AI Index: MDE 13/026/2007
8 March 2007
Further Information on UA 52/07 (MDE 13/021/2007, 5 March 2007) - Prisoners of conscience / Ill-treatment
Women human rights defenders:
Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh (f), editor
Zhila Bani Ya'qoub (f), journalist
Shadi Sadr (f), lawyer
Released: 30 women
All but three of the 33 women arrested during a protest in the capital, Tehran, on 4 March have been released. The remaining detainees, Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, Zhila Bani Ya’qoub and Shadi Sadr, have apparently been accused of organizing the protest. Amnesty International considers the three women to be prisoners of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and association.
Eight of the younger detainees were released on 6 March: Niloufar Golkar, Parastoo Dokuhaki, Nahid Entesari, Saqi Lagha’i, Sagher Lagha'i, Sara Imanian, Farideh Entesari, and Parastoo Sarmadi. A further seven were released in the afternoon on 7 March: Maryam Mirza, Nahid Ja'fari, Azadeh Forghani, .Zeinab Peyghambarzadeh, Somayeh Farid, Sara Loghmani, and Nahid Keshavarz. Fifteen others were released at about 2am on 8 March: Shahla Entesari, Noushin Ahmadi Khorassani, Sussan Tahmasebi, Parvin Ardalan, Elnaz Ansari, Mahboubeh Hosseinzadeh, Maryam Hosseinkhah, Marzieh Mortazi Langaroudi, Fatemeh Govara’i, Asieh Amini, Jelveh Javaheri, Zara Amjadian, Nasrin Afzali, Mahnaz Mohammadi and Rezvan Moghaddam.
The women were protesting about the trial of five women's rights activists (Fariba Davoodi Mohajer, Shahla Entesari, Noushin Ahmadi Khorassani, Parvin Ardalan and Sussan Tahmasebi) in Branch 6 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran on charges of "propaganda against the system", "acting against national security" and "participating in an illegal demonstration." The charges relate to their involvement in a peaceful demonstration on 12 June 2006 which demanded equal rights in law for women in Iran. The protest was forcibly broken up by security forces, who arrested at least 70 people.
Of the three women still held, Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh is the editor of the Zanan (Women) quarterly journal and is a key member of the “Stop Stoning Forever” Campaign, launched in September 2006 to end the practice of stoning to death in Iran. She has also served as the director of the NGO Training Center, an organization aimed at strengthening civil society. In November 2004, Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh was detained by security forces for over a month in connection with her human rights activities (see UA 306/04, MDE 13/046/2004, 11 November 2004). Zhila Bani Ya'qoub, a journalist, was tried in January 2007 and acquitted of the charge of participating in an illegal demonstration relating to the demonstration on 12 June 2006. Shadi Sadr, a lawyer and journalist, is the director of Raahi, a legal advice centre for women. She founded Zanan-e Iran (Women of Iran), the first website dedicated to the work of Iranian women's rights activists (http://www.raahi.org) and she has written extensively about Iranian women and their legal rights. She has represented activists and journalists and has represented several women sentenced to execution, whose convcitions were subsequently overturned.
According to reports, a demonstration for women’s rights held in front of Iran’s parliament on 8 March, International Women’s day, was forcibly broken up by security forces, who are said to have injured several women. The arrests of 4 March may have been an attempt by the Iranian authorities to prevent this event from happening.