Iranian authorities arrested two women solely for promoting women’s rights. They are at risk of torture.
AI Index: MDE 13/130/2007
07 November 2007
Prisoners of conscience/ Fear of torture or other ill-treatment
Ronak Safarzadeh (f)
Hana Abdi (f), aged 21, student
Women's rights activists Ronak Safarzadeh and Hana Abdi have been detained in the city of Sanandaj, in the north-western province of Kordestan, and are believed to be held in a Ministry of Intelligence detention facility. Neither is known to have been charged. They are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment. Amnesty International considers them prisoners of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and association.
Both women are active members of the Campaign for Equality, which is seeking an end to legalised discrimination against women, and of the NGO Azar Mehr Women's Organization of Sanandaj, which is affiliated to the Campaign for Equality.
Ronak Safazadeh had attended a meeting on the International Day of the Child in Sanandaj on 8 October, during which she had collected signatures in support of the Campaign for Equality. The following day, men understood to be agents of the Ministry of Intelligence reportedly came to her house at 8.20am, confiscated her computer, copies of the campaign’s petition and a booklet it had produced, and detained her. After six days, her mother was permitted a brief telephone conversation with her.
In an interview with the Campaign for Equality (http://www.we4change.info/english/spip.php?article152), Ronak Safarzadeh’s sister said, "On Thursday [25 October] court proceedings were held in the case of Ronak and the authorities informed us that during these court proceedings the arrest order of Ronak was renewed for the period of one month." She also said that family members had not been allowed to attend her court hearing and that they had been told that Ronak Safarzadeh is being held in the detention facility of the Sanandaj Office of the Ministry of Intelligence, although they were not sure whether this was true. According to the Campaign for Equality, Ronak Safarzadeh’s mother was beaten by officials in the local office of the judiciary on 30 October when she went to try to find out about her daughter.
Hana Abdi is studying psychology at Payam-e Noor University in Bijar. She was arrested on 4 November by seven Ministry of Intelligence agents at her grandfather’s home in Sanandaj. The agents then searched her father’s home where they confiscated Hana Abdi’s computer and pamphlets explaining the aims of the Campaign for Equality.
The Campaign for Equality, launched in August 2006, aims to collect one million signatures from Iranians in support of an end to legalised discrimination against women. So far, 13 of its members have been arrested while collecting signatures, though this is not forbidden under Iranian law.
On 5 November, a 28 month jail sentence passed on Campaign for Equality activist Delaram Ali, 24, was upheld by an appeal court. She was reportedly one of around 70 people arrested in June 2006, following a peaceful demonstration against laws discriminating against women. Five other women activists who organised the protest were earlier this year given shorter jail terms of up to a year and suspended sentences of up to three years. She is expected to start serving the sentence immediately. In an interview, Nobel laureate and Iranian lawyer, Shirin Ebadi said: "Why should a woman who wants equal human rights be charged with acting against national security?"