison sentence. Reports from prison indicate that Shahidi was taken to the hospital infirmary in late April. According to reports from Kalmeh, Shahidi was allowed to visit with her family on April 22. Shahidi’s mother explained to Kalameh that her daughter’s physical condition was not good. According to Shahidi’s mother, Hengameh had spent several days in the prison infirmary due to ill health. Shahidi’s mother expressed grave concern for the physical and emotional health of her imprisoned daughter.


    Kaveh Kermanshahi’s Arrest order Renewed a Second Time

    April 9, 2010

    Change for Equality: Over two months have passed since Kaveh Ghasemi Kermanshahi, Campaign and human rights activist based in Kermanshah province, was arrested by officials from the local ministry of Intelligence in Kermanshah. His arrest order was renewed for the second time on April 3, 2010.

    Mostafa Ahmadian, one of the lawyers representing this human rights defender explained that the renewal of the arrest order for Kaveh was not legal. He further explained that Kaveh has been charged with the spreading of propaganda against the state. Ahmadian expressed concern about the situation of this imprisoned activist, explaining that there was absolutely no news about the current situation of Kaveh Kermanshahi in prison.

    Kaveh Ghasemi Kermanshahi is a well-known human rights and Campaign activist who was arrested on February 3, 2010. Since his arrest he was able to meet his family only once on March 3 for a short visit, but he has had no other contact with his family since. The Iranian human rights community remains worried about the detention of Kermanshahi, as it is believed that his arrest is in association with his peaceful activities in support of human and women’s rights.


    Kaveh Rezaiee’s 18 Months Mandatory Prison Term Upheld in Appeals

    April 9, 2010

    Change for Equality: According to a report by the Committee for Human Rights Reporters, branch 56 of the Appeals Court in Tehran has upheld an 18 month mandatory prison sentence for Kaveh Rezaiee, a student and Campaign activist.

    Rezaiee was sentenced to 18 months of mandatory prison in the Fall of 2008 by the Revolutionary Courts in Karaj. The charges brought against Rezaiee included "actions against national security, spreading of propaganda against the state, and insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic."

    This student rights and women’s rights activist who is now serving his mandatory military duty, was a member of the Central Council of the Islamic Student Organization at Bou Ali University in Hamedan and a member of the Men’s Committee of the Campaign. He was expelled from university due to his political activities in the Spring of 2008. He was arrested Winter of 2008 in the outskirts of Tehran and transferred to a prison managed by local officials of the intelligence ministry in the city of Hamedan. He was released after nine days in detention on a bail order of 50 Million Tomans (roughly $50,000). He was arrested again in the Fall of 2009, but released after two days on a third party guarantee.


    Mohammad Ghaznavian, Children and Women’s Rights Activist Arrested Again

    April 9, 2010

    Change for Equality: Mohammad Ghaznavian, children’s and women’s rights activist, was detained once again when he was not able to post a higher bail amount.

    According to reports published by HERANA (Human Rights News Agency) Mohammad Ghaznavian a children’s and women’s rights activist who had been arrested on February 8, 2010 and had been released on a 20 million Toman bail order (roughly $20,000) was arrested at the Revolutionary Courts, as he was following up his case along with his lawyer, Mahnaz Parakand.

    The courts informed him that his bail order had been increased to 100 Million Tomans (roughly $100,000). Unable to post the increased bail amount, he was arrested by authorities and transferred to Choubin prison in Qazvin.

    Mohammad Ghaznavian, is an activist and researcher working on children’s rights and women’s rights. He is based in the city of Qazvin.

    Shahnaz Gholami Sentenced to Eight Years Mandatory Imprisonment

    April 3, 2010

    Change for Equality: According to a report by the human rights news agency, HERANA Shahnaz Gholami, a journalist and women’s rights activist in Azarbaijan, was sentenced to 8 years of mandatory prison by Branch 2 of the Revolutionary Courts. According to the report by HERANA, Gholami was charged with publication of lies, spreading of propaganda against the state and membership in the MKO, an armed opposition group based outside the country, through cooperation with HOMA news agency.

    Gholami’s sentence is issued despite the fact that she left Iran approximately a year ago to seek asylum. Currently she resides in Turkey with her daughter and has denied any connection or relationship with the MKO.


    Somaiyeh Farid Remains in Detention During New Year Holiday

    March 27, 2010

    Change for Equality: Despite the fact that the courts had agreed to free Somaiyeh Farid, Campaign and women’s rights activist on a bail amount of 60 Million Tomans (roughly $60,000) by the Iranian New Year (March 21), the courts refused to accept the bail amount and free this activist, who has been in detention since March 16. The courts refused to accept the deed to property provided by Somaiyeh’s family intended as bail, because according to court officials they could only accept a deed to a property in Tehran. The court’s move in this respect was surprising, as Somaiyeh lives in Karaj, and her family had provided a deed to property in this city.

    Somaiyeh was arrested on March 16, as she was following up the case of her husband’s detention, Siavash (Hojat) Montazeri. Montazeri was released a few days after Somaiyeh’s arrest on a 70 Million Toman Bail order (roughly $70,000).

    The courts explained to Somaiyeh’s family that she would not be released until after the New Years holidays, as the judge in charge of her case will be on vacation until March 27.

    It should be noted that Somaiyeh’s husband Siavash Montazeri along with Somaiyeh’s brother and mother were able to visit with her in prison on March 22. They will follow up on her case after the New Years holidays.

    Update:

    Somaiyeh Farid was released on Sunday, March 28. She was released on a bail order in the amount of 60 Million Tomans (roughly $60,000).


    Women’s Rights and Campaign Activist Somaiyeh Farid Arrested While Following Up on Husband's Detention

    March 16, 2010

    Change for Equality: Somaiyeh Farid, Campaign and women’s rights activist, was arrested on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 16 while she was following up on the situation of her husband at Evin Prison. Somaiyeh’s husband, Hojat (Siavash) Montazeri, was arrested on March 5. Despite repeated attempts to gain information about his whereabouts and the reason for his arrest, Somaiyeh had been unable to do so.

    On the morning of March 16, Somaiyeh contacted her lawyer, explaining that she had received a phone call from court officials asking her to go to the prosecutor’s office at Evin prison to claim some of her husband’s personal belongings, such as bank cards and identification. Additionally, officials had promised that she may receive permission to visit with her husband. Somaiyeh’s lawyer explained further that: "later in the afternoon, around 5:00pm, Somaiyeh contacted me explaining that she and her brother-in-law had gone to the prosecutor's office at Evin prison, but were told that the office was closed and that they needed to return the next day." Somaiyeh explained to her lawyer that she was on her way home, but apparently somewhere along the way she and her brother-in-law were arrested. While her brother-in-law was released shortly thereafter, Somaiyeh was detained. No information on her whereabouts exists, and it is believed that she was arrested because she had been interviewed earlier in the week regarding the arrest of her husband.

    Somaiyeh's lawyer explained that "arresting family members for conducting interviews is unprecedented, and none of the family members of those detained had been arrested in the past solely for conducting interviews."

    Besides illegal telephone summons, it appears that now, arrest of family members of those detained has turned into a regular and illegal activity by court and security officials. The developments in the case of Somaiyeh Farid demonstrate that family members are not only not free to follow up the case of their detained relatives and to conduct interviews with respect to the pressures they face, but that in doing so they too can be targeted for arrest.

    Somaiyeh Farid is an activist with the One Million Signatures Campaign. Her colleagues remain concerned about her detention and fear that with her arrest these illegal actions will lead to further rogue actions by security officials who do not feel bound by law or justice.

    Read more about Somaiyeh Farid


    Site of Change For Equality Blocked for 23rd Time

    March 16, 2010

    Change for Equality: The site of Change for Equality, the site of the One Million Signatures Campaign, which won the first Reporters without Borders Netizen Prize with support from Google on March 11, was blocked by authorities once again.

    This site has been blocked twenty three times to date. The blocking of this site took place on March 12, which is marked as the International Day to Combat Censorship.

    The new address of the site is:

    www.sign4equality.info/english

    Those accessing the site of Change for Equality from outside Iran, can access our site from this new address or continue to use our original address, which we update at:

    www.we-change.org/english


    International Women's Day Celebrations in Iran

    March 8, 2010

    Change for Equality: As March 8th, International Women’s Day, approaches its 100th anniversary, Iranian women’s rights activists took to the streets once again to raise awareness about the importance of this day and to discuss their demands with the public. Women’s rights activists in Iran have been celebrating this day for years, including in their private homes, in parks and through conferences and seminars. The increased pressure on women’s rights activists has forced them to take up more creative approaches in connecting with the public and discussing their demands.

    This year too, a number of activists involved in the One Million Signatures Campaign distributed purple bracelets especially designed for March 8, along with the Campaign’s booklet "The Impact of Discriminatory Laws on the Lives of Women," and a brochure explaining the history of March 8th in different parts of Tehran, including at Universities, in the streets, shopping malls, restaurants and coffee shops.

    Activists believe that the purple bracelets can serve as reminders of the struggle of Iranian women for achieving equality. In recent months, use of similar symbols has served as reminders of a common struggle between the Iranian people and a means to encourage solidarity in achieving common goals. The purple bracelets too can serve a similar purpose, demonstrating solidarity with the demands of the women’s movement.

    One of the activists involved in the effort to distribute bracelets and brochures to the public explained to the site of Change for Equality that: "the public was extremely receptive of the bracelets, our brochures and our message." Another activist explained that: "those receiving these bracelets would immediately tie them around their wrists and would vow to explain the history and significance of the day for their friends." Another activist involved in the Campaign explained that: "it wasn’t just women who were interested in the bracelets, but men too were eager to tie them around their wrists." Yet another Campaign activist explained to the site of Change for Equality that: "some of those receiving the bracelets and brochures would ask how they could become more involved in working for women’s equal rights."

    The receptive attitude of the public to this effort demonstrates once again that despite the immense pressure faced by Campaign activists in the past few years, the arrests and prison detentions and sentences, their message has managed to reach the public, and has created awareness with respect to their demands for women’s equality.

    It should be noted that Campaign activists in Isfahan and Rasht also distributed similar brochures to residents in their cities on the days leading up to March 8. These activists also engaged in discussions with citizens about their demands and the significance of March 8. The distribution of brochures in these cities as well as Tehran will continue for several days.


    Campaign Updates: Mahboubeh Karami and Dorsa Sobhani Arrested; Warrant for Kaveh Kermanshahi Renewed; Mahsa Jazini and Nooshin Jafari Released

    March 8, 2010

    According to the One Million Signatures Campaign website, Change for Equality, several more activists faced arrest in the lead-up to International Women’s Day. Mahboubeh Karami was arrested on March 2 after three security officials arrived at her home at 11:00pm, searched the premises, and confiscated personal belongings. The arresting officials told her brother Moshen that the arrest was possibly connected to recent developments and her participation in protests, but Moshen explained that "Mahboubeh has spent much of the last year caring for her ill father." Karami has been arrested on four prior occasions, in connection with student protests in 1999, as well as for her peaceful presence on the sidelines of a June 2008 protest and as she attempted to visit the families of imprisoned activists in March 2009.

    Dorsa Sobhani, a campaign activist in Sari, in northern Iran, was also arrested on Sunday, March 7. Twelve security agents were waiting for Sobhani to arrive at her home Sunday morning. They had previously threatened and interrogated her father, pressuring him to turn his daughter in the day before or face arrest of his wife and other daughter. Sobhani had been banned from continuing her studies because she is a follower of the Bahai’ faith, and in addition to her activism for women’s rights, she had been working with a group of student activists working to lift study bans, which are used to pressure university students to discontinue their human rights activism.

    According to Kurdistan Human Rights Watch, the arrest warrant for campaign activist Kaveh Kermanshahi has been renewed for one month. Kermanshahi, a well known human rights defender who serves on the High Council of the Kurdish Human Rights Watch in addition to his involvement with the One Million Signatures campaign, has been in detention since his arrest by plain clothes security officials on February 3. He has only been allowed limited contact with his family while in detention, and his lawyer was informed of the extension of his arrest order when he went to the court to follow up on the case.

    In other news, Change for Equality reports that journalists and women’s rights activists Mahsa Jazini and Nooshin Jafari have been released.


    Somayeh Rashidi Released After 68 Days in Detention

    February 26, 2010

    Change for Equality: Somayeh Rashidi, an activist involved in the One Million Signatures Campaign was released on February 25, 2010 from Evin prison after spending 68 days in detention. Rashidi was arrested on December 20, 2009 after showing up in the revolutionary courts following a summons. A few days prior to her arrest, security officials came to the home of this women’s rights defender searching the premises and seizing her personal belongings. The lawyers representing Rashidi, Afrooz Maghzi and Zohreh Arzani had followed up her case with the Revolutionary Courts, but were not provided access to information in the case pending against their clients. It should be noted that Rashidi had been barred from continuing her education at the Masters level in the field of Women’s Studies, as a result of her activism on behalf of women.

    Somayeh’s release was greeted with joy and excitement from her colleagues in the One Million Signatures, who showed up in large numbers in front of Evin Prison to greet her. See pictures of Somayeh’s release by visiting the photo blog of the Campaign.


    Mahsa Jazini, Campain Member in Isfahan Arrested

    February 8, 2010

    Change for Equality: Mahsa Jazini, an activist with the One Million Signatures Campaign in Isfahan, a journalist and a student activist who had been banned from continuing her education, was arrested in Isfahan at 1:30am on February 6, 2010, at her home.

    Mahsa Jazini was a student activist in Allameh Tabatabie University, she was banned from continuing her education at the Masters level. According to reports, at the time of her arrest security officials stated that they were arresting Mahsa because she is a feminist! It should be noted that Mahsa Jazini has been transferred to Dastjerd Prison in Isfahan.

    Prior to this, Mehrnoosh Etemadi and Hayedeh Tabesh, activists involved in the One Million Signatures Campaign in Isfahan had been arrested and released after 15 days and 3 days in detention, respectively.


    Maziar Samiee Arrested

    February 4, 2010

    Change for Equality: Maziar Samiee, a student activist involved in the One Million Signatures Campaign was arrested early this morning, February 4, 2010 (shortly after midnight) in his home. According to his mother, five security officers entered their home at midnight and after searching the premises and seizing property, such as books, personal writings and a computer, they proceeded to arrest Maziar. It is unclear where they have transfered this woman’s rights defender. The security agents informed the Samiee family that Maziar would contact them to let them know where he is being held. Security agents also told the family there is no need to follow the case of Maziar.

    It should be noted that security agents provided no information about the reason for Maziar Samiee’s arrest. When Maziar’s mother tried to read the arrest warrent, security agents took the warrent away from her, claiming that they did not have enough time.

    Maziar Samiee was arrested in October 2007 in relation to his student activities and during a student protest at Allameh Tabatabie. He spent 10 days in Evin prison, but was acquitted on charges brought against him the 2007 case.


    Kaveh Ghassemi Kermanshahi Arrested

    February 3, 2010

    Change for Equality: Kaveh Ghassemi Kermanshahi, human rights activist and a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, was arrested earlier today, February 3, 2010, in his home in the city of Kermanshah.

    Based on reports, security officials went to the home of Kermanshahi early this morning with an arrest warrant, though according to his family it is not clear which government body has issued the arrest order and why it was issued. After searching the premises and seizing Kaveh’s personal belongings such as his personal notes and his computer, the security agents arrested this human rights activist. It is unclear where he is currently being held.

    Kaveh Ghassemi Kermanshahi is a journalist, active human rights activist and the spokesperson of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan. He is also a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, a member of Jiar Organization (disbanded by the authorities) and ADVAR the student alumni organization.


    Mourning Mothers Arrested in Laleh Park, Tehran

    January 11, 2010

    Change for Equality: On Saturday afternoon (9th January) a number of the Mourning Mothers and their supporters were once again arrested in Laleh Park in Tehran. According to one of the Mourning Mothers, around thirty women were arrested. “A number of us fled. They stopped the cars of those who had cars and who had gone towards them. The families of those arrested went to the Vozara Detention Centre in order to inquire about their condition. One mother commented that "they read the names out at Vozara. Tomorrow at 9 a.m. all the families and friends are due to meet at Vozara and the judge who is supervising the case will also come."

    The Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has demanded the release of the Mourning Mothers in a statement, in the following words:

    "Today at sunset thirty of the Mourning Mothers and their supporters were arrested in Laleh Park and its environs after an assault by over one hundred members of the security forces and plain clothes officers, after which they were transferred to the Vozara Detention Centre."

    Hadi Ghaemi, spokesperson for the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, said:

    "In no culture is it acceptable to deal with mothers in such a way, let alone when those who claim to be the defenders of morality are dealing with mothers who have seen their children become victims of injustice. The Islamic Republic of Iran must recognize that the Mourning Mothers and their supporters will be not be satisfied except by an appropriate response to their demands."

    An eyewitness described the arrests of the Mourning Mothers and their supporters to the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran in the following manner: "Today at around 4 p.m. I was in Laleh Park. More than a hundred members of the security forces and plain clothes officers had taken up position in the park and its environs. They didn’t allow anyone to sit on the benches, and they prevented the mothers from gathering. Every Saturday the Mourning Mothers and their supporters gather in the park between 5 and 6 p.m. About seventy of the mothers and their supporters were in the park when the security forces began to pursue them and move them out of the park. A number ran away, but they arrested around thirty of them and forced them into police vans. As the mothers were getting into the vans they were treated harshly and roughly. They took one of the mothers, who is seventy-five years old, to hospital."

    The Mourning Mothers was formed in June 2009 after the deaths of Neda Agha-Soltan and Sohrab Arabi, by a number of mothers who had either lost their children or whose children had gone missing. Many civil society activists, women’s rights activists, and especially mothers who have in past years seen their children executed or whose children have disappeared, as well as those whose children are being detained unjustly, have joined the Mourning Mothers. The principal demand of the Mourning Mothers is that the authorities give a proper account of what happened to those who have been killed, to those who have disappeared, and to those of their children who have been unjustly detained.

    The Mourning Mothers and their supporters decided in June that from then onwards they would meet every Saturday at a specific time, dressed in black and in silence, until their demands were considered. Their gatherings have consistently been broken up by assaults by security forces, however, and many of them have been arrested.

    Concerning the state of those detained in Laleh Park and its environs, the eyewitness told the Campaign that "after the detention of the Mourning Mothers and their supporters, their families and the rest of the mothers went to the Vozara Detention Centre and forced officials to release the names of those arrested. The officials released the names of thirty people. Tomorrow morning all of the mothers and the families of the detainees will go to the Vozara Detention Centre in order to request the release of their friends."

    The Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, stressing the need to satisfy immediately the demands of the Mourning Mothers, called for the immediate and unconditional release of the detainees and requested that the authorities disclose the identities of and prosecute those responsible for the assault on and arrest of the Mourning Mothers.

    On Monday 11th January the detained Mourning Mothers were taken by bus from the Vozara Detention Centre to the Revolutionary Court at 4 p.m.

    Their families had likewise gone to the Revolutionary Court. After an hour and a half’s wait outside in the cold and dark, the detainees were transferred to the custody of the security police.

    After half an hour two of the mothers, Akram Neghabi and Taj-ol-Moluk Izadi, who are both at least seventy years old and physically frail, were released. As Ms. Izadi, who is seventy-six , was getting into the police van, she was subjected to rough treatment and was lifted off the ground by her hair. The doctor who treated the two mothers emphasized that it was not right to have arrested them.

    At between nine and a quarter to ten, a number of the remaining Mothers were freed having shown their identity cards to the security police. Their names are: Fahimeh Nojavani; Fatemeh Farahani; Mohtaram Karamad-Kermani; Manizheh Taheri; Fereshteh Hadeli; Hakimeh Shokri; Sedigheh Shokri; Zahra Attar; and Mansoureh Attar.

    Fourteen of the mothers were transferred to Evin Prison.

    Update: January 13, 2010

    All of the Mourning Mothers who were detained have now been released.


    Campaign Members in Qom Charged During Court Hearing; Mansoureh Shojaee Makes Contact with Family

    January 7, 2010

    Change for Equality: On Sunday, January 3 at the Tenth Branch of the Revolutionary Court in Qom, Fatemeh Masjedi and Maryam Bidgoli, two women’s activists and members of the One Million Signatures Campaign, appeared at a hearing at which the charges against them were announced. It was the last such hearing, and their defence lawyer, Mina Jafari, was also present.

    According to Mina Jafari, her clients were charged with activity against national security, attempting to overthrow the state, the publication of lies, and propaganda against the state through membership in the One Million Signatures Campaign.

    Fatemeh Masjedi and Maryam Bidgoli were arrested on Thursday, May 7, 2009, and after twelve days in custody they were released on Monday, May 18 after both of them had provided a bail of $20,195.

    Nearly eight months have passed, yet the accused have yet to recover a significant portion of their personal effects, including computer cases, a book and pamphlets, home videos, cash, and a gold watch.

    In other news, Mansoureh Shojaee, another women’s activist, was able on January 6 to contact her spouse for the first time after nine days in Evin Prison.

    After speaking with her by telephone, Farhad Davoudi, Mansoureh Shojaee’s husband, described her morale as good, and expressed his happiness at finally being able to speak with his wife after several days without any information on her situation. He also said that he had contacted the Revolutionary Court today, but had been unable to obtain any information there concerning Shojaee, and that the court officials had told him that in order to follow up on the case he should contact the court office at Evin Prison.

    Mansoureh Shojaee, a researcher in women’s issues, a women’s activist and activist with the One Million Signatures Campaign, was arrested at her private residence in the middle of the night on December 28, 2009.

    Visit The Feminist School and Change for Equality for additional information on Shojaee's arrest and her work.

    Mass Arrests of Women and Civil Society Activists in Iran Continue

    January 5, 2010

    The wave of arrests following the protests and violence taking place on Ashura (December 27, 2009) has included over sixteen women journalists, women’s movement and civil society activists, according to The Feminist School and Change for Equality.

    Among the women, activists and journalists who have been detained are Mansoureh Shojaee and Noushin Ebadi, Bahareh Hedayat and Maryam Zia, Mothers for Peace Mahin Fahimi and Zohreh Tanekaboni, Badarolssadat Mofid, Leyla Tavassoli, Nasrin Vaziri, Nilofar Hashemi Azar, Atiyeh Yousefi, Nafiseh Asghari, Mahsa Hekmat, Parisa Kakayi, Forough Mirzayie, Sara Tavsoli, and numerous others.

    Harassment and targeting of women activists for arrest had already intensified prior to this new wave of mass arrests, and those remaining in detention include Shiva Nazarahari, Azar Mansouri, Somayeh Rashidi, Zahra Jabari, Kobra Zaghe Doust, and Mahdiyeh Golrou. This systematic clampdown is meant to threaten and silence not only political opposition, but all voices speaking out in support of human rights and reform. WLP is gravely concerned for the health and safety of all women and civil society activists who are currently in detention, and calls for their immediate, safe release.

    For additional information on these and other activists, journalists, and women's rights defenders who have been arrested please visit Change for Equality and The Feminist School.


    Women's Rights Activists Bahareh Hedayat and Maryam Zia Arrested

    December 31, 2009

    Bahareh Hedayat, a member of the central council of the women’s commission of the student organization Tahkime Vahdat, was arrested on Wednesday, December 30. According to her husband, Amin Ahmadiyan, security officers searched their home and seized her computer, books, and many of her personal effects prior to taking her into custody. Women's rights activist Maryam Zia was also arrested Wednesday under similar circumstances.

    Visit Change for Equality for information in Persian.


    Arrest of Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi’s Sister

    Increased Intimidation, Political Violence, and Clampdowns on Iranian Human Rights Activists

    December 29, 2009

    Following increasing threats and harassment earlier in the year, Nobel laureate and women’s rights advocate Shirin Ebadi has been unable to return to Iran since the June 2009 presidential election. She has, however, remained vocal in her defense of human rights, and as a result, her 47-year old sister, Noushin, a professor of dentistry who is not engaged in any human rights work or political activity, was arrested in her home in Tehran by security officials on Monday, December 28. The previous week, Noushin Ebadi had been contacted by officials and ordered to tell her sister to stop her work.

    This appalling attempt to silence an internationally-known activist by targeting an innocent family member comes in the midst of further escalation of violent crackdowns on protesters and opposition figures in Iran. Over a thousand people were reportedly arrested following protests during last Sunday’s holy day of Ashura, and at least ten killed. This political unrest has become a smokescreen for a more comprehensive clampdown on human rights activists, especially students and women, who have been systematically targeted, harassed, and arrested. Among other prominent women’s rights activists arrested recently is Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, who was arrested along with rights activists Shiva Nazarahari and Kouhyar Goudarzi as they made their way to Qom to participate in the funeral ceremony of Ayatollah Montazeri on December 20. Mansoureh Shojaee, a women’s rights activist and researcher who was instrumental in founding the One Million Signatures campaign, was arrested following a search of her home early this morning, December 29.

    Arrests of women’s rights activists during recent months suggest that any semblance of procedural transparency has deteriorated. As such, we are gravely concerned for the safety of all human rights activists and their families in this climate charged with intense violence and political intimidation.

    For more information on recent arrests of activists, please visit Change for Equality, The Feminist School, Women’s Field, and International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

    * * * * * *

    Declaration by Dr. Shirin Ebadi

    I hereby declare that my sister Dr. Noushin Ebadi who is a Medical lecturer at Azad University of Tehran was detained by four officers from the counter-intelligence agency of Islamic Republic of Iran.

    She was arrested at 9 pm today (28/12/2009) at her home in Tehran. At present, we have no information of her whereabouts.

    During the past two months, my sister had been contacted by the elements within the government and told in no uncertain terms to contact me and persuade me to cease my activities as a human rights advocate. It was strongly suggested that she should leave her apartment which is within the same block as my apartment in Tehran. She was told that her failure to cooperate with them will result in her arrest. I initially did not take this seriously, but I’m sad and upset to see that this was not an empty threat.

    It is important to note that my sister is not politically active nor is she a member of any human rights organisation. Her only crime seems to be that she is my sister and her arrest is nothing less than a political blackmail and attempted pressure. This is another method employed by the authorities in Iran to stop my activities.

    I hereby draw the attention of the Iranian judiciary to this unlawful and wrongful arrest of a member of my family for political gain by the government of Iran and I call for immediate release of my sister.

    Iran is currently in turmoil and these unlawful and illegal actions will only have a negative effect. What is needed in Iran is peaceful dialogue and tolerance.

    Shirin Ebadi


    Campaign Activist Somayeh Rashidi Arrested; Father Not Allowed to Visit

    December 23, 2009

    Following a search of her home and summons issued on December 14, One Million Signatures campaign activist Somayeh Rashidi was arrested on Saturday, December 19, after appearing for interrogation at the Revolutionary Courts. Her lawyer, Afrooz Maghzi, was not allowed to be present during her interrogation, which lasted for approximately two hours, after which Rashidi was issued formal charges, arrested, and transferred to Evin prison.

    Court officials have also refused to grant Rashidi’s father permission to visit her, claiming that the case against Rashidi remains in the investigative stage, and stating that he will not be able to visit her until the officials conducting her interrogation allow him to do so.

    The family planned to follow up with the courts again on December 28, following the commemoration of Ashura. Visit Change for Equality for further information.


    Campaign Activist Somayeh Rashidi Summoned to Court After Search of Home and Seizure of Personal Property

    December 14, 2009

    Change for Equality: In a continued crackdown against activists involved in the One Million Signatures Campaign, the home of women’s rights defender and Campaign activist, Somayeh Rashidi was searched this morning, December 14, 2009, and she was summoned to court. A number of security officials showed up at her home with a court order to search the premises. While the court order allowed for the searching of Rashidi’s personal belongings, the belongings of her two roommates were also searched, and Rashidi’s personal property, including her books and computer along with the personal property of her roommates, were also seized.

    Rashidi was also given a summons to appear in the 12th branch of the Revolutionary Courts. She has to appear in court for questioning within three days. The Summons required her presence in court in order to “provide explanations.”

    Rashidi explained to the site of Change for Equality that: “I asked the security officials to provide me with identification, but they refused, claiming instead that I will find out in the future what intelligence agency they are working with. I also objected to the search and seizure of property belonging to my roommates, but the security officials did not pay any attention to my protests.”

    Somayeh Rashidi has been working with the Campaign from the first few days after it was officially launched. She has also been banned from further study at university. Despite having been accepted for a Masters Degree in the field of women’s studies, she was not allowed to register for courses.

    Somayeh Rashidi was arrested along with Raheleh Asgarizadeh on November 4, in relation to public protests, and spent two days in prison.


    Mehrnoosh Etemadi and Hayedeh Tabesh, Campaign Activists in Isfahan, Released

    December 9, 2009

    Change for Equality: One Million Signatures campaign activists Mehrnoosh Etemadi and Hayedeh Tabesh were released on Tuesday December 8, 2009 from the Central Prison of Isfahan. Mehrnoosh Etemadi was released after spending 15 days in detention and posting a bail of 50 Million Tomans (approximately $50,000), and Hayedeh Tabesh was released after spending 3 days in detention, with a third party guarantee in the amount of 5 Million Tomans (approximately $5,000). These women’s rights activists were released despite the fact that a request for a temporary arrest was submitted in the case of Hayedeh Tabesh to the prosecutor, and in the case of Mehrnoosh Etemadi a request for changing the bail order to a temporary arrest order had been put forth to the prosecutor’s office. The deputy prosecutor at the Revolutionary Courts in Isfahan did not approve these requests and an order for the release of these women’s rights defenders was issued instead.

    The charge against these two women’s rights activists is "action against national security through activism in the One Million Signatures Campaign and through carrying out activities intent on empowering women." Six other activists have been charged with involvement in the Campaign, but have been acquitted on these charges. Mehrnoosh Etemadi explained to Change for Equality that: "despite all the hardships of being in prison and the ongoing interrogations by Security officials, the opportunity to meet female inmates, who in many respects are blatant examples of the various types of discrimination faced by women, was a valuable experience for me as a women’s rights activist."

    In this respect, Hayedeh Tabesh explained to Change for Equality that: "the female inmates were very respectful toward us, and listened to our explanations about the Campaign and legal problems faced by women because of discrimination in the law with great interest."

    The Campaign activists in the provinces have faced arrest, threats, and interrogations on several occasions. After the arrest of Ronak Safazadeh and Hana Abdi, who faced charges of activities in the Campaign, among other charges, Zohreh Asadpour, Fereshteh Shirazi, Navid Mohebi, Zhina Moddaressi Gorji, and many other activists in the provinces have faced pressures, including arrest, interrogations and search of their homes. There have also been other pressures which have been indirect or not reported, such as threats, illegal summons, expulsion from employment and university as well as travel bans.


    More than Ten “Mourning Mothers” Arrested

    December 5, 2009

    Change for Equality: Tens of Mourning Mothers of Iran, a group of women who gather every Saturday in parks, were arrested by security forces on Saturday evening in Laleh Park, Tehran. It has been reported that 15 women were arrested in this protest.

    The Mourning Mothers of Iran march peacefully in parks on Saturday evenings to commemorate their children who have been killed, detained, tortured or disappeared after the results of the controversial presidential election on June 12, 2009. The Mourning Mothers want justice: identification and arrest of those responsible for the killings and the violence inflicted on their children during the peaceful marches protesting the results of the election.

    Witnesses say the security forces attacked the Mourning Mothers in Laleh Park on Saturday, December 5 around 5 p.m. in Tehran and arrested anyone who attempted to join them. Female police forces were present to arrest the women. There are no reports of the names of those arrested.


    Hayedeh Tabesh, Campaign Activist in Isfahan Arrested

    December 5, 2009

    Change for Equality: Hayedeh Tabesh, a Campaign activist in Isfahan was arrested the morning of Saturday December 5, 2009 by Security Agents from the local office of the Ministry of Intelligence in Isfahan. These officials arrested her while she was at her language class. After the arrest Ms. Tabesh was taken to her home so that security officials could search the premises and seize property. The security agents searched all of Tabesh’s personal property and seized her personal belongings as well as two computers belonging to her sons. Mr. Montazeri, Hayedeh Tabesh’s husband, explained that he still has no information about the whereabouts of his wife and that security officials have told him to go to the revolutionary courts tomorrow to follow the case of his wife. Because Sunday is a holiday, he needs to follow up with the judge on duty.

    In an interview with the site of Change for Equality, Mina Jafari, the lawyer representing Ms. Tabesh, explained that the manner in which this women’s rights defender was arrested was not legal. She explained further that: "my client’s residence is known to the security officials at the Ministry of Intelligence, so her arrest in a public space is illegal. The law allows for the arrest of the accused in public spaces, only when that person’s identity is unknown to the security officials, when the person has committed a major crime, if the person is a fugitive [from the law], or if the person has received a summons but has refused to show up in court. None of these circumstances hold true for my client. Hayedeh Tabesh was summoned by the local office of the Ministry of Intelligence in Isfahan after she was banned from travel. Despite the fact that the summons was not provided in writing, and was relayed through a telephone conversation, she went to the local office of the Ministry of Intelligence in response, to demonstrate her good intentions."

    The arrest of Hayedeh Tabesh occurs two weeks after the arrest of Mehrnoosh Etemadi, another Campaign activist in Isfahan. The summons of Campaign activists in Tehran and the provinces and the arrest of these two women’s rights defenders in Isfahan, demonstrates that the pressures on the women’s movement and in particular Campaign activists are on the rise.


    Campaign Activist Mehrnoosh Etemadi Being Pressured in Prison

    December 4, 2009

    Change for Equality: In a visit with her family that lasted only five minutes, Mehrnoosh Etemadi, women’s rights defender and activist in the Campaign informed her family that she is under great pressure in prison.

    This Campaign activist in Isfahan was arrested on November 23, in her home. Her lawyer, Mina Jafari, who went to Isfahan from Tehran to meet with Etemadi, explained to the site of Change for Equality that she was prevented from visiting with her client.

    According to Mina Jafari, the investigative judge in charge of Mehrnoosh Etemadi’s case did not allow for the posting of bail, despite the fact that a bail order for Etemadi’s release had been issued. The investigative judge explained that they need Etemadi as the investigations by the Ministry of Intelligence have not ended. In response to objections raised by Etemadi’s lawyer, the investigative judge said that he would change the bail order to an arrest order.

    Etemadi is charged with "membership in the One Million Signatures Campaign." There is no further information about her situation or the case against her.


    Campaign Members Nahid Keshavarz and Sarah Imanian Acquitted on the Charge of Actions against National Security

    November 26, 2009

    Change for Equality: Nahid Keshavarz and Sarah Imaninan, members of the One Million Signatures Campaign were acquitted on the charge of actions against national security through a ruling issued by an appeals court. The ruling stated: "given that the actions of the accused in collecting the signatures of one million citizens as a form of protest against [existing laws] on women’s rights, is not considered to be propaganda against the state, and the demand of expressing this protest to different authorities within the state, specifically the parliament has been outlined, the court does not find the charges relevant. In general it is not in the interest of the state and the nation that members of society, who are committed to conducting activities inside the country, should be faced with baseless accusations and be prosecuted. As such, the court accepts the request [of the defense], and overturns the ruling issued against the accused (Sarah Imanian and Nahid Keshavarz) and instead issues a ruling of acquittal."

    In their initial court hearing held in April 2009, two cases against the activists were heard—one case was in relation to a protest outside the revolutionary court which ended in the arrest of 33 activists on March 4, 2006 and the second case was in relation to an arrest during a signature drive in April 2007 in Laleh Park. Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, presided by Judge Mogheysi, sentenced Nahid Keshavarz to a three year suspended sentence for the period of two years, on the charge of actions against national security through collusion and gathering with the intent of disrupting national security and spreading of propaganda against the state and sentenced Sarah Imanian on similar charges to a suspended sentence of 18 months for the period of two years. Nasrin Sotoodeh, the lawyer representing these activists, objected to this ruling and requested an appeals hearing.

    Nahid Keshavarz and Sarah Imanian were arrested along with Mahboubeh Hosseinzadeh, Saeideh Amin, and Homayoun Nami, while collecting signatures in support of the Campaign’s petition in Laleh Park on April 2, 2007. While three of the activists were released on April 3, after spending a day in detention, Mahboubeh Hosseinzadeh and Nahid Keshavarz spent 2 weeks in Evin prison and were released on April 15, 2007. Mahboubeh Hosseinzadeh’s trial was postponed due to travel and she has yet to go to trial in this case.

    This ruling has been issued by the appeals court at a time when Mehrnoosh Etemadi, another member of the Campaign in Isfahan is being detained in relation to her activities in support of women’s rights. Over 50 members of the Campaign have been arrested, charged, tried and sentenced since the start of the Campaign in August 2006. Still the Campaign activists contend that their peaceful and civil activities are within the law and as such have not abandoned their efforts to reform laws which discriminate against women. This ruling, as well as several other court rulings, support the claims of these activists.


    Campaign Activists Hit the Streets on International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women, November 25

    November 26, 2009

    Change for Equality: For November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Campaign activists in Isfahan and Rasht developed two educational brochures. The brochures explain the history behind November 25 and provide information about violence against women for the general public. Besides defining the various types of violence faced by women, these brochures address violence that is specific to the region, including honor killings and female genital mutilation. The brochures also provide information on resources for women who need more information and who need services.

    Campaign activists in Rasht, Isfahan and Tehran took to the streets on November 25 to distribute these brochures to the public. They used the opportunity to discuss violence against women and the demands of the Campaign with citizens. They will continue to engage in these discussions with citizens in the days to come. These activists intend to write about their experiences and discussions with the public about gender-based violence. These accounts will be posted gradually in the face-to-face section of our website and if resources permit those most relevant to an international audience will be translated and posted on the English site.

    Also, for sixteen days, and in solidarity with the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence Campaign, the site of Change for Equality will be posting articles related to violence, with the aim of raising awareness among the public, informing its readers about the different dimensions and types of violence against women and increasing discussion and activism in this area. These pieces will include interviews, original articles about violence in Iran and the region, as well as translation of relevant information.

    The series was kicked off with an interview with lawyer and women’s rights activist Zohreh Arzani, conducted by Delaram Ali. In the interview, Arzani, who is a well respected lawyer and activist in the Campaign, outlines the various international resolutions and laws which could be used to combat violence as well as the negative impact of discriminatory laws on the lives of women which reinforce violence against women. Arzani claims that "if the laws were more supportive, we would have a better chance of combating and eliminating violence against women in Iran."

    Other articles which will be posted in the coming days include some of the following:

    • An interview with Nahid Jafari, women’s rights activist and member of the Campaign, who has been conducting violence prevention workshops for citizens and activists for nearly ten years;
    • A letter from a women suffering from violence and the legal obstacles she has faced;
    • A report on violence against women in Saudi Arabia;
    • An interview with Asieh Amini, on her work to eliminate stoning sentences for sexually based offenses and youth executions;
    • A report on a safe house for survivors of violence in Germany;
    • Translation of relevant resources and articles for use inside Iran, such as articles outlining the different types of violence, how to help women in violent situations, etc.; and
    • Personal accounts written by activists involved in the Campaign, which will be published in the Face-to-Face section of our website.

    Some of these articles or excerpts from the articles which are relevant for an international audience will be translated and posted to the English section of the site at a later date.


    I am Atefeh: Campaign to Free Atefeh Nabavi Launched

    November 26, 2009

    Change for Equality: While the news of heavy sentences issued in the case of political activists has been widely publicized by the press and broadly published on internet sites covering the developments after the disputed Presidential elections on June 12, 2009, the four year mandatory sentence issued in the case of Atefeh Nabavi, on November 24, 2009 has not received due attention by the press.

    Atefeh Nabavi, 28, is the first woman to receive a prison sentence in relation to charges brought against her for participating in protests following the Presidential elections in June 2009. She was arrested, charged and sentenced for participating in a protest that drew millions on June 15, 2009. She is among the many unknown and ordinary citizens who were arrested for their participation in protests and only because they demanded accountability from officials with respect to their votes.

    The Campaign to free Atefeh, called "I am Atefeh" was launched by a group of social activists to raise awareness about the unjust and heavy sentence issued in the case of this 28 year woman, whose name coincidentally means affection or empathy in Farsi.

    In its first call to action, the Campaign “I am Atefeh” has invited all those who participated in protests following the elections, especially the June 15 protest, to write in support of Atefeh and in objection to the harsh sentence issued in her case by the Judiciary. The call to action, urges ordinary citizens and social activists to write about their participation in the protests and confess that they have committed the same crime as Atafeh. The call to action urges ordinary citizens and social activists to write about their participation in the protests and confess that they have committed the same crime as Atafeh. "We want to say that we too think like Atefeh. We are all Atefeh. You have to imprison us all," reads the call to action.

    Read more at Change for Equality or the campaign blog.


    Journalist Sassan Aghyee Arrested

    November 26, 2009

    Change for Equality: According to reports published on the site of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, journalist Sassan Aghayee, was arrested on November 22. Prior to this, Aghayee had been summoned by security officials and threatened.

    Last month after receiving a summons he was interrogated by officials from the Ministry of Intelligence. On the day of his arrest, Aghayee’s home was searched and personal property was seized. There is currently no information available about the location where he is being held. As a journalist, Sassan Aghayee regularly reported and covered issues related to women.


    More Campaign Members Arrested, Banned from Travel

    November 23, 2009

    Merhrnoosh Etemadi Campaign Member in Isfahan Arrested

    Change for Equality: Mehrnoosh Etemadi, a member of the Campaign in Isfahan, was arrested in her home early in the morning of November 23, 2009. Security officials came to Ms. Etemadi's family home in Isfahan, with a search warrant issued by the local prosecutor’s office. After searching her home, they proceeded to confiscate a number of books, training materials, and her computer. Prior to this, Ms. Etemadi had been summoned by telephone and threatened on a number of occasions, but had refused on the grounds that telephone summons were illegal. Instead, she had insisted on a written summons. A family member who had gone to the courts to follow her case explained to the site of Change for Equality that "no response was provided by court officials, except to say that no case against Ms. Etemadi had been submitted to the courts."

    Ms. Etemadi has worked on women’s issues for many years, with a particular focus on prevention of violence against women. She began her activities in the Campaign in the first few days after the Campaign commenced activities in 2006.

    Since her arrest, Ms. Etemadi contacted her family to inform them that she had been transferred to Dastgerd Prison in Isfahan. Since the Campaign began its activities in August of 2006, 50 members of the Campaign have been arrested in relation to their activities in the peaceful and legal effort. Three others have been summoned to court and charged, while nearly 15 have been summoned and interrogated.

    Zhina Modares Gorji, Campaign Member Banned from Travel

    Change for Equality: Zhina Modaress Gorji, Campaign member in Sanandaj, Kurdistan Province was barred from travel on Friday, November 14, as she was on her way to Duabi, UAE. In an interview with the site of Change for Equality, Ms. Gorji explained: "I had planned to travel to Dubai and I had completed all the various levels of exit at the airport and had received an exit stamp on my passport. But after passing through the gate and a few minutes before boarding the plane I heard my name called on the airport PA system. I was told not to board the plane. A few minutes later a security official in plain clothes approached me and confiscated my passport. After a few minutes I approached the police at the airport, who are in charge of banning citizens from travel. They told me that they had no authority in my case, and that I was stopped by security officials associated with the Office of the President. Finally, the security official explained that I was barred from travel because of a court order and as such I was not allowed to exit the country. They confiscated my passport and told me that I had to go to the Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj."

    Ms. Gorji explained that prior to this she had not received any written summons from the courts, but that she had been summoned by phone to the local office of the ministry of intelligence in Sanandaj. Because telephone summons are not legal, Ms. Gorji explained further that she refused to go the local office of the intelligence ministry. She further explained that: "besides being involved in the Campaign, I work with several official papers in Sanandaj. I have also worked on violence against women and the issue of female genital mutilation in Kurdistan. None of these activities are identified as illegal within Iranian law. But it seems that these actions are intended to increase the pressure on social activists, including emotional and psychological pressure, which are followed by a complicated and unclear judicial process, and work to prevent the progress of women’s rights activists."

    Prior to this several other women’s rights activists have been barred from travel, including most recently Campaign activist Hayedeh Tabesh in Isfahan.

    Campaign Members Aida Saadat and Jelveh Javaheri Acquitted

    Change for Equality: Women’s rights activists Aida Saadat and Jelveh Javaheri were acquitted on charges of disrupting public order and refusal to obey the orders of police. These two activists were arrested with seven other women’s rights activists on June 12, 2008, outside the silk road gallery, as they planned to attend a seminar on women’s rights in commemoration of the national day of solidarity of Iranian women. The seminar was cancelled on order of security officials, and 9 women’s rights activists were detained in Vozara Detention Center for several hours.

    Other activists arrested on that day include: Nahid Mirhaj, Nafiseh Azad, Farideh Ghaeb, Sarah Loghmani, Nasrin Sotoodeh, and Jila Baniyaghoub. They were all later charged with disruption of public order and refusal to obey the orders of police.

    Besides Ms. Saadat and Ms. Javaheri, Nahid Mirhaj, Nafiseh Azad and Farideh Ghaeb were acquitted on these charges. Sarah Loghmani was fined 50,000 Tomans (roughly $50) in relation to the charge of disruption of public order, but acquitted on the other charge, while Ms. Javaheri was faced with additional security charges in relation to this same case and received a six month mandatory prison sentence. She has appealed this ruling and is awaiting an appeals hearing. Nasrin Sotoodeh and Jila Baniyaghoub are still awaiting their court hearing.


    Surge of Arrests During November 4th Protests in Iran

    November 10, 2009

    While November 4th was planned to be a day of celebration in support of the Iranian government on the 30th anniversary of the seizure of the American Embassy in Tehran, opposition groups and activists for reform instead mobilized in large numbers. Change for Equality reports that numerous women’s rights activists were arrested in connection with the demonstrations, furthering a disturbing trend of increased clampdowns on women’s rights activists, students, and journalists during recent weeks.

    Among approximately forty women arrested and held in Tehran were One Million Signatures campaign members Raha Asgarizadeh and Vahideh Molavi, who are currently being held in Evin Prison’s “Methadone Ward,” where they are isolated from other prisoners. Of those forty, nineteen women have since been released.

    Ms. Asgarizadeh spoke by telephone with Change for Equality, describing her violent arrest during which she was handcuffed and blindfolded. Her family had been informed that she would be released on a third party guarantee, but court officials have now issued a temporary arrest order and referred her case to the fourth security branch of the Revolutionary Courts for further investigation. Ms. Molavi, a student activist who also works for the Meydaan (Women’s Field) website, as well as social activist Sanaz Ghafouri have also had their cases referred to the Revolutionary Courts.

    Protests in Isfahan, in central Iran, were similarly met with arrests and violence. There, campaign activists Mohsen Parizad Moghaddam and Ali Mashmooli were arrested. Mr. Parizad, a student activist, was sent to the city of Araq following his arrest. According to reports, Mr. Mashmooli is being held in Dastgerd Prison in Isfahan.

    Update: November 12, 2009

    Raha Asgarizadeh and Vahideh Molavi were released on November 11th on a third party guarantee of five million tomans (approximately $5,000). Both women were charged with disruption of public order, and Ms. Asgarizadeh was also charged with collusion and gathering with the intent to endanger national security. They were released along with ten other women, although several others remain in dentention, including Sanaz Ghafouri, pending the posting of bail.


    One Million Signatures Campaign Honored with Glamour’s Women of Year Award 2009

    November 9, 2009

    By Kiana Karimi and Negar Sammaknejad

    One Million Signatures Campaign in California: In a dazzling ceremony held in New York City Carnegie Hall, Glamour magazine honored twelve women and groups who have made a difference this year. The One Million Signatures Campaign received the 2009 Women of the Year award because as Shirin Ebadi, the Nobel Peace prize winner and winner of the 2008 Glamour award has said, "One Million Signatures seized every opportunity to show the world that they do not agree with the discriminatory laws in Iran."

    For more information, visit Change for Equality and the site of the Campaign in California.

    Mass Summons of Campaign Activists to Security Branch of the Revolutionary Courts

    November 1, 2009

    Change for Equality: In a sweeping move, court officials have summoned a number of Campaign activists to the Revolutionary Courts. Campaign activists began receiving telephone calls over the past weeks to appear in the third security branch of the Revolutionary Courts. In turn, they requested written summons.

    Thus far, Maryam Malek, Jelveh Javaheri, Kaveh Mozzafari, Parisa Kakaee, and Khadijeh Moghaddam have reported that they have received written summons to appear in court within three days of receiving their summons. The summons were issued on October 21, 2009 and indicated that these activists have to appear in court to respond to interrogations.

    About six other members have reported that they have been contacted by telephone and are awaiting summons.

    Besides being summoned to court, Khadijeh Moghaddam has been barred from travel. In this respect, she told Change for Equality that she had appeared in court today in relation to her participation in a protest in front of the Palestinian Embassy in support of the citizens of Gaza and refusal to obey the orders of police. During the hearing she was informed that she had been banned from travel. Given that the ban was imposed six months ago, and usually expires after six months, her lawyer Nasim Ghanavi has requested that the courts lift the ban.

    Update: November 3, 2009

    In the continuation of the pressure on Campaign Activists, two other members have been summoned to Security Branch 3 of the Revolutionary Courts. Elnaz Ansari and Aida Saadat received written summons to appear in court within three days. Thus far over ten activists have been contacted.


    Kaveh Rezai Issued Arrest Warrant; Hayedeh Tabesh Banned from Travel; Nafiseh Azad Acquitted on Appeal

    October 28, 2009

    Change for Equality:

    According to reports, an arrest warrant has been issued for Campaign member Kaveh Rezai. Rezai had been expelled from university in the fall of 2008 for political activities, and is currently serving his mandatory military duty. He had been sentenced to 18 months in prison in a previous ruling, but he has not yet been allowed to go through a proper appeals process in spite of having issued a formal request for an appeal.

    Another Campaign member, Hayedeh Tabesh, has been banned from travel. In an interview with Change for Equality Tabesh explained that she had initially been summoned by telephone at the end of May, and was informed in July, when she attempted to renew her passport, that she had been banned from travel. After following up on the ban through the Revolutionary Courts, as instructed, Tabesh still had received no legal document explaining the summons or travel ban. Eventually summoned at her home, Tabesh appeared before the local Intelligence Ministry office, where she was interrogated about her activities in the Campaign and women’s rights activities. She was told she had been issued the ban as a result of an invitation letter she had received to attend a training in South Africa.

    Nafiseh Azad, a member of the Campaign who had been arrested while collecting signatures along with two other campaign members in Tochal Mountains on January 30, 2009, was acquitted in a ruling issued by an appeals court. She had been charged with actions against national security, through the spreading of propaganda against the state.


    One Million Signatures Campaign Honored with Two International Awards

    October 27, 2009

    Change for Equality: The One Million Signatures Campaign has been honored with two international awards. The German Quadriga Award and the Anna Politkovskaya Award were presented to the One Million Signatures Campaign in Berlin on October 3 and in London on October 7.

    Prior to this, the One Million Signatures Campaign was honored with the Simone de Beauvoir award on January 9, 2009 and the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Global Women’s Rights Award on April 29, 2009. Additionally, in November 2008, Change for Equality, the website of the One Million Signatures Campaign, received the Reporters without Borders Jury Prize of the Deutsche Welle International Weblog Award, The BOBS.


    Updates on Women Imprisoned Following Post-Election Unrest

    October 13, 2009

    Updates from Change for Equality on Shiva Nazarahari, Azar Mansouri, and Hengame Shahidi

    Shiva Nazarahari, a student and human rights activist and a member of the Campaign who was arrested in the aftermath of the disputed presidential elections, was released from prison on September 23. Ms. Nazarahari was arrested two days after the disputed presidential elections by security forces at her place of work. Security officials searched her home and seized property prior to her arrest. During her three-month long imprisonment at Section 209 of Evin Prison, Ms. Nazarahari endured harsh and long interrogation sessions and, except for a few occasions, was denied the right to contact her family by telephone or to visit with them. Change for Equality welcomes the release of this brave young activist and congratulates her and her family on this occasion.

    Azar Mansouri, a high ranking member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, a reformist political party, is reportedly being held in solitary confinement in Evin Prison.

    According to a report by HERANA, the emotional and physical condition of Hengameh Shahidi, an imprisoned journalist, is on the decline. Ms. Shahidi was arrested in the aftermath of the disputed presidential elections in Iran. Her health problems have worsened in prison, according to this report, requiring serious medication. Ms. Shahidi is a journalist and a member of the Etemad Melli political party. She is currently a PhD student at SOAS, studying human rights. In the presidential elections, she served as an advisor on women’s affairs to Mehdi Karroubi. She was arrested on June 30, 2009 and remains in prison.

    Visit The Feminist School for more information on Azar Mansouri and Hengame Shahidi, as well as activists Fariba Pajouh, Atefeh Nabavi, Shabnam Madadzadeh, Kobra Zaghedoust, and Zahra Jabbari.

    Abdulfatah Soltani Banned From Travel

    October 13, 2009

    Change for Equality: Abdulfatah Soltani, a lawyer and human rights defender who was recently released from prison, has been banned from travel. It had previously been announced that Mr. Soltani had been awarded the Nuremberg Human Rights Prize. He was on his way to Germany to take part in the award ceremony in is honor, when he was stopped at the airport and prevented from leaving the country. Mr. Soltani had been banned from travel for several years and his passport had been confiscated. Ten days prior to his planned departure he had managed to receive an order from the security branch of the Revolutionary Courts, to allow for the issuance of a passport, after which he applied for a passport and made arrangements for travel. At the airport he was informed that he was being prevented from travel due to an order by the same security branch of the Revolutionary Courts which had earlier issued an order allowing him to obtain a passport. Mr. Soltani is a well respected human rights defender, lawyer, and a member of the Defenders of Human Rights Center. He was arrested on June 17, 2009 and spent 17 days in solitary confinement. He was released on a 100 Million toman bail order (roughly $100,000) on August 27, 2009. Mr. Soltani has defended many of the activists in the One Million Signatures Campaign and has conducted trainings on citizen’s rights for Campaign activists as well activists involved in other social movements.


    Campaign Member Jelveh Javaheri Receives Six Month Sentence

    October 5, 2009

    One Million Signatures campaign activist Jelveh Javaheri has been issued a six month prison sentence by Iran’s Revolutionary Courts for her participation in a peaceful protest on June 12, 2008. Ms. Javaheri has been targeted for arrest and harassment on numerous occasions as a result of her work as a women’s rights activist and journalist, most recently on May 1, 2009 for taking part in a demonstration marking International Workers Day, for which she spent over one month in prison, including sixteen days in solitary confinement. She was also issued a six month sentence in 2008 for “disturbing public opinion, propaganda against the state, publication of lies for writing for the site of the Campaign (Change for Equality).” This new sentence is based on charges that Ms. Javaheri “endangered state security” as she joined other women’s rights activists in commemoration of the National Day of Solidarity of Iranian Women. She had been awaiting a ruling based on that arrest for almost sixteen months.

    WLP wishes to express our deep concern for the personal safety and security of women’s rights activists such as Ms. Javaheri, who has written an account of women imprisoned as a result of discriminatory laws. Journalists and human rights defenders must be allowed to speak out without threats of harassment, arrest, and torture. As government restrictions on free expression have tightened and reports of prisoner torture and rape have increased following this year’s presidential election, WLP calls upon the Iranian government to protect the rights of all detainees.


    Prisoners' Rights NGO Shut Down; Increasing Concern Over Detainees' Situation

    September 23, 2009

    According to Change for Equality, the offices of the Organization to Defend the Rights of Prisoners were sealed shut by security officials on September 9. The offices were closed without prior warning, and with no reason given by authorities. The organization, which provided legal services and research on human rights in prisons, was closed down on the same day as the office of Mehdi Karroubi, as well as that of a joint committee established by former presidential candidates Mr. Karroubi and Mir Hussein Moussavi to investigate reports of death and torture in the wake of mass arrests following the June 12 election.

    Among activists and detainees whose status remains a grave cause for concern is Bahram Ahmadi Amouie. Mr. Ahmadi Amouie, the husband of journalist and women’s rights activist Jila Baniyaghoub, was initially arrested along with his wife on June 22, 2009. He has remained in detention for three months although his case has yet to be registered with the Revolutionary Court. Without clear charges, his attorney has been unable to prepare a defense.

    Campaign member Shiva Nazar Ahari, a student and women’s rights activist detained among the wave of arrests on June 14, 2009, also remains in prison. Her bail has been reduced from 500 million tomans to 200 million tomans (roughly $200,000), which remains too high for her family to pay, and an interrogator threatened that Ms. Ahari would remain in detention even if her family does post bail.

    WLP welcomes the news of the release of detainees Mahsa Amrabadi and Somaiyeh Tohidloo. Ms. Amrabadi, a journalist, was released on bail of 200 million tomans on August 24. She had been in detention since her arrest on June 14, 2009 on charges of “actions against national security, insulting the supreme leader and the president, membership in a Marxist group and drinking of alcohol.” Ms. Tohidloo, a blogger and political activist, was released from Evin Prison on August 24.


    Threats and Restrictions on Speech of Campaign Members Continue; Concerns of Judicial Bias in Court Hearing

    September 18, 2009

    Change for Equality website blocked for 21st time
    The One Million Signatures campaign website, Change for Equality was blocked again during another wave of censorship against information sources including the Feminist School, the news website of Amir Kabir students, Persian Blog (an Iranian weblog service), and others, including those affiliated with various political groups. The campaign website was last blocked during the June 12 presidential election. The new web address inside of Iran is www.signforchange.info. Those wishing to access the Persian language website outside of Iran can continue to visit www.we-change.org.

    Invasive search and interrogation of campaign member in Amol
    Campaign member Fereshteh Shirazi was summoned to the local office of the Ministry of Intelligence in the city of Amol on September 1. This, her third summons, followed an invasive search of her home and workplace on August 12-13.

    Authorities forced their way into her house without allowing Ms. Shirazi the opportunity to put on her hijab, as she had requested. The agents did not present any form of identification and seized property including CDs, a computer case and telephone book, campaign literature, and personal notes. She was coerced into signing a court paper agreeing to appear for interrogation the following week on charges including "actions against national security, publication of false information, inciting public opinion, and relationship with foreign websites and media." During the interrogation, Ms. Shirazi was repeatedly questioned and threatened about her activities with the One Million Signatures campaign, her blog, and her friends in Amol. Her son, who was present throughout the interrogation, was also threatened with arrest and questioned about the Baha’i faith.

    Update on Nahid Keshavarz
    Campaign member Nahid Keshavaraz, was brought before Branch 1049 of the Shahid Ghodosi Courthouse on August 30. The hearing was held in relation to charges of "disruption of public order" stemming from Ms. Keshavaraz’s March 7, 2007 arrest along with thirty-two other activists. The presiding judge announced an opinion without having heard the case of the defense, and in the absence of a prosecuting attorney. In his opinion, he refused to take into account any acquittals issued by other courts for activists arrested in connection with the same case. Ms. Keshavaraz’s attorney has indicated his concern over potential judicial bias in a case where the Ministry of Intelligence, a government entity, is the complainant, and has requested that the hearing be rescheduled.


    Recent Updates from Change for Equality

    August 18, 2009

    Kaveh Mozzafari Released

    After issuing an open letter to the Head of the Judiciary, which detailed the violations of his civil rights following his July 9 arrest, campaigner Kaveh Mozzafari was released on bail along with women’s rights activist Haleh Sahabi on August 17.

    Jila Baniyagoob and Several Other Imprisoned Women’s and Human Rights Activists and Journalist Visit with Family While in Detention

    Change for Equality: According to the Green Wave of Freedom site, several women’s rights activists, human rights activists and journalists imprisoned as a result of recent unrest following the presidential elections were allowed to visit with their family members on August 17. According to this report, the individuals allowed to visit with their family members included: Jila Baniyagoub, Shiva Nazar Ahari, Mahsa Amrabadi, Somaiyeh Tohidlou, Isa Saharkhiz, Keyvan Samimi, Mohammad Ghoochani, and Mohammad Reza Jalaie Pour. Shiva Nazar Ahari’s family was able to visit with her for the first time in the two months since her arrest.

    Journalist and campaign member Jila Baniyagoub was previously allowed a visit from her family on Monday, August 10. Jila and her husband Bahman Ahmadi Amouie were arrested in their home on June 22, 2009. According to Jila’s mother, Jila did not have any information about the possibility of her release. Her husband, Bahman Ahmadi Amouie, is no longer being interrogated, but remains in solitary confinement.

    Update: WLP received word on August 19 that Jila has been released.

    In other news...

    One Million Signatures campaign member and California State University in Northridge student Esha Momeni returned to the United States on August 9. Esha was arrested while visiting her family last October, and had been banned from travel following her release on 200 million Toman ($200,000) bail.

    Campaign member Nafiseh Azad was acquitted on charges brought against her following her 2008 arrest for her peaceful acts in commemoration of the National Day of Solidarity for Iranian women. She was issued a one year suspended sentence, for a period of three years, in connection with separate charges following her arrest for collecting signatures on behalf of the campaign in February. Over sixty campaign members have now been arrested and charged for collecting signatures.

    An appeals court overturned a one year mandatory prison sentence for campaign member Parastoo Allahyaari, acquitting her of all charges and finding that "collection of signatures intent on changing the laws addressing women in society and social movements titled the campaign of women cannot be viewed as an action of spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic."


    Artists and activists among arrested mourners

    July 30, 2009

    Mourners gathering today in Iran to mark the 40th day since the death of Neda Agha-Soltan - the young woman whose killing during post-election demonstrations in Iran drew international attention - were met by authorities with further violence and arrests. Among those arrested was women's rights activist and artist Mahnaz Mohamadi, who was at the cemetery simply to leave flowers at Neda’s grave.

    From Meydaan (Women’s Field): Mahnaz Mohamadi, a documentary film maker and activist in the women’s movement was arrested at the cemetery where she and hundreds of other Iranians had gathered to honor the memory of those killed in the recent protests. Mohamadi’s most recent work is a documentary co-produced with Rakhshan Bani Etemad on the election called "We are Half the Population of Iran." Four others were arrested at the same time. They were award winning director Jafar Panahi, his wife and daughter Solmaz, Firouz Khosravani, and Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami. All are film makers. For the original article in Persian, click here.


    Shadi Sadr Released from Notorious Evin Prison on $50,000 Bail

    July 29, 2009

    Shadi Sadr, prominent lawyer and women’s rights activist with the One Million Signatures Campaign was released from Evin Prison on Tuesday, July 28th, after being held for 11 days, at least three of which were spent in solitary confinement. She was required to post a bail of 500 million Reals (USD 50,000). Sadr, who was released along with 140 others, has been charged with “acting against national security of the state.”


    Iranian women's rights activist Shadi Sadr beaten, arrested and disappeared

    Escalation in arbitrary arrests and disappearances of individuals and human rights defenders

    July 17, 2009

    Shadi Sadr, a lawyer and prominent women’s rights activist working with the One Million Signatures Campaign, was arrested today by plain clothes security officers and taken to an undisclosed location. The men pulled her into a car as she walked along a busy road and beat her as she struggled to escape.

    Ms. Sadr, a journalist, member of Meydaan (Women’s Field), director of Raahi (legal advice center for women), and founder of Zanan-e Iran (Women of Iran--the first website dedicated to the work of Iranian women's rights activists), has written extensively about Iranian women and their legal rights.

    Ms. Sadr’s violent arrest marks an escalation in attacks against human rights activists by the Iranian government since demonstrations protesting Iran’s disputed presidential election results. It follows the arrests and disappearances of numerous other human rights defenders, social justice activists, and journalists. Reports from inside Iran indicate that hundreds more protestors have been killed than government reports suggest. Many families are unable to locate their loved ones and are searching through hospitals, photographs of corpses, police stations, prisons, and inquiring at the Revolutionary Court.

    WLP is gravely concerned for the safety of Shadi Sadr and women’s rights activists and citizens who have been peacefully speaking out for their basic rights. We are especially concerned about the mounting violence against women by state agents. The murder of 26 year old Neda Agha-Soltani during the initial wave of protests brought the world’s attention to the danger that innocent women are facing as they stand up for their civil rights. Now we have learned of the apparent murder of 28 year old Taraneh Mousavi after she was brutally attacked.

    The recent political protests have brought on increased persecution of women’s rights activists, who have been regularly arrested and harassed since 2006 for peacefully advocating for their equal rights before the law. They have faced charges such as "acting against the national security of the state," "propaganda against the state," "disrupting public opinion" and, most recently, for membership in the One Million Signatures campaign itself. Many are serving suspended sentences, and face regular harassment and persecution by the government.

    We call upon the women's rights community and all human rights activists and organizations to speak out in defense of Shadi Sadr and all those who are being unjustly persecuted.

    Please write to local and international media, mobilize your social networks, and urge your policy makers and embassies as well as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay to take action to protect the basic human rights of all those who are being abused and arrested in Iran.

    The Honorable Ban Ki-Moon
    Secretary General
    760 United Nations Plaza
    United Nations
    New York, NY 10017
    Web contact: www.un.org/en/contactus/contactform.asp

    Ms. Navanethem Pillay
    UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
    Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
    Palais des Nations
    CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
    Email: infodesk@ohchr.org
    Tel: +41-22-917-90-00
    Fax: +41-22-917-9008 or +1-212-963-4097


    Kaveh Mozaffari Arrested Again During July 9 Unrest

    July 10, 2009

    Change for Equality: Kaveh Mozaffari was arrested by security officials near his home. Kaveh was accompanying his mother in law, Ms. Bayat, whose health was in bad condition to the Mostafa Khomeini Hospital located in Italia street.

    Ms. Bayat stated that all routes were closed because of the protests held to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the student uprising of 18 Tir (July 9th, 1999) and they were not able to reach the hospital and had to return home. On their way back home plain-clothes forces arrested Kaveh. Ms. Bayat was very ill and asked the officers to release Kaveh, but they did not pay attention to her requests. They reportedly said "this person is Kaveh Mozaffari and has been identified" and then took him to one of the vans stationed to transport arrested protester. According to Ms. Bayat they threatened to arrest her as well.

    Kaveh Mozaffari, a women’s rights activist and a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, who was arrested along with tens of others during the May 1, 2009 gathering on the occasion of International Workers Day, had recently been released from Evin prison on June 24th, after spending 54 days in detention. He was released on a bail order in the amount of 50 million Tomans (roughly $50,000).


    Continued Detention of Journalists Jila Bani-Yagoub and Bahman Ahmadi Amoui

    July 6, 2009

    Change for Equality

    Focus on Iranian Women: More than two weeks have passed since the arrest of two journalists, Jila Bani-Yaghoub and Bahman Ahmadi Amoui and there is still no news about them.

    Jila Bani-Yaghoub and Bahman Ahmadi Amoui who are both journalists and married to one another, were arrested in their own home on 22 June 2009, after security agents came to their home, searching the premises and seizing property.

    Jila Bani-Yaghoub contacted her family from Evin prison, where she is reportedly being held, on one occasion during the first week of her arrest. Bahman Ahmadi Amoui has not contacted his family at all and they are worried about his condition. His family has tried in vain to acquire information about his status from legal authorities. His family demands that Bahman be allowed to contact them.

    In her brief telephone conversation with her mother during the first week after her arrest, Jila Bani-Yaghoub spoke with her mother very hastily. Her mother says she was not able to understand where the authorities have taken her daughter and her husband. Despite her persistent inquiries from the Evin prison personnel, revolutionary courts and other legal institutions, she has not been able to find out about her daughter’s whereabouts or condition.

    Jila Bani-Yaghoub’s mother says that her daughter and her husband, Bahman Ahmadi-Amoui, though journalists, were not employed in any newspapers over the past year. As such, she says that she cannot understand what their alleged crime could be. “Not knowing where they are detained is worrisome” says Jila Bani-Yaghoub’s mother.

    Besides being a journalist, Bani-Yaghoub is a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign and a women’s rights activist. Amoui is a journalist who reports and writes about political and economic developments in Iran.

    Jila Bani-Yaghoub and Bahman Ahmadi Amoui were detained following unrest after the results of the elections were reported. They are among several hundred journalists and political and human rights activists who were arrested after the unrests. It is believed that these political and human rights activists and journalists are being held in Section 209 of Evin prison, though little information has been provided about their location or the charges pending against them. Scores of ordinary citizens too have been detained because of their alleged participation in protests.


    Women’s Rights and Student Activist Zeynab Peyghambarzadeh Arrested, Released Next Day

    July 6, 2009

    Change for Equality: Zeynab Peyghambarzadeh, a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign and a women’s and student rights activist was arrested during a sit-in in Laleh Park. She was transferred to Vozara Detention Center where she was held over night and the next day to the Revolutionary Courts. Judge Sobhani, at the Security Branch of the Revolutionary Courts ordered her release. No bail was posted for her release.

    The sit-in was organized by a group calling themselves the "Mourning Mothers," who called upon Iranian mothers and citizens to gather in several parks to mourn the loss of life of Iranians in the recent protests and violence which erupted after the Ministry of Interior declared Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the winner of the Presidential races. The mothers are also calling upon authorities to stop violence against peaceful protesters and to release all those imprisoned in recent weeks. This was the second of such protests, which are supposed to occur on a weekly basis on every Saturday at 7:00pm.


    Kave Mozzafari Released After 54 Days in Evin Prison

    July 5, 2009

    Change for Equality: Kave Mozzafari, a member of the Campaign who was arrested in a protest marking International Workers Day on May 1, 2009, was released on June 24, 2009. After spending 54 days in Evin prison, Kave was finally released on 50 million Toman (roughly $50,000) bail amount.


    Jelveh Javaheri Released

    June 8, 2009

    Change for Equality: Jelve Javaheri was released on the 7th of June, on a third party guarantee in the amount of 100million Tomans (roughly $100,000). Mina Jafari, the lawyer representing Jelve Javaheri, explained: "Jelve Javaheri was released today on a third party guarantee in the amount of 100 Million Tomans, which was set by the Security Prosecutor at the Revolutionary Courts. Jevle Javaheri was charged with actions against the state through participation in the One Million Signatures Campaign and gathering and collusion. Jelve was arrested by security police on May 1 at her home, and spent 16 days in solitary confinement. After objections from her legal team, a temporary arrest order was issued in her case as well as a bail order in the amount of 100 million Tomans ($100,000). But her bail amount was reduced to a third party guarantee, and she was released this afternoon." It should be noted that Ms. Ehteram Shadfar one of the members of the Campaign has served as Jelve’s third party guarantor.


    Interview with Houshang Pourbabayi: There is No Legal Obstacle to Membership and Activism in the Campaign

    May 31, 2009

    Change for Equality - Elnaz Ansari: One of the first worries confronting the Campaign as it began its movement to collect one million signatures calling for change in discriminatory laws was whether there was any legal obstacle to this movement. After consulting with a number of Iranian legal scholars, Campaign members were certain that collecting signatures could in no shape or form be considered a crime according to the law.

    Requesting a change in the laws by means of collecting signatures from citizens, despite not being illegal, has been a pretext for the arrest of tens of Campaign activists. A number of these individuals have been acquitted, and a number have been given suspended jail sentences. Until now most of the charges against the Campaign activists have been brought under article 500 of the Islamic Penal Code, the most severe sentence ensuing from which was given to Parastoo Allahyari (one year in jail), but now article 499 has also been added to existing charges.

    Read more...


    Ronak Safazadeh Sentenced to Six Year Prison Term; Appeals Court Issues Reduced Sentence for Parvin Ardalan

    April 14, 2009

    Women’s rights activist and One Million Signatures Campaign member Ronak Safazadeh was sentenced to a six year mandatory prison term, based on charges of "spreading propaganda against the state" and her membership in the political opposition group Pejak, within which her activities were limited to peaceful support for the women’s movement and the Azar Mehr Women’s NGO. Ms. Safazadeh, who will serve her prison term in the city of Sanandaj, was acquitted on the charge of enmity with god. Her defense attorney, Mr. Mohammad Sharif, plans to appeal the ruling.

    An appeals court reduced the sentence of campaign activist Parvin Ardalan, to a one year suspended sentence over a period of three years. Ms. Ardalan was arrested in front of the Revolutionary Court in March 2007 as she peacefully demonstrated in support of women’s rights activists who were then on trial. If she is found guilty of another crime within a three year time period, she will be required to serve a one year prison term.

    For more on Ronak Safazadeh, Parvin Ardalan, and other wrongfully detained campaign activists, visit Change for Equality.


    Twelve Women’s Rights Activists Arrested for Planned New Years Visit

    March 26, 2009

    Change for Equality: Twelve women’s rights activists were arrested today on March 26, 2009, on Sohrevardi Avenue in Tehran, while meeting up to go for New Years visits of families of imprisoned social and political activists. Ten of those arrested are members of the One Million Signatures Campaign. The Campaign members arrested are: Delaram Ali, Leila Nazari, Khadijeh Moghaddam, Farkhondeh Ehtesabian, Mahboubeh Karami, Baharah Behravan, Ali Abdi, Amir Rashidi, Mohammad Shourab, and Arash Nasiri Eghbali. Soraya Yousefi and Shahla Forouzanfar were also arrested.

    According to reports from family members of those arrested, these women’s rights activists were first transferred to Niloofar Police Station, then some were taken to Galoobandak Police Station, and later all were transferred to Evin Prison. Currently all these women’s rights activists are being detained at Evin prison, Section 209, which is managed by the Intelligence Ministry.

    According to reports from family members who were present outside the police stations and who had a few minutes to talk to those arrested, the activists are facing two charges, including: disruption of public opinion and disruption of public order. Additionally a bail order for a third party guarantee by a government employee has been issued for these women’s rights activists in the amount of 50 million Tomans (roughly $50,000). It should be noted that while a third party guarantee bail amount is a lighter bail amount than bail orders which require the posting of a bail amount, stipulating that the guarantee must be provided by a government employee makes it difficult to post bail and as such the detention of these activists may be extended unnecessarily.

    One women’s rights activist at the scene of the arrest explained that: "we had set up a time to meet on Sohrevardi Avenue so that we could go to visit some of the families of imprisoned social and political activists on the occasion of the New Year. When we arrived at our meeting place, we were faced with police and plain-clothes security officers who were taking pictures and video taping us and taking note of the license plate numbers of our vehicles. We started out toward our destination before the others, but on our way to the home of one imprisoned social activist our friends contacted us by phone to report that they were being arrested by security officials."

    It is customary that on the occasion of the Iranian New Year, which coincides with the first day of Spring, friends and family members visit one another. Women’s rights activists have long made it a habit to visit the families of imprisoned social and political activists as a demonstration of solidarity and support for those imprisoned and for their families.


    Update:

    Following the March 29 release of ten of the twelve activists arrested as they planned to make New Years visits to families of imprisoned activists, One Million Signatures campaign members Khadijeh Moghaddam and Mahboubeh Karami remained in custody until an arraignment held on April 7. At the arraignment, Ms. Karami was released on bail, but the investigative judge indicated that Ms. Moghaddam faced additional charges and refused to issue a bail order for her release. The prosecution of Ms. Moghaddam will continue, though she was released the evening of April 8.


    Campaign Activists Lodge Complaint Against Travel Bans

    March 4, 2009

    Five members of the One Million Signatures campaign – Parvin Ardalan, Issa Saharkheiz, Mansooreh Shojaie, Nasrin Sotoodeh, and Talat Taghinia – have lodged an official complaint in response to the imposition of travel bans against women’s rights activists. Social and political activists planning to leave the country in order to attend conferences or receive awards often pass through passport control only to learn that they have been banned from travel. In violation of the fundamental right to leave one’s own country, as well as proper legal procedure, activists’ passports are confiscated without prior notice, and they may be subsequently presented with summons to appear in court.

    Among campaign activists who have recently been banned from travel are Parvin Ardalan, who was prevented from traveling to Stockholm in March 2008 in order to receive the 2007 Olaf Palme Award. Security officials forced Ms. Ardalan to leave her plane, then seized her passport and issued a court order requiring her to turn herself into the security branch of the passport office. In December, attorney Nasrin Sotoodeh, was prevented from traveling to Italy to receive an award, which her husband accepted on her behalf. And in October, security officials confiscated the passport of campaign member Sussan Tahmasebi, as she was departing for the United States to visit family and speak at several conferences on women’s rights in Iran. Later in the day her house was searched and property seized, including books, CDs, and a laptop.

    Read more about travel bans and the deprivation of the right to travel.

    In other news, campaign member Hana Abdi was released from prison on February 25. Ms. Abdi, who was arrested on security charges in November 2007, was released after serving an 18 month sentence.


    Update: Campaign Member Nafiseh Azad Released

    February 5, 2009

    Change for Equality: Nafiseh Azad was released from detention late afternoon on Wednesday February 4, 2009 after spending six days in detention at Vozara Detention Center. She was released on a third party guarantee in the amount of 500 Million Rials (roughly $50,000). The first Security Branch of the Prosecutor’s Office of the Revolutionary Courts changed the arrest order into a third party guarantee bail order, allowing this women’s rights activist to be released from prison.

    The campaign will continue to collect signatures in support of the petition demanding the release of Alieh Eghdamdoust.

    Click here to sign the petition.


    One Million Signatures Campaign Petition: Immediately Release Imprisoned Iranian Women’s Rights Activists

    February 4, 2009

    Latest update from Change for Equality:

    One Million Signatures campaign activists are being imprisoned at a time when their call for justice has slowly rendered progress and has softened the hard and unyielding core of unjust laws, so that women’s lack of rights in our country can slowly be remedied. The examples of the increased backlash are plentiful. These excessive actions against women’s rights activists occur despite the fact that their actions and activities are absolutely legal and in accordance with the constitution and in line with their civil rights.

    Alieh Eghdamdoust is one of the women’s rights activists arrested in the June 12, 2006 protest in support of women’s rights in Hafte Tir Square in Tehran. She was sentenced to three years and four months imprisonment and 20 lashings in her original trial and in appeals three years of her prison sentence was upheld. On January 31, 2009 she was transferred under guard from Fouman City in the north of Iran, to Evin prison in Tehran, in such a manner that she wasn’t even able to contact her friends, so they could accompany her to prison. Alieh Eghdamdoust is the first woman’s rights activist to have her prison sentence implemented. Does this mark the end of peaceful activism by women’s rights defenders?

    Nafiseh Azad, one of the activists of the One Million Signatures Campaign, was arrested on January 30, 2009 in the Tochal Mountains north of Tehran along with two other activists while collecting signatures in support of the Campaign’s petition. Despite the simultaneous arrest of these three activists two of them were released on a third party guarantee within a day, but Nafiseh, who was arrested because she tried to support her two colleagues by requesting that the police release them, has been detained and interrogated for several days in Vozara Detention Center since. The charges against her and the subject of her interrogations do not correspond with the reason for her arrest, and as such constitute clear violations of the law and her civil rights. Meanwhile security forces have stormed the home of Nafiseh Azad and violently searched her premises, seizing personal property.

    Click here to read more, and to sign the online petition demanding an end to these illegal and violent actions against women’s rights activists.

    Visit Change for Equality for further information on Nafiseh Azad and Alieh Eghdamdoust.


    Jinus Sobhani, Administrative Assistant of the Defenders of Human Rights Center Arrested

    January 15, 2009

    Defenders of Human Rights Center: Jinus Sobhani, who served as the Administrative Assistant of "Center for the Mine Cleanup Project" and "the Defenders of Human Rights Center," was arrested on the morning of January 14, 2009.

    Both of these non-governmental organizations working under the direction of Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi are housed in the same office space, which was purchased by Shirin Ebadi, with a portion of her Prize money from the Nobel Peace Prize. The Office was shut down in an illegal manner on December 21, 2008, by security officers. The closure of the Center in particular drew much criticism and condemnation by national and international human rights, political, cultural and social activists and organizations.

    Jinus Sobhani, besides working for these NGOs, has written on legal issues for several Iranian publications. On the morning of January 14, 2009 at 6:30am her home was searched by security agents, and her personal belongings as well as her husband's belongings were seized. Following the search of her home, Jinus Sobhani was arrested.

    Posted at Change for Equality: http://www.campaignforequality.info/english/spip.php?article424


    Growing Demands for Protection and Guarantee of Shirin Ebadi's Civil and Political Rights

    January 5, 2009

    The situation of Nobel peace laureate and human rights defender Shirin Ebadi grows increasingly critical. Over the last two weeks the organization she heads, Defenders of Human Rights Center, was shut down, false accusations of tax evasion were made against her in the media, her private law offices were raided and confidential case files seized, and on January 1st a mob of 150 demonstrated in front of her house in an orchestrated attempt to connect her to the Israeli actions in Gaza. Protestors began kicking the door to her home and vandalized the exterior of her property in an attempt to further intimidate her.

    We condemn the Iranian government's campaign against the country's most prominent human rights activist, and demand that they guarantee Shirin Ebadi's safety and her civil and political rights.

    Join the over eighty human rights organizations and activists who have expressed grave concern for Ms. Ebadi's safety and human rights. Send an email to wlp@learningpartnership.org.

    For more information, see WLP's alert issued on December 30th, Change for Equality website, Feminist School website, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's statement of concern.

    Organizations

    • African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS)
    • All Women's Action Society, Malaysia
    • Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-violence Studies, Egypt
    • Anti Trafficking Center, Serbia
    • The Arab Resource Center on Violence Against Women, Jordan
    • Association Démocratique des Femmes du Maroc (ADFM), Morocco
    • Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID)
    • BAOBAB for Women's Human Rights, Nigeria
    • Cameroon Women in Leadership and Development (CAWOLED)
    • Center for Women's Global Leadership
    • Collective for Research and Training on Development-Action, Lebanon
    • Creating Hope International
    • Education Society of Malopolska (MTO), Nowy Sacz, Poland
    • English PEN
    • Fondation Surgir, Switzerland
    • Global Call to Action Against Poverty
    • Global Education and Environment Development Foundation (GEED Foundation)
    • The Global Women's History Project
    • Hivos
    • Human Rights Center/Citizens Against Corruption, Kyrgyzstan
    • Institute of Social Development, Sri Lanka
    • International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran
    • International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA)
    • International Museum of Women
    • International Women’s Health Coalition
    • Kadın Emeğini Değerlendirme Vakfı/Foundation for the Support of Women's Work, Turkey
    • Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND)
    • Moremi Initiative for Women's Leadership in Africa
    • NSW Network of Women with Disability, Australia
    • Open Asia
    • Secularism Is A Women's Issue (SIAWI)
    • Shymkent Women’s Resource Center, Kazakhstan
    • Sisterhood Is Global Institute/Jordan
    • Sisters in Islam, Malaysia
    • Van Kadin Dernegi (VAKAD)/ Van Women's Association, Turkey
    • Vimochana, Forum for Women's Rights, India
    • Women's Aid Organisation (WAO), Malaysia
    • Women's Centre, Bombay
    • Women's Learning Partnership for Rights, Development, and Peace
    • Women's UN Report Network (WUNRN)
    • Women's Heart Foundation
    • Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML)
    • Women Poverty Eradication Centre (WOPEC), Cameroon

    Individuals

    • Tooran Abadan
    • Hafsat Abiola-Costello
    • Leila Ahmed, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Divinity, Harvard Divinity School
    • Munerah Ahmed
    • Eersa Sami Ahuja, Pakistan
    • Fatmah Al-Ashour
    • Anwar H. Alkhalldy
    • Sofia Almen
    • Jane Anderson
    • Bettina Aptheker
    • Bonnie Arkus
    • Dr. Nimat Hafez Barazangi
    • Rosalyn Baxandall
    • Hana Bhuiyan
    • Stephen Blum
    • Sebastian Brock
    • Ariane Brunet
    • Aline B. Carton
    • Andrea Michelle Chavez
    • Sabra Cicilline
    • Christine Clark
    • Manasi Dash
    • Maureen Daly
    • Mary Lou DeFino
    • Julia Dias
    • Dr. Mehrdad Emadi
    • Haleh Esfandiari, Director, Middle East Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
    • Antoinette Fail
    • Rachel C. Fletcher
    • Pie Friendly
    • Tirsit Z. Gedlu, Norwegian Church Aid- Ethiopia, Human Rights, Good Governance and Gender Programmes Coordinator
    • Mouna Ghanem
    • Olga Gladkikh, Coady International Institute, St. Francis Xavier University
    • Vanessa Griffen, Fiji
    • Karen Heck
    • Anne Hoiberg, Women's Equity Council, United Nations Association of San Diego
    • Dr. Hormoz Hekmat
    • Tom Hennes
    • Dr. Juliet Hunt, Independent Consultant on Gender and Development
    • H. Patricia Hynes
    • Gerd Johnsson-Latham
    • Ali Kabiri
    • Darius Kadivar
    • Mahuda Rahman Khan
    • Nora Kokanova, UNIFEM Central African Regional Office, Kigali, Rwanda
    • Kanchan Lama, Independent Gender Adviser, Nepal
    • Joanne Landy, Co-Director, Campaign for Peace and Democracy
    • Theresa de Langis, Ph.D.
    • Anthony Lester
    • Cat Lucas
    • Siti Maesaroh, Divisi Informasi dan Dokumentasi
    • Ali Akbar Mahdi, Ph.D., Ohio Wesleyan University
    • Maryam Majd
    • Patrizia Manduchi
    • Eleonora Barbieri Masini
    • Ann Elizabeth Mayer
    • Dr. Belle McDonnell, Anglo American University, Czech Republic
    • Mariam Memarsadeghi
    • Sabine Missistranoo, President of Honour of the Belgian League for Human Rights
    • Dr. Masum Momaya
    • Sophie Moochhala
    • Claire G. Moses, Professor, Department of Women's Studies University of Maryland
    • Hisako Motoyama, Executive Director, Asia-Japan Women's Resource Center, Tokyo, Japan
    • Sheila Musaji, Editor, The American Muslim
    • Naomi Myrvaagnes, Brandeis University Women's Studies Scholars Program
    • Azar Nafisi
    • Sabri Najafi
    • Eva Nauckhoff
    • Tilder Kumichii Ndichia, Women Human Defender, Cameroon
    • Elaine Nonneman
    • Ayo Obe, Legal Practitioner, Nigeria
    • Bruce Olson
    • Arzoo Osanloo
    • Billie Paris
    • Lynne Patterson, Co-Founder and Director, Pro Mujer
    • Pamela Day Pelletreau, Ph.D.
    • Anna Piela
    • Alexandra Pittman
    • Elizabeth Platt
    • Maggi Poppe, Senior Policy Officer, National Council of Women of Belgium
    • Dr. Shirley Randell AM, Consultant, Gender and Governance for Empowerment, Rwanda
    • Magda Liliana Cano Riaño
    • Lutz Richter
    • Monica M. Ringer, Asst. Prof. Middle Eastern History, Departments of History and Asian Languages & Civilizations, Amherst College
    • Barbara H. Roberts
    • Sharon Bhagwan Rolls, Coordinator: femLINKPACIFIC - Media Initiatives for Women
    • Maha Saedaway
    • Rahal Saeed
    • Aisha Lee Shaheed
    • Golaleh Sharafkandi
    • Dr. Muborak Sharipova Sociologist, Ph.D., Open Asia Co-founder
    • Naheed Siddiqui
    • Leni M. Silverstein
    • Marta Simidchieva
    • Dr. Nada Ler Sofronic, "Woman and Society," Sarajevo
    • Vivian Stromberg, Executive Director, MADRE
    • Maheen Sultan
    • Karanina Sumeo
    • Sharan Tabari
    • Kehinde Taiwo Ph.D, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria
    • Kamran Talattof, Professor
    • Sue Telingator
    • Nayereh Tohidi, Ph.D., Professor & Chair, Gender & Women's Studies Department, California State University, Northridge
    • Aleyamma Vijayan, Sakhi, India
    • Professor Marilyn Waring, AUT University, New Zealand
    • Lynne Wasserman
    • Barbara Scott Winkler, Professor of Women's Studies, Southern Oregon University
    • Mara Winter
    • Nancy Wrenn
    • Akuila Yabaki
    • Ms. K. Yogeshwari, Gender Coordinator, Institute of Social Development
    • Faizun Zackariya, Centre for Development Initiatives, Sri Lanka
    • Aster Zaoude

    Women’s and Human Rights Organizations Concerned for the Safety of Shirin Ebadi

    December 30, 2008

    We, the undersigned, representing women’s and human rights organizations working in Muslim-majority countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, express our grave concern for the personal safety of Shirin Ebadi. Ms. Ebadi, a staunch defender of women’s rights activists and human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran and internationally, has been subjected to increased intimidation and harassment by security forces of the Islamic Republic in recent weeks. These actions follow escalating acts of persecution against women activists ranging from search and seizure of computers and personal property and closure of websites to travel bans, imprisonment, and sentencing of tens of prominent women’s rights defenders. Women’s rights activists have been routinely accused of “acting against the national security of the state” for their peaceful activities calling for equal rights for women and men.

    Ms. Ebadi is a founding member and head of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, a nongovernmental organization that was forcibly closed by security forces on December 21. A few days later, following a search that yielded no incriminating evidence, Mehr News Agency, affiliated with the government, reported that Ms. Ebadi had failed to pay her taxes – an allegation that has been refuted by Ms. Ebadi. Yesterday, security officers identifying themselves as tax officials stormed and raided her private law offices, attempting to seize two computers and confidential client files, which she refused to surrender until she was forced to do so.

    The first Muslim woman to be honored with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, Ms. Ebadi has represented numerous human rights activists and promoted legal protections for women and children in Iran. Her work in support of democracy and human rights has had a global impact. In 2006 she joined five other Nobel Peace Prize winners to found the Nobel Women’s Initiative, and she has spoken and published internationally in furtherance of her human rights work. The actions against Ms. Ebadi during the past week demonstrate a targeted effort not only to obstruct directly the work of the country’s most influential human rights defender, but also to intimidate Iranian human rights activists as a group.

    We, the undersigned women’s rights activists and organizations, strongly condemn the acts of harassment against Ms. Ebadi and are gravely concerned for her personal security and the protection of the rights of women activists in the country.

    For more details on the closing of the Defenders of Human Rights Center and the raid on Ms. Ebadi’s office, visit www.4equality.info/english/spip.php?article424. For updates in Persian, visit www.feministschool.biz/spip.php?article1904. To join us in voicing your support for Ms. Ebadi and Iranian women’s rights activists by adding your signature to this statement, please send an e-mail to wlp@learningpartnership.org.

    • The Arab Resource Center on Violence Against Women, Jordan
    • Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID)
    • BAOBAB for Women's Human Rights, Nigeria
    • Collective for Research and Training on Development-Action, Lebanon
    • Creating Hope International
    • Human Rights Center/Citizens Against Corruption, Kyrgyzstan
    • International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran
    • Kadın Emeğini Değerlendirme Vakfı/Foundation for the Support of Women’s Work, Turkey
    • Sisterhood Is Global Institute/Jordan
    • Women’s Learning Partnership for Rights, Development, and Peace

    Change for Equality Website Blocked for 18th Time

    December 8, 2008

    Less than two weeks following its most recent shutdown, Change for Equality, the website of the One Million Signatures Campaign, was again ordered blocked by the judiciary on Sunday, December 7. Other websites affected included the Feminist School and the personal blog of One Million Signatures activist Jila Baniyaghoub.

    Those wishing to access the Change for Equality site inside Iran should use the following address: www.campaign4equality.info/english. From outside Iran, the original address, www.we-change.org, remains accessible.

    According to Change for Equality, “activists in the One Million Signatures Campaign are committed to their path and will continue their face-to-face outreach to the Iranian public and have once again purchased new domains through which they can reflect news and developments in the Campaign.”


    Change for Equality Website Blocked for 17th Time; Delaram Ali Sentenced

    November 26, 2008

    Change for Equality has again been blocked as a part of a coordinated effort towards censorship, blocking not only One Million Signatures campaign websites and blogs based in Iran, but also campaign sites based in California, Kuwait, Germany, Cyprus, and Sweden. Other websites and blogs addressing women's issues in Iran have also been affected, including the Feminist School, the Women’s Solidarity Network, Parandeh Kharzar, Zananeha, Havva, and Free Keyboard. This marks the seventeenth time that the Change for Equality website has been blocked. Those based outside of Iran can continue to access the site at www.we-change.org. Inside Iran, Change for Equality can be accessed at www.changeforequality.info.

    On November 15, the Sixth Branch of the Tehran Appeals Court sentenced Delaram Ali to a four month mandatory prison term and ten lashings (which can be replaced with a monetary fine). The sentence marks a reduction in Ms. Ali’s initial sentence stemming from her arrest during the June 12, 2006 peaceful women’s rights protest in Haft-e Tir Square. It is, however, based on a charge of disrupting public order, for which she had been acquitted during a previous appeal. Ms. Ali has objected to the ruling, and the Head of the Tehran District Court has issued a stay of implementation pending further judicial review.


    Updates: Esha Momeni Released on Bail; Suspended Sentence Upheld for Rezvan Moghaddam

    November 11, 2008

    Esha Momeni, a One Million Signatures campaign member from California who was arrested on October 15, has been released, with authorities holding the deed to her family's house as bail. Ms. Momeni has been charged with "propagandizing against the regime," and will be required to appear in court soon. A graduate student at California State University, Northridge, Ms. Momeni had been in Iran visiting her family and working on her master’s thesis on the Iranian women’s movement. She had been held in solitary confinement since her arrest.

    An appeals court has upheld the suspended sentence of Rezvan Moghaddam to six months in prison and ten lashings, which she will be required to serve if she is found guilty of another crime during a period of three years. Ms. Moghaddam was arrested in March 2007 along with Zeinab Peyghambarzadeh and 31 other women.

    Khadijeh Moghaddam and her husband Akbar Khosrowshahi appeared before the Revolutionary Court on November 3, 2008. Ms. Moghaddam, who had hosted several One Million Signatures related meetings in her home prior to her April 2008 arrest, was charged with "propaganda against the state, gathering and collusion with the intent of disrupting national security, and refusal to obey the orders of the police." The charges were also based on several summons issued by security forces, which Ms. Moghaddam never received. Her husband was charged in relation to interviews he carried out in support of his wife following her arrest.


    Peyghambarzadeh Sentence Upheld; Must Report to Intelligence Ministry Regularly

    November 5, 2008

    An Iranian appeals court has issued a one year suspended sentence over a period of three years for One Million Signatures campaign member Zeinab Peyghambarzadeh. Ms. Peyghambarzadeh was arrested on March 4, 2007 along with 32 others who were peacefully showing their support for women’s activists on trial at the time.

    The appeals court ruling marks a reduction in Ms. Peyghambarzadeh’s original suspended sentence term, but it imposes additional reporting requirements aiming to further control and restrict the activities of women’s rights activists. During a three year period, Ms. Peyghambarzadeh must report to the Intelligence Ministry every four months, and if she is found guilty of any crime during that time, she will be required to serve the one year prison term. Similar reporting requirements, unprecedented until recently, were included in the sentence of Amir Yaghoub-Ali.


    Campaign Members Sussan Tahmasebi and Parastoo Alahyaari’s Homes Searched, Properties Seized; Tahmasebi Banned from Travel

    October 27, 2008

    Yesterday security officials at Imam Khomeini Airport confiscated the passport of Sussan Tahmasebi, women’s rights defender and member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, preventing her from travel. Later in the day her house was searched and property seized including books, CDs, and a laptop. Last week the home of another Campaign member, Parastoo Alahyaari, was searched and personal property as well as campaign materials were seized. Tahmasebi and Alahyaari are required to present themselves before the Security Branch of the Revolutionary Courts.

    Women’s rights activists are routinely intimidated, questioned, and arrested for their attempts to raise awareness about discrimination against women under Iranian law and for their involvement with the One Million Signatures Campaign. Several activists are still in prison. Many others are harassed through frequent visits by security forces to their homes and through ongoing investigations of cases registered against them for holding peaceful gatherings or discussions in connection with the Campaign. Read more about the details surrounding Tahmasebi and Alahyaari’s cases at www.change4equality.org/english/, and about the resistance of Iranian women’s rights campaign activists since March 2007 on WLP’s website at www.learningpartnership.org/en/advocacy/alerts/iranwomenarrests0307.

    For more information:


    Campaign Member from California Arrested While Visiting Tehran

    October 19, 2008

    Change for Equality: Esha Momeni, women’s rights advocate and a member of the Campaign from California was arrested on Wednesday October 15, 2008, while on a visit to Tehran. Momeni who is a photographer and graduate student was arrested in an unusual and illegal manner after being pulled over on Moddaress highway, by individuals who identified themselves as under cover traffic police on the pretense that she had unlawfully passed another vehicle while driving. Esha was arrested and taken to Section 209 of Evin Prison, managed by the Intelligence and Security Ministry.

    Prior to her transfer to Evin, security officials searched her home and seized property, including her computer and films which were part of her thesis project. The security officials had an arrest warrant and court permission to search the home and seize property. While Esha’s friends and colleagues were insistent about announcing the news of her arrest immediately, based on requests from her family this news was announced with delay. Security forces had promised Esha’s family that she would be released quickly if news of her arrest was not published.

    Esha’s parents went to the Revolutionary Courts today, on the fifth day of her arrest, to follow up on the case of their daughter. Court officials told the Momeni family that they should not come to the courts again, and that their questions will not be answered until the investigation of Esha’s case comes to a close.

    Esha Momeni is a graduate student at the School of Communications, Media and Arts at California State University, Northridge. Esha had come to Iran two months ago to visit with her family and to work on her Masters thesis project, focused on the Iranian women’s movement. To this end, she had conducted video interviews with members of the One Million Signatures Campaign in Tehran.

    Women’s rights activists object to the unusual manner in which Esha was arrested, as well as the irresponsible treatment of her family members by security forces. Further they strongly object to the unjustified and unwarranted arrest of this women’s rights defender. A weblog in support of Esha pressing for her release has been established, which includes interviews with her professors. The weblog as well as the site of the Campaign, Change for Equality, will continue to provide news on developments about Esha’s case.

    Click here to read more about Esha's work.


    “Change for Equality” Website Blocked for 16th Time; Several Activists Still in Prison

    October 15, 2008

    The One Million Signatures campaign website Change for Equality has been blocked for the sixteenth time, as authorities continue their efforts to stifle communication among women’s rights activists in Iran. While those wishing to access the site from outside of Iran can continue to do so using the original website address, from inside Iran, the new address is www.change4equality.org.


    Change for Equality has also posted recent updates on several members of the One Million Signatures campaign who have been arrested and detained during the past year. Negin Sheikholeslami, a women’s rights activist and member of the One Million Signatures campaign, was arrested on October 5 in Tehran. She is reportedly being held in Section 209 of Evin Prison.

    On October 7, an appeals court upheld the four year mandatory prison term to which campaign activist Zeinab Bayzeydi was sentenced in August. The attorney representing Ms. Bayzeydi, who was arrested on July 9 of this year, noted that the appeals process was unusually rushed, and he plans to object to the ruling.

    One Million Signatures campaign activists Ronak Safazadeh and Hana Abdi, who are both in their early twenties, have remained in custody since their arrests one year ago. Ms. Abdi, who was originally sentenced to five years imprisonment in exile, recently had her sentence reduced to eighteen months by an Iranian appeals court. It is unclear whether the time she has spent in detention following her November 2007 arrest will be counted towards the sentence. Ms. Safazadeh, who was arrested in October 2007, has not yet had a court hearing. She has, however, been sentenced to nine months imprisonment in a secondary case for crossing the border illegally while in possession of satellite equipment.


    Campaign Activist Charged By Revolutionary Court

    September 8, 2008

    One Million Signatures campaign activist and editor of the website “Women in Iran,” Jila Baniyagoob, was summoned before the investigative branch of the Revolutionary Court on September 6, where she was charged with disruption of public order and refusal to obey police orders. Mina Jafari, Ms. Baniyagoob’s attorney, was prevented from attending the hearing, on the grounds that the case against Ms. Baniyagoob is a security case. Ms. Jafari argues that the charges are not of a security nature, and fall under the jurisdiction of lower courts. Ms. Baniyagoob denies the charges.

    Ms. Baniyagoob was one of nine activists arrested on June 12 as they attempted to hold a peaceful seminar at the Silk Road Gallery in honor of the National Day of Solidarity of Iranian Women. Nafiseh Azad, Farideh Ghaeb, Sarah Loghmani, and Aida Saadat, who were also among those arrested on June 12, have been charged with similar crimes. Each of the five activists charged has been issued a bail order of 50 million tomans ($55,000).


    Update: Campaign activists Raheleh Asgharizadeh and Nasim Khosravi have been acquitted of charges of spreading propaganda against the state. Those charges were brought against them following their February 14 arrest while collecting signatures in Daneshjoo Park.


    Four Members of One Million Signatures Campaign Sentenced to Six Months Mandatory Prison

    September 3, 2008

    Change for Equality: Four members of the One Million Signatures Campaign have been sentenced to serve a six months mandatory prison term. Parvin Ardalan, Maryam Hosseinkhah, Nahid Keshavarz and Jelve Javaheri were charged with security charges in relation to their activities on the site of Change for Equality the official site of the Campaign and Zanestan the webzine of the Women’s Cultural Center. The six month mandatory sentence was issued by the 13th branch of the Revolutionary Courts and based on Article 500 of the Islamic Penal Code.

    Shirin Ebadi the lawyer representing these women’s rights activists announced that: "you cannot sentence anyone based on the crime of expression of their opinion." She went on the say that they will appeal the sentence.

    Maryam Hosseinkhah was arrested in November 2007 and served 45 days in prison in relation to this case and Jelve Javaheri was arrested in December and served 30 days in relation this case.


    Mahboubeh Karami Released on Bail

    August 26, 2008

    Change for Equality: Mahboubeh Karami, a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, was released on bail in the amount of 100 million Tomans (roughly $110,000) yesterday, August 25, 2007, after having spent nearly 70 days in detention.

    Karami spoke with the site of Change for Equality a day after her release. In this interview, Mahboubeh Karami rated the condition of the prison where she and other women had been detained as very poor. She, however, emphasized that after her encounter with female inmates at Evin prison and the hope they had for the realization of the demands of the Campaign she felt more committed than ever before to continue with her activism on behalf of women’s rights.

    Mahboubeh Karami, who was released a couple days prior to the 2nd anniversary of the launching of the One Million Signatures Campaign, congratulated activists and women involved in the effort by saying: "I hope that one day we will be able to celebrate the anniversary of the Campaign internationally. I want to congratulate all my friends in the Campaign and all Iranian women on this occasion."

    Karami continued by describing her impressions of the female ward at Evin Prison. "Imprisoning women’s rights activists in reality only means that we have been relocated from one home to another. Because from the moment I entered the female public ward at Evin prison female prisons came to greet me. They all knew about the Campaign and its aims and were hopeful about its capacity to create change. My feeling during that time was that I had entered my second home. These female inmates congratulated me on the struggle and resistance of women’s rights activists involved in the Campaign, and their endurance against continuous pressures over the last two years."

    Karami emphasized that she plans to continue more determined than before along her path of working toward the realization of equality between men and women. She went on to explain that the 100 million Toman bond that she had to put up for her release reduces the joy she feels as a result of her freedom. Karami explained further that: "along with me, tens of other women from different age groups were arrested. Officials at Vozara detention center treated us well, but the interrogations in Evin prison were very insulting and rough. After interrogation all the women were in tears because of the intensive insults they endured. After interrogation, I too spent the night crying and wondering why it was that women in our country had to endure such insults and be treated in such a despicable manner."

    Mahboubeh Karami was arrested on June 13, 2008 in Vanak Square. She has been charged with actions against national security and her court is scheduled for the Fall of this year. She is being represented in court by Houshang Poorbabai and Shirin Ebadi.


    Update: More Campaign Activists Sentenced, Remaining in Detention

    August 13, 2008

    Zeinab Bayzeydi, a women’s rights activist who was arrested on July 9, has been sentenced to serve four years in exile in the West Azarbaijan Province. According to the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan, Ms. Bayzeydi has denied all charges against her, except for her cooperation with the One Million Signatures campaign. She intends to appeal the ruling.

    Amir Yaghoub-Ali, the first man to have been arrested in connection with the One Million Signatures campaign, was convicted of endangering national security through the spreading of propaganda against the state, and sentenced to a one-year prison term on May 25. The sentence is currently on appeal. The 21 year old student was arrested while collecting signatures in July 2007, and he was held in solitary confinement and interrogated at Evin Prison for nearly one month before being released on bail last year. During a recent interview, Mr. Yaghoub-Ali commented that interrogators and security agents often question men’s motives for participating in the women’s movement. “Paying this price,” he said, “will hopefully prove that we have not entered this field for ulterior motives.” Most men, he continued, “know that when there is equality between the sexes, social relationships will become more just and humane.”

    Mahboubeh Karami, who was arrested on June 13 while passing a demonstration on a bus, remains in detention. The Mothers Committee of the One Million Signatures campaign has submitted letters to Iranian officials requesting her release.


    Statement Issued Objecting to Detention of One Million Signatures Campaign Activists

    August 5, 2008

    Over 1,000 women’s rights and human rights defenders have issued a statement objecting to the arrest and continued detention of One Million Signatures campaign activists Mahboubeh Karami and Bahareh Hedayat, asserting that their detention is yet another example of the intense pressure imposed upon Iranian women’s rights activists.

    Ms. Karami was arrested and beaten by plain clothes security officials on June 13, when a bus she was riding to her home passed by a demonstration with which she was not involved. The unusual circumstances of her arrest, including the unknown affiliation of the arresting officials, remain a cause for concern. Although all others who were arrested with Ms. Karami have been released, she has remained in detention at Evin Prison, where she has yet to be charged with committing a crime or given a reason for her continued detention.

    Ms. Hedayat, the Secretary of the Women’s Commission of the Office to Foster Unity and a unifying force between students and women’s rights activists, was arrested in her home on July 13 and transferred to Evin Prison. Officials searched Ms. Hedayat’s home for over three hours and seized private property, including her computer. Mohammad Hashemi, the Secretary of the Coordinating Council of the Office to Foster Unity, was arrested in a similar manner during a wave of student arrests last month. Reports issued in government dailies indicate that both activists have been accused of association with political groups outside of Iran, but no official reason for their arrest has been provided, and the judicial process remains closed.

    For more information, please visit Change for Equality. Click here to read the statement in Farsi and view the list of signatures.

    Continued Harassment of Campaign Activists

    July 14, 2008

    The One Million Signatures Campaign has reported several actions against Iranian women’s rights activists during the past week, indicating increased pressure against the women’s rights movement:

    Zeinab Bayzeydi, a member of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan and of the One Million Signatures Campaign, was arrested on July 9, in Mahabad, Kurdistan. Ms. Bayzeydi was summoned and interrogated for several hours on July 5 and again for three hours on July 9, prior to her arrest and transfer to a detention center in Mahabad.

    Nasrin Sotoodeh and Mansoureh Shojaee have both been summoned to appear before the Revolutionary Courts. In violation of legal requirements, neither court summons provided information about the charges against Shojaee or Sotoodeh. Ms. Sotoodeh is an attorney who has represented numerous women’s rights activists, including members of the One Million Signatures Campaign, as well as an advocate for abused children and for youth facing the death penalty. Ms. Shojaee is a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, the women’s cultural center, and the editorial board of the Feminist School website. Shojaee has previously been represented by Sotoodeh.

    The lawyer representing Campaign activist Mahboubeh Karami was informed on July 12 that a bail amount of 100 million tomans (approximately $110,000) has been set for her release. Ms. Karami was arrested on June 13, while a bus she was riding passed by a demonstration at Mellat Park. She was not involved with the demonstration, which was not connected to the women’s rights movement or the One Million Signatures Campaign. Ms. Karami was also one of ten female inmates who last week went on a hunger strike in protest of the conditions of their detention. Her family is unable to post this high amount for her release.


    Iranian Women’s Rights Activist, Hana Abdi, Sentenced to Five Years in Prison

    June 20, 2008

    Hana Abdi, a 21 year-old student and women’s rights activist, has been sentenced to a five year prison term in the West Azarbaijan Province. A member of Azar Mehr Women’s NGO and One Million Signatures campaign activist in Kurdistan, Ms. Abdi has been in detention since her November 2007 arrest in Sanandaj, Kurdistan for her peaceful activities in support of women’s rights and the One Million Signatures campaign.

    The charge against Ms. Abdi is "gathering and collusion with intent to commit a crime" in relation to Article 610 of the Islamic Penal Code. Her sentence, which is the maximum allowed under such charges, is unprecedented because the prison is located in a border province far from Ms. Abdi’s home province of Kurdistan. According to her attorney, Dr. Mohammed Sharif, the duration of the sentence is also inappropriate, given the nature of the case against Ms. Abdi.

    Her attorney plans to appeal the sentence.


    Nine Women’s Rights Activists Arrested in Iran

    June 14, 2008 Update

    The nine women’s rights activists who were arrested on June 12, as they attempted to hold a seminar in commemoration of the National Day of Solidarity of Iranian Women, have been released.

    Aida Saadat, Nahid Mirhaj, Nasrin Sotoodeh, Jila Baniyaghoob, Nafiseh Azad, Sarah Logmani, Jelveh Javaheri, Farideh Ghaeb and Alieh Eghdamdoost were released from Vozara Detention Center at around 1:00am Friday morning, June 13, after being held for nearly eight hours. They have not yet learned if any charges will be brought against them.

    June 12, 2008

    Today on the occasion of the National Day of Solidarity of Iranian Women, nine women’s rights activists were arrested outside of the Rahe Abrisham Gallery just prior to a small, peaceful assembly planned to commemorate the day.

    Aida Saadat, Nahid Mirhaj, Nafiseh Azad, Nasrin Sotoodeh, Jelveh Javaheri, Jila Baniyagoub, Sarah Loghmani, Farideh Ghaeb, were arrested by Tehran security police along with photographer and reporter Aliyeh Mohtalebzadeh and taken to the Vozara Detention Center where they are currently being held. Their families have gathered outside the detention center and are awaiting further information.

    June 12th has been chosen by Iranian women’s rights activists as their national day of solidarity to object harmful actions which attempt to silence Iranian women. Women’s rights activists are continually denied the right of freedom of association and assembly. Even meetings in private homes are often broken up by security forces.

    For updates on the situation and to read prior alerts, please visit WLP's Human Rights Alerts web page or visit the "One Million Signatures" official campaign web site.


    Campaign Activist Khadijeh Moghaddam Released

    April 16, 2008

    Change for Equality: Khadijeh Moghaddam member of the Mother’s Committee of the One Million Signatures Campaign, and a member of Mothers for Peace, was released on the afternoon of Wednesday April 16, after spending nine days in detention. She was greeted by her family and friends, as well as her colleagues in the One Million Signatures Campaign.


    Campaign Activist Khadijeh Moghaddam Arrested

    April 10, 2008

    Change for Equality: Women's Learning Partnership strongly condemns the arrest of One Million Signatures campaign activist Khadijeh Moghaddam. Ms. Moghaddam, a member of the Mother’s for Peace Committee, was forcibly removed from her home, transferred to Eshrat Abad Security Police, where she was interrogated for several hours, and then transferred to the Revolutionary Courts, where she was interrogated by Mr. Sobhani the Investigative Judge. During her interrogation, she was asked to identify other Campaign members who had participated in peaceful gatherings at her home.

    A temporary arrest order was issued, and she was charged with "spreading propaganda, disrupting public opinion, and acting against national security." Bail was set at 100 Million Tomans (roughly $110,000) and she was then transferred to Vozara Detention Center.

    For more information, please go to Change for Equality's website.


    Parvin Ardalan Detained at Airport; More Campaign Activists Sentenced and Summoned

    March 3, 2008

    Today, Parvin Ardalan, journalist and human rights activist, was stopped at the airport as she was leaving for Stockholm to receive the Olaf Palme award for her work on the One Million Signatures campaign for legislative reform in Iran. She had completed the departure procedures and had boarded the plane when she was forced to disembark by order of the prosecutor and her passport was taken from her. In an interview with Radio Zamaneh, Ms. Ardalan said “I was told to go to the office of the president in 72 hours to retrieve my passport. The 72 hours delay very likely will cause me to miss the award ceremony in Sweden, which is to take place on March 6th.” For more information, please see Radio Zamaneh (Persian).

    In other campaign news, on February 20, Ehteram Shadfar, member of the Women’s Cultural Center and active member of the Mothers Committee of the campaign, was found guilty of propaganda against the state through collecting signatures in support of the campaign’s petition. She was sentenced to six months suspended prison term by the Revolutionary Courts. To find out more information about her sentencing, please see the Change for Equality website.

    Last Tuesday, February 26, Raheleh Asgarizadeh and Nasim Khosravi, were released from prison after spending 13 days in detention. These two women were arrested while collecting signatures in support of the campaign’s petition.

    On the same day, according to Change for Equality, Maryam Hosseinkhah, member of the Women’s Cultural Center and One Million Signatures campaign, was issued a summons to appear at the Security Branch of the Revolutionary Courts. She has already been imprisoned for 45 days for “endangering national security” through the publication of articles in support of women’s rights on the Change for Equality website.

    Also on February 26, Amir Yaghoubali, member of the campaign, appeared at the Revolutionary Courts for a trial related to his arrest for collecting signatures in July 2007.

    On this same day, Shahla Entesari, a women’s rights activist and member of the campaign, was tried in the Revolutionary Courts for peacefully protesting the trial of four women’s activists on March 4, 2007.


    Parvin Ardalan Summoned to Court; More Campaign Activists Arrested

    February 22, 2008

    Parvin Ardalan, one of the founding members of the One Million Signatures campaign, was summoned to the Revolutionary court on February 20. She is the 2007 winner of the Olof Palme Prize for human rights, which she will receive on March 6. She has 3 days to report to court. No information was given as to why she was summoned.

    Pressure on women’s rights activists continues to mount. The number of activists arrested in direct relation to their activities for the campaign climbed to 43. Two active members, Raheleh Asgarizadeh and Nasim Khosravi, were arrested on February 14 while collecting signatures for the campaign. They were charged with “propaganda against the state” and transferred to Evin prison on February 16, where bail was set at 20 million tomans ($22,000).

    Another campaign activist, 62 year-old Ehteram Shadfar, was sentenced to six months suspended prison sentence. She was found guilty of propaganda against the state. She is the third woman sentenced to prison for collecting signatures. Nasim Sarabandi and Fatemeh Dehdashti were also sentenced to six months suspended sentence. These sentences are issued despite the fact that no law exists criminalizing the collection of signatures.

    Source: Change for Equality


    February 28, 2008

    Sussan Tahmasebi, one of the founding members of the One Million Signatures campaign, answers your questions.

    Answers to Your Most Frequently Asked Questions About the Campaign

    Change for Equality: What is the One Million Signatures Campaign?

    The One Million Signatures Campaign officially launched on August 27, 2006, aims to collect one million signatures in support of a petition addressed to the Iranian Parliament asking for the revision and reform of current laws which discriminate against women. One of the main aims of the Campaign is to educate citizens and particularly women about the negative impact of these discriminatory laws on the lives of women and society as a whole. Those who agree with the aims of the Campaign can support it by signing the petition. Those who are interested in becoming more involved can become involved in local groups working on the Campaign. The Campaign uses a face-to-face education approach in promoting awareness about the laws, and Campaign activists after going through a training course on the laws, and face-to-face approach, can become more involved by collecting signatures from fellow citizens. To date, nearly 1,000 individuals have been trained in this method, but there are countless others who have downloaded the petition from our site or have received it from friends and who are engaged in signature collections. The Campaign is officially active in over 15 provinces. In Tehran, the Campaign is organized in a committee format, where the bulk of the activities of the Campaign are carried out. In the provinces, local volunteers decide the structure of the Campaign and how to carryout its work based on local needs and resources. The document "About the One Million Signatures Campaign" explains more about the Campaign, its goals and its methodology.

    What laws exactly are you seeking to change?

    The Campaign is asking that all discriminatory laws against women be reformed. The kinds of changes we are requesting in the laws have been outlined and explained in the educational booklet of the Campaign, the "Effect of Laws on Women’s Lives."

    The booklet discusses some of the legal changes that the Campaign seeks, such as equal rights for women in marriage, equal rights to divorce for women, end to polygamy and temporary marriage, increase of age of criminal responsibility to 18 for both girls and boys, right for women to pass on nationality to their children, equal dieh (compensation for bodily injury or death) between women and men, equal inheritance rights, reform of laws that reduce punishment for offenders in cases of honor killings, equal testimony rights for men and women in court, and other laws which discriminate against women.

    Are the demands of the Campaign in opposition to Islam?

    No. While the Campaign seeks to bring Iranian law addressing women’s status in line with international human rights standards, these demands are in no way in contradiction to Islam. Iranian law is based on interpretations of Sharia law, but these interpretations have been up for debate by religious scholars for some time, not only in Iran but around the Islamic world. Shiite Islam, on which the interpretations of Sharia rely with respect to Iranian law, claims to be dynamic and responsive to the specific needs of people and time. Iranian society has changed much since 1400 years ago, but the interpretations of Sharia on which the Iranian law is based remain rather conservative. We ask that the laws come in line with international human rights standards and recognize the important role that religious scholars can play in facilitating our demand. In fact, long before the start of the Campaign, religious scholars, including ayatollahs Sanei’i and Bojnourdi, for example, using dynamic jurisprudence and ijtahad had addressed some of our demands by offering new and progressive interpretations of Sharia with respect to women’s rights. But these interpretations have not been translated into laws governing the rights of women. We hope that our effort will convey the urgency of our demands to lawmakers and hope that religious scholars take a more active role in examining these laws and bringing them inline with the realities of Iranian women and Iranian society. In fact, activists in the Campaign welcome progressive interpretations of Islam with regard to women’s rights and some have even held discussions with religious scholars in this respect.

    Who can sign the petition?

    Only Iranian nationals can sign the petition and only their signatures count toward the one million to be presented to the Parliament. Second generation Iranians living abroad who have one Iranian parent can also sign the petition. International supporters can express their solidarity by issuing statements of support for our effort or signing the petition for international support. To date, many Nobel peace prize winners, the Dahli Lama and other well known international figures have expressed solidarity with our efforts. But the signature of international supporters does not count toward the one million signatures we are aiming to collect.

    How long will the Campaign last?

    The Campaign will last until the one million signatures are collected. Initially Campaign activists assumed that it would take 2-3 years to collect the signatures, but the process of signature collection has been slower than expected, because changing patriarchal cultures takes time and because activists have faced pressure and limitations from security forces. Nevertheless, the activists are committed to continuing the work of the Campaign and the Campaign continues to grow and progress.

    How many signatures have you collected?

    On the one year anniversary of the Campaign, activists decided not to announce the number of signatures, because many signed petitions especially from the provinces, had not been submitted to the documentation committee of the Campaign which is charged with tallying the number of signatures. We will announce the number of signatures in the future and once petitions from around the country can be collected.

    What’s the Campaign’s Policy on Funding?

    Early on, in the first couple of meetings related to the Campaign and prior to its official launch, the issue of funding was brought up and put to rest. It was decided, and the Campaign stands firm on this issue to this day, that no funding support from international organizations, foundations or governments whether overt or covert would be accepted. It was further agreed that no funding from national organizations and foundations or government institutions, whether overt or covert would be accepted by the Campaign. For those of us starting this effort, and for those who joined subsequently, the issue of independence was the most important issue. We knew that if we were to be successful in reaching the grassroots and the Iranian population and establishing relationships based on trust, there should be no question about our independence. And financial support from institutions, whether national or international, would quickly erode that trust and our standing in establishing an independent movement. At the same time we realized that the success of our effort was based largely on our success in creating a sense of ownership among activists involved in the Campaign and supporters as well. The contribution of funds, however small, from individual members and supporters of the Campaign would go a long way to reinforce this sense of ownership.

    From the start however, we faced accusations from security forces, whether official or spread in the form of rumors, or published untruths in news outlets associated with security apparatuses, in regards to receiving support or direction from the West. The saving grace for the Campaign here has been that all its members understand and fully believe that the Campaign is a home grown effort, which relies on the ideas, and energies of Iranians, especially young women and men, for its sustenance, and on the personal contributions of individual members and supporters to meet its financial obligations. And certainly, in this sense the Campaign can set an example for other efforts in Iran and internationally.

    Additionally, much of the Campaign’s activities have been sustained by contributions of time and non-monetary resources of individual members and supporters. For example, Campaign meetings and events are often held in the homes of members, who cover costs associated with these meetings out of pocket. Those traveling to the provinces to conduct training workshops or connect with members in other cities, pay for travel costs out of pocket, and stay in the homes of friends and family or other Campaign activists. Contributions from supporters are largely used to support the work of the website and the printing of educational pamphlets on the laws, which are distributed to the public as an educational tool. With this level of commitment we have managed to grow and still remain independent. We ask that our volunteers and those people who identify themselves as Campaign members, to adhere to these general ethical guidelines in their cooperation with us. So, if you ever hear someone accusing the Campaign of receiving financial support from international groups, you should seriously question the credibility of the information being provided and if anyone ever approaches an international organization seeking financial support for the Campaign, you should seriously question the credibility of the individual.

    How does the Iranian public react to your efforts?

    People’s reaction to the Campaign is varied. Many support our effort and can demonstrate that support by adding their signature to the petition or becoming more involved. We realize that besides laws and some resistance from those in power, we also face cultural resistance, from a small segment of society. This is why the Campaign has adopted the face-to-face education approach, so that a true discussion on women’s rights can take place among citizens. Change in cultural attitudes, especially patriarchal beliefs deeply imbedded in society takes time and the educational component of the Campaign is one of the most important components of this effort. At the same time Campaign activists contend that women’s social status in Iranian society has improved considerably. Women are present in all social spheres. Over 60% of college entrances and larger percentages of college graduates are women. Women are present in local and national government and high decision making levels (though, similar to other countries, especially in the region, this representation continues to lag far behind that of men). Women are educators, university professors, health care providers, business owners, etc. Campaign activists feel that the laws governing the status of women are far behind the realities of women’s lives and their social gains in Iran and as such need to be reformed. They believe that in an effort to promote women’s equal status, laws should be ahead of cultural norms and currently they are far behind cultural and social realities and as such reform is necessary.

    Is the Campaign opposed to the government of Iran?

    No. The Campaign is not an opposition group or opposed to the government. It seeks to work within the existing system to create change and to express the demands of a major segment of the Iranian population to the government. The Campaign’s petition is directly addressing the Iranian public and the Iranian legislature (Parliament). Some within the government or within political groups have supported and signed the Campaign’s petition, especially reformists, including many former parliamentarians, some current reformist parliamentarians, people from ruling-religious families, etc. Some Campaign members have even reached out to parliamentarians and other political figures to introduce the Campaign and speak about its demands. Since the start of the Campaign, there has also been much discussion among decision-makers and religious leaders about the need to reform laws on women. Activists hope that through this effort, the urgency of the matter will be conveyed to the Parliament, forcing them to act with expedience and greater resolve, than they would if left up to their own accord. Since the start of the Campaign, the discourse on women’s rights has become common place, among grassroots groups and citizens as well as those in the highest levels of public office and this is a major achievement and source of pride, demonstrating the success of the Campaign and its peaceful and civic strategies.

    What kind of resistance and pressure have Campaign activists faced from government?

    From the start of the Campaign we have faced resistance from some segments of the Iranian government, particularly security forces. The inaugural seminar of the Campaign, marking its official start was thwarted by security forces who did not allow the seminar to take place. As such, the Campaign started its work on the streets, behind the closed doors of Ra’ad conference hall. Since then, our efforts to secure public seminar space for conferences addressing women’s rights, or meetings for Campaign members have been systematically denied. Our website has been systematically blocked and filtered (over ten times). Newspapers and the press have been warned against covering news about our activities so use of the regular media to conduct education and outreach for our efforts is not an available option and we have had to rely on our face-to-face education strategies for spreading news about our efforts and demands. Also, our members have been arrested, despite the fact that our work is peaceful and civic and there is no law that bans the collection of signatures in support of petitions directed at the Parliament. To date, 43 individuals have been arrested in direct relation to their activities in the Campaign. Because we have been systematically denied the use of public seminar and conference halls for the convening of our meetings, we are forced to hold meetings in our own homes. But these meetings too have been broken up by security forces, or homeowners have been harassed prior to the convening of meetings. Some homeowners have been called in for interrogation following meetings in their homes. Campaign activists who have been summoned to court or arrested have been charged with security charges, such as spreading of propaganda against the state and endangering national security. Despite these pressures, Campaign activists stand firm on the belief that their activities are legal and that they are not intended to endanger national security or spread propaganda against the state. As such, they are continuing with their activities with greater resolve. To read more about the pressures on Campaign activists take a look at the article, "Detentions and Summonses against Campaigners for Gender Equality."

    Those Campaign activists who have been arrested and imprisoned for more than a few days, have systematically taken their activism inside women’s prisons where many women have resorted to committing crimes, because the legal system did not support them in a just manner. These activists have taken it upon themselves to tell the stories of these women and to initiate efforts designed to improve their circumstances in prison. Needless to say, female prisoners in Evin’s public ward, where most activists who have been incarcerated for any length of time have been held, as well as guards, have come to know and respect the activists involved in the Campaign as well as the aims of the Campaign, and treat activists well during their stay in prison.

    If the Campaign is not working in opposition to the government, then why have there been so many arrests of activists?

    Addressing social inequities and patriarchal practices is difficult in all societies and women around the world have had to pay a high price for achieving equality. We don’t believe that our movement is different than similar movements for equal rights by women internationally. There has always been resistance to change of patriarchal systems and the resistance to women gaining their rights in Iran can be classified as such. Additionally, citizen’s movements such as this tend to be uncommon and a new experience in Iran. It takes time for officials to get used to people taking charge and pressing in peaceful and civil means for their demands and the right to be heard. While the Campaign is focused on the common demand of women for equal rights, we do feel that this new and peaceful approach, which does not utilize antagonistic means, will hold lessons for all citizens who wish to have their voices heard by their government and their representatives in Parliament.

    How can international organizations or individuals support your effort?

    Many international organizations, especially human rights organizations, have expressed their support for our work, which we appreciate. The most important and helpful type of support comes from independent human rights and women’s rights organizations. It is important for the safety of activists that support is not posed in terms that can be closely linked with "regime change" efforts or propaganda, because not only is this not a goal of the Campaign, but it will endanger activists working on the ground and the Campaign too will lose credibility among its true audience which is the Iranian public. It is not to the benefit of individual activists or the Campaign to receive support from government groups or quasi- government groups which are closely linked with or are traditionally viewed as hostile to the Iranian government, because we will suffer a backlash at home. We cannot control the type of support we receive from international groups, but we urge international groups to take into consideration the best interest of the Campaign and its activists and act ethically and responsibly in this respect.

    Support us through the following means:

    • Support us by publicizing our efforts;
    • Post our articles on your website: we have an English website that posts translations of articles by activists or original articles on the Campaign. Our English site is updated regularly. You can link our site or post articles by our members, which appear on our English website (credit should be given to the author, translator and the site). Take a look at: www.we4change.com/english;
    • Express your solidarity for the campaign in polite and non-political terms (we are not an opposition group and should not be touted as such);
    • Support us when activists get arrested by writing polite letters to Iranian officials requesting their immediate release, their fair treatment in prison and in court, or by posting news on your website about our imprisoned colleagues; and
    • Share with us experiences of women’s movements in your countries addressing similar issues or utilizing similar strategies, so that we can learn from the experiences of women around the globe.

    Campaign Activists Maryam Hosseinkhah and Jelve Javaheri Released from Prison

    January 7, 2008

    Change for Equality: Maryam Hosseinkhah and Jelve Javaheri, Iranian women’s rights activists and members of the One Million Signatures campaign, were released from prison on January 2.

    Ms. Hosseinkhah spent six weeks in prison and Ms. Javaheri spent one month in prison due to their activities and writings in support of the campaign.

    While in prison, the two women’s rights activists set up a fund to support female prisoners and contributed sixty books to the women’s library in Evin. They also wrote about the conditions in the female ward and the women who committed violent crimes because they had no other alternative.

    To read Ms. Hosseinkhah and Ms. Javaheri’s articles about the women at Evin prison, please see below:

    Women at Evin: Victims of Marriage at a Young Age by Maryam Hosseinkhah describes the stories of women she met in Evin prison who were forced into early marriages and reverted to crime because they were unable to divorce their husbands or obtain custody of their children.

    The Sorrowful Tales of Women at Evin Prison by Jelve Javaheri speaks out about the lives of female prisoners who were forced into early marriages or coerced by their husbands into selling drugs or conducting other illegal activities. The stories are a testament to the problems with the current legal system which discriminates against women.

    A year with the Campaign: Acquired Lessons from a Shift to a Horizontal Power Structure by Jelve Javaheri is a compelling article on the horizontal, or decentralized, power structure of the campaign. Activists chose to take this approach in order to rotate responsibilities, allow for the inclusion of a diversity of voices, and encourage individual participation. The reliance on individual dissemination of information and open dialogue encourages power sharing and increases the possibility to engage a wide range of activists.


    Iran: New Wave of Arrests of Non-Violent "One Million Signatures" Campaign Activists

    December 3, 2007

    Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP) strongly condemns the Iranian government’s unceasing repression of the civil society, especially the recent wave of arrests of Iran’s women’s rights activists. The latest in a string of arrests, One Million Signatures campaign member Jelveh Javaheri was imprisoned on Saturday, December 1 after undergoing interrogation at the security branch of the Revolutionary Courts. She is the fourth campaign activist arrested since October.

    Maryam Hosseinkhah, a journalist and active campaign member, was arrested on November 18 and remains in Evin prison. Ms. Javaheri and Ms. Hosseinkhah have both been charged with “inciting public opinion, propaganda against the state, and publication of false information on the website of the campaign” of Change for Equality, a campaign for freedom of speech and women’s human rights.

    Hana Abdi and Ronak Safazadeh, friends and active campaign members, were arrested in Kurdistan Province, Iran on October 10 and November 4 respectively, for unspecified reasons.

    Also this past month, Delaram Ali was sentenced to 2 years 6 months in prison and 10 lashes for her participation in the June 12, 2006 peaceful protest in support of women’s rights.

    Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP) is deeply concerned about the increasing number of women’s rights activists arrested recently. To date, over forty individuals have been arrested in relation to their peaceful activities in support of the One Million Signatures campaign.

    To help these courageous women and to protest the wrongful arrests and sentencing of non-violent campaign activists, please write to:

    Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei The Office of the Supreme Leader Palestine Avenue Azerbaijan Intersection Tehran, Iran Email: info@leader.ir Fax: +98-21-649-5880 or +98-21-774-2228

    Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi Head of the Judiciary Ministry of Justice Park-e Shahr Tehran, Iran Email: Irjpr@iranjudiciary.com Fax : +98-21-879-6671

    Mr. Mohammad Khazaee Ambassador to the United Nations Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations 622 Third Ave. New York, NY 10017, United States Email: mkhazaee@un.int Fax: +1-212-867-7086

    For more information, see below or go to the official campaign website at www.weforchange.info/english/.


    Campaign Activist Maryam Hosseinkhah Arrested

    November 20, 2007

    Change for Equality: Maryam Hosseinkhah, a journalist and active member of the One Million Signatures campaign, was arrested on Sunday, November 18.

    Days earlier, the website of the Women’s Cultural Center, a leading women’s NGO, was shut down by order of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and the Judiciary. Ms. Hossienkhah, an editor of the Women’s Cultural Center website as well as one of the editors of the One Million Signatures campaign site, was interrogated on November 17 and charged with disruption of public opinion, propaganda against the state, and publication of lies.

    She arrived at court the next day for more interrogation, whereupon she was arrested and transferred to Evin Prison.

    To date, over forty individuals have been arrested in relation to their peaceful activities in support of the campaign.


    Campaign Activist Hana Abdi Arrested in Kurdistan, Iran; Maziar Samiee Released on Bail

    November 11, 2007

    Change for Equality: Hana Abdi, an active member of the One Million Signatures campaign in Kurdistan province, was arrested on November 4 for unspecified reasons. Hana is a friend of Ronak Safazadeh, both active in the campaign and also members of Azar Mehr, a women’s rights NGO.

    Hana is a 21 year-old student of Psychology at Payame Noor University in Bijar. Her friend, Ronak, remains in prison with no contact with her lawyer or family and friends.

    Also this past week, Maziar Samiee, an active member of the campaign and student activist was released from prison on bail on November 8. Maziar spent over ten days in prison.


    Campaign Activist Delaram Ali Sentenced to 10 Lashes and over 2 Years in Prison; Activist Maziar Samiee Arrested

    November 5, 2007

    Change for Equality: Women’s Learning Partnership strongly condemns the unjust punishment of One Million Signatures campaign activist Delaram Ali, who was sentenced to 2 years 6 months in prison and 10 lashes for her participation in the June 12, 2006 protest in support of women’s rights.

    The protest was violently broken up by the police, and Ms. Ali sustained a broken arm as a result of the severe beatings. Complaints of excessive force were filed against the police, but last month the police were found innocent.

    During her original May 29, 2007 trial, Ms. Ali was sentenced to 2 years 10 months and 20 lashes, but the appeals court slightly reduced the sentence.

    Also this past week, an active member of the campaign’s men’s committee, Maziar Samiee, was arrested along with seven other student activists during protests at Allameh Tabatabaie University (Change for Equality). The students were protesting the imprisonment of three fellow student activists. A statement was issued by male equal rights defenders condemning his arrest and detention.


    Campaign Activist Ronak Safazadeh Remains in Prison; Her Mother Assaulted by the Police

    November 2, 2007

    Change for Equality: An arrest order was renewed for One Million Signatures campaign activist Ronak Safazadeh. She will remain in prison for at least one more month. Since her arrest on October 10, no news about her condition or whereabouts have been made available to her family members by government officials. When Ms. Safazadeh's mother went to follow-up on her condition, the police physically assaulted her.

    Ms. Safazadeh’s sister explained that family members were not allowed to visit Ronak during her court hearing, “They have informed us that Ronak is being held in the local offices of the Information Ministry, but we don’t know how accurate this information actually is.”

    In a brief telephone call with family members, Ronak asked her family to ensure that she has lawyers representing her in this case.

    Last week, a statement of protest signed by six hundred equal rights defenders was issued calling for Ronak’s release.


    Fourteen Iranian Women's Rights Activists Summoned to Court

    November 1, 2007

    Change for Equality: Fourteen Iranian women’s rights activists have been summoned to court to face trial over the next two months. Two women are being tried for their activities in relation to the One Million Signatures campaign, and the others are on trial for their participation in a peaceful protest on March 4, 2007. The charges against them include assembly, "collusion against national security, disruption of public order, and refusal to obey police orders." Based on Article 27 of the Iranian constitution, peaceful protests and gatherings are permissible under law. Updates on the trials will be provided on this site, as they are made available.


    Campaign Activist Ronak Safazadeh Arrested in Kurdistan, Iran

    October 10, 2007

    Change for Equality: Ronak Safazadeh, a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, was arrested at her home in Sanandaj, Kurdistan on Tuesday October 9, 2007.

    According to reports from the Kurdistan Human Rights News Agency, security forces arrived at her home, and searched and seized some of her property, including her computer, copies of the Campaign's petition, and the Campaign booklet explaining Iranian laws. Ms. Safazadeh was then arrested and transferred to the detention center of the local Office of Information and Security Ministry in Sanandaj. According to reports, the nature of the arrest of Ms. Safazadeh and the search of her home by security forces was violent.

    Ronak Safazadeh is a graphic artist and women’s rights activist. She is a member of Azar Mehr NGO in Kurdistan, Iran. Prior to her arrest, Ms. Safazadeh attended a program commemorating the International Day of the Child, on Monday October 8, 2007, during which she engaged in discussions with participants about the Campaign and collected signatures in support of its petition. Despite the fact that collecting signatures is not an illegal activity, nine security agents arrived at her home in three cars the following day to arrest her. There is no information on the whereabouts of Ms. Safazadeh since her arrest and her family has not been able to contact her nor obtain additional information about the charges against her. Updates on her status will be provided on this site, as they are made available.


    Campaign Activists Amir and Bahareh Released from Evin Prison After Long Solitary Confinement

    August 10, 2007 Amir Yaghoub Ali and Bahareh Hedayat, two members of the One Million Signatures campaign, were released August 8 from Evin prison after spending approximately one month in solitary confinement. More than 150 friends and family members of the two campaign activists and eleven other student activists also imprisoned in Evin were outside the prison awaiting their release. Amir Yaghoub Ali was released on $20,000 bail and Bahareh Hedayet was released on about $50,000 bail. For more information: Amir Yaghoub Ali and Bahareh Hedayat Released (Change for Equality)

    Male Campaign Activist and Women’s Rights Activist Arrested

    July 31, 2007 The Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP) calls for the release of "One Million Signatures" campaign activists Amir Yaghoub Ali and Bahareh Hedayat. Women’s rights organizations in Morocco, Palestine, and Turkey join WLP in sending their support and solidarity to all our Iranian colleagues working to end gender apartheid and advance gender equality through the "One Million Signatures" campaign. The organizations include: Association Démocratique des Femmes du Maroc of Morocco, Foundation for the Support of Women’s Work of Turkey, and Women’s Affairs Technical Committee of Palestine.
    July 26, 2007 Amir Yaghoub Ali, a young male activist for the Iranian "One Million Signatures" Campaign, and Bahareh Hedayat, a leader in the student movement and an active campaigner for women’s rights, have been arrested and are being held in Evin prison. Amir Yaghoub Ali, 20, one of a growing number of young men involved in the “One Million Signatures” campaign, was arrested on July 11 while collecting signatures in support of the campaign at Andisheh Park in Tehran. He is the 13th campaign activist to be arrested. Amir was detained by park police and subsequently arrested and taken to a police station. After five days in detention, he was transferred to section 209 of Evin Prison, which is administered by the Ministry of Intelligence. He has been in Evin since then, celebrating his 20th birthday in solitary confinement. According to Amir’s mother, Behnaz Mokhtari, the judge in charge of his case informed her on July 22 that he had been transferred to Evin prison. She reported, "Mr. Sobhani, the judge, informed us that there are 11 charges against Amir, and that he would have to remain in Evin prison until these charges are investigated. I asked the judge what exactly these charges were. My daughter asked what illegal activity has he engaged in? Is the collection of signatures illegal?" The judge, according to Ms. Mokhtari, brushed them off and replied, "We are not concerned with its legal or illegal nature. We have to see what the "leaning" and intent of his activities were. Amir is a man, why has he concerned himself with the activities of women? He should go and focus on his studies." Another leader in the student movement and campaigner for women's rights in Iran, Bahareh Hedayat, 24, was arrested on July 9 at Amir Kabir University in Tehran. Bahareh was arrested while peacefully participating in a sit-in to protest the arrest of fellow students. She was the only woman among eighteen students arrested that day in different locations. She could face especially harsh treatment because she was convicted on charges of acting against "national security" earlier this year. A member of the “One Million Signatures” campaign and one of the founders of a women’s commission in Tahkim Vahdat, a prominent student organization in Iran, she received a two-year suspended prison sentence for her participation in the June 12, 2006 peaceful women’s rally in Tehran which ended in police violence and the detention of more than 70 people. The police searched Bahareh’s house and confiscated her personal belongings, including her albums, CDs, and writings. Due to the stress and anxiety caused by Bahareh’s arrest, her sister, who was 9 months pregnant, lost her baby. In a very short phone call Bahareh made to her mother, she told her that she might stay in prison for two to three months. Your support sends a message of solidarity to women activists who are struggling for their rights. Please sign the petition to show your support. English petition/Persian petition Visit this page frequently for further updates on the recent arrests. For further details, please see: "Amir Yagoub-Ali Spends 20th Birthday in Evin Prison" "Human Rights First: Support Bahareh Hedayat" "All Members of Tahkim Vahdat Student Organization Central Committee Detained at Amir Kabir University" (in Persian, Amir Kabir News) "Security Forces Enter Bahareh Hedayat’s House" (in Persian, Zanestan) "Pressures on Student’s Families Escalated" (in Persian, Zanestan)

    Campaign Activist Sentenced to Prison and Lashings

    July 6, 2007 Delaram Ali, a 24 year old student activist and women’s rights defender and member of the One Million Signatures Campaign was sentenced to 2 years and 10 months in prison and 10 lashes for participating in the June 12, 2006 peaceful women’s rally in Tehran, which ended with police violence and detention of more than 70 people. The sentence issued by Judge Salavati, in charge of the 15th District of the Revolutionary Courts, relied on amendments 500, 610 and 618 of Iran’s Penal Code finding Delaram Ali guilty of "propaganda against the state," "acting against national security" by participating in the June 12th protest, and "disruption of public order," We Change reports.
    SUPPORT IRANIAN WOMEN
    Sign the petition and help them reach their goal of one million signatures to end discriminatory laws against women.
  • English petition
  • Persian petition
  • Alieh Eghdam Doost, another women’s rights activist who was also arrested at the June 12th protest was sentenced to 3 years and 5 months in prison and 20 lashes on similar charges July 4, 2007. In an interview with Deutsche Welle, Delaram Ali said the heavy sentence is a warning sent by the government to other activists who have open cases in the court to "learn their lesson." By calling her a "criminal" in the verdict, Ali said: "When they call a social activist a 'criminal,' they degrade her activism to the level of drug smuggling. This shows that the sentence is humiliating and very insulting." Ali's interview in English is available here. Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Laureate and Ali’s attorney said in an interview with We Change: "Issuing such a heavy sentence for a student girl whose only demand is to be considered as a whole person in the society and before the law, and whose only wish is to be granted the same legal status as her brother is surprising. The women who participated in the June 12, 2006 protest or are members of the One Million Signatures Campaign have declared their civil demand for eliminating discrimination against women in the most peaceful manner. However, these women are accused of acting against national security and this is really shameful." Four other activists were convicted in April 2007 with sentences between 1 – 4 years of which 1.5 – 3 years were suspended for a five-year period during which activists cannot be "found guilty of any other crime." The government is convicting activists as a way to pressure them to cease their activities. Scroll down to see prior alerts. Your solidarity sends a message of support to the campaign activists who are struggling for their rights. Sign the petition to show your support. Visit this page frequently to get further updates and analysis on the verdicts as they become available.

    May 23, 2007

    Youth activist released on bail; Continued government pressure on campaign members

    Zeinab Peyqambarzadeh was finally freed on bail Wednesday, May 16 after enduring nine days in prison for her role in a peaceful protest on March 4. Bail was posted on Monday, but her release was delayed until Wednesday. As is customary, her friends and family waited outside Evin prison to take her home on Monday. They waited until 9pm, when prison officials informed them that Zienab would be personally escorted home. Instead of taking her home, however, on Wednesday prison officials dropped her off at Kaj Square from where she subsequently contacted her father. We are very relieved that Zeinab has been released, but continue to be concerned about the government’s targeting of “One Million Signatures” campaign members.

    For further details, please see: Zeinab Peyqambarzadeh, Released after Spending Nine Days in Prison


    Another Iranian women’s rights activist arrested and denied bail; More activists summoned to Revolutionary Court

    May 8, 2007

    Support Iranian Women
    Sign the petition and help them reach their goal of one million signatures to end discriminatory laws against women.
  • English petition
  • Persian petition
    Send emails to protest the arrest and sentencing of women's rights activists.
  • Zeinab Peyqambarzadeh, an active youth member of the “One Million Signatures” campaign, was arrested yesterday for her participation in a peaceful protest on March 4. She reported to the Revolutionary Court after receiving a summons, where she was then arrested and transferred to Evin prison. Her father and lawyer attempted to post the set bail of 20 million toumans (about $27,000), but the court refused to accept the bail and would not authorize Peyqambarzadeh’s release. Two other women’s rights activists, Maryam Hosseinhkah and Fatemeh Govaraie, were also summoned to court for their role in the March 4 protest. The peaceful protest was staged in objection to increasing pressure on the Iranian women’s movement and efforts to curb activities aimed at raising awareness of discriminatory laws against women. (Scroll down for more information about the March 4th protest.)

    For more information, read:

    • New Form of Lawlessness Spreading in Iran: Interview with Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi, by Sepideh Abdi, Rooz Online
    • Courts Refuse to Release Zeinab from Prison! Father told, Come back on Wednesday
    • Vozara Detention Center : A Place for Women in Search of Freedom by Zeinab Peyqambarzadeh
      Excerpt: "Zeinab Peyqambarzadeh was the first member of the Campaign to be arrested. She was arrested on Friday December 22, 2006 while distributing pamphlets on the metro and taken to Vozara Detention Center. She was subsequently released after spending 4 days in detention. Zeinab has since been arrested on two other occasions. She was among the 33 women arrested in front of the Revolutionary Courts in early April. In relation to this case, Zeinab was summoned to the Revolutionary Courts on May 7, and was arrested due to the fact that she was unable to post a bail of 20 Million Tomans. She is currently being held in Ward 3 of Evin prison. Zeinab wrote the following article based on her experience in Vozara detention center. Zeinab is also among many students whose registration at University has been suspended due to social and political activities. She is currently suspended from University but hopes to reenroll next term."
    • Read Zeinab's Weblog (Persian)


    Four Iranian women's rights activists sentenced to prison for organizing a peaceful protest demanding equal rights

    April 25, 2007 Four women's rights activists were sentenced to prison last week for their role in organizing the June 12, 2006 peaceful protest demanding equal rights for women. The activists are organizers of the "One Million Signatures" Campaign launched in August 2006 to demand an end to discriminatory laws against women. They were officially charged under article 610 of the penal code with "actions against the state" and threatening "national security."

    Fariba Davoudi Mohajer was sentenced to 4 years in prison, three of which are suspended and one year needs to be served. Parvin Ardalan and Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani were sentenced to 3 years, of which two and a half years are suspended and six months are to be served. Sussan Tahmasebi received 2 years, of which one year and a half years are suspended and six months are to be served.

    Support the Sentenced Activists
    Sign the petition and help them reach their goal of one million signatures to end discriminatory laws against women.
  • English petition
  • Persian petition
    Send emails to protest the sentencing of women's rights activists.
  • The women will be required to serve the suspended sentences if "found guilty of another crime"--meaning continue activism--during the next five years. The government is using the suspended sentence as a way to pressure activists into ceasing their activities.

    All activists were tried in absentia. In a strange turn of events, when they walked outside the courthouse to stop the police from beating supporters and friends assembled to hear the outcome of their case, they were arrested and prevented from returning to the courthouse to be present at their own trial.

    To help these courageous women achieve their goal of reaching one million signatures, please sign the petition: English Petition | Persian Petition.

    To protest the sentencing of the four activists, please write to:

      Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei
      The Office of the Supreme Leader
      Palestine Avenue
      Azerbaijan Intersection
      Tehran, Iran
      Email: info@leader.ir
      Fax: +98-21-649-5880 or +98-21-774-2228
      Salutation: Your Excellency
      Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi
      Head of the Judiciary
      Ministry of Justice
      Park-e Shahr
      Tehran, Iran
      Email: Irjpr@iranjudiciary.com
      Fax : +98-21-879-6671
      Salutation: Your Excellency
      Dr. M. Javad Zarif
      Ambassador to the United Nations
      Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
      622 Third Ave.
      New York, NY 10017, United States
      Email: jzarif@un.int
      Fax: +1-212-867-7086
      Salutation: Your Excellency


    Women’s rights activists sentenced to prison for threatening “national security”

    April 19, 2007 Fariba Davoudi Mohajer and Sussan Tahmasebi, two of the eleven women’s rights activists summoned by the Revolutionary Court, were sentenced to prison on April 18 for threatening “national security.” The two activists were organizers of the peaceful protest on June 12, 2006 and the “One Million Signatures” campaign demanding an end to discriminatory laws against women. Davoudi Mohajer, who was tried in absentia as she is currently abroad, was sentenced to one year in prison and three years suspended sentence. Tahmasebi was sentenced to six months in jail and one and a half years suspended sentence. Their lawyers are appealing the sentences. We will keep you updated on developments as we receive them.


    'One Million Signatures Campaign': Two Iranian Women Activists Released; 11 Others Summoned to Revolutionary Court

    April 17, 2007 We are pleased to share with you that Mahboubeh Hosseinzadeh and Nahid Keshavarz, activists in the One Million Signatures Campaign, arrested on April 2nd, were released from Evin prison on April 15th. They were incarcerated for nearly two weeks for collecting signatures in support of a petition to change discriminatory laws against women in Iran.

    ~ LEND YOUR SUPPORT ~
    Sign the "One Million Signatures" campaign petition calling for an end to discriminatory laws against women such as men's uncontested right to divorce, polygamy, and child custody.
    The released women activists and campaign members extend their gratitude to all individuals, civic organizations, and human rights and women's rights networks who have supported them and who have helped bring worldwide attention to their struggle. However, harassment of activists continues. Since this weekend, 11 more of our activist colleagues, have been summoned by the Revolutionary Court and charged with “violating national security,” “publicity against the Islamic Republic,” and “participating in an unauthorized demonstration.” The Iranian news agency ILNA reported yesterday that Information Minister, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejeie, declared the women’s movement and the students’ movement as “elements of soft subversion” against the regime. In escalating crackdown on women’s rights, the police have announced that starting this Saturday they will begin apprehending women whose dress is deemed to be in violation of the Islamic code. Women wearing short mantos (coats), tight outer garments, and inadequate headscarves will be taken to four centers. Tehran’s deputy head of police Hossein Sadjedi-Nia explained, "They will have to give a written engagement not to repeat the offense and can then leave when their family brings the appropriate clothing." Further information: Read the activists' reports from prison about the conditions of female prisoners:

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

    April 3, 2007 One of our colleagues and an active member of the One Million Signatures campaign has sent the following update today:

    SUPPORT IRANIAN WOMEN
    Read the open letter signed by more than 1,000 political, social and cultural activists calling for the release of the two women activists
    Sign the One Million Signatures campaign petition calling for an end to discriminatory laws against women.
    Send emails to demand an end to the harassment of civil society activists and organizations.

    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 209th 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 those released today and in short conversations these two women had with family members and other women's rights defenders prior to their transfer to Evin Prison court officers told the 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/


    Two Women's Rights Activists Released even as Crackdown on Iranian Civil Society Escalates

    March 20, 2007
    Two prominent Iranian women’s rights activists, arrested at a peaceful protest on March 4 (scroll down for more information), were released on March 19. Shadi Sadr and Mahboubeh Abasgholizadeh were charged with acting against national security and holding an illegal assembly for their role in organizing the March 4 protest against the increasing government pressure on civil society activists and, in particular, the trial of five women activists who organized a peaceful protest for women’s rights on June 12, 2006.
    Sadr and Abasgholizadeh were released from Evin Prison on 200 million toumans (about $215,000) bail each. The two women spent 16 days in detention, 10 of which were in solitary confinement.

    The crackdown on civil society continues to escalate throughout the country. At least eight women were arrested at a peaceful protest to celebrate International Women’s Day in Sanandaj, the capital of Kordestan province. Most were released shortly afterwards except for a journalist, Aso Saleh, who is still being detained.

    In August 2006, Iranian women’s rights activists launched the “One Million Signatures” campaign to demand an end to discriminatory laws against women. Please support the campaign.

    The escalating government harassment of civil society has expanded to include the closure of NGOs and the detention of teachers. Dozens of teachers remain in prison following a peaceful demonstration on March 14 to demand pay raises. At least three civil society organizations have been closed down. The Iranian NGOs Training Center, founded by Abasgholizadeh, and RAAHI: Women’s Center for Legal Counselling, directed by Sadr, were closed and sealed shut on March 15. Another organization, the Iranian CSOs Training and Research Center (also known as Koneshgaran Davtalab), which played a critical role in defending those arrested after the March 4 protest, was also shut down.

    To express your solidarity with the activists and to demand an end to the harassment of civil society activists and organizations, please write to:
    Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei
    The Office of the Supreme Leader
    Palestine Avenue
    Azerbaijan Intersection
    Tehran
    Iran
    Email: info@leader.ir
    Fax: +98 21 649-5880/21 774-2228
    Salutation: Your Excellency
    Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi
    Head of the Judiciary
    Ministry of Justice
    Park-e Shahr
    Tehran
    Iran
    Email: Irjpr@iranjudiciary.com
    Fax : +98 21 879-6671
    Salutation: Your Excellency
    Dr. M. Javad Zarif
    Ambassador to the United Nations
    Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
    622 Third Ave.
    New York, NY 10017
    United States
    Email: jzarif@un.int
    Fax: +1-212-867-7086
    Salutation: Your Excellency


    Iranian Women Activists Arrested

    March 9, 2007 Update The Iranian authorities released all but two of the women’s rights activists jailed on Sunday. The women who were released were warned not to attend protests marking International Women’s Day. The two who remain in detention –Shadi Sadr and Mahbubeh Abbasgholizadeh – are being held in solitary confinement. They continue to be detained for reportedly organizing and leading the protest on March 4. Hundreds of people gathered in front of the Parliament in Tehran on March 8 to mark International Women’s Day. Security forces attacked and broke up the gathering. (Scroll down to read the alert from March 7th.)
    March 7, 2007 Thirty-three of our colleagues and partners in the Iranian women’s movement were arrested on Sunday, March 4 outside of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court. They were staging a peaceful protest against the increasing government pressure on civil society activists and, in particular, the trial of five women activists charged with “endangering national security, agitating against the government, and taking part in illegal gatherings” because they had organized a peaceful protest for women’s rights on June 12, 2006. Four of them who were present at the trial were arrested with the demonstrators as they were leaving the court. There are varying reports of police violence at the protest. One woman said that the police tried to intimidate the activists, using obscene words and insulting gestures. The thirty-three women leaders were detained in Eshratabad Prison for ten hours before being transferred to Section 209 of Evin Prison. Eight of the youngest detainees were released without charges on March 6. The detention occurred just ahead of the planned gathering in front of the Parliament on March 8, in honor of International Women’s Day. In August 2006, Iranian women’s rights activists launched the “One Million Signatures” campaign to demand an end to discriminatory laws against women. Please support the campaign by clicking here. To express your solidarity with the activists and to demand the immediate release of the detainees, please write to: Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei The Office of the Supreme Leader Shoahada Street Qom Iran Email: info@leader.ir and istiftaa@wilayah.org Salutation: Your Excellency Dr. M. Javad Zarif Ambassador to the United Nations Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations 622 Third Ave. New York, NY 10017 Email: jzarif@un.int Salutation: Your Excellency ShareThis
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